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.
34 thoughts on “Design The Perfect Home Networking Panel”
Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
Please let me know. Cheers
Of course not! Please share away! And, I have designed and built quite a few of these now at this point, so, ask any questions you might have.
Could you tell me the brand of the Cable in Teflon Supports or make them available in your shopping area ? Thanks !!!
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,
Thank you. I have reached out to the inventor and I will let you know if he gets back with me
Sounds great, I have done the same no less than three times, hope you have some success!! I will of course post something here if I track him down too.
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?
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. 🙁
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.
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
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!
Kris’s name includes a link to his own website which includes contact information. The site says handi-hoops are available to contractors who contact him.
Thanks Alex! Excellent, hope this improves people who are trying to connect with Kris to get this product. Truly one of a kind for low and high voltage applications.
What brand name of cabinet did you use? Any options for Cat6a cables?
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!
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.
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
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?
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. 🙂
The Construction Academy
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!
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,
I have two studs where my current enclosure is – have any suggestions for a 12″ width enclosure? (Height doesn’t matter, have plenty of vertical space)
Apologies for the delay in responding. Although this is not likely what you wanted to hear, what I’d recommend is that you just re-frame the area to support a 14″ enclosure. I have run into this with an electrical box and I ended up framing in basically a “window” to support a full size electrical enclosure. It takes some work but it will be way better off in the long run. Obviously this also probably requires some drywall work and may push you out of your comfort zone.
Last note, I am not aware of any 12″ boxes and have always chosen the far more painful route mentioned above when this happens.
Hi Chris – love this look, any suggestions for how to build something similar but wider? My switch is about 19 inches wide and can’t be installed vertically. I’ll have to move studs, but am having trouble finding an enclosure like yours. But very nice work here!
Yeah, thats tricky. You might need to move to a rack system that is 19″ rack mountable and install that in a closet. I know you can do some framing, move a wall stud and install a bigger enclosure but as far as I know, all the enclosures are going to be of the 14.5″ or so variety to fit nicely between the two studs on a normally framed house.
In one install we did precisely this, we installed a 4 foot tall, SRSR Series Sliding Rail System from Middle Atlantic Products.
All our Home Automation gear, all 19″ gear that couldn’t be mounted elsewhere, etc went here. But, this requires quite a bit of planning and WOW did we run a lot of cable to this location to support it.
I’m sorry this is not a quick fix but hope this is somewhat helpful. 🙂
Best of luck and let me know if you need anything else,
I’m trying to figure out how to get my cat6 cable into my attic from my basement.
I’ve purchased some 1-1/4” OD flexible raceway conduit to do the job, but I am unsure from here…
Is the next step to drill a 1-1/4” hole through the top and bottom the the stud wall, on the level between the attic and the basement?
Or is a 1-1/4” diameter hole too large to put through a 2×4 stud wall?
Thank you for your time!
I have done this before several times. I have drilled holes through the bottom plate, the double top plate and have gone vertically through the framing with my flexduct.
That said, I always hate to give advice on this subject because I’m not a structural engineer. 🙂
To drill? Or not to drill? Thats the question and unfortunately I cannot give you direct advice. But, in every install I’ve done, for right or wrong, to code or not to code, I’ve had to made these holes with no problems to date.
But, use you’re better judgement of course,
Any recommendation on where to find the Channel Vision Grid-Lifting Wire Management Modules? Amazon does not have them in stock, and I’m struggling to find an online vendor with them.
Wow, I don’t know. I looked too and I cannot find them anywhere. My suggestion is to reach out directly to Channel Vision and see what you can turn up. Looks like they are in Southern California.
The Channel Vision customer sales team is standing by to answer any questions you may have. –> (714) 424-6500 Option 1
I wish I could be of more help! Good luck.
Just stumbled across this post. Love the setup and would like to incorporate some elements into my own design.
1) Do you know where I can find the coax terminal block? I haven’t been able to find on channel visions or Amazon’s website.
2) Do you know if there is a network terminal block like the one pictured that accepts punch down Keystone units? I’ve already purchased quite a few and would like to use them.
Thanks in advance.
Hey there! I cannot figure out where they are anymore. I fear that Channel Vision went out of business.
So sorry about that!
Where did you get the coax termination blocks? What brand/model? Thanks.
Hey there Shawn! I am so sorry for the slow reply. I found them on Amazon but I can no longer find them there, I am not sure I know why. I hope they didn’t discontinue that part.
Sorry I could not be more helpful on this one,
Do you where I can find the smoked glass enclosure, that link does not work.
Hey there JR!
I am so sorry about the broken link, I am not sure if this company even makes these anymore? Such a shame, they are such great products. Sorry about that, I hope you are successful in finding them.