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bottlerockett 02-04-2013 11:36 PM

Service loops for CAT6 data cables?
I'm installing CAT6 data cables to unfinished rooms for a home network. I've read generally that you want an extra "service loop" of cable at both ends of the run -- at the structured panel and then again at the wall/jack.

I'm not clear on how to make a service loop above or nearby a wall jack. Do you put it in the joists in the ceiling? or in the stud bay?

You want to make it so that in the future, (and after the drywall is up) if you need more slack you can just give the cable a tug at the outlet jack and then the service loop will uncoil a bit? If that's how it works, how do you attach it? I guess I just don't understand how to do this, and can't find anything online. Any help appreciated,

theatretch85 02-04-2013 11:46 PM

In a corporate environment this is usually the case. At home it's not required and generally isn't nessecary. In the workplace its done mostly due to the data connections receiving more abuse with repeated connecting/disconnecting (and therefore require more re-terminating) and the Moves-Adds-Changes where a desk or office gets moved.

At home I would just have approx 3-4 feet of cable hanging out the wall where your data plate will be installed, do the terminations and just stuff the extra cable into the stud wall.

Most homes don't have drop ceiling where you would normally place a 10-15' service loop for the data drop in the ceiling.

bottlerockett 02-04-2013 11:56 PM


ssgtjoenunez 02-05-2013 01:55 PM

I've installed over 40,000 feet of data cables in both commercial and residential environments and will tell you that in residential applications there's no real need for two service loops. I would however leave a few extra inches inside the stud bay behind your low voltage box just in case the punch down ever gets worn and the wire needs to be stripped and repunched.

theatretch85 02-07-2013 12:18 AM

My last project at work was over 18,000 feet of cat 6 just for the workstations and access points, not to mention the 600' backbone singlemode fiber and 25pair voice riser.

At home I tend to be a little more mindful with the amount of cable I have to work with and how many runs I need to make. So the server room side where the patch panel is I have a small loop in the rack for any future service work and then a few feet stuffed in the wall behind the faceplate. I don't have any drop ceiling (and never plan on installing any at home) so putting the coils anywhere in the ceiling space just seems stupid, since you will never be able to get to the coil for it to be of any use. I've tried coiling it in such a way you can just pull on it, sometimes it works but most times it just ends up a mess.

rrolleston 02-07-2013 07:22 AM

I would think a few inches left in the wall on both ends would be plenty to be able to redo the terminations. Install jacks on both ends and go to your rack and computers with pre made cables.

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gregzoll 02-07-2013 07:26 AM

A foot extra inside the wall is no problem. As for where the Patch panel is going, yes if you want to leave some extra that is fine, but I would not leave a large loop that will add length, especially if you have a long run.

Also remember that with Wireless finally catching up to wired, we are starting to see 450meg to 1.8gig output devices out on the market, which means in a few years, you will see less reason to pull wired jacks in the amount that we are now and have in the past, in the home.

bottlerockett 02-09-2013 04:09 PM

Thanks all. Looks like I'll have a service loop in the ceiling joists just above my Leviton structured media panel. It's in an unfinished basement so there won't be drywall over it.

One more question: When you run bundles of CAT6 through joists and down studs, do you put them inside some kind of plastic conduit or mesh sleeve, or just bundle them with zip ties or velcro straps? Just wondering if they ought to be protected in some way...what's the standard way of doing this in a residential setting. thx.

gregzoll 02-09-2013 04:21 PM

I just run them through the joists, through holes drilled. At this point, we have removed six ethernet drops from our house, and only have six ethernet drops still in use, due to three are for the ATT UVerse boxes, two are for A/P's, and one is for our Blu-ray player.

Overkill putting in more drops than you actually will use, due to the movement towards better Wireless equipment is now beginning to be a reality, with 1.8gbps Wireless-N equipment to be released by 2nd Quarter this year, and 450 & 600 meg Wireless-N equipment already out on the market.

theatretch85 02-09-2013 05:27 PM

I don't consider it overkill to have extra LAN connections in the house. I built a server room in my basement and I have wired approx 55 LAN connections and 12 IP-Phone connections throughout my house. While I may not be using all of them, I prefer a wired connection over a wireless one any day.

gregzoll 02-09-2013 06:16 PM


Originally Posted by theatretch85 (Post 1113483)
I don't consider it overkill to have extra LAN connections in the house. I built a server room in my basement and I have wired approx 55 LAN connections and 12 IP-Phone connections throughout my house. While I may not be using all of them, I prefer a wired connection over a wireless one any day.

Sounds more like you are running a small office, or day trade out of your place.

theatretch85 02-09-2013 06:21 PM

No, I occasionally run small LAN parties at my house. Most of the rooms are only wired up with 2 Cat 6 Data, 1 Cat5e Voice, and one RG6 Coax. However some rooms have additional connections for changes in furniture layout or for when I have a few friends over to play some games. The only rooms in the house that dont have data connections are the bathrooms, everywhere else there is some form of data/voice/coax all home run to the server room.

I do network voice/data installations for a living, and I went to school and got a bachelors degree in computer networking. So yes I have a lot of experience and a lot of network gear a small office would have. It's part of how I teach myself and to keep proficient at it.

kevinb70 02-09-2013 11:49 PM

thank you for this post. I had dropped four Cat5e cables and 2 RG6Q coax down my wall into 2 adjacent bedrooms and did a quick diy google/chatroom check.... after reading this - made sure I pushed an extra foot of slack back into the wall - should allow for a several more cuts in case I have to replace the jack.

IT guy, DIY homeowner - sure wireless will get faster, but with wired you don't have to worry about interference and dead spots due to obstructions.

I'm wiring 2 network jacks per room. 1 for PC, 1 extra for future proofing (IP security camera, blu-ray, ROKU box, etc) without needing an ethernet switch. Went with 6 port outlet plates, so have 3 blanks for when it's needed.

I do use wireless when possible (ROKU, printer, media player, blu ray, etc) but one day I'll probably run into a time where I just can't get a good signal in a certain room between a future replacement wireless router with my devices and wireless repeater.

And yeah I know about cat6 and all, but I got a big box of 5e I have yet to use up and I won't be here forever and doubt the prospective buyers will ask 'is that cat6?' just be impressed as this is probably the only house in the neighborhood with an installed wired network.

gregzoll 02-10-2013 12:07 AM

kevinb70, if you know what you are doing, and utilize multiple access points to cover the "property", there is no interference, nor are there any dead spots on said "property".

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