Below is a pic of the in-wall network box in my new home - it is a 42" On-Q metal box, with an existing power outlet inside. Not shown are the bundle of cat5e cables and network and phone switches I have mounted inside. I have a cable modem with a network and phone out, and a wifi router.

I've got a couple options for cleaning this up and being able to put the cover back on the in-wall network box.

  1. Get a slim, mountable router and put it and the cable modem in the network box. There is enough room, but my biggest concern is the cable modem. I'm concerned about ventilation and needing to occasionally reset it.
    • I could splurge for a hinged door cover for the network box.
  2. Keep the cable modem and wifi router out of the network box, right in front of it. I would cut a hole in the drywall right below the network box (red square in pic) and could run the coax/network/phone lines out.
    • Unfortunately there is no nearby power source outside of the network box.
    • I could run a 10 foot power strip to them (10 feet), or I could use the power source in the network box. I'm pretty certain the short run of power cables through the wall would be a code violation though.
    • I could have an electrician install a power outlet outside of the network box. There aren't great options for placement without ripping up walls.

What would you do? Am I missing anything obvious? Are my concerns about the cable modem ventilation unfounded? Any code-compliant way to get power out of the network box?

The network box

2 Answers 2


That power strip in there won't do. Power strips are intended for temporary wiring, not as a substitute for the permanent wiring of a structure. Behind your TV for 20 years is one thing, inside a cabinet like this - no go.

Also, blue masking tape is not a legal cover for box holes.

If it's what I think it is, that blue-tape area has cutouts for another duplex receptacle... you can lick both problems by fitting a receptacle there.

  • 1
    Yeah, it looks like another rectangular opening in the line drawings I saw. They make brand specific powerstrips for mounting in the panel. While putting in the second outlet inside the box, I'd do the plug in the drywall outside the panel as well. Jul 23, 2018 at 0:17
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    Yeah, the power strip was installed by the AT&T service tech. I can kindof understand that being a code violation, but wouldn't any stranded plug in the box be likewise?
    – aggieTaxes
    Jul 23, 2018 at 4:54
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    Also, just FYI, the blue tape is holding the original metal punchout cover in place until I could get a real plastic one screwed in. Figured it was better than a gaping hole. :P
    – aggieTaxes
    Jul 23, 2018 at 4:55
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    On the wall-wart, a 3rd party adapter is permissible if the adapter is UL listed. By the way, other agencies such as CSA or TUV can also test/list equipment. CE is not a testing lab. Also, if several devices all use the same low voltage, they can share the same DC power supply, and the low-voltage wiring rules are quite liberal if total power is <45 watts. Jul 23, 2018 at 5:12
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    To be clear, the wall-wart has to be UL listed, but it doesn't need to be listed for use with that router because the wallwart-router connection happens on the low voltage side, where the rules are much lighter. It's also much faster to get a UL listing for a 12V router than a router with integral 120V supply, another reason the industry loves wallwarts. Jul 23, 2018 at 6:06

These panels are nice, but they are meant to be used with their proprietary accessories, Switches, hubs, phone connectors etc.

Hinged lids provide easier access then a screwed on lid!

I would recommend mounting the router and cable modem outside the panel, on a wall or a shelf mounted near the box.

Turn off power to the circuit(at the Circuit Breaker) the panel is using before doing this step.

You have a power source right in the box, I would cut a larger hole under the panel and depending what else is on the circuit the panel gets its power from, daisy chain another plug in a old work gang box mounted bax in the hole cut in the drywall to get the power from the built in socket(in bottom left corner of your panel). You will have a little drywall repair to do, but it can be done with a hole the size of the old work box if planned carefully. (you might have to temporarily disconnect the existing socket from the gang box it is in and then pass a new appropriately sized wire(match existing size based on the rated capacity of the 15 amp or 20 amp circuit breaker).

Routers and cable modems don't really like to be put in metal boxes due to signal blocking and heat build up. You can mount them flush with the wall, most have hanging options built in to them, then plug them into the new Plug.

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