How to Install an Ethernet Jack for a Home Network.
Install an Ethernet Old Work Wall Box
The outlet will be located in the corner of the room. This location was chosen because it was close to the entertainment console and the wall cavity was readily accessible from the ceiling crawlspace. The electrical box dimensions were marked on the wall. The level is to ensure the outlet is plumb (true to vertical). The hole is cut by hand with a drywall jab saw. Tip: Saw on the push stroke to direct the dust into the wall cavity to minimize the mess on the carpet.
I used an old work electrical box in this project because I had one left over from another job. An old work low voltage mounting bracket would be a better choice and more convenient here, especially if installing several Ethernet drops or other low voltage home theater wiring.
The opening is cut in the drywall and the outlet box fitted as shown:
Fishing Ethernet Cable Inside the Wall
Working in the crawlspace between the 1st floor and the basement ceiling, I needed to run the cable down the wall to the opening for the new outlet. This problem is I needed to drill a hole through the horizontal bracing between the wall studs to the reach the basement floor level and the outlet box.
The solution is a six (6) foot long by 3/4 inch diameter drill bit! This is a Greenlee D’versibit Flexible Drill Bit that costs around $50.
The drill bit is placed between the basement wall studs:
The drill is attached and a 3/4 inch hole drilled through the 2×4 bracing.
Being a resourceful Handyman and building upon the crescent wrench technique, I went back to my tool box, got a 1/4 inch socket wrench extension and duct taped it to the Ethernet cable. This provided a heavy pointed weight to fish the Ethernet cable through the hole in the wall bracing.
The socket wrench extension dropped easily through the hole:
Back at floor level, I reached inside the wall and pulled the cable through the opening cut in the drywall for the new Ethernet outlet.
The cable is fed through an old work outlet box. An old work outlet box has wings that automatically flare out and grab the inside of the drywall when box is mounted and the screws tightened. Notice that I broke off the wire cover because it would pinch the Cat 5e cable and either kink it (causing signal loss) or possible break the light gauge wires.
An old work low voltage mounting bracket is a better choice than an outlet box because there’s more room to reach in and pull cable.
The kit for wiring up the new Ethernet jack consists of:
- Two port wall plate
- Blank insert
- Ethernet jack
The new jack is wired as before and snapped into the wall plate.
The wall plate ready with the jack and blank insert.
The wall plate is mounted to the outlet box with the provided screws. Notice the cordless drill is set to a low speed and low torque value of “3″ for a gentle touch.
The Ethernet jack upstairs is connected to the NetGear desktop router and a laptop is used to verify Internet connectivity and LAN connection speed (Start –> Control Panel –> Network Connections –> Local Area Connection).
Lastly, a standard Ethernet cable is plugged into the new RJ-45 wall jack and the Xbox 360. My son reports the Xbox Live performance is much improved and very pleased.
Multi-Room Ethernet Wiring Solution
As a follow-up to the original article, a reader asked what the wiring would look like for Ethernet jacks to several rooms. The following diagram illustrates the multi-room solution:
Local Area Network (LAN) Connection Diagram
The cable or DSL modem is connected to an Ethernet Switch to distribute the broadband internet service to a wall plate with four Ethernet jacks serving different rooms in the home. An inexpensive 5-port NetGear FS105NA Ethernet Switch is shown with a four position wall plate. Wall plates are available with 1 to 12 jack positions.
I personally use an 8-port NetGear FS108P Ethernet Switch with four Power-over-Ethernet Ports for my Panasonic Network Cameras as illustrated below. The NetGear Switch is connected a Linksys WRT54G WiFi router so I’ve got the bet of both worlds, wired and wireless networks.
This is a photo of the my home network equipment on a crowded shelf. From left to right are:
- Comcast cable modem
- NetGear WNDR4500 WiFi router
- ISY-99i Home Automation Controller
- NetGear Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Power over Ethernet (PoE)
- NetGear Skype WiFi phone base unit
- Vonage VoIP phone adapter
I’m really in need of a structured wiring panel. Please see the comments section below for addition information about structured wiring panels.
Hope this helps,
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