Part one of structured wiring options for home and business connectivity 

Family homes, as well as businesses, are now requiring better network solutions for ever-increasing demands for data. As a start, a whole-house network can greatly benefit from an efficient structured wiring plan.

What is structured wiring?

Structured wiring refers to a system that expands on the old simple requirement, which was based on only telephone lines, to now include video, audio and data. With more components being added to the network like security monitoring and kitchen appliance automation, connectivity is more complex and requires a strategy.

Also known as ‘star wiring’ because of its resemblance to a starburst shape, home run wiring consists of a number of ‘home runs’ from a central distribution point to various places in a building or home. Each home run:

– Is a dedicated line that can provide the strongest possible signal to each device on the network

– Is independent of each other and can be made from different types of cabling including
Ethernet, coaxial and fiber.

The main component in a home run wiring scheme is the central distribution point which, depending on the type and size of network, can be a router, hub or structured network panel (SNP).

This point will be connected to the world by service from an outside service provider and should be able to handle large data bandwidths. Placement depends on the most suitable compromise between the entry point of service and an optimal location for connecting to the various distribution points.

In new homes, the SNP is often placed in the basement but an upstairs office has advantages as well. Sometimes an attic above or crawlspace below will help, yet at some point cabling might have to go through walls and ceilings. Because of this it’s much easier to install during construction. In fact, it has become a selling feature for new buildings.

Due to increasing demands for higher bandwidth the use of high quality SNP enclosures and high speed cabling is required. Cabling can be installed at the same time as other electrical outlets as usually power and data will be side by side.

Upgrading existing homes is also much easier during a reno or remodel and sometimes a hybrid system of structured wiring and WiFi can be used. In this case WiFi transparent panels are recommended so wireless modems can be installed inside. The enclosures are made from plastic that won’t interfere with wireless signals.

The alternative to home run wiring is the traditional method of ‘daisy chaining’ that has always been used for electrical and plumbing systems. In this system, a single cable or wire is run between more than one outlet before termination.

Most installers believe home run wiring scores a number of advantages over daisy chaining but there are pros and cons to both, which we will discuss in our next blog post. We will also look at incorporating a hybrid system of wireless access points and structured wiring.