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I want to run CAT6 wire through my house, from the wired west wall to the east end of the house, and I would like to do so as cheaply as possible. I do have an inside storage space under the living room, but I have failed at fishing wire through this space.

I now wonder if I can get away with attic installation. We have fiberglass insulation in that space, so I am wondering if I should run the cable through piping. Can anyone recommend the size of piping I should use? Would I be better off using copper tubing than PVC (PVC is so much cheaper).

migrated from serverfault.com Nov 1 '14 at 18:16

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  • Thanks for your answers. I decided that Plenum cable is the way to go because I am a safety freak, but it is so expensive. It turned out that it will be cheaper to hire someone to fish the cable for me, so I'm going to bite that bullet after saving a little more money. Thank you again. – user27574 Nov 2 '14 at 21:59
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  1. Use Cat5e (good for 1GbE) unless you have a spectacular reason to use Cat6a (10GbE)*. Cat6 is essentially a deprecated spec, nobody should be using it for new installations.
  2. They make structured cabling conduit. It's cheaper than the PVC electrical conduit. PVC works great if you need something rigid. Copper would be incredibly expensive and complete overkill.
  3. Your local hardware store probably has a book on retrofit electrical and structured wiring. It would be a good buy/read for someone who hasn't done wiring before.
  4. Consider using your air ducts to run the wires. It's really not a good idea as you wont be able to clean the ducts anymore, but people do it when in a bind.

*Consumer computers probably wont come with 10GbE NICs for another decade. There's very little demand and the technology is incredibly expensive (compared to 1GbE). Most Internet connections are still <10Mb anyway, so 1GbE is already 100x faster than the primary use case.

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    If you run cable through the air ducts, it is mandatory to use Plenum-rated cables. These are slower to burn and produce less smoke. – DoxyLover Nov 1 '14 at 20:17
  • @DoxyLover This is true, but specifically, it plenum cable does not produce chlorine gas when burned, which non-plenum cable does produce. It's more the chlorine gas that is a problem, not so much the smoke. – EEAA Nov 1 '14 at 21:06
  • @EEAA - good to know. I was referring to Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_5_cable#Environmental_ratings) which simply states "Plenum-rated cables are slower to burn and produce less smoke than cables using a mantle of materials like PVC. This also affects legal requirements for a fire sprinkler system. That is if a plenum-rated cable is used, sprinkler requirement may be eliminated." – DoxyLover Nov 2 '14 at 0:14
  • Technically you're right that CAT 5e and 6 are both rated for gigabit ethernet, but I always specify CAT 6: it's nearly the same price and has more stringent noise requirements. I have frequently seen non-optimal ethernet installations (data zip-tied against power lines, small nicks in wires from pulling against sharp edges, etc.) and in my opinion it's worth the extra 10% cost for the possibility of avoiding some of those issues. But in a residential setting it maybe isn't worth it. – Hank Nov 3 '14 at 2:21

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