Thursday, April 27, 2006

New House upgrades - a computer network

I thought I might mention this.

One of the upgrades we included with our house was a computer network (LAN).
As the network was installed during construction it ended up costing us about 1/3 - 1/2 or what it would have cost after construction. In our case I paid $1500.

Although we used electricians (vs. specialized computer networking people), they were experienced installing LANs and had actually used Cat 5e cable already in the house for the telephone lines.

They were also familiar with the special wiring standards used with network cable (there is a very specific sequence that all 8 color coded computer wires must be arranged at the end of the cable - where the rj-45 plastic clip is attached). Failure to do so isnt' a big problem until the wire has to be cut and re-terminated (a new rj-45 plastic clip added). Failure to follow standards usually ends up having the wire order reversed and the cable run essentially useless. I've personally made this mistake and lost 6 hours of time figuring out what I had done wrong.

One great thing about professional electricians is they usually like to do things right. In my case it meant they installed a cable chase (think long plastic tube) running between the first and second floors. This allowed them to easily pull cable between floors without fishing it through cracks and crevices. All in all they did a great job.

My recommendations if you want a LAN at home:

  • It's usually about $150 per drop (point to point connection).
  • If you use an electrician, make sure he has all the remote locations terminating at a central location.
  • make sure your central location is near your cable modem and router.
  • make sure your router has enough network ports for each remote location.
  • make sure you have enough short network cables that connect from the wallplate at the central location to the router.
  • if you don't have enough network ports in your router (most have 4), buy a switch, they are cheap and can give you an additional 8-32 ports. You'll need another network cable to connect the switch.
  • make sure your wiring person terminates all the wires into a wall plate or patch panel at your central location. Don't let him leave loose wires hanging out of a hole in the wall.
  • your remote locations should also terminate at a wall plate. Don't let the wiring person leave bare wires hanging out the wall.
  • make sure every single connection is tested
  • you should have a guarantee on the wiring work
  • see if they'll throw in a cable chase between floors - it will save time and money in the future
  • avoid outside wiring if possible
  • See if the electrician will add a second ethernet run to each wall jack for free or cost of materials, pulling two cables instead of one doesn't cost them anything and it can be useful when two people want to use computers in a room or if you want to use an ipcamera.

I noticed that my older computer used by grandma and grandpa was MUCH faster on a wired network than wireless. It seems that boot-up time was cut dramatically.

Also, wired is more secured. My wireless cards picked up several unsecured networks in my neighborhood. Not good for them and indirectly for me.

Here are some advantages of having a wired network in your home:

  1. More secure than wireless
  2. Much faster - despite what ads say about 802.11g or MIMO/802.11n wireless standards
  3. Doesn't require extra wireless cards, which may require opening your computer for installation
  4. Can be attached to network appliances such as: shared network hard drives, networked printers/faxes, mp3 players, tivo's, ip cameras, etc....
  5. More resistant to interference from cordless phones and microwave ovens (2400 MHz)

Have a wonderful Friday,



Anonymous said...

I recently switched to wireless and I love it. The computer that has a regular cable connection is my main computer and other computers connect via wireless.

The beauty of wireless is the extra freedom. There is nothing better than using your laptop on your deck/porch or even on the couch w/o running cables.

Wireless is NOT less secure if you password protect it.

StealthBucks said...

I have both wired and wireless. A good thing about putting in the hard LAN is that you will be able to really beef up the wireless with multiple access points as technology trudges forward. I also just put in an Escient DVD Fireball system. I hear that distributed hi def video is next for these guys. You can check them out at It's unbelievable and escient is owned by the same guys that own Denon, Marantz, and Boston Acoustics. Have fun in your new place.