I have a house that sits on about 4 acres of land. There is a very large front yard and an even bigger one in the back. I want to get both power and Ethernet (for security cameras) located at various points in both the front and the back.

Does anyone know of a single cable bundle that includes both (shielded so as to not have the power interfere with the data), and that can also be buried directly in the ground?

I know it's going to take a ton of trenching, but that's ok. I am more stumped on how to find the right kind of cable.

  • Thinking outside the box, and this may not work for you. They do have devices that allow you to run Ethernet over AC. Google "ethernet over powerline".
    – chue x
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 18:30
  • Heh - my first assumption on seeing "ethernet and AC" was 802.11ac - anyway, if you are running 120 or 120/240, that has to be in a physically separate conduit or cable (and I prefer conduit...)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 18:41
  • How huge? Ethernet is limited to cable runs of 300 feet.
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 20:22
  • @Mark, 100 meters, actually, so you're off by nearly 10%. And there are ways around that if need be. Given power at both ends, fiber converters would be the best, as they make the link lightning-proof as well as supporting much longer link lengths. Given the presence of power, one could also put a wired switch in a weatherproof box at 100 meters or less and run another 100 meters from there. It's a solvable problem.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 23:52
  • Kids these days, going right to fiber. In the good old days the first thought would have been for thick-net. I will admit that a few hundred meters of 10Base5 is likely a better magnet for lightening than a cell tower about 25 meters away.
    – Some Guy
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 20:35

4 Answers 4


Trenches are hard/expensive.

Conduit is inexpensive. Having dug the hard and/or expensive trench, investing a tiny bit into having conduit in the trench so you never have to dig that trench again is just sense.

Direct burial is silly. It's especially silly the second time, when conduit the first time would mean no need to dig again. It's a short-term savings that often isn't even a savings (conduit + wet-rated outdoor wire is not infrequently less expensive than direct burial outdoor wire.) You do need wet-rated outdoor wire - all conduits outside are assumed by code to be wet, and the assumption is usually correct - condensate will do it if nothing else does.

Depending on what security cameras you get, ethernet can be the power wiring (PoE cameras)

  • I want to get both out there because I also want to have power outlets for things like low voltage lighting and some standard (weatherproof) flood lights. I will be installing POE cameras, so that's covered with the single ethernet cable. I'm not sure what you meant by no need to dig? I don't want to see the conduit running across the yard. Thanks btw for taking time to answer!
    – Tuckerdude
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 16:10
  • You have to dig, once. If you do direct burial, after the first "incident" of whatever sort (lightning strike nearby, rodent, sprinkler guy or landscaper with a shovel, obsolescence of Cat5) you need to dig again. With conduit, you only need to dig once, and the wires are much more resistant to damages than direct-burial wires. If you are running 120VAC ("standard floodlights") you need two separate conduits (or wires) one for "low voltage" and one for 120/240 VAC. If your idea of "standard floodlight" is 12 volts, you can do it in one conduit.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 16:31
  • Data and power should not be in the same raceway. If you're running both, you'll need two conduits.
    – Tester101
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 18:40
  • On one of the jobs I ran, there was a main house and later in phase 2 of the project a barn was repurposed into an office. It is about 300ft away. To get communications and other low voltage, the electricians set 2 "pull boxes" in ground at 100ft intervals to reduce the strain of the pull, even with lots of pulling gel/lube. It was a straight shot from house to barn.
    – Jack
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 23:36
  • I've done 660 in one shot, but would have been a lot happier to have a pull box in the middle (fiber, so no issue with how long the segment was, unlike cat5) - for anything close to a straight pull with reasonable fill, 300 feet should be fine in one shot - and two pull boxes will pay for quite a bit of "increase the diameter of the conduit..." if the fill % was causing the hangup.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 23:45

Conduit is the only way to go. Do it once and do it right. In 5 years you will be happy you did.

PVC Conduit, you will need two runs, one AC and one data. You will never regret buying bigger pipe. They can lie next to each other.

Rent a 'Ditch Witch' trencher for a day longer than you think you need, one that will dig 24", but an 18" trench will be fine.

Pull at least 3 pieces of plastic string, mason's twine or the like works well. You can then pull bigger rope if needed. Use the first one, the second is for pulling the other thing you figure out you need in the pipe. The third is when the back-up breaks.

Buy a kellems type pulling grip for each cable, you will be glad you did, Use twice the pulling lube you think you need 'Yellow 77 a Greenlee brand name,'or something similar.

Best of luck to you.

  • Thanks Some Guy! I will take your advice....You're right that in 5 years I will be glad I did it the right way. And thanks for the additional details on the twine. I have learned that trick too....it's always after the fact that you remember something else you want to send down the conduit, so these are a great insurance policy.
    – Tuckerdude
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 14:49
  • You should also keep the two runs at least a foot apart (I'd go for 2 feet) to cut down on EM interference from the higher voltage line. Don't put them right next to each other if you can help it.
    – nstenz
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 18:18
  • Understood, and accepted. Given that we are talking about soil, which is excellent for providing impedance to many things electrical, up to and including nuclear bombs, I will respectfully agree that some distance of separation between the two conduits is good advice. What if we meet on the concept of trenching and extra 6 inches down, laying the power line, then cover with a foot of soil, before setting the ethernet line in place ? Given the size of the task, it may also be useful to use shielded cat cable instead of utp. Thanks of improving my advice.
    – Some Guy
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 20:25

Note that wifi may be a perfectly reasonable alternative to the cat5. A standard router covers my property quite adequately. If i needed longer throw, a directional antenna can increase range considerably; websearching "cantenna" will find a number of designs. (I've used the side-fired coffee can design;not the most efficient but easy to build and it does work)

  • Thanks Keshlam! Beleive me, I would go with Wifi if I thought I could rely in it. But if I have to get AC out there anyway...I might as well also through in ethernet while I'm at it. That's my logic anyway. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
    – Tuckerdude
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 14:51
  • Keshlam, I have always regretted that the coffee can is better than the traditional Pringles can, when exposed to weather conditions. Oh for the times when the 2.4MHz band was not so crowded. I had not thought about the cantenna in years, thanks for the smile.
    – Some Guy
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 20:30

Are you sure you want to run ethernet for your security camera's? an alternative is to run Coaxial cable with power. The cable is an integrated cable (one coaxial and one power)

see RG59 Siamese cable enter image description here

Yes. this is not digital. But at least you have the increased reliability of Coax and reduced cost of the camera's. Remember your DVR can convert to digital at the DVR unit, so its not really much difference.

Do you plan to have a dedicated network for the IP Camera's?

EDIT: Thought I would leave the post here, but on second thought, I think it would be a bad decision to run Coaxial since its lack of ground loop immunity, high interference and impedance. At those distances, UTP cable will be far superior.

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