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Structured Wiring "Sub-Panel" like my electric?


jvdesign's Avatar
jvdesign jvdesign is offline
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19-Nov-2012, 01:44 PM #1
Structured Wiring "Sub-Panel" like my electric?
Networking Pros,

I'm redoing all the network, whole house audio and coax wiring in a new house we bought. We recently had new electrical service put in with the main panel in the basement as well as a 100A subpanel in the attic to feed the 3rd floor and some second floor rooms. I'm planning on having a main structured wiring enclosure in the basement that will contain my main network router, network switch(es), co-ax splitters, etc. My questions/concerns are these: (thank you in advance for any advice)

1) Can/should I install a sort of structured wiring sub-panel in my attic that would contain a network switch and some coax splitters? I'm thinking it would make sense as it would keep my runs shorter and fishing wires easier. I would "feed" that sub-panel with a cat5e into the switch and an a coax that could be split up there as needed.

2) The run from some of the 3rd floor remote bedrooms, while within the 300ft cat5e limit, is probably about 225-250ft. If I had the switch in the attic, then then continued to the basement, would that help the signal strength/speed? Or would have having the upstairs "sub-panel" in the attic negatively affect speed with a bottle-neck of sorts with the one cat5e wire "feeding" all the jacks on the 2nd and 3rd floors?

My bro-in-law mentioned that he thought adding a sub-panel in the attic for network wiring would add more points of possible failure and it wasn't a good idea, but as I contemplate fishing 2cat5e and 1 RG6 into each of two outlets in each of the rooms, I'm wondering if all that home-run fishing to the basement is needed.

Any advise or experience would be much appreciated!


Frank4d's Avatar
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20-Nov-2012, 08:11 AM #2
Wiring and sub-panels are OK in the attic, but I wouldn't put Ethernet switches or video distribution amplifiers there because the temperature can easily be 150 F on a hot summer day. I would put them in a closet below ceiling level.
jvdesign's Avatar
jvdesign jvdesign is offline
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20-Nov-2012, 10:12 AM #3

Thanks for the reply - it's not really a true attic, but a walk-in one from the 3rd floor and it has windows that we keep pretty open during the summer. I don't think temps would be more than 110 on a bad day up there. Do you think that's still too hot? I guess my question was more of a "do you think there would be a data bottleneck in anyway" over where to position it... Is the theory sound in principle at least?


zx10guy's Avatar
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20-Nov-2012, 04:42 PM #4
In your situation, yes. Whether it will make a difference on the type of network traffic you have, probably not. But I don't know what your network usage patterns are.

Currently, the sweet spot and the fastest speed a typical home user will have is 1 GigE switching. So if you have a switch at the attic and one at the basement, you will have a single 1 GigE uplink between switches. A switch has multiple ports which can consume bandwidth. So if you have say a 5 port GigE switch at each location. This means you have 1 Gig of available bandwidth between switches. This leaves 4 left at each switch. That's 4 Gig of total max bandwidth consumption at either end. So doing the math, you're 4:1 over subscribed where you have a potential of 4 Gigs of max traffic which has to be pushed through a 1 Gig pipe. Is this necessarily bad? No. Many enterprise data centers deploy over subscribed architectures where they are set up for what is acceptable to business.

If you have a larger switch which you can run all your network drops to, you will not have the over subscription issues discussed as traffic going port to port on the same switch typically runs at line rate depending on your traffic profile and type. All switches are not created equal.

Other ways to address this is to have a small number of faster uplinks to allow for better transfer of data between switches thereby minimizing the oversubscription issues. 10 GigE is now the 1 GigE in the data center with 40 GigE the next high performance connection and 100 GigE being the super exotic at the moment. Other ways to alleviate the bandwidth issue between switches is to use link aggregation or LAGs. This is a protocol which allows the bundling of two or more (up to 8 in most implementations) physical links to act as one virtual pipe without spanning tree being an issue. But to get this functionality, you need at least a Smart/Web managed switch and the know how to implement it.

But all of what I said is just theoretical and academic. As I said, you may never notice any issues with how you plan on implementing your network. But what I did was to answer your question at face value.
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