Do's and Don'ts of Cable Routing (Part 2)

Michael Brown

Here’s the second in my two-part blog post on best practices for cable runs. You can read Part 1, which has some important background information about this project, here .

DO RUN ETHERNET EVERYWHERE

Having access to open walls during construction is a rare opportunity, so I ran Ethernet cable everywhere I could think of, including into my garage. I ran four cables into rooms in which I knew I’d be connecting more than one piece of gear (e.g., into my home theater and my home office). If you’re going through the hassle of stringing cable, you might as well and go all the way and take it to as many places as you can access. Even if you have just a single Ethernet port, you can always plug in a router to gain more later.


DON’T RUN CAT5 CABLES PARALLEL TO POWER CABLES

My installer knows better than this, but I asked him to do it anyway because I ignored the advice above and decided to run Ethernet to my kitchen island after we had already installed the cable chases and poured the foundation. Running data cable parallel to power cable typically results in interference, but we decided to take a chance since this run is only about 15 feet long. If I do encounter problems, I can simply disconnect this cable from the network and the problem will be solved.

DO CROSS POWER CABLES AT A 90-DEGREE ANGLE

It’s impossible to avoid putting your Cat5 cable in close proximity to power cables, but there’s an easy way of avoiding interference problems: Hang your Ethernet cables from your trusses to kept them away from power cables, and when they must drop down to enter the wall’s top plate, have it cross any power cables at a 90-degree angle.

DON’T BUNDLE YOUR CABLE TIGHTLY

It’s okay to run your data, telephone, and coax video cable together, but you should avoid tying the cables into overly tight bundles. You should also make sure your cable turns are gentle; a kinked cable can have a significant and negative impact on network throughput.

DO USE MUD RINGS

Use mud rings instead of junction boxes for Ethernet, coax, and speaker cable runs (you can find them for both retrofit and new-construction applications). Since you’re dealing with low voltage, it’s not necessary to terminate the cable inside the confines of a box. Mud rings are much easier to work with: You won’t need to stuff excess cable into the box, which means you’re much less likely to kink the cable and throttle your throughput.

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