Home Networking closet

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Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:13 pm

So, we just bought a new house, and I'm pretty thrilled with the opportunities this will avail :)

At some point, I'm planning on running ethernet through the house, mostly so I can reduce the clutter of wires and mess that is behind my TV. Basically, I'd like to get a cable/internet drop into the closet (or close enough), and then hide the modem and router, etc in the closet, and still be able to get decent network speeds to my HTPC

A couple questions while I'm setting this up.

1) How well ventilated will the closet need to be? I'd imagine that the airflow is somewhat restricted compared to being out on a desk, but if I leave the closet door open would that be enough? (I live in the SF bay area, so generally we're around 70-80F indoors except for a couple weeks in the summer when it hits about 100F)

2) For wiring the house, the ethernet jacks are point to point right? I've got a Belkin 24-port GigE switch that I was planning on using, so that would mean I'd need a wire from the switch to each jack, which would be something like up to 20 wires going into the wall? Is there an easy/good way to design this, or do I just cut a big piece out of the wall/ceiling and run a huge bundle of cables?

3) Is is better to run wires through the roof or under the floors? I'm not 100% which has more space, but I think each are equally easy to reach.

Any other suggestions for what to get? (I'm planning on this for a summer project)
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:35 pm

1) How well ventilated will the closet need to be?

An exhaust fan in the roof should be enough, it should suck the required air from under a closed door without too much difficulty. that keeps the goodies out of sight.

2) For wiring the house, the ethernet jacks are point to point right?

Yes, I'd consider running two cables and installing dual ports in each of your desired rooms. This allows for future expansion and easier to do now than later.

do I just cut a big piece out of the wall/ceiling and run a huge bundle of cables?

If you place a good sized junction box on the wall and have it cover the hole you make, then run the cables in conduit down into the rack. (you are using a rack/cabnet right?) Looks neat and professional. You can also use the junction box to hide a slack loop.

3) Is is better to run wires through the roof or under the floors?

There are arguments to either, it really depends on the house and how you want to go about it.
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:48 pm

You could also rig something like this to suck cool air in under the door.

(That's an old pic from years ago, when I had a server and 4 diskless Folding@home systems in the closet attached to my office. It got pretty toasty in there, but the heat load was probably at least 5x what you'll have.)
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:56 pm

druidcent wrote:3) Is is better to run wires through the roof or under the floors? I'm not 100% which has more space, but I think each are equally easy to reach.

Where are critters more likely to chew on the wires there in the Bay Area? At least here in NW VT, the local mouse population in the cellar just loves Cat6 and co-ax to the point it runs in PVC pipe from wall to wall.

As for ventilation, a modem & router combo shouldn't need anything more than passive ventilation, i.e. a 4"x4" mesh vent near the top of the closet door and a good 3/8" gap at the bottom. If it gets too bad, a slow 120mm fan on the inside of the door cutout should be all you need. Should be able to bodge 5, 7, or 12V somewhere from the modem/router power supply chain.
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:05 pm

Captain Ned wrote:As for ventilation, a modem & router combo shouldn't need anything more than passive ventilation, i.e. a 4"x4" mesh vent near the top of the closet door and a good 3/8" gap at the bottom. If it gets too bad, a slow 120mm fan on the inside of the door cutout should be all you need. Should be able to bodge 5, 7, or 12V somewhere from the modem/router power supply chain.

If it's just modem and router then yeah, no additional ventilation required. I was assuming that the HTPC was going to be in there too (no idea where this closet is relative to his entertainment system).
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:26 pm

If you're really only talking about a modem/router you don't need any ventilation. Whilst the plastic covers on a router can get warm to the touch, they're really insignificant as a heat source in anything other than the tiniest box.

Our last office ran about a dozen Cicso rackmount switches in a small cupboard (like, 3ft x 5ft floor area) without any ventilation at all. The plan was to buy some cooling if the room got hot, but even with half a kilowatt of electronics in there, the cupboard was barely warmer than outside. Even in summer when it was warm indoors the cupboard wasnt much hotter - probably because there was a draught from gaps around the door. Nonetheless, if I model it for a half-kilowatt source, the system would be stable with each square foot of the cupboard disipating only 3W. I know brick, plaster and wood aren't the best materials for heatsinks but even they can manage to transfer 3W per square foot without a ridiculous temperature gradient building up.

At around 5W for your average home router, you're not going to notice the room heating up unless your closet is basically the size of an mATX case, and even then it would only be "warm" and not exactly a problem for the router.
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:41 pm

:) Thanks for the suggestions...

My plan was to get a couple of cheap shelving units from IKEA and stick it in the closet. I'm converting the smallest bedroom into a den.. the closet is about 2 feet deep, and maybe 6 or 7 feet wide.. It's got sliding doors which I plan on keeping open, at least halfway. I was going to stick the modem, router, and switch on one shelf, and use the other shelves for random stuff. mostly keeping random gadgets out of sight from my better half :) (That way she can't complain about the clutter in my office). As I mentioned, ambient temps should run around 70 or so, and I was more worried about the units overheating. The HTPC will be going into the entertainment console in the living room, at least 30 feet away (directly) and two or three walls depending on the measurements. I'm thinking at some point in the future to have WMC extenders for TVs in other rooms, but that's a long-term plan

How big of a hole would 20 cables make? I'm thinking a Cat5e or Cat6 cable is roughly 1/4" across (maybe my estimation is off), so a whole bundle would need a 1-1/2" to 2" conduit? Are there some recommendations so it looks somewhat neat and clean?

