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I'm adding CAT6 networking to my house for higher speeds plus some POE cameras. I want to put the cable modem, switch and camera DVR in a metal structured wiring enclosure. The best place is the the gap between the studs next to the main breaker box so the enclosure and breaker box would share a stud. I've checked and there's no physical reason I couldn't install the enclosure there.

Are there any reasons not to put electronic/networking devices directly next to (separated by a stud) the main breaker box? Interference? Code?

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  • The fact that you're talking about open studs makes me think maybe you're planning to do this in your garage, in which case you need to give some thought to heat. Unlike breaker boxes, the electronics you're putting in your structured wiring enclosure will not tolerate high temperatures well -- and they produce heat of their own that will need to be removed. If you live somewhere with hot summers, it might be a better idea to locate it inside somewhere. – Nate S. Jan 26 at 23:43
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Wire access space. When you plant something near the breaker box, you can't then enter the breaker box from the area blocked by that something.

You are going to be blocking off (what sounds like) a whole side of your breaker box from access. That can come back to bite when you need to add something later, and really wish that the other box was in the next stud bay leaving an open stud bay, rather than sharing a stud with the electrical box.

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  • Thanks this was the answer I was looking for. Not knowing much about working on breaker boxes I wasn't sure what type of access was typically needed for repairs/additions. – Geordie Jan 26 at 22:49
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    @Geordie It won't be needed unless you block it off, in which case it will be needed this summer. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Jan 27 at 6:36
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    @Geordie : I seem to recall the PDU (power distribution unit) in our data center being blocked off so there was nothing within 2' of either side, nor 4' in front of it ... so that they could easily add new circuits when needed. I'd be inclined to leave at minimum one stud bay, if not two, in between two boxes that are going to have multiple cables coming out of them. I haven't done telco wiring since POE became a thing, so you might also want to ask about if it's a good idea to run shielded cable before you put in all the work. – Joe Jan 27 at 17:30
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This isn't a full Answer, but it's not a comment either.

If the cable modem is your WAP, then the box could reduce your signal to nearly, or actually, nothing. Also, putting a modem in an enclosure is generally a bad thing.

A former landlord of mine kept theirs in a cabinet, like for plates and cups, and it routinely got too hot and fried itself. Not only was this a reliability issue on the normal week, but they had to replace it nearly yearly.

I don't think interference is a big thing for the modem, but I know running the ethernet in parallel with 120v can definitely cause problems, which is what you'd be doing coming out of the box. YMMV.

I don't think there would be a code violation, but I don't know Code either.

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    Thanks for your answer and yes all Wifi end points will be distributed throughout the house using CAT6 backbone. – Geordie Jan 26 at 22:48
  • @Geordie "all Wifi end points will be distributed throughout the house" . How big is your house?? – RonJohn Jan 27 at 22:43
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Another consideration is your mention of Power over Ethernet, coded under 802.3af

Switches for POE tend to have higher power requirements than the same switch in a non-POE format, and are even less happy about being closed into a box than regular switches.

Personally I installed a floor mounted server rack in the garage, but they're not small. If you don't need the depth of servers, you can get switching racks which hang off the wall, with swing hinges front and rear. These racks take normal 19" wide switches and patch panels.

If you mount the rack such there is space on top, then a wireless AP can live on top and still get acceptable wireless range. However consider the risk of head-strike when walking around the garage.

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    POE is a seriously good idea - I have a Pi4 and a 5TB USB3 hard drive running on the end of a POE link, and its only using 7-10W of power. Unit does our backups and lives in a woodshed which is isolated from the house, so there's some level of separation in event of fire etc. I can run UTP cable without an electrician involved, but I can't run mains AC to the woodshed. – Criggie Jan 27 at 9:21
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    Thanks yeah I actually have a similar low profile server rack on another wall in the garage that holds a lot of DMX lighting gear to control front deck/stairs lighting. – Geordie Jan 27 at 16:19
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In addition to the above, you want to keep each of your low voltage wires at least 12 inches away from powered wires and putting the structured media box next to your electrical panel will just cause major interference and reduce the quality of transmission.

Instead of cat6 quality, you might get a slumbering cat... (Weak wire humor attempted).

Also you may need the space for adding hubs for expansion stuff we don't even know exists yet in the future or adding new features in the future. Google "structured wiring design manual".

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    This is a standard rule to follow... UTP cables should not be run parallel to power lines. But, if they must, they should maintain at least 12" separation from any power lines. When crossing power lines, UTP should cross at 90-degrees. I'd re-think your approach... there's a decent chance you will have electrical noise in your breaker panel that could interfere with your UTP cables. I wouldn't even try putting wireless in that area. – mikem Jan 27 at 6:23
  • Is this just old wives tales? How much interference does 60 Hz have on signals in the MHz? – Brad Jan 27 at 23:51

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