I know, I know, you are going to say something along the lines of “but wireless is so much simpler” or “wireless is the easiest solution for an old house”. Well, while you are probably correct, wireless is not everyone’s choice, and is not always the preferred /best solution. Additionally, a hardwired home network provides a private, high-speed network for internet access, file sharing, media streaming, IP security cameras, online gaming, and more.
Now that we’ve established that, the question is ‘how to wire an old house for Ethernet easily’. Well here goes:
Needs & Design
Take a look at your old house and consider your needs. Decide which rooms/spaces will be wired.
Then consider how many ports are needed in each location. Think of your current needs, and plan for increase in the not so far future, then decide. Wall plates are available in 1, 2, 4, and 6-jack configurations (for single gang). It is always smart to plan for flexibility and future expansion. And since it is not much harder to run more drops, why not just do it. You’ll be happy you did, one day in the future.
Now you will need to select a location for distribution. This location needs to have a hardwired internet access, and a space for a shelf or rack to contain the network equipment.
Potentially the trickiest decision to make is the path your cables should take. If you have attic or basement access, you are in luck. Otherwise you will have to be creative and consider other path options. When looking at the cable path you should take into consideration the fact that max cable length for up to gigabit speeds over copper UTP cabling is 100 meters/about 300 feet.
Crimping tool (needed if you are putting plug on the ends).
Drill (for drilling through wall top plates and screwing).
Paddle bit or hole saw (size will vary depending on how many cables are being run).
Pointed hand saw (for cutting holes for the gang boxes/wall plates).
Strong string or a fish tape.
Label maker (optional).
Laptop or cable tester (to test each drop).
1000′ Cat5e or Cat6 cable (depending on your needs).
Single Gang Retrofit Boxes (the kind that clamp to the drywall, open back).
RJ45 Jacks and plates.
RJ45 plugs (optional).
Plastic grommet (optional, for a more professional look).
Patch panel (optional, another professional touch).
Router (optional, may be required by you ISP).
Velcro strips for cable management (optional).
Short patch cables (optional).
Cutting & Drilling
Using a stud finder mark the center between studs. Make sure you are marking a foot away from electrical outlets at the very least to avoid Electrical wire interferes with networking. Cut a 2×3 opening (to be covered by wall plates later) in the wall at the same height as your electrical outlets. Repeat as needed.
Let’s Wire an Old House for Ethernet – Running the Cables
After locating and cutting all the holes, it is now time to thread/fish the cables through the hole between spaces. The number of cables you will run through may vary depending on your needs. When threading the first cable, tape the strong string or fish tape to it. Once you ran one cable thought you can use the string to easily run the rest of the cables going through this path.
For convenience, the multiple cables in one path can be bunched together with Velcro strips.
Now place the Single Gang Retrofit Box and tighten the screws to lock it in place. Next terminate the cable ends with RJ45 jacks according to a network wiring diagram, using a punch down tool. Once your cables are terminated, plug the jacks directly into the switch. OR, for a more professional, permanent installation, mount a patch panel. Once all cables are connected, the patch panel can be mounted to the wall. At this point all jacks can be plugged into place on the patch panel.
After all this hard work, it is time to test the system to assure all is working properly. Using a cable tester, test your new system.
After you’ve checked that all works, it is time to connect all your gadgets and enjoy your newly installed hard wired Ethernet network.