Home Network Panel Complete

Design The Perfect Home Networking Panel

Design The Perfect Home Networking Panel


Your home network is the foundation for your telephone, wireless, television, home automation, home theater, distributed audio and sometimes home security.  The design and specifically the layout of your home networking panel can impact its ability to meet current and future needs.  Here are some tips and tricks to help you design your home networking panel.

For a list of recommended materials check out our Shopping Area under –> Home Networking.

Whole Home Design.  Start with a rough idea of your whole home design and how it relates to the home networking panel design.  What type of cable will you need, how many will you need, and what are the optimal locations?  You can map this out on a piece of paper and tally your requirements so you can plan for enough port slots.

Leave Room for Expansion.  You will want to add to your home network down the road so plan for expansion.

Go BIG on your Home Network Enclosure.  Bigger is better.  My standard installation includes two 38″ panels side by side.  You always seem to need more space than you planned for.  This configuration provides you with options down the road.

Use Grid Lifters.  This is an expensive and time consuming project so make it look nice.  Hide the cables in the panel using grid lifters.  My standard installation includes five grid lifters in each 38″ panel.  Once you install the grid lifters the cable can run behind and maintain a clean professional look.

Use Raceway.  Spend the time and money on 1 1/2″ raceway when you install your networking panels.  Raceway will allow you to more easily add cable down the road.

Consider Your Connectivity Options.  Even though you might be a DirecTV person consider that down the road you or a future homeowner may want Cox or Comcast cable.  Plan flexibility into your panel design.

Ensure Flexibility of Design.  Terminate everything on a punch down block with female RJ-45 connections.  Commercial cable plants are all installed this way since it provides the most flexibility.  Note:  The Channel Vision punch down blocks accept both RJ-45 and RJ-11 connections so you can use the cable for a variety of functions.

Happy Home Networking!  Drop me a note if you have any questions.

20 thoughts on “Design The Perfect Home Networking Panel”

  1. Could you tell me the brand of the Cable in Teflon Supports or make them available in your shopping area ? Thanks !!!

    1. Hey Carroll!!

      Funny story here, was installing a brand new network, security camera system, etc and went to look for these from a store that I used to buy them from called HomeTech located in Cupertino, CA. Turns out that HomeTech went out of business. So, then I tracked down the vendor and they also seem to be out of business. http://www.handi-hoops.com/ Handi-Hoops are the brand, if you track them down, let me know! I will buy more too. 🙂

      Hope you’re well,

      Chris

  2. Great write up. I am getting ready to do something similar and I hope it turns out as clean as your project. Where did you find the windows for the panel?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Cristian! See link below, this looks to be the cheapest place I could find. I used to shop at a place in Cupertino, CA that has since gone out of business. 🙁

      http://www.discounthomeautomation.com/Channel-Vision-Smoked-Plexi-Glass-Hinged-Enclosure-Door-CVC01xxD

      I am in the process of doing another network control center. Less wiring on this next one as wireless is starting to solve some of the other wired problems. Will post more pictures once its done.

      Chris

  3. Hi Chris. I am the inventor of HANDI-HOOPS. I have not gone out of business…and have never. I knew Home Tech went out. A friend just sent me the link to your original article. I have had slow going getting the HH’s out there. It was exciting to me to see interest

    Kris Hansen

    1. Hey Kris! Great to hear from you and LOVE your product. I have been using your product for years now, I of course had been buying them from HomeTech in Cupertino, CA which as you mentioned is now out of business. Where can we all find your product?

      Again, thanks for reaching out!

      Chris

    1. Morning Jeff!

      Sorry for the delay. Here is a list of some of the materials I used on my last project. This was by far and away the most complex home network I’ve worked on.

      For the ENCLOSURE: I use Channel Vision. Simple, fairly cheap and they work. I ALMOST always use the 38″ cans. I just like having the extra space to work and keep things clean and tidy. I’m very particular with how things look
      Channel Vision Structured Wiring Enclosure, 38 In. (C-0138E)
      Channel Vision Plexiglass Designer Cover for C-0138E

      Future Proofing to each TV for 8k
      1000 FT (1000FT) Bulk Fiber Optic Cable Zip Cord (2 Strands) Multimode 62.5/125 Duplex (ON Spool) 3.0mm

      This is the Cat6 I used.
      Cable Matters In-Wall Rated (CM) Bare Copper Cat 6 / Cat6 Bulk Cable (Cat6 Ethernet Cable 1000 Feet) in Blue

      This is the SHIELDED Cat6 I used to extend the HDMI from AV Rack –> TV’s.
      Cable Matters In-Wall Rated (CM) Bare Copper Cat 6a / Cat6a Bulk Cable in Blue – SSTP/SFTP Shielded Ethernet Cable 1000 Feet

      This is the speaker cable I used for each PAIR of speakers.
      Cable Matters 14 AWG CL2 In Wall Rated Oxygen-Free Bare Copper 4 Conductor Speaker Wire (Speaker Cable) 250 Feet

      To each door sensor for security. Can also pull for windows but I didn’t do it.
      LOGICO Security Wire Burglar Alarm 22/4 Cable 500FT Solid White 500′ Speaker Cable

      Boring but good COAX.
      Steren 200-937BK 1000 feet RG6 Ul/cm Quadsld Coax Cable – Black

      Good luck man!

