We may be living in a wireless world, but Ethernet can still outperform Wi-Fi on signal quality, data speed and network scalability. It’s not just for computing either; technologies such as cameras, phone systems and sensor installations also make use of Ethernet connectivity.
Having a wired network, whether in your business or at home, gives you a high-speed, private solution for file sharing, media streaming, internet access, telecommunications and much more.
In this article, we take a look at the basic steps to set up an Ethernet wiring solution.
Planning your Ethernet solution
Before you start wiring your ethernet cables, you’ll need to have a plan in place. You need to know what lengths you need, which Ethernet cables are best and where your devices will go.
Remember, measure twice, cut once.
Step 1: Choose Your Locations
You need to answer several questions before investing in the necessary equipment.
- Where in the home or office are your devices located?
- How many ports do you need in each location?
- What sort of network speed are you looking to achieve?
- Where are you locating your network equipment?
- And possibly most importantly, what route will your Ethernet cables take?
If you have building plans available, draw out where you want your ethernet cables to go and work out how much Ethernet cable you need.
Step 2: Choose your Cables
You need to decide whether you’re using Cat5e or Cat6 ethernet cable.
Category 5 enhanced cables, generally known as Cat5e, offer consistently high speeds and reliability, having reduced the interference between wires within the cable that sometimes occurred with their Cat5 predecessors. These are an excellent solution for home networks.
Take a look at the full range of Cat5e Ethernet cables.
Category 6 cables, with their capacity for even greater speeds and additional interference improvements, aren’t strictly necessary for home networks but give you enhanced performance capabilities ideal for a business network infrastructure.
Take a look at the full range of Cat6 ethernet cables
Step 3: Choosing your equipment
In addition to the cable, you need to consider installation materials and the other components of the network.
You will need:
A router (you may already have one courtesy of your ISP)
A patch panel is an optional addition; while you can plug a wall cable directly into the switch using an RJ45 jack, the patch panel makes organisation and maintenance much more straightforward.
You’re also going to need tools such as a drill and a saw, and a way to label your cables – if you don’t have a label maker, a Sharpie can do the job.
Wiring and installing your Ethernet cable solution
Step 4: Install your Back Boxes
To begin with, you need to make some holes in the walls. Work out where you want your back boxes and install them in every location where you plan to run a cable. You also need a hole in the room where your network equipment will be located, and this should be large enough for all of your Ethernet cables to fit through.
Step 5: Measure your Ethernet Cable
Next, measure out the Ethernet cables.
If you can follow the route of existing cables, you can use the measurements of these wires.
Don’t forget to allow some extra length for stripping and crimping the ends if you are cutting the cables.
Step 6: Wiring your Ethernet Cables
Now you’ll need to wire your ethernet cables.
- Use a crimping tool to cut the plastic sheath. You will need to have around 1 inch of wire exposed
- Split out all the colours and arrange them in the order below.
- Cut the ends of the wire so they are all equal lengths. You’ll need to cut them to around ½ an inch long so they fit in your connector.
- Carefully insert the wires into your connector. Make sure the wires go all the way to the end of the connector. Also, make sure you have some of the plastic wire cover in the connector. If the wires extend beyond the connector, you will need to cut the wires shorter. If the wire doesn’t reach the end of the connector, you’ll need to strip back the plastic sheath with the crimping tool until it does.
Step 6: Run your wires
Grab your cables and run them through the route you’ve decided on. This involves dropping the Ethernet cables into the walls where you’ve cut the holes, which can be a complex procedure.
Don’t forget your labelling at this stage. You’ll need to remember where your cables are connected to. Make sure it’s clear enough for anyone to understand. You’ll never know when you need to get a beginner to help with locating wires in the future.
Step 7: Connect the Ethernet Cables to the network
Once all the cables are in place, connect them to your patch panel (if you have one) or your switch. At the other ends, click the jacks into their wall plates and screw the wall plates into the back boxes.
Step 8: Test your network
Finally, test your network, either using a network cable tester or the following manual process.
If you’re using a patch panel, you can plug a patch cable from the panel to each port on the Ethernet switch and turn it on. Then, use another patch cable to plug a laptop into each port. After each port, check your switch is displaying a link indicator. This is also a good time to confirm that your labelling is correct on each end of a cable.
Once you’re satisfied that your Ethernet cables are working, you can connect your network to the Internet. Now you have a fast, secure wired network.