Galen et. al. - cabling a house with...?

Hi Galen and anyone else who’d like to chime in. :grinning: With all the problems currently facing the world, I am in the odd position of closing on a house for the next part of my life. I’m planning to hardwire / cable the house for network support before I get there (not moving for a bit), so it seems I have some choices.

I can go with a copper cable CAT-n solution.

I can go with a fiber (MM or SM) infrastructure through the home and use fiber to Ethernet converters for switches and routers.

Personally I like the second option. No need to worry about whether CAT-43 will soon be replaced by CAT-44 :rofl:, galvanic isolation, protection from potentially frying the whole system in the case of a lightning strike (the house is in Florida). I have experience with both copper and fiber media, so I could do the work myself. I could just set the house up with 100Gb capable fiber and not worry about it for the rest of my life.

Thoughts welcome.

If I was doing the work myself, I would wire every room with Cat5/6/7 (your choice) and MM and SM fiber. It’s not going to cost you a ton more since you are in the wiring stage. If you feel running copper Cat-n cable will introduce noice into your audio use the fiber cables you have run.

Given that 99% of everything in your house will use either Wifi or Cat-n cabling, using fiber w/transceivers isn’t going to buy you much for the “normal” things in your house in my opinion.

Michael, both? I hadn’t considered that. :thinking: I figured I’d take the outputs (typically 4) from the provider’s cable modem / router, convert those to fiber, and then run fibers from that location to like the music room, family room, master bedroom, and kitchen. At those destinations I’d then convert to Ethernet to local switches sized appropriately for each. That would get me lightning isolation from the main router to everything else. At least at the signal level.

Given that you are building and doing the wiring, why not. This will give you total flexibility. Sure it will be overkill but in the total scheme of things you will be set.

Now your option will work as well. But I know I wish I would have pulled extra cables when I was building my home 10 years ago.

1 Like

I’ll have to consider this. I agree it makes good sense. Like you, I wish I had laid in more CAT cables when I did this in my current home 14 years ago.

I pulled both coax and Ethernet 15 years ago but now I find I am connecting most devices over wifi. High-powered mesh wifi is quickly becoming the default it seems to connect all kinds of devices, with cabling secondary.

For a new house I still want that Ethernet cabling though. Where is the price/performance optimum these days in categories? 6, 6a, 7, 7a? They all seem to offer bandwith many times more then needed for audio or even 4K TV.

Well Cat6 supports 1 Gbps and 6a/7 supports 10 Gbps. With 6a and beyond you have to take into account distances of the cable run. You should be able to find bulk Cat6a for under $300 for 1,000 ft or so.

Bear in mind that you can use a separate cable modem and router of your own choice. Every few years, I buy a single-output modem that is up to or above the spec of the one supplied by (rented from) the provider. usually that goes very near the POE, then run that to a router. This can also be of your choice in terms of power, I/O, wifi specs, etc., and put in the location of your choice.

Which reminds me - time for a new modem, as the provider has updated their protocols. Anyhow - something to consider since you can do it however you want.

I would also +1 on the idea of both types of cable.

I thought of that, Beef, as it’s what I do now. But I figured I wanted to fiber-separate from the main cable modem as early in the chain as possible. I could either do that to another router where I then route the multiple copper CAT lines throughout the house, or I could do 4 Ethernet to SFP converters off the cable modem and just run fiber through the house. Then on the other side do SFP to Ethernet to local switches. A bit more complicated, yes, but then what’s buried in the walls will likely never have to be changed out.

I remember the early days of PC-dom where many said “Who’d ever need more than 32MB of RAM?” :crazy_face:

1 Like

Do both, and if you really want to get slick, use conduit so you can insert future cable runs if technology changes, or a line fails. Since you’re doing the work yourself, the price to do this becomes more manageable.

1 Like

Not sure from your post where the proposed house is in the building process but you might consider using conduit or smurf tube between the outlets and either a crawl space (do they have those in Florida?) or an attic. I personally prefer conduit with limited (if any) bends to allow fiber, but I’d probably install Ethernet cable initially (@rower30 can advise on cables). If you stub to the attic and crawl space, make sure you have another larger conduit or smurf tube connecting the two areas of sufficient size to accommodate whatever you’re using or can conceive of in the future. Its the ultimate in flexibility if its within your budget and if building codes allow it.

Good suggestions. The house is already built, I’m afraid. I just won’t be living there full time just yet, until (if! :frowning:) I retire. But it does have an attic, so that’s where stuff will be snaked to get to other rooms.

In the case where you have to fish wires into the attic, you might consider fishing smurf tube in instead. Home depot has smurf tube in 3/4 and 1 inch sizes.

