Should I Install Network/ Data Ethernet Cabling Throughout My House?
With everything moving online nowadays it's becoming increasingly important to have a fast, reliable internet connection. This maybe because you have to do online Zoom meetings or are just fed up with the TV buffering every time to try to stream or download content. Even in the days of wireless, something that I spend more and more of my time installing is data cabling within domestic housing. As you have dropped upon this article you may be wondering, is it worth installing data cabling within my home or home? Or, what are the advantages of doing so. In the blog I discuss the advantages that having a home wired network has along with some disadvantages. I hope you find the following useful, let’s begin.
Network Cabling Can Provide a More Reliable Connection
Once network cabling has been physically installed and is all up and running it can really improve the reliability of your internet connection. This is because with the cables travelling through the copper wiring you do not have to worry so much about interfering signals or wireless channels that your broadband router transmits on.
One of the disadvantages of wireless or WIFI is that it can struggle to serve the whole of your house. For example, what I mean by this is if your broadband router is in your lounge on the ground floor and you want to access on a second floor or loft conversion it’s likely that you will not be able to connect to your WIFI or the signal will be very weak making the internet connection very slow. You could move your router or you could install Ethernet cables to resolve this issue. This is particularly true of medium/ large houses but even small house can have their WIFI blackspots. Modern new build properties which utilise modern foil insulation can also suffer from poor WIFI as the reflective material on products like Celotex reflects/ blocks the wireless signal from your internet hub/ router. To solve this issue you could install “WIFI Boosters” in between your internet router and your WIFI blackspot which will shorten the distance between wireless connections but these can be really hit and miss.
Wired Internet Connections Improve Internet Speed(Generally)
The majority of the time a wired Ethernet connection will be faster than a WIFI connection. This is because when your connected with a cable you do not need to worry about a weak WIFI signal or interfering signals which can reduce your broadband speed. By wiring your home with data cabling you could easily install a Gigabit network which is very fast, WIFI will struggle to get near these speeds. It is not impossible though with some wireless systems. Please be aware that by installing a gigabit network that this doesn’t mean that you will get that as a download speed as you will be limited as to your broadband download speed from your supplier but it will maximise that speed across your connected devices. Cat6/7 is capable is supporting 10Gbps networks but this will be over-kill in most domestic environments and you would need to have to equipment to support this speed.
All that being said WIFI and wireless signals have come a very long way in a relatively short space of time in regards of speed and reliability. The reason I say majority of the time they improve the speed of your internet connection as sometimes they may actually reduce your speed. This is usually only when you have a very fast internet connection and or the data cabling used does not support faster speeds or a cable hasn’t been terminated correctly. Allow me to explain, If you had a download speed of more than 100Mbps, say 150Mbps and were running a WIFI standard that supported faster speeds than this, say 802.11n can support a wireless connection of up to 300Mbps in best case scenarios but it’s likely that it will connect a slower speed. Now if you only had a 100Mbps Ethernet connection that is going to slow it down as this would be limited at 100Mbps. Although Cat5e does support Gigabit Ethernet (1000Mbps) over short distances it’s a good idea to use Cat6 instead as this is designed to carry more data and you’re less likely to get any issues with it.
Ethernet Cabling To Improve WIFI Range/ Coverage
Ethernet Cabling installed within your home can also be used to improve your home WIFI. If you have areas of your house where the connection is poor an Ethernet cable could be installed to which to install a Wireless Access Point(WAP) which can then provide a wireless connection back to your internet router. There are lots of manufacturers that provide solutions for this but I use Ubiquiti products and their Unifi range would be just the job.
Home network cabling will help overcome this as the signal would be confined onto the copper conductors of the data cable. This helps maximise internet speed and solves WIFI blackspots. There are other solutions available to you like Powerline adapters which send data signals down existing mains wiring which can sometime be used for good effect but a dedicated Ethernet cable will always win in terms of reliability.
Ethernet Cabling Offers Greater Security
One thing which may be attracted to some is the added layer of security wired networks can offer. Providing that you are not broadcasting wireless, if anyone wanted to access your Local Area Network(LAN) they would need to be physically connected with a cable. I think you would notice if someone has sneaked into your house, plugged an Ethernet cable in and trailed it outside. Please be aware that installing wired internet will not protect you from hackers acting remotely.
