When I gutted the living room in 2007, I bit the financial bullet and networked the room for Ethernet wiring. Except for drilling a small hole through a 12-inch support beam and 4-inch thick studs, the experience was pretty enjoyable. What I essentially did was create one Ethernet port for each wall in the living room. I ran Cat5 Ethernet wiring inside the wall studs and created a “port” or “Ethernet station” on each wall. One of the walls I made into the “master station.” This area would hold the master computer, the router, and the face plate that would hold all the Ethernet port cables. I scratched a rough diagram showing one of the ports and the master area. It’s pretty rough, but it gives you an idea of how simple it is to network a room.
As you can see from the diagram, I basically created “extension cords” of Ethernet wiring within the walls. Previously, the other computers in the room were connected by wires that I had to string on the floor, across doorways and through the living room. It was terribly messy, and dangerous.
This is the face plate after I had wired the Ethernet. The top two ports are telephone (RJ11) jacks. The others are Ethernet (RJ45) jacks. I left one blank because I didn’t need it filled at the time.
Ah, but now I have cable Internet, with coaxial wiring. I had fun yesterday, and learned how to wire a coaxial cable jack to my master face plate.
You’ll notice that the other two ports have Ethernet cables. These cables go to the router and to the switch, which is a device that acts like an extension cord for the router. Most routers have only 4 ports in the back, but I need many more connections. The switch is a big box that can hold more connections. The one I have holds 16 more Ethernet connections!
Eventually, I want to make the entire house wired. Currently, the computers in the upstairs rooms use wireless. While wireless is pretty handy, I don’t like using it for main computers. It takes up a lot of bandwidth when everyone is on together. Wireless is also a PAIN to configure and if there’s interference from airplanes, CB radios, microwaves, whatever, it can be frustrating when downloading stuff. Wireless is also less secure than wired connections.
The hardest part about home networking, in my opinion, is getting the wiring through the walls. Even when we gutted the walls, it was still hard to drill holes through such big, old lumber. Wiring the upstairs is easier because you can string the wires up into the attic and simply drop them down into the wall cavities without drilling horizontally through studs. When we renovate the upstairs, I will be adding a few Ethernet ports to each of the bedrooms.
We’ve had our home network system for a few years now, and I’ve never regretted it. The only thing I regret is not adding more ports!