My girlfriend is finishing up her basement and has set up a good layout for electrical outlets throughout the rooms (family room, bedroom, and office), but she's only accounted for a single coaxial cable run to each room for her ideal furniture arrangement. I talked her into at least running a phone line along with the cable to match the rest of her house (and at least an ethernet connection as well for when I move in to accommodate my geek projects), but I'm trying to talk her into more than one run per room. I've rented for several years and most apartments have at least 2 cable/telephone outlets on opposite walls/corners of the room to widen the options for furniture arrangements. Since she's looking at putting her place on the market in a few years I'm trying to convince her it will be a helpful selling point, but my Google-fu is failing me at finding supporting or negating evidence. Is there any evidence one way or the other, or are my geeky more-is-better ideas influencing me?

  • It's probably one of those things you won't notice when you buy, but wish you had when you come to rearrange your furniture 6 months after you've moved in.
    – ChrisF
    Apr 3, 2011 at 16:30
  • 3
    While you're at it, just run Cat5e/Cat6 for the telephone/network. A standard phone connector (RJ11 or RJ14) can plug into the network (RJ45) connector and is pin-compatible. The nice thing is if you ever need network instead of phones, it's already there. Think VoIP phones..
    – gregmac
    Apr 4, 2011 at 4:29
  • 3
    @Gregmac: That's what I was planning. Running 2 Cat5e cables to each drop and installing a small punch down panel for one end for all the cables. I did that type of wiring at a former company so I'm pretty familiar with it.
    – Agent_9191
    Apr 4, 2011 at 11:16
  • Exactly what I have in my house, which works great. gregmaclellan.com/blog/wp-content/uploads//imgp4280.jpg. Almost everything is VoIP, but you can see one phone line plugged in for an analog cordless phone.
    – gregmac
    Apr 4, 2011 at 19:02

5 Answers 5


I doubt most buyers will even notice or care if it was pointed out to them. Today, everyone uses a cordless telephone, wifi for networking, and any cables are just run around the baseboard. And I say this as a geek that ran conduit through the walls when I redid my basement. Speaking of which, if you ever remodel (or build) something you plan to stay in, run conduit through the walls.

The key point you need to keep in mind is that it should be possible to get to a majority of the walls along the baseboard from your wall jacks without passing a door or closet. If a large wall could be used for a TV but requires running the wire over the door, then I'd put a second jack on that side.

My guess for apartment owners is that two jacks results in less wires over carpets or nails holding wires everywhere, so they do this more to reduce damage than to make your life easier.

  • 4
    Not everybody uses wifi.
    – Tester101
    Apr 5, 2011 at 12:29
  • 4
    "Everyone" is an exaggeration, but no one is going to drop the price because they expected a network connection to be on the same wall as their home computer. They'll find 100 other reasons first.
    – BMitch
    Apr 5, 2011 at 12:45

If you're going through the trouble of running cables, go all out. The difference of 3 cat5 versus 1 cat5 is minimal, but can make a huge difference in usefulness in the future. If later you find you need them in a room, it is much more work to add them then. I would personally allow for the possibility of at least 3 internet enabled devices in every room. It doesn't mean that there will be that many in every room, but it allows that any given room should be able to accommodate most needs that way. You might look at pulling 4-5 in the main room of the house. You can get faceplates that can mix and match connections so you can have up to 4 RJ45, 1 RJ14 and 1 coaxial all in the same spot on a wall.

  • Cat5e/Cat6 is more appropriate with Gigabit networking becoming standard. And two lines are appropriate with one used for phone and second for networking (use different colors of cable if possible). Once the connection is in the room, you can use a switch to split the network cable to multiple devices, no need to run multiple network cables to a room.
    – BMitch
    Apr 20, 2011 at 11:50
  • 4
    Considering you can't buy cat5 anymore, cat5e was assumed. In most home environments people will run cables in such a way that gigabit speeds will never be reached. Even if they are, they will design their network in such a way that it won't matter. Cat5e will almost never produce desired speed results in a gigabit environment regardless of what the standards say. I'm a firm believer in only using a switch when no other cabling solution exists. You always want a full drop for every connection, more switches mean more points of failure and more money in unnecessary equipment.
    – MaQleod
    Apr 20, 2011 at 14:12
  • Yeah, the main cost is the labor, not the wires. Run extras. Oct 1, 2011 at 19:18

I finished my basement a few years ago and ran two coax, two ethernet, speaker and phone lines to each room.

How many of them have I used since then? 0.

Ethernet/phone = nice to have but, really, everything is wireless now.

Coax = likely useful for a few more years, but that, too, will eventually be wireless (we're close already as most of our watching is done via Amazon Streaming or Hulu now).

Speaker = well...this could be useful. I had dreams of a massive surround sound system. But then I got my new TV and realized the sound quality of the TV was great. So didn't need the surround sound.

So...I'd suggest that rather than running all that cable, she run smurf tube with a fish line to blank outlets in each room. It's cheap, and makes it easy for any future cable pulling without having to invest in it all now.

  • Is it necessary to pipe smurfs to each room? Probably convenient but how many of them do you need?
    – mgb
    Apr 20, 2011 at 16:23
  • 1
    You just need the smurf tube. Smurfs can then travel via the tubes. You can also run wires through them too.
    – DA01
    Apr 20, 2011 at 16:55
  • If you're going to the effort of running smurf tube, just run the cables and be done with it.
    – aphoria
    Oct 1, 2011 at 1:52
  • @aphoria...the purpose of the smurf tube is to avoid the reality that home A/V/Networking technology changes fairly often. The Smurf tube helps future proof things a bit.
    – DA01
    Oct 1, 2011 at 5:26
  • what the hell is a smurf tube? Oct 3, 2011 at 12:55

I wouldn't worry about the resale value of running the extra lines. Just do it for your own convenience. Yes, you probably will not ever use many of the extra runs, but you'll be happy for the ones you do use.

  • +1 Except every little bit counts. You can tell the difference between someone who really cared for a home by the tiniest details applied. If extra lines are installed, hopefully they make sense. My in-laws have radio wires all over their house that they bought in 2004 and have no idea how to hook them up. Oct 3, 2011 at 12:57

I recently did my house, and only put a single port in each room thinking, "I can just use an ethernet switch." I have found from experience though that when you have a TV, Wii, XBox, Cable Box, Media PC, Audio Receiver, and a Subwoofer, adding an extra A/C plug, extra device and all of the RJ-45 cable running to that device just adds to the clutter.

You might just have to say that networked devices are going to become more and more prevalent in the future, and just as people want plenty of A/C outlets, they will also want plenty of RJ-45 jacks.

  • why not wifi? Seems less instrusive and you can always buy a repeater. Oct 3, 2011 at 12:57
  • 2
    I work at a networking company, and hard wiring gives faster speeds, does not receive interference, and it was cheap for me to do. It's generally better for XBox and other devices that stream data.
    – bradlis7
    Oct 4, 2011 at 23:01
  • Hmm.. seems to work fine playing Call of Duty on my Wii. Oct 5, 2011 at 15:35

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