Removes Unwanted EMF’s From Your Home
I know they say that modern telecommunications equipment is safe because it’s non-ionising but I can’t see how it’s good for you and you may want to err on the side of caution with the amount of wireless devices within your home. This website isn’t about the health effects of signals etc and I recommend looking elsewhere if you are interested in researching these topics but If you’re concerned about the amount of EMF’s in your home, which are continually expanding with things like Smart central heating systems, phones, tablets, laptops, Smart TV’s, Smart Meters etc. There is a slogan within the AV world that goes, “Wires for things that don’t move, wireless for things that do.” This is more of a maximising performance thing while maintaining the convenience of wireless, meaning you can connect your Smart TV’s, PC’s etc over Ethernet as these things once installed will remain in a single location and continue to use your WIFI signals for things like Smart Phones, Laptops.
If you’re so inclined Ethernet cabling can be used to minimise these and if wanted do away with your WIFI connection altogether. There are actually devices on the market which plug into a Ethernet RJ45 socket and plug into your Smartphone/ tablet allowing them to use a wired internet connection. I recommend reading our previous blog on how to switch WIFI off.
Data Cabling Has Other Uses
The data cables you install around your home do not necessarily have to used for sending Ethernet or internet signals. Having a home network/ structured cabling can be advantageous for other systems like video systems, HDMI distribution systems, telephone sockets and so on. Twisted pair data cabling has a multitude of uses.
Installing Wired Internet Costs Money
Obviously, if your going to install hard-wired network cabling throughout your house it’s going to cost some money and time as it won’t just be a case of unboxing your modem/ router, connecting it to your telephone line and away you go. If the devices you wish to connect with a dedicated Ethernet cable are relatively close to your router you could just buy some longer pre-terminated Ethernet leads which are relatively inexpensive to buy but if you wanted to install Ethernet cabling throughout your home so you have wired internet connections in most rooms it’s going to cost a bit more and won’t be a two minute job. A box of Cat6 will be generally £75-£100 depending on type and quality.
Things To Consider Before Installing Data Cabling At Home
The following section are things to consider before a home network, this should help you purchase the right equipment and plan your installation.
What Cable are you going to use?
Cat5e is fine foremost use but you may as well install Cat6 for a similar price, but it doesn’t end there. There is improvements on Cat6 still such as Cat6A, Cat7 and even Cat8. It get’s really expensive on some of the higher specs and to be honest completely unnecessary for home network cabling. You will also want to consider if you’re going to want to install a screened data cable to protect against outside interference like FTP or if you’re happy with unscreened cabling which will be branded UTP. If you intend to install cables outside which can help make in installation easier I strongly recommend using a ‘UV Stable’ cable that is designed for external use and internal only cables will lost last long when installed outside.
How Many Wired Ethernet Devices Will You Connect?
Most broadband routers will provide for connection of four devices into four RJ45 Ethernet connections on the rear of the router, some like Sky only have two on their new routers. This means that if you want Ethernet connections that your broadband router will allow you will want to purchase a network switch to allow to do that. I recommend reading our previous blog: what network switch should I buy? for help and advice as to which network switch will be correct for you.
How Are You Going To Route The Cables?
Ideally all of the cables will be run under floors or within walls so that you don’t have to see them everywhere. This can make the job quite time-consuming, and you will need to lift floorboards up and get the power tools out. If you're having an electrical re-wire or other electrical work this can be an opportune time to route network and data cables, also if you ask them nicely they might be able to chase the sockets in the wall and pull the cables for you. Alternatively, if you didn't fancy all that hard work you could surface run the cables or manage them within trunking which will not look as good but may be perfectly suitable for your requirements. You could also route the cables outside and back in like many TV/ telephone cables do, just make sure you use an external grade UV stable cable!
How Will You Terminate The Cables?
There are a couple of ways in which this could be done, if you intend to install long pre-terminated data cables you will not have to worry about this as one end would plug into your broadband router or network switch and the other into your RJ45/ 8P8C socket on your device. The downside of using pre-terminated Ethernet cables is that if you want to route them through walls or floors is that you have to drill relatively large holes to route them through.
If you are going to be using Cat5/ Cat6 cable you could just install RJ45 plugs on the data cables and effectively create your own Ethernet cables, this can be quite tricky to do is you have never done this before. Alternatively, you could install RJ45 sockets/ RJ45 jacks around your home for a more professional look. It’s a great idea to bring all the cables back to a central location where you install your network switch, an under-stairs cupboard or similar is usually a good place for this. If you want to do a proper job you could install a data cabinet here and patch panel with a rackmountable network switch, this is ideal if you’re installing lots of data cables around your home.
Home Network/ Data Cabling Questions – In Blog Comments Section
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