[Hidden-tech] Setting up a home area network, HAN

Tim Boudreau niftiness at gmail.com
Fri Nov 15 20:26:25 UTC 2019

A few years ago we renovated a Victorian house and did something like what
you're doing (I'm a software engineer, and do some hosting at home for my
customers to test drive things and such).  At the time, CAT-6A was state of
the art (it can do 10 gigabit ethernet) - for copper, CAT-7 I believe is
now the standard.  So for starters, use CAT-7.  Even if you don't plan to
run ten gigabit tomorrow (though a cheap Buffalo unmanaged switch
eventually made that viable for us), it doesn't cost *that* much more than
using CAT-5, and you won't regret it.

One thing I thought about doing and now regret that I didn't do was to run
fiber everywhere while I was doing that - in addition to be pretty
permanently future-proof, it has uses with, for example, doing long USB-C
runs (would have been useful since my desk is in the middle of the room,
and I don't really want to have to keep the computer physically located at
the desk).

Other suggestions:
 - Keep network cable runs away from the romex that runs household wiring
wherever possible - the romex will induce current in the network cables and
degrade performance
 - Get a good network patch bay compatible with CAT-7 - these are cheap
 - Get a good cable tester, and test every run as you do it
 - If you plan to run anything that generates heat in your network closet
(say, a server or NAS - or even a switch will likely also generate some
heat and have a fan, but at least in my case, it hasn't cooked itself yet),
make sure the space is adequately ventilated (if there are AC ducts nearby,
you can find someone - I can give you a number - who can do the math on the
size of openings you could cut in a send and return duct to cool an
enclosed closet)
 - Get a good label maker, and label every cable with TWO LABELS a few feet
apart - this saved my ass after someone thought the piece of cardboard I
had all the numbered runs on my patch bay written on was trash and tossed it

Mesh networking is great, but if it can be wired, it should be wired - much
more reliable, not interfered with by household appliances or construction
equipment nearby, etc.

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