Thanks Ray! Definitely looks like a good idea.

Hi @rower30, I’m hoping you could review and pass your thoughts along. Thanks.


If cable is going in the attic, using LC PLENUM grade as the materials handle higher sustained temps better and is the “ultimate”. This cable for higher temps is called LC, or Limited Combustible, that is all TEFLON 200C. LC cables have the LOWEST smoke emissions available. OK, but the CHOICES are more limited for LC and isn’t the best compromise in my mind. But to ward off the overkill crowd I do need to mention LC grade cables.

Standard CMP Plenum cable is modified LS-PVC 90C jacket and FEP insulated singles. Smoke emissions are low, but not as low as LC rated designs. LC cable is expensive! The 3612/13 carries a good 90C temp rated cable design, and 0.6A POE rating, and is 1 GbaseT.

For the price and to the minimum standard CMR 3612 riser rated will work in the attic. Get the HIGHEST temperature rated cable you can, as this indicates a better higher temp PVC jacket is used, too. The POE, Power Over Ethernet, standard requires a worst case HEAT soak to be passed, thus good quality jackets need to be used that retain what is called Tensile and Elongation, or T&E, properties compared to virgin materals. Look for 75C or above rated cables.

You can design for higher sustained POE power in two ways, or use both ways;

  • higher temp material to handle the higher heat from smaller wires.
  • larger copper to lower the heat. You can use lower temp 60C jackets with larger copper, for instance, with big enough copper.

Bigger copper means bigger cable, though. So a more balanced material and copper approach is needed. And don’t forget, we are ALSO sizing copper for Ethernet signal attenuation, not just POE losses, too! Watch both hands at the same time.

There is a LIMIT to using higher temp material, though, and the smallest copper you can. The LOSS across the cable can’t exceed set loss limits (too little power to run devices at the end!). So once you reach that current squared time resistance limit, you need larger copper to go to a higher standard POE current rating. The jacket’s temp rating can’t help you with copper losses, just T&E retention! Both are in play at the same time.

POE is pretty involved to balance with all the other requiremments. 3612/13 CAT6 is the best balance of cost for Ethernet and POE, both.

On WHAT cable to use, I suggest for 1GBaseT to use 3600 series CAT6 as it also uses a larger copper wire for POE, 23 AWG not 24 AWG, so it can run powered ethernet devices better. Not so much for the Ethernet, that 5e can run. 5e can’t handle DC powered devices as well before the loss limits are reached.

The next step is 10Gig. This is really confusing to many people. This kind of cable has to meet cable to cable interference as well as internal pair to pair cross talk, both. This noise mitigation allows shannon’s law to extend the bandwidth to 10G.

There are indeed 1000baseT, or 1GbaseT, cable that specs HIGHER on internal specs than 10G like DT600e and 4800 series or cables like that. BUT, they DO NOT mitigate cable to cable noise and thus may not meet 10G worst case distance (100 meters) performance. So don’t ignore the importnce of cable to cable noise.

There is a downside to 10G, and not a bad downside at all. Using the PAM encoding technology developed for 10G, you can sort of alter the voltage states to create 2.5G and 5G links as well with lesser cost cable. We see those ports on new PC’s now.

Again, make sure you get cable that meets the cumulative noise issues of each speed rating both internal (can be canceled) and external (can’t be canceled).

Sorry for all the info, but this art is not as simple as I read people believing here and elsewhere. It isn’t as easy as four 24 AWG twisted pairs is Ethernet. The tech is incredible.

Galen Gareis


Thanks Galen. I appreciate and understand what you’ve said here. Fortunately my profession has allowed me to interact quite a bit with the connectivity folks. I’ve learned a few things about both copper and fiber network transmission. What’s your thought on using fiber converters and running fiber through the attic as the backbone?


Pretty straight forward;

  • Speed.
  • Noise.
  • Complexity.

If you are going farther than 328 feet / 100 meters (I dbt it) you will see the maximum speeds Ethernet 5e,6, or 6A is designed for. farther than that and you’ll need a fiber optic range extender. Or, Use fiber straight way as the LENGTH defines the cable for you.

The second issue is NOISE. Heavy industrial use of 5e is incredibly robust to noise. Even with 2 pair 5e. Full balanced Ethernet is a noise abating wonder. I doubt you will ever, ever have enough NOISE to compromise a copper Ethernet system. Believe it or not, 6A has both igress and egress (inernal / alien) noise to manage so it is more prone to nosie based on that fact. But, if you meet the IEEE test specs, it’s up to the task. The cable is just more complex to get there.

