I have been bouncing around the idea of running CAT6 thru my older (1970s) house. Single story with an unfinished attic

I have identified a bedroom closet as the potential location for the central wiring location. The closet is on the outer wall of the house.

Rather than install a patch panel in the closet itself and have to deal with tidying up all of the resulting cables, I was toying with the idea of a wooden enclosure directly above the closet

Something along the lines of this http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S89046815/ With a pair of 6U rails to mount the patch panels. Rails would be mounted about 6" in on the client cable side and 9" in on the termination side

Nail some attic decking onto the joists and secure the enclosure onto the decking

Run all cables up into the attic Drill a 4" hole on the side of the enclosure to feed cables from wall jacks (or maybe drill a series of holes and just run smurf tube directly into the enclosure) Drill a 3" hole on the bottom and run a short length of PVC to feed the switch (24 port for now but possibly 48 later) or pass patch cables from router and VOIP up to the panel.

Would this raise any code violations?
Potential fire hazard maybe from terminating inside a wooden enclosure in the unfinished attic? Any structural code issues from putting this near the outer wall/studs.

Any other problems this might cause that I'm overlooking?

  • 2
    How warm does it get in the attic? Heat and dust tends to kill network equipment pretty fast.
    – diceless
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 3:58
  • 1
    Did you know that these wall mounted enclosures existed? It's a more "professional" way to manage the patch panels and wiring. I have one in my closet for all the media wiring in the house.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 13:17
  • So if the patch panel in in the attic, you'll need to climb into the attic to patch? Seems awkward. Mind you, most homes are better served by just putting plugs directly on the (labeled) wall cables and running them directly to a switch, rather than having a patch panel and patch cables at all.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 14:12
  • @JPhi1618 Those rack mount enclosures are nice, but of course they're a bit spendy, plus the cost of the cooling fans you'll mount to the roof of the thing to ventilate it, plus the cost of 19" rack-mountable parts (patch panels, switches, etc). Of course you could install one or more 19" rack-mount metal shelves to set your little plastic home networking device(s) on. And don't forget that the rack weighs 55 pounds before you put any equipment in it. I'd be careful about mounting it to studs. You'd be safer mounting it to a shear wall or 3/4" plywood backer board. But I sure like them. :-) Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


No obvious code violations. You're talking about low voltage cable in a non-plenum area, and any cable you buy is almost certainly going to be plenum-rated anyway.

If you're using an enclosed box like the one you referenced, dust probably won't be a huge problem.

Heat will not be a problem if you're just pulling cable and terminating it in patch panels.

However; if you're planning to put any actual electronic equipment in that box, like network switches, the attic heat could be a serious problem even if you install fans in the box to vent hot air. The air you'd be drawing into the box from the attic will be hot.

Presumably, the entire purpose of putting the patch panel in the box is to put things like your cable or DSL modem, router and switch(es) in the box, too. Those may all be the same device, of course, depending on your configuration.

I suppose you could run some ductwork and use both intake and vent fans in the box to draw cool air through it from your living area. But that's getting pretty elaborate.

I would just put it all on a high shelf in your closet. But even then, it is possible that your equipment will generate enough heat that you'll need to vent the closet to avoid damage to the equipment.

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