Saturday, November 26, 2011

People, please install your low voltage wiring BEFORE walls go up!

UPDATE: I returned to this customer to neaten up the patch panel and install the router/switch. An update post can be viewed by clicking HERE 

I arrived at this job to install several VoIP phones, and possibly do 1 or 2 CAT5 runs. When I arrived, I found that the restaurant on the first floor  was nearly at the final stage of construction. No drop ceilings, laminate walls, and marble floors. The electrician had pulled some low voltage wiring but almost none of it was located anywhere near where they wanted their phones located at.

Unlike most other jobs, most of these photos are photos taken before, not after.

There was a CAT5 run in the ceiling above this post.
It was supposed to be used for an IP camera, but the electrician said I could use it.
I extended the CAT5 from the ceiling and stapled behind this post for the VoIP phone.

There was no CAT5 run behind the bar here, so I had drilled down behind the sink drain,
and ran the wiring on the surface underneath the counter top. 

This is some of the low voltage wiring that the electrician left for me.
I stole 2 of his CAT5 drops at this location.
One from the FiOS modem to the network downstairs,
and one from the network downstairs back to the VoIP phone.
I may end up returning and placing the router here, and putting a switch downstairs.

More low voltage wiring installed by the electrician.
Unfortunately the customer did not want a phone at this location. 

Steps going down to basement.
Floors are poured concrete between basement and 1st floor. 

Tiled walls in basement. Customer wanted a jack at this location. 

Another image of the same wall as previous photo.
I ended up taking the face plate off of the electrical outlet.
luckily their was enough space for me to drill thru to the other side of the wall underneath the outlet.
Wire is run on the surface in room on other side of wall. 

This is where the electrician brought all of the low voltage drops. 

I had to repair these CAT5 jacks in the ceiling.
One is either broken, or going somewhere that I can not trace,
which happens to be the one that I needed to use.
The other goes from the network closet to somewhere that I was unable to trace.
I just swapped the one that I needed to re-route it to the network room.
The other one I just did in case the electrician actually knows where it was going. 

Terminating the existing wires that the electrician installed to a 12 port panel. 

Existing wires installed by the electrician punched in from top.
New wiring that I had to install on the surface punched down from bottom.

My 12 port panel in the center of the image.
Then all of the existing wiring that the electrician installed all over the place.

My 12 port panel.
Existing wires on top.
My new wires on bottom.

Close up of my 12 port panel installed. 
Surface mounted CAT5 wiring.
I really recommend AGAINST stapling CAT5 wiring,
but in this case there was little choice.
I was not about to go out and buy wire molding for this.

Since the wire goes straight down in the panel,
it would  not look good with the extra slack on the wall by the panel.
This loop was added so there is slack in the CAT5 wiring
in case changes or repairs need to be made at the panel.
This is the wall directly behind the panel. 

Please people, remember your low voltage wiring during the construction phase of your project. Do not think of where you are going to put your phones, computers, cameras, etc after all of the walls have gone up, Especially if you are installing special laminate walls, and marble floors over a poured concrete floor.

I do not like surface mounting wiring, especially not on a new construction, and I do not think that you want to see wiring all over the place after you have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars constructing a new building.

Rethink having the electrician run your low voltage wiring. The electrician is not going to ask the right questions, or have the proper intuition that you are going to want or need wiring at certain locations.

If I were to have had the opportunity to run the wiring when the walls were out there would have been much more CAT5 runs done. I would have pulled 2 drops to each location where they would have possibly needed a phone. I would have also pulled access control wiring to each of the outside doors, and any interior doors leading to offices. I also would have considered the possibility for an overhead paging system in the basement.

What should have been a quick install of 7 VoIP phones and a router - to wiring that should have been installed during the construction phase took 2 long days. (2-8pm day 1 +  11-6pm day2)


  1. ery helpful information. Very helpful, great share.

  2. People need to use the correct contractor for the job, I have been in the low voltage trade for over 20 years. The network is the most important part of the business. If your ever in need of a pro give me a call (704)579-9103.

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