Cabling your smart house

Router cables

Wireless is great for connecting our devices to one another. Since nearly every device comes with WiFi and bluetooth these days why go back to cables? Less data drop out, and more reliable connections are two of the main reasons. As everybody has this technology nowadays your home WiFi network is constantly fighting with your neighbours’. With cabling discreetly positioned around the house they become the backbone of your smart home. Your audio, TV, and security cameras can all share the same data highway without the need of ugly flashing wireless routers flashing away in different nooks and crannies. You might still need a network router or hub somewhere but you can get away with putting it in a cupboard without worrying about it degrading the WiFi signal.

There are two main types of cable you should use: Cat 5e or Cat 6. Don’t use plain old Cat 5 cable as it is quite an old standard, and can only support up to 100MBps. There will be more crosstalk too, which will mean worse performance. Cat 5e and Cat 6 support 1GBps network connections. You only need Cat 6 if your whole infrastructure is certified as a Gigabit network. But it doesn’t hurt to future proof things, and it’s not that much more expensive.

Where to put your cabling?

So where do you put the cables? It’s a good idea to draw a diagram first to map out your network. The cables should all branch out like a tree from one central spot. So this means they will all need to meet in one place so they can be plugged into a Network Hub/Router. Think about what each room needs. Your home office might need one for a computer, and another for a printer. Wiring a printer this way will let it be accessed from more than one computer. The living room might need one for a games console and your TV box. If you’re going to the trouble of putting one in each room, why not just put in two? You don’t have to connect them up yet.

Look at the infrastructure of your house and see how you can best get cabling from here to there. The best time to do this is if you’re having some building work done. So while the floorboards are up or the ceiling’s being taken down, why not put some Cat 6 up there too? If only the Council would think the same way while digging up the roads! You can do it any-time though and it doesn’t have to be a dreadful chore, but you might find that you need to take up some floorboards at some point. The only thing to watch out for is that electric motors, transformers and long lengths of power cables will cause some interference, so try and avoid these.

To do this you’ll need some cable, wirestrippers and RJ45 face plates to run the cables to. Then an IDC Insertion tool or punch down tool to wire the cables into the back of the faceplates. A patch cable tester might be a good idea too as it will confirm your wiring job was up to scratch.
So after you’re done you’ll hopefully notice a faster, a lot more reliable and clutter free smarter house.