As for critters, I've seen racoons and skunks in the area.. no mice or small rodents that I'm aware of..
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:45 pm

I didn't enjoy drilling and routing through ceilings/floors, etc. I understand others do. :) But, a conduit packed with 20 cat5s sounds crazy to me. I get by with a few long runs through cold air returns, and a cheap gigabit switch at each end.

Theoretically, the network could choke if the homerun HD was serving two streams while wired LAN file copies were going on. But in practice, everybody just fights over WAP bandwidth for their gadgets :)

Now, fiddling with mounting a giant screen and ceiling mounting a projector...that's WORTHWHILE :D
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:48 pm

If you want to look at other people's setups (which may be helpful), do a Google Image Search for "home network closet"... Here's one example, which also shows a neat way to route your bundle of wires through the wall, using something called "recessed low voltage cable wall plate":
http://blog.scurker.com/2011/03/home-ne ... ing-closet
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:15 am

I also have a couple of gigabit switches linking the home-office and router part of the flat to the living room. It seemed easier than running lots and lots of cables!

I'm not expecting rodents either, but I did two things to try and rodent-proof the solution anyway:
  1. I ran two cables through the walls; One cable is an unused backup in case the first one gets nibbled, kinked, whatever
  2. I foil-wrapped the cables with aluminium baking foil. Apparently rodents don't like nibbling on metal foil - probably for the same reasons that people don't like chewing foil either ;)
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:29 am

druidcent wrote:1) How well ventilated will the closet need to be? I'd imagine that the airflow is somewhat restricted compared to being out on a desk, but if I leave the closet door open would that be enough? (I live in the SF bay area, so generally we're around 70-80F indoors except for a couple weeks in the summer when it hits about 100F)


Do you have a basement? I have a wiring "closet" under my basement stairs. Basement will also be cooler overall.

druidcent wrote:2) For wiring the house, the ethernet jacks are point to point right? I've got a Belkin 24-port GigE switch that I was planning on using, so that would mean I'd need a wire from the switch to each jack, which would be something like up to 20 wires going into the wall? Is there an easy/good way to design this, or do I just cut a big piece out of the wall/ceiling and run a huge bundle of cables?


Do you have 20 rooms? Why would you run so many cables? I can see like 5 to a TV/console area and 1 per room. What would that be, like 10 cables total if you include the kitchen? And the TV/console area could be lower if you just had a switch there as well.

druidcent wrote:3) Is is better to run wires through the roof or under the floors? I'm not 100% which has more space, but I think each are equally easy to reach.


If you have an unfinished basement, easier there I think. When I ran cable at my parents' house we used the attic since it was a multi-level house and just dropped the stuff down the "wet wall" or existing space for the plumbing that was available. Their basement is finished but has a suspended ceiling which made routing easier. My current house is pre-wired and a ranch with an unfinished basement and that was all run under the floor. I want to add a few more jacks so I'll be adding to the under-floor routing. Being a newer house the phone jacks are also RJ45 and I ended up using those as extra network jacks and put a coreless phone base station also in the wiring closet since those only need 1 station connected. The rest of them just need power outlets so BOOM, done.
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Re: Home Networking closet

Postposted on Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:25 pm

Scrotos wrote:
druidcent wrote:1) How well ventilated will the closet need to be? I'd imagine that the airflow is somewhat restricted compared to being out on a desk, but if I leave the closet door open would that be enough? (I live in the SF bay area, so generally we're around 70-80F indoors except for a couple weeks in the summer when it hits about 100F)


Do you have a basement? I have a wiring "closet" under my basement stairs. Basement will also be cooler overall.

No Basement, but there is a crawl space

Scrotos wrote:
druidcent wrote:2) For wiring the house, the ethernet jacks are point to point right? I've got a Belkin 24-port GigE switch that I was planning on using, so that would mean I'd need a wire from the switch to each jack, which would be something like up to 20 wires going into the wall? Is there an easy/good way to design this, or do I just cut a big piece out of the wall/ceiling and run a huge bundle of cables?


Do you have 20 rooms? Why would you run so many cables? I can see like 5 to a TV/console area and 1 per room. What would that be, like 10 cables total if you include the kitchen? And the TV/console area could be lower if you just had a switch there as well.

3 bedrooms and a living room.. the kitchen can make do with wi-fi :) The suggestion was at least 2 cables to each room, and I'll probably need 4 or 5 to the living room. (maybe to 2 jacks, but I'm not sure yet). I've got a 24 port GigE switch for free, so I don't need 20+ runs, but I figured it would be better to plan for it.. Also turns out that with U-Verse, I'm going to need to run at least one connection back to my "network closet" to put the modem there.

Scrotos wrote:
druidcent wrote:3) Is is better to run wires through the roof or under the floors? I'm not 100% which has more space, but I think each are equally easy to reach.


If you have an unfinished basement, easier there I think. When I ran cable at my parents' house we used the attic since it was a multi-level house and just dropped the stuff down the "wet wall" or existing space for the plumbing that was available. Their basement is finished but has a suspended ceiling which made routing easier. My current house is pre-wired and a ranch with an unfinished basement and that was all run under the floor. I want to add a few more jacks so I'll be adding to the under-floor routing. Being a newer house the phone jacks are also RJ45 and I ended up using those as extra network jacks and put a coreless phone base station also in the wiring closet since those only need 1 station connected. The rest of them just need power outlets so BOOM, done.

[/quote]

The installer recommended that I go from underneath to avoid having to try and drill through cross-braces between the walls... I'm definitely going to have to start crawling around in both spaces to figure out what's the best way..
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