cable tv, internet & phone wiring

zagyzebraAugust 17, 2011

Are there any suggestions for hiding that hideous morass of cable wiring for cable tv, digital phone and cable internet? I'm planning a housewide renovation soon, and would love to minimize external wiring. A zone-specific stereo system and internet ready television should get rid of a lot of it. But what can be done about the cable company's installation of router and internet, phone, and tv modem and cabling? Suggestions/solutions, anyone?

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I clicked on your name to see if there was anything in your profile information that may help in replying to your post. Well, yours definitely sounds interesting!

"I own a small castle in the Hollywood Hills built in 1931 by an old-world European concrete mason and his son, a set designer."

So, if this is the house, are we talking about traditional construction on interior walls (1931 would be lath & plaster) or something different? For example, Rocky Horror Picture Show visions come to mind!

There's lots of ways to hide interior low voltage and AV wiring - in-wall or surface mount - but need a little more info on the construction.

As far as the wiring installed by the various utilities, it's usually the fasted, easiest, most unaesthetic appealing method they can get away with. I've seen more than one dish TV antenna mounted right next to somebody's front door.

But, it too can be cleaned up.

Post a little more info, even pics if you can, and I'm sure you'll get some good ideas here.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 10:10PM
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Yosemite - Never got into the Rocky Horror Picture Show, so I can't say for sure about that. About 20 years ago I was told by an old-time neighborhood cop that the house was built to replicate the Frankenstein castle in the original b&w Frankenstein movie.

Yes to traditional lathe & plaster in the main living room. Elsewhere, dry wall and hardwood paneling.

As said in my profile, there was a big fire inside the house. It now must come down to its studs and be restored from scratch. My contractor says there are less expensive ways to achieve the look of lathe and plaster, which is a route I will consider when the time comes.

Here's the deal: this is a fairly high-end rental property for us. I can't really say where the tenants will put their televisions. The last two tenants didn't even own a television. Other tenants couldn't live without their soccer games.

Maybe I shouldn't even be considering this, and let the tenants worry about the excessive cabling installed by the cable company. But if there is a way I can minimize holes in walls and staples in floors by planning ahead, I will!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 3:36PM
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"My contractor says there are less expensive ways to achieve the look of lathe and plaster, which is a route I will consider when the time comes."

Appearance is the least of the issues.

Plaster walls are heavy and stiff.
They are VERY good at reducing sound transmission.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 4:47PM
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Since you are renting the house out, the best you can do is to address the obvious.

Select a central area where you can create an equipment closet, or small dedicated space, that can serve as a hub for wiring runs out to the rooms and the NIDs (network interface devices) form the telco and cable providers that are mounted on the outside of the house.

Run two each CAT5e and RG6 coax in-wall from "the most likely places people would put a television and AV equipment" back to the equipment closet. I wouldn't worry about wiring up to imagined wall mounted televisions here, just equipment placement. Same can be done for an office area and wired for network connections; maybe include telephone land-line wiring as well.

The closet would then have patch panels to route everything from the hub to each room and should include electrical outlets for any routers, modems, switchers, and distribution amplifiers.

With the in-wall jacks in place in the individual rooms, then it's only a matter of the tenants running the appropriate length cable to their equipment.

If they desired wall mounting a flat panel and wanted the wiring and electrical concealed, have them have it professionally installed, and you hopefully won't end up with any eyesores.

Never was much into Rocky Horror either, but use to stay at the Oakley Court, where it was filmed, when visiting our London office. They also used it for several classic horror movies and it sure did have the look and feel.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 8:43PM
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I did this recently for a family's new house and my own as well, and yosemitebill's description summed the process up.

In my home, I knew where my 'home office' was going to be so I added extra CAT5e there to account for the additional equipment. I also had 5.1 surround sound and knew that the TV would be in one of two locations, so I wired speaker wire in a way that either location could be used without re-fishing wires. I also beefed up the number of RG6 and CAT5e plugs in those areas (enough for my network enabled devices).

