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We had an installer put in security cameras a few years ago (PoE-powered), and he decided the best place to install the network switch would be in the attic, since that made wiring the cameras easier (because they are all under the eaves).

The problem is that it gets extremely hot in there during the summer, often up over 100 degrees (F), and the network switch is rated to operate only up to 104. We have experienced connectivity issues to some of the cameras, and my first thought is that the switch is dying due to its environment.

In any case, we are now installing more cameras (and probably IP phones in the near future) and need a larger switch. I am currently planning for 16 cables to go up to the attic, and am installing a 24-port switch to give future room to grow.

I have selected a location inside the building to install the new network switch (inside a sound-dampening network cabinet because it is in a public space), but I need to figure out how to run the wires down out of the attic.

Here are the options I have considered at this point:

  • Make a hole in the ceiling and pass the whole bundle of cables through it, then run them down to the switch inside a wire wrap or raceway. This is the easiest way, but then how do I seal the hole from the attic into the conditioned space? With a hole that size, the specific concern is bugs getting inside from the attic. (We have had problems with all kinds of bugs in the attic, including wasps, and we don't want to allow them inside.)
  • Mount a large wallplate on the ceiling with as many RJ45 keystones on it as I need, then run patch cables from those keystones to the switch. The benefit of doing it this way is that the wallplate provides a good barrier between the two spaces, with extremely small holes. The downside of this method is that it takes up a lot of space and looks bad. One of my requirements is to make this installation as unobtrusive as possible.
  • Mount a large wallplate on the wall behind the switch with the RJ45 keystones. This has the benefits of the first idea, but this way the wallplate is not visible. However, I am not sure I want to drill enough holes (or big holes) in the top plate of the wall to be sufficient for that many cables to come through.

I really want to do the first option just because it is the easiest, but having an open hole is a major issue.

What is the best way for me to go about this? Is it one of these options? What can I do about the issues mentioned for each one? Is it something else entirely?

  • Note: I found this question, but I do not think it is a duplicate because mine has a lot more information. – Moshe Katz Feb 14 at 17:05
  • What about fire retardant foam, with a decorative escutcheon plate on the ceiling? – bib Feb 14 at 17:10
  • @bib Not sure I can picture what such a plate would look like. – Moshe Katz Feb 14 at 17:11
  • Not sure how large a bundle your cables would make. There are bushings that line a hole through surfaces (search bushing) or you could get a blank round plastic plate for covering an electrical box and drill/cut a hole through it. They come in 4" sizes and larger. – bib Feb 14 at 17:27
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    WiFi router is also likely to be just as temperature-sensitive. – Someone Somewhere Feb 15 at 4:50
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I can tell you what I've done/am doing. I'm using rigid PVC conduit rated for electrical cable, elbows/junction boxes, and where required, duct seal compound, like https://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardner-Bender-1-lb-Plug-Duct-Seal-Compound-DS-110/100212441. You could also add some fiberglass insulation as well, and/or steel wool. At any place I have to pierce the barrier between the attic and the rest of the house, I use expanding fireproof foam to surround the PVC pipe. You could also use "smurf tube" or the like, but it's easier to seal around rigid pipe. In order to run the PVC conduit through the attic, if you choose to do that, you'll probably need an expansion joint.

Note, though, that in order to pass 24 CAT-6 cables (my preference, for future proofing), you'll need 2" conduit at least.

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