Running cat6 in home

Hi guys,
My wife and I just purchased our first home and its an older home with lathe and plaster walls. I'd like to run ethernet (cat6) throughout the home since I have a lot of ethernet-capable devices around the house and do streaming and all sorts of things that have proven wireless-unfriendly in the past.

The home is 1.5 stories, with an upstairs bedroom and basement (unfinished). I was thinking about setting up my patch panel in the basement and running the cable from there. Anything specific to look for when trying to get cable from the upper foor?

Also, if I am running wire behind walls, am I required to get plenum cabling to keep my home insurance up to snuff? Plenum cabling seems very, very expensive for a spool (monoprice has it at almost 300 bucks).

Anyone else do this and what lessons did you learn?
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CoalescentAsked:
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Auric1983Connect With a Mentor Commented:
I'd check with your local building codes with regards to plenum wiring.

I'd locate your patch panel near your electrical panel and phone MPO assuming it is also in the basement.  You could also use an "unpopulated" patch panel so you can use it for other things like COAX and phone distribution.

Lastly - pulling cable through Interior walls is definately easier than the exterior because inside walls aren't typically insulated.

Good luck, and congrats on the home :P
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millsclCommented:
You could save a few dollars doing Cat5e unless you have a defined need for Cat6.   Most building codes would require plenum however.
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angel_fire2701Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Agreeing with Auric1983 to check your building codes, however in residential I have not heard of their being any issue with it. You will want to get you a wire puller for sure, It will make things alot easier. http://www.smarthome.com should give you a good idea on what you need. But they are a bit expensive so I wouldn't buy from there.
Plenum wiring is for in case of a fire. Non-plenum wiring releases toxic gases into the air if it burns.
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qbakiesCommented:
You will need Plenum cabling and unless you are going to have runs over 200m you can use Cat5e.  It is rated to carry Gb speeds up to 300m but 200m is certain.  Also, don't run the cables inline next to power cables through the attic/basement or down the walls, and avoid any florescent lighting.
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CoalescentAuthor Commented:
@millscl: I dont suspect there will be much in the way of interference so cat5e is probably suitable as well (the different operating freq. is the only thing I know that differentiates the two)

I will definitely give my local authorities a heads-up and see what they say about the wiring. I wasn't sure if plenum was required only if using ductwork, or if it was required in ANY interior wallspace.

Most people have drywall, which is very simple to Spackle and cut through. But with this old house I worry that things will be more complicated with the lathe and plaster. Anyone with any familiarity in this area?
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Todd GerbertConnect With a Mentor IT ConsultantCommented:
1: As stated - check with your local building codes, authorities and/or insurance company.

2: Having said that...I was under the impression plenum cable was only required when cable was run through the plenum (the empty space above a dropped ceiling, which serves as part or air circulation system) and riser-grade cable was suitable for use in vertical runs through walls. Your walls do not serve as a plenum.
Plenum, noun: a space, usually above a ceiling or below a floor, that can serve as a receiving chamber for air that has been heated or cooled to be distributed to inhabited areas.
3: It is a royal pain the butt running cable in an older home - I've got plaster walls as well.
4: Considering point 3, I would take every advantage of every pre-existing hole. Even if it means tie-wrapping your network cable directly to the existing electrical wiring - twisted pair is pretty resiliant, as far as EMI is concerned, you won't find any measurable packet loss/signal degredation even if you coiled a hundred feet around a fluroescent fixture.
5: Also considering point 3, may as well go with CAT6 if it's within budget. Don't wanna find out in 6 months you gotta re-do all your wiring to support some new standard (though that's probably unlikely, so cat 5e if you wanna save a couple bucks)
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CoalescentAuthor Commented:
@tgerbert: awesome summary, that's just what I wanted to know. I expect to run most of my face plates right next to existing outlets (despite this being an older home, there are a normal number of 3-wire [i.e. grounded] outlets throughout the home. the whole whole had its electrical redone in the past 10 years). Hopefullly, then, I can make good use of existing runs...

With respect to cat6: as long as it isn't plenum, I dont mind spending the extra $40 bucks for a spool of it over cat5e. Thanks for resolving my EMI concerns.

I definitely want to do everything in my house correctly, even if it means taking more time and potentially having to pull permits (probably not necessary for this). I dont plan on being in this house forever and dont want to have to spend even more time/money down the road when trying to sell the home...
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Todd GerbertIT ConsultantCommented:
Regarding EMI...

Just know that everyone else is going to disagree with me vehemently, but in my experience EMI is almost a non-issue. ;)

I read an article once (can't find it now), written by an electrical engineer that did some of those sorts of practical tests - i.e. an unusually cable in unusually close proximity to high-voltage appliances, cabling, lighting fixtures, etc, and he concluded the same.
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Todd GerbertIT ConsultantCommented:
...those wiring standards are deliberately conservative.

Consider a car dealer that might gurantee you drive 10 miles on a full tank of gas. We all know you can probably drive 250 miles on that tank, but in order him to be assured his guarantee will hold true under every possible circumstance, that guarantee must be an extremely conservative number.

Likewise, things like cable length, are conservative - e.g. I recently ran a 700 foot CAT5 cable for a customer (after reminding him the "limit" was 328 and I wouldn't be responsible for failures) who wanted a VoIP phone on the far side of his warehouse...no problems.
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