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I am running cat5 or cat6 cable for hooking up internet, poe cams, and maybe even some video runs (hdmi adapter) in new construction. Is it more common to run these cables in the attic, bunched together neatly, and spidering out to each wall location or better to run in the basement inside drilled holes of the floor joists? The basement offers more accessibility and less ladder work after the holes are drilled.

closed as primarily opinion-based by isherwood, ThreePhaseEel, Daniel Griscom, Ed Beal, Machavity Nov 1 '17 at 20:22

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    I think this is somewhat unanswerable... individual circumstances vary a lot. Basement will give easy access to things like ground floor outlets (at least until the ceiling gets finished with drywall), and the attic will give easy access for things like cameras under the eaves. If you're still able, I'd suggest you design a small chase from the attic to the basement so future cabling is less hard. – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 20 '17 at 18:24
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It's common to run the cables in the easiest manner for your specific application. A lot of times, ethernet cable is run as a retrofit, and so the attic may be preferred slightly as it's more accessible. Given that you're running it in new construction, though, just run it in the easiest way you see fit. Your drops for cameras may go through the attic, as the camera itself may be positioned up high. Drops for jacks on the wall may best be run through the basement ceiling joists, or they may be best run through the attic. It all depends on the layout of your house and the layout of your runs. As long as you keep it away from the electrical, you're fine.

@AloysiusDefenestrate does make a good point to include a chase between all floors and the attic for future cabling. I'd go farther and say run conduit everywhere you can in addition to that chase. At the very least, include pull strings. Run 2 drops when you think you only need 1, and 4 when you think you only need 2. Run cables to potential TV spots. Cabling is super easy when the walls are open, and cable itself is very cheap. Go overboard now, even if a lot of it sits unterminated for a while, because you likely won't have this opportunity again.

  • Good suggestions. Do you have any more input? I'm thinking desktop computers, tv locations incase they are smart tvs (I know WIFI exsists, I just think it's not as reliable), Few camera locations, and few monitor locations in case I want to mirror an office PC to a living room TV, etc. I was looking into audio wire but it seems there's no good method for speaker wire until you have the system purchased. I'm not a fan of ceiling speakers due to quality, seems bookshelf and standing speakers are best? – Shumardii Oct 20 '17 at 18:45
  • @Shumardii Yup, all of that. Run 6 or 8 drops to where you expect your home office / computer to be (or to each location you might have your office). Run 4 or 6 to where you expect to have each TV - between smart TVs, streaming devices, gaming systems, HTPC, etc you can use quite a few ports. Anywhere you think you might want a camera. Again, cabling is super easy when the walls are open, and rather difficult when they're not. It's hard to do much at this point. Cat5 and Cat6 can be used for a variety of applications, too – mmathis Oct 20 '17 at 18:51
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I’d run the cables where it is easiest, which sounds like the basement. If you can, do install or build chases between areas like the attic and the basement. I’d use something like cheap 4” PVC for this. But do your research regarding local fire codes. You may be required to plug the ends of the chase to defeat oxygen trying to feed a fire.

You’ll be surprised at how big a bundle of network cables will get. 8 cables will barely fit down a 3/4 inch conduit, and pretty much only if you pull them together at the same time and with no more than 1 bend, or use pulling soap, and only because the wire fill rules don’t apply for low voltage data cabling. You’ll probably end up drilling multiple holes in each joist if you pull the cables in the basement.

I’ve seen mixed results with those Cat5e/6 HDMI extenders, though your mileage may vary. Where I’ve definitely seen them not work well is in cases where splitters and multiple displays are involved. If you can, I would preferentially pull amplified (Redmere) HDMI cables from your wiring closet to the locations you expect to mount display panels. If not Redmere, then the heaviest gauge long HDMI cables you can find. Non-amplified HDMI has no trouble at all out to at least 50 feet, and you can get heavy gauge 100’ HDMI cables that should work (do your research). The Redmere cables are directional; the display only works on the receiving end, but they’re skinny and easy to work with.

I agree with running multiple drops to each spot, but it is also easy to deploy small, cheap Ethernet switches and use one or a couple of cables as a network trunk and/or aggregate Ethernet link. If you use VLANs, that trunk can carry multiple isolated networks. If you use Cat5e and your run is under 150 feet, or use Cat6 and your run is up to 330 feet, you could upgrade to 10Gbps Ethernet in the future, though you’re unlikely to need to. It’s very important that you don’t kink the cable when pulling it.

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