Considering this is a rental, what I would recommend is having 1 CAT5e/CAT6, 1 RG6, and 1 telephone to each room. You probably want two setups in the tv/living room. You can add speaker jacks if you want. I prefer bananna jacks but they're more money. This recommendation is pretty minimum since this is a rental - it's enough to prevent you from having to drill holes in floors/walls and gets you credit for having in-house wiring. If this was a personal home, my 'recomendation' would change.

Similarly you could go crazy and try and anticipate every scenario placing multiple plugs on each wall but the costs for that goes up so you'll have to decide what's worth anticipating and what you'll get back from tenants for doing more.

Also, what will the access be like to add new lines in the future?

Using a centralized closet to run all the cables to will keep wire costs down. It will also be a good spot to place the wireless access point / wireless router. If the closet is at one end of the house, then the other end might struggle to get good wi-fi and you might end up using more wiring.

Make sure to have all wires labeled on both ends. I have probably 15 RJ-45 plugs but only use 4 or 5 at a time. Since large ethernet switches can get expensive, I use a small switch and keep the unused wires unplugged. The same thing goes with the RG6. If I had all of them connected at once I would need some amplification, which was pointless for me since only 3 cables have something connected to them.

If you buying the plugs and wire yourself, try monoprice.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 11:34AM
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Yosemite & Mark - How cool, Yosemite, you got to stay at the Oakley Court!

So sorry it has taken me this long to respond, but I thank you for taking time to post that valuable info! I've been besought with a sudden writing deadline and literally everything else came to a screeching halt.

Crazy as it sounds, I don't have a closet to dedicate to this cabling, at least not on the main floor. I do in the cellar, but that would probably compromise the wifi. Nor do I know the most likely places people would put a TV/av equipment. This has to be one of THE most UNCONVENTIONAL houses -- it defies logic, so I can't apply logic to it. But the office area is easier to figure. And the land line is essential, since cell phones don't work up here in the canyon, though I'm told with a satellite dish they will. I'll do my best with the in-wall jacks, keeping your suggestions in mind.

And Mark, thank you for simplifying things, considering this will ultimately be a rental. What do you mean "What will the access be like to add new lines in the future?" As in, rip up the walls for access? As I read your response, I'm thinking maybe I could put a piece of furniture in one of the turrets that could act as a closet to house all the cabling and equipment. What a thing to do to an antique!

One of the things I'd really like to do this time around is to wire the whole house for sound, so if you run downstairs for a shower, you can listen to your music there, as well. Even though I know stereos are now sold with wifi, I'm not sure how good the quality of sound on these are, and you'd have to install speakers everywhere anyway.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 8:43PM
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My question was more about if you have an unfinished basement/crawlspace/attic access. If you do, adding new cables and outlets can be relatively easy and might be done without ripping apart walls. Like if you had a ranch with an unfinished basement. It's easy to fish the cable from the outlet location to the basement and from there run wire wherever you need it. In this case it's easy to do a minimal install now and upgrade later if you need to.

If all the spaces are finished, upgrading later on would be more difficult. It might work out that you can install some PVC conduits in select areas so you can expand later on without making holes everywhere.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 1:04PM
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You can still put the cabling for cable tv, internet and phone in the basement as a central location. Do not worry about Wifi from the basement. If using cable internet, then the cable modem would go to wherever in the house it needs to be where you already put in a cable. Same for Cat5 if using something like FIOS.

The wireless router does not have to be where the cable enters the house. It can be elsewhere.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 3:50PM
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Weedmeister, thank you for that explanation, because I hate the idea of sacrificing a turret in the living room for cabling.

Marc12345, there is crawl space underneath part of the house that isn't particularly easy to access. Plus, there's a small attic. The basement is more like a study, with wood paneling and a stone fireplace. With that said, the home recently suffered a major fire and has to be completely redone, so I guess it would be considered "unfinished" at this point. This is why I'm asking about cabling now, so I can plan effectively from the ground up.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:53AM
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