Forum Thread

should I pre-wire my house with CAT6 cable?

1,224 185 March 28, 2017 at 06:35 AM
We are building a new home and need to decide on pre-wiring. Currently we are planning on having Ethernet jacks in family room, office, and master bedroom. The standard cable run is CAT5E, but the builder will upgrade to CAT6 for $60 per run (so $180 total). Is this a worthwide upgrade for future-proofing? The internet provider there is AT&T Fiber and they offer 1G service.

Also, the builder is suggesting they install a wireless access point in the upstairs level loft (cost of $570), and connect this to the planned structured wiring box in the basement. He says we should instruct AT&T to install the router next to this wiring box in the basement. They say this arrangement is the best way to get a strong Wi-fi signal on all 3 floors. Is this a worthwhile upgrade also?

Thanks.

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#2
unless you do large file transfers, there isn't much benefit of cat6 over 5e. I'd probably do more runs in the house than 3.

seems like a lot for an wireless access point. if they put the router in the basement, you might want one on the 2nd floor. it really depends on the layout, where you work and where walls are.
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#3
I would run this into a box into at least each room to a central point with pull strings.

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You never know what it is you will need to put anywhere so just run the tubing you might want to run coax, cat 5/6 or even optical cable why limit yourself?
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#4
Quote from Boglehead
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We are building a new home and need to decide on pre-wiring. Currently we are planning on having Ethernet jacks in family room, office, and master bedroom. The standard cable run is CAT5E, but the builder will upgrade to CAT6 for $60 per run (so $180 total). Is this a worthwide upgrade for future-proofing? The internet provider there is AT&T Fiber and they offer 1G service.

Also, the builder is suggesting they install a wireless access point in the upstairs level loft (cost of $570), and connect this to the planned structured wiring box in the basement. He says we should instruct AT&T to install the router next to this wiring box in the basement. They say this arrangement is the best way to get a strong Wi-fi signal on all 3 floors. Is this a worthwhile upgrade also?

Thanks.
Running cat6 is better than cat5e, but running conduit is probably the best option as komondor mentioned. Running conduit now allows you to easily pull whatever you need at a later date. If you can't run conduit, then run multiple lines to every room in your house. If you can't do that, I'd say a single line to each room is better than nothing. At this point in the build, when all the walls are open, running cable is extremely easy, so run as much as you can. Cable is relatively cheap (~$100 / 1000 ft) and with walls open you can wire up a whole house very quickly. Running cable later on when the walls are all closed up is a royal PITA, especially if there's no conduit and no existing lines. Running cable later on means cutting holes in walls, drywall repair, patching, painting.

As for cat6 vs cat5e - both support gigabit ethernet, so you'll be able to take full advantage of the fiber speeds in either case. Cat6 supports 10gig, which may be very far away in terms of ISPs, but could see some benefit in a home-streaming setup. If you do (a lot of) local streaming, the cat6 may be a very useful upgrade. If you don't do any local streaming, more cat5e runs are better than fewer cat6 runs.

Personally, I wouldn't have the builder install a wireless access point, as that price is outrageous. An AP (wireless router) costs maybe $100 and you just need to plug it in to the ethernet jack. One quick change in the setup (turn off DHCP) and you're done. I would, however, make sure there is at least 1 ethernet line run to each floor (again, the more you can run now the better), so you can install AP(s) where you need it (them).
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#5
All the advice here is spot on. Conduit is a smart choice for new construction you can run wires later if you want. Your builders prices are pretty crazy. If you have access you could do the work yourself in a day probably. I would just run conduit and pull later probably.

Last year I wired my own existing house with Cat6 the price difference in the raw cable is not much a nd worth it for future proofing beyond 1gbps. I think it's totally worth doing even if everything is going wireless, wired is still better, more stable, and more secure. Wire what you can, and use wireless for the rest. When I did my house I did at least 2 drops to every room and some I did 4 or 8. I also put in drops on all 4 corners of my house and above the front door for security cameras in the future. I put in drops for access points as well. I ended up with 48 ports that gives me a ton of flexibility.
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#6
Thanks for the feedback all. This is a production builder so unfortunately I am limited in my options. They do offer a SmartTube conduit run from the attic to the structured wiring box in basement for future wiring ($330). We are planning on getting that.

I don't do any in-home networking. My only reason for considering CAT6 would be for future-proofing, as we plan on this being a forever home. Our internet needs are just your basic stuff, nothing exotic.

If we want to add additional runs, it costs $110 per CAT5E and $170 per CAT6. I know it's not cheap, so that's why as of now we only have runs to family room, office, and master bedroom (upstairs).
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Last edited by Boglehead March 28, 2017 at 08:07 AM.
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#7
Quote from Boglehead
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Thanks for the feedback all. This is a production builder so unfortunately I am limited in my options. They do offer a SmartTube conduit run from the attic to the structured wiring box in basement for future wiring ($330). We are planning on getting that.

I don't do any in-home networking. My only reason for considering CAT6 would be for future-proofing, as we plan on this being a forever home. Our internet needs are just your basic stuff, nothing exotic.

