Cat5e & Cat6 to whole house or just Cat5e?

BAVEAugust 19, 2012

Hello. The elect. sub for our new construction (single level 6000 sq ft)has given me a couple of options for network cable install. Standard is running Cat5e to all locations where there is RG6 (bedrooms, gym, office, theater room, living areas). He has given me the option of also adding Cat6 to all locations and says the total cost will be under $1k (more like $600). This will give us one or two Cat5e & Cat6 to approx. 8 rooms/areas in the home. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Also, they are running all lines to a central area in the garage where they say will have alarm, cable, etc. This is also the opposite side of the wall from where we will likely store any drives, etc. (cabinet between kitchen and living area). Is terminating the networking cable commonly done in a non air conditioned space like garage? We are in the south where it tends to be very hot most of the year.

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It seems overkill to do both, why not just upgrade to cat6 and do away with the car5?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 5:48PM
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I stuck with Cat5e throughout. From what I gather, Cat6 does not offer meaningful incremental performance in a residential application and is difficult to terminate. Use the savings to run far more Cat5e to video locations for video/audio distribution, IR repeater, internet/lan, etc.

I would keep patch panels and equipment in a conditioned space.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Cat6 is not that difficult to terminate. It is somewhat more demanding than cat5e, but I would not trust someone who can't terminate cat6 to do my cabling anyway.

I always have the same answer to questions like this: would you rather install cat6 and 10 years later realize you didn't need it, or install cat5e and wish you had cat6? Install more than you think you need during construction, unless it's cost prohibitive. In this case (and indeed in most cases), the incremental cost of cat6 is minuscule, because most of the cost is labor rather than materials (and labor is nearly the same for cat6).

In most current applications it does not make a difference, but it does in some, and there may be more in the future. It is so much easier to run cable while the walls are open, that IMHO it's a complete no-brainer to "over-spec" a little bit to avoid regret and having to tear things up in the future. I've been through the project of adding cable to an existing home, and it is not fun. It involved literally hundreds of holes in drywall, all of which needed to be patched, texture matched and painted (not to mention the hours upon hours of labor I had to pay for the guys to fish cable through finished spaces).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 5:42PM
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Being $600 I would go ahead and run it. It will cost a lot more later if you have to do it again. If you cat5e isnt stapled to the studs it will be easier to pull a new wire later but if it is, here comes holes in the walls.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 2:12AM
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I think it all depends on if you are trying to shave money off your budget or not. To be honest the $600 isnt alot in the grand scheme of things but if you are trying to cut cost in places this could be it. When I ran wire for our house I personally didn't see the benefit and chose to use the extra money for more cat5e wire to run. If ran/terminated properly, cat5e can run up to a gigabyte which will in my opinion be fine for years to come. Now instead of spending the additonal money on cat6, you could possibly use that money to run conduit to places that you many want to change out wire at a later date(behind tv's, future projector location, etc). That way in the future for whatever wire will come you will have access to run new wire. Also, don't forget to run future tubes(wire chase) to make wiring easier at a later date (from basement to 1st floor or from 1st floor to 2nd floor).

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 3:42AM
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