  4. Hey Chris, great piece! Thank you for sharing. Can you please confirm the outer dimensions for the panels? I clicked on the link for the Channel Vision 38 in but the product description says 41x16x5. Trying to mount it inside the wall between studs.

    1. Hey JJ!

      I am so stoked you found it useful! I LOVE this product. The typical, and I do mean typical because you just never know how a house was framed, but if framed on 16″ on center then there should be 14.5″ between studs. This product is 14″ wide, I believe every enclosure is the same. And they fit PERFECTLY between the studs. I like to bring the enclosures out perfectly flush with the drywall and then caulk around the seams to make it look perfect. And I use the smoked class door. Anyhow, check out the link below on the specifications. I think the description you referenced might be incorrect.

      Take care and good luck!

      The Construction Academy

      https://channelvision.com/wp-content/uploads/Specification-Sheets/Enclosures-spec.pdf

  5. Hi Chris,
    I’m sold on those enclosures! I’ve been wandering Pinterest for shallow wall mounted network racks. This is really nice! I have a small utility room I’m starting to build my network in. So putting the enclosure in the wall is going to save tons of space.

    I like the idea of a glass door but how would you ventilate the box?

    Regards,
    Rich

    1. Hey Rich! Awesome! Yes, I love these things. For the first time I put three of them side by side by side. First one was Data Network, Second one was Video Cameras and NVR and Third one was for security gear (HONEYWELL). Anyhow, I digress. 🙂

      Ventilation – It all depends on what you put in the enclosures but generally none of the gear I run which is almost exclusively UBIQUITI (https://www.ui.com/) doesn’t seem to need too much venting. But, that said I think you have two good options.

      1) First, the doors on the enclosures actually have vents TOP and BOTTOM. They are not huge but they should allow the hot air to rise drawing in cooler air for the bottom.

      2) Second, there are knock outs on the top and bottom of the enclosure. Technically you could knock some of those out, put some mesh material over the holes and that could be a second way for the enclosure to ventilate.

      Anyhow, I hope this is helpful, they are awesome. Have some fun, take your time. I love showing people because the cable is so neat and tidy and they look nice. 🙂

      Best,

      Chris
      The Construction Academy

  6. Hi Chris,

    Amazing job on this recessed panel work! This is exactly the look and feel I’m trying to go with as I don’t want a huge rack in my new home. I’ve got tons of wires from the alarm system, ceiling speakers, shielded cat 6a and electric window blinds (amongst a few other options I’ve been adding in over time).

    I had two questions pertaining to this design I was hoping you might be able to answer?

    1) I’ve noticed that you have most of the gear sitting on some type of floating panel that allows the bulk of the wiring to lie underneath. Is that the grid-lifting wire management panel? (found here: https://amzn.to/3f9p5Es) If so, how much additional space do you have for electrical components (such as a router) to mount on top of that and with the doors closed? Also, how deep are the entire enclosures as well (if you didn’t have the grid lifting wire management panels installed?)

    2) I also noticed you had cat 6 termination panels. Were those from the same manufacturer or did you find those elsewhere? I like the clean-cut look and low profile but noticed the termination is far from where you plug in the ethernet port. Did you find any signal loss with these types of patch panels? When we built our home I future-proofed by going with CAT6A (shielded) – do you think there are patch panels that can accommodate shielded 6a in the same fashion that fit this model?

    3) When you ran your conduit into the panel, what did you use to lock them into the box? Are there special nuts and flanges for that? I have about 6 conduits (similar but blue colored) that come to a single location I’d love to tie into these boxes as well.

    Again, amazing work! Love what you did and shared!

    Thanks,
    Adam

    1. Hey Adam!

      Awesome! I am so glad it was helpful. :). WAS SO MUCH FUN doing this project (except crawling the attic over and over).

      #1: Channel Vision Grid-Lifting Wire Management Module. YES! I fill the rack from top to bottom with GRID LIFTING MODULES, leaving about 3-4″ at the top and bottom to allow for the cable to come out of the conduits and UNDER the modules. VERY VERY WORTH IT!

      #2: Channel Vision 8 Port CAT6 Data Termination Hub. YES, I used only Ca6 termination blocks (x8 per block). They are from Channel Vision as well, see link. First question, NO, I found the signal to be AMAZING. I was however a bit worried about it. Second question, I also use shielded in certain parts of my home. You’ll just have to peel back the shielding and cut back the + separator. I don’t see this as an issue. Should work just fine.

      #3: Home Depot 3/4 in. Male Terminal Adapter. I used conduit fittings that marry to the right size, in your case BLUE, conduit. I used PVC glue to adhere the fittings to the end of the Male Terminator and then they have a NUT that you can buy to spin down the the other side after you thread through the top, bottom or side of the enclosure.

      Super clean!! Write back if you need anything else,

      Chris

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