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I am planning to wire my house for Ethernet, with wall sockets in various rooms. At the moment it will be plain 1Gbit/s ethernet, but in future I want the potential to upgrade to 10Gbit/s and power-over-ethernet (POE). I am aware that there are wiring code restrictions on where power outlets may be placed. Are there any similar code requirements that would apply to POE sockets, or other practical considerations that would apply to their location (e.g. wiring constraints)?

Background

I live in the UK, in a 1930s house. This means: power voltage is nominal 240V, walls are constructed of solid brick with plaster facing (making it non-trivial to install or relocate outlets), wiring can run in the attic, under floorboards, or in the crawl-space beneath the house. There is no air conditioning; these spaces are ventilated but not used for air circulation.

I haven't bought any supplies yet, but I'm planning to use Cat 6, unshielded, Low Smoke Zero Halogen cable (assuming runs will be short enough for 10Gbit/s over Cat 6). I'm hoping to install standard metal back-boxes in the walls to mount 8P8C faceplates, probably with PVC conduit to take the cables down under the floor.

So far, I'm aware that data cables should not run parallel to power cables (to avoid interference), and definitely not next to each other or in the same conduit (for safety). However, for reasons of aesthetics and convenience, I'm inclined to put the Ethernet outlets close to power outlets. Many of these are currently mounted in the skirting board (which I'm aware is lower than modern wiring regulations suggest).

  • "data cables should not run parallel to power cables (to avoid interference)" running ethernet next to power is no problem, 50/60hz is virtually DC at the speeds ethernet runs at, it won't notice. – whatsisname Sep 5 at 16:16
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    Although I agree to a point almost every industrial plant has power and data cable in the same pipe. As long as the data cable is voltage rated for the voltage It is code legal. Modern cable really Is immune to noise because the variable twisted pairs, go to a shielded cable and there is no problem over hundreds of feet. I can say this having worked in high tech , and heavy industry for many years on top of residential. – Ed Beal Sep 5 at 19:49
  • So from an interference viewpoint, no problems installing Ethernet wall sockets right next to power sockets then? – JRI Sep 8 at 6:06
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Well, I will strongly suggest the middle of ceilings, because that's where you are going to want you POE wireless access points to be wired in for best performance, particularly in a solid brick walled house (very hard to get fast WiFi through brick walls at all.)

I will also suggest Cat6A if you have dreams of 10GB. While 6 is nominally good to 55m, the price differential is small, and 6A might offer some slight hope for whatever comes next for copper wires when 10GB is too slow.

But that also leads to my stock firm recommendation for wiring any building for network - use conduit, the cables become obsolete MUCH faster than the power wiring or the house. Being able to pull out your 6, 6a (or 5e if it's much cheaper for you now, though it's usually not that much cheaper) and replace it when you need something faster with whatever is in vogue then will pay off in the long run.

I don't know if the UK has any codes specifically regarding POE ethernet - in the USA as power-limited low voltage it has very little code affecting it (primarily the communications cable section of code, which does not have any notable location restrictions that I can think of at present.) Presumably as an international standard it might have been designed to avoid issues in most countries, but some may have more restrictive rules than is the norm for that application.

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  • I hadn't really considered ceiling sockets, but it's a good suggestion - I'll think about provisioning some unterminated cables so I can do this easily in future. I was going to try to fit conduit where the cables will run in walls. Would you also recommend this in the crawl space, or over ceilings? – JRI Sep 8 at 6:12
  • Depends whether you want to crawl in those spaces when you opt to change cables. Conduit end-to end makes changing cables clean and easy - if you only have conduit stubs to spaces you can crawl in, then you have to crawl in those spaces to change cables - up to you. Seems like nobody (except us guys who put in wireless and understand how much better it works with wires to the access points) thinks about putting them in ceilings, and particularly with 5GHz WiFi (the currently fast flavors) you REALLY want them there. Conduit is also good for avoiding "rodent interference." – Ecnerwal Sep 10 at 0:00

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