If we want to add additional runs, it costs $110 per CAT5E and $170 per CAT6. I know it's not cheap, so that's why as of now we only have runs to family room, office, and master bedroom (upstairs).
You might be in a crazy market - but I'm also in the middle of a home build. We hired an AV company outside of the builder's markup (and definitely NOT an electrician) and our CAT6 runs are all $31 - if it was a double run it was $50 (ie: two cables to the same location). Also the upgrade from CAT5E to CAT6 is a laugh - there's no way it costs $50 more per line in material (and it's $0 more per line for the install labor). They're gouging you.

We ended up with 31 total runs (24 port switch + 7 POE camera locations) along with 5 RG6 runs (TV coax) for around $1,200 installed.

Look around - I bet even Geek Squad would be cheaper.
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#8
Builder won't allow an outside company to come in for pre-wiring. So my choices are to use them and their high prices, or go without it.
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#9
All good advice my 2 cents:

- CAT6 may not be necessary now, but is good for future proofing
- Consider double runs to multiple locations from a central "closet" - A LOT easier to do this now than afterward
- Blue hose/conduit is OK and a good idea for more futureproofing. Don't forget pull strings too.
- Label wisely

CAT cable can also be used for a plethora of other things... intercom, audio, doorbells, etc. just about anything LV. If it were me I'd put CAT6, at least 2 locations per room including bathrooms, garages, points for PoE cams, etc. I'd also do it myself. Without sheetrock, running cabling is a breeze.
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#10
Quote from Boglehead
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We are building a new home and need to decide on pre-wiring. Currently we are planning on having Ethernet jacks in family room, office, and master bedroom. The standard cable run is CAT5E, but the builder will upgrade to CAT6 for $60 per run (so $180 total). Is this a worthwide upgrade for future-proofing? The internet provider there is AT&T Fiber and they offer 1G service.

Also, the builder is suggesting they install a wireless access point in the upstairs level loft (cost of $570), and connect this to the planned structured wiring box in the basement. He says we should instruct AT&T to install the router next to this wiring box in the basement. They say this arrangement is the best way to get a strong Wi-fi signal on all 3 floors. Is this a worthwhile upgrade also?

Thanks.
Don't have them install an access point at those prices but you might want to prewire. $60 bucks more per run is ridiculous for Cat-6. They won't let anybody else do the work, will they let you supply the cable? You'll want a cable/conduit from the outside of the house to where the other cables terminate.

Think about the floor plan of your house and identify areas that would be particularly difficult to run cables in the future or parts of the house particularly far from where your main access point is likely to be and you might want a second access point these might be places to add extra cables. Is the basement going to be finished or unfinished? If it's unfinished running cable to any location of the main floor will be pretty easy after the house is built.

In the future kids bedrooms may need Ethernet more than the master bedroom.
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#11
If the walls are open, then running the wires yourself is a piece of cake imo. That said, your builder is indeed ripping you off at $60 a line just to upgrade the cable.

I would go Cat 6 as the price difference in reality is not that high.

I would also run multiple lines to EVERY room in the house including the bathrooms, putting ethernet drops at logical points in each room. There really is no reason not to. A 1000 ft roll of CMR rated Cat 6 cable is $90 at monoprice. There is no reason to be screwing around trying to save on runs. You shouldn't need to spend more than $180 (assuming 2 rolls and one is probably more than you need) + the cost of a crimping tool and the RJ45 connectors (also cheap) for parts to do an entire house. Add in labor which can either be done yourself or you can pay an electrician or handyman to do it at a "reasonable" rate.


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#12
Quote from Boglehead
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Builder won't allow an outside company to come in for pre-wiring. So my choices are to use them and their high prices, or go without it.

I am sure if you tell them you will back out of the deal if they insist on ripping you off, you will see them switch tunes in a hurry. No builder in his right mind is risking a new home build or the good will of his customer over something as small as this. They are just preying on the uninformed and the people who just want no part in doing it. It is not like you are doing the electrical work, it is some cable runs.

That or just tell him you will do it yourself and he has nothing to say about it. What is he going to do, refuse to allow you to run the cables before the walls are up in your own house? Then you just bring a buddy to help you who also happens to be a handyman lol.

That or just tell him to go jump in a lake and hire someone to do it after the fact. The rates will not be any worse than what this crook is trying to charge you and indeed will likely be less, though it makes it a lot more difficult to do the entire house with the walls up.
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Last edited by YanksIn2009 March 28, 2017 at 11:11 AM.
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#13
Quote from YanksIn2009
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You shouldn't need to spend more than $180 (assuming 2 rolls and one is probably more than you need) + the cost of a crimping tool and the RJ45 connectors (also cheap) for parts to do an entire house.
Terminate everything in punch-down blocks and patch panels, not RJ-45 jacks; it is so much easier to do that way, especially for a novice. Cost difference will be pretty small.
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Quote from mmathis
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Terminate everything in punch-down blocks and patch panels, not RJ-45 jacks; it is so much easier to do that way, especially for a novice. Cost difference will be pretty small.

This is true.
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#15
Gotta go with several of the posters who suggested conduit.

My initial house has 33 home run Cat 5 cables and 31 home run RG 59 coax.

I added a 1200 sq ft addition a few years ago and instead of running cable I ran innerduct.... By using innerduct you have future proffed your home. I would run all back to a central location.

This was doesn't matter what you need, copper, coax, fiber etc.
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