Using a fiber as a “backbone” adds to the cost and complexity as you need I/O ports at each end verses passive, and cheaper, RJ jacks and plugs. Now you have moe ACTIVE devices to worry about.

Can a shorter fiber backbone work? Sure, but at such a short distance it is technically unnecessary and expensive. And, it can be harder to maintain as cleanliness is next to Godliness with fiber connectors and their installation requirements are strict. Add the complexity of the I/O and is is really just a fun project over a necessary one. Nothing wrong with fun if you have the spare cash, and it is for your hobby. Don’t expect it to be “better” as it technically won’t be. Still, it won’t be worse if the optical I/O is high quality but NO I/O is still more accurate at or under 328 feet.

Me, I stay copper every way I can based on distance. Noise is seldom ever an issue. Removing CONNECORS or I/O is the big help. For Copper a DIRECT CONNECT (no wall jack to plug into but a PLUG direct into your PC’s NIC card) is best as the plug/jack is a major source of signal erosion. This is taken into account as a “permanent link” (backbone and wall jack at each end) are tested and then a “channel” that adds the two patch cords plugged into the permanent link at each end is added. The full channel is worst case.

Many systems are crashed with poor patch cable that is not regulated too well. Think Walmart sourced Chinese patch cable used in a dorm room! IT will REPLACE that crappy patch and, presto, the channel works! Patch can add 50% or more the noise and RL problems in a full channel as they add TWP PLUG/Jack junctions. Use good patch cable that meet the specs in reality and not on the package that just says they do!

Belden uses BONDED pair patch designs only so it retains the performance after severe use. And, the PLUG installation is critical to pass the tests, too. Get Blue Jeans PATCH and you’re set. You’ll get a test report with them, even. Only use 6A patch with 10G it isn’t better or necessary with 1GbaseT.

Ethernet has higher margins more as length gets shorter yes, but done right 100 meters is reliable 100% of the time. Fiber done well can be 100% reliable too, but its advantage is really LENGTH. You have some restrictions in cost to go farther, but fiber is the best way to go farther than 100 meters at the price (you could install a cellular micro-wave systems after all!).

I would look at COMPLECXITY and reliable performance relative to what you are doing. Moving Ethernet is one thing, some will say galvanic isolation is another. If you are just moving bits, use copper less than 328 feet. Add the galvanic isolators local to the device.

Galen Gareis

Fair enough, Galen. But this is going to be in Central Florida, from what everyone tells me is the lighting capital of the country. :open_mouth: I was thinking decoupling the network management devices (cable modem, routers, switches) from each other would protect the infrastructure from all getting fried. Or, I guess I could just do that using one port from the cable modem to my own hardware. Then everything from there could be copper.


OK, you have alligators in your bathtub!

  • AC lines.
  • signal lines.

Get a P15 or like device that has an AC crowbar circuit. I live in Ohio and we get storms all the time, too, but not as many as Florida! AC spikes are an issue for sure.

For the signal lines you shouldn’t see as severe an issue since they aren’t as “grounded” as the AC lines. Lightening is looking for a low impedance path to ground. Give it one! Install an on roof lightening antenna to ground. This is a major mitigator in high lightening areas. we have them everywhere on tall buildings in Ohio.

So considering the noise (lightening) alligators issue the cheapest solution covers all your concerns. If you use fber, use MM not SM as single mode is far more fragile on connectivity. You don’t need the BW it provides which is WAY overkill.

Use 62.5 um glass as it has the best light budget and BW, both. 50um is getting popular for LONG reach 10G fiber but the light budget requires more erfection to use. BW is inverse to LENGTH (MHZ-KM). 62.5 um fiber used as a short reach can inhale 10G ethernet as the BW is so high. Also, use 850nm lasers or VCSEL’s in yur I/O as they are cheaper than 1310nm ones. Again, 1300nm wavelength has far more BW than you’ll ever need and 1300nm is more fragile to optical loss with cable bending. Newer fiber is way better at bend insensitivity than before, so don’t fret that too much just don’t staple the cable to a 2x4! Through hole only or unrestricted hangers.

Odds are the I/O hardware may have BOTH 850 and 1310 but use 850 as it will be more reliable (more power) and tolerate connectivity issues like dirt, and a less than pefect interface.

The key with fiber is to use the best optical budget size based on your length determined BW. So you pick the fiber core size, and wavelength to do that. The more budget you have, the more robust your system will be to light loss.

SM (Single Mode) won’t even work at shorter distances as the attenuation is not high enough to dampen RL reflection from the load end back into the transmit end, screwing that all up so attenuators need to be added. Just don’t use it and problem solved.

Go to and review their literature and see what you learn.

Galen Gareis