What Kind of Cable is Right for My Home?

It's important to make the right choices when cabling your home to take advantage of all of the advanced services that are available now. Until recently, homes were only wired for electricity. Later came cable for telephone (usually installed by the local phone company after the house was built.) After the homeowner moved in, he would install himself an antenna on the roof and some 300-Ohm twin lead to his one and only TV.

Today, when people are building homes and electricians are wiring them, there are many more types of cable that need to be used. The electrical contractor will still be installing pretty much the same type of wire for electricity service that was used decades ago, but other decisions need to be made.

For telephone service, homes are now being built with Cat. 3 or Cat. 5 cable. Originally developed for computer networks, installers now use this cable for telephone service, as its electrical properties lead to better signals and less cross-talk between telephone lines. The prices on these cables have come down dramatically in recent years so that the cost differential between ordinary telephone cable and Cat. 5 is negligible. It's a big selling point in many newly built tract houses.

Since the late '70s, most homes have access to cable TV service. During this time and succeeding years, the cable company would wire your house for cable service. More commonly they would wrap the outside of the home with cable since they would not run cables between walls. A few years into this period, we saw the phasing out of 300-Ohm twin lead cable in favor of coax cable. Unfortunately, many people installed the wrong type of coax in their homes. Today, we recommend only installing RG-6 coax cable. It comes in two varieties: double-shield and quad-shied. Quad is the better one to invest in, as it resists interference from the outside world. We recommend running two lines of RG-6 coax to each jack and the central distribution point.

The other hot topic right now is an in-home network. A wired network is faster and more reliable than a wireless. If you are building or remodeling a home, run a second Cat. 5 cable to each location where each telephone jack will be installed. Ethernet, the most popular networking technology, can send data up to 100 megabits per second over Cat. 5 cable. Wireless solutions only offer a fraction of that speed. It's possible to take new DSL and cable modem technologies and share it with more than one PC. At each telephone jack, install a Cat. 5-rated RJ-45 connector.

Our fastest-growing cable products are the All-In-One-Cables. These cables combine multiple conductors all under one sheath. It comes in several different configurations, but they all have two RG-6 coax cables and two Cat. 5 (or better) communication cables. We also have bundles that include fiber optic or speaker cables in addition to the Coax and Cat. 5 cables. Using this cable can save money and time during the installation process. It's far easier and quicker to run one cable between a room and a distribution point than is it to run four individual cables between the same.

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