Installing a media network panel with modules for phone, data, and video lines provides flexibility and the assurance that you have reliable connections.
Planning the network
Choose a central location for your network panel, away from any electrical breaker panel or subpanel. Avoid attics or garages, where temperatures and humidity vary widely. Make sure no lines have to reach more than 300 feet from the panel. Check with service providers for special requirements. Place several outlets in each room, no more than 12 feet from each other. Each should have at least a telephone and cable outlet. Draw a plan, noting the length of cable run and parts needed.
About 1 hour to run each cable, about 4 to 6 hours to install the panel
Drywall saw or reciprocating saw, cable connector crimpers, type-F connector crimpers, stripping tool, drill, fish tape, longnose pliers, diagonal cutter
Planning, making electrical connections, running cable
Plan the installation; clear space for installing the panel and outlets.
Panel; cable and telephone distribution modules; power module, Category 5e and coaxial cable with connectors; outlets
Cut openings and install a low-voltage box at each outlet location. Between two studs, cut an opening for the network panel. Run Category 5e cable for phone and data lines and coaxial cable for broadband or satellite lines. This is the hardest and most time-consuming part of the job.
Label each end of the cables as you pull them. Leave 12-18 inches of excess cable at each opening. Run a 14/2 electrical cable from the breaker panel to the network box opening. Remove knockouts and fit the box with bushings to protect the cables. Feed the cables into the box and fasten them to the studs.
Purchase Category 5e connectors, selecting colors to indicate use (blue for data lines and white for phone lines for example). Strip about 21/2 inches of cable jacket and straighten the wires. Using the A color key on the eight-conductor connector, push the wires into their color-coded slots. Press them into place using the punch tool provided.
Remove knockouts and fasten the surge protector and GFCI power module into the network box. Strip the 14/2 cable and connect the module following the manufacturer's instructions. Fasten the module into place using screws provided. Leave caps in place to guard against debris falling into the receptacles.
Snap a telephone distribution panel into place. It routes incoming telephone lines. Attach a voice and data module (or more if you need them -- each module serves six wall outlets). Wire each household extension line to this module. Connect patch cords between these modules and the appropriate plug-in.
For each incoming line strip about 21/2 inches of cable jacket from the Category 5e cable. Following the manufacturer's instructions straighten and fan the wires and place them into the color-coded brackets adjacent to the appropriate module. Press them into the brackets with a punch tool and snip off the excess.
With an inexpensive walkie-talkie, an assistant, and the testing device shown, you can quickly test each new line. This tester has plugs for coaxial, four-pair phone lines, and Category 5 and 5e lines. Have your helper check the plan to identify the line being tested and then announce the line number to you.
At the network panel find the cable being tested and touch the tester to it. If the line is correct, the tester emits a high-pitched sound. If there is no sound, check other lines until you find the connected line. Adjust the connection at the panel to correct any mistakes.