Cable Wiring Options
You have two main hardwire cable options: twisted pair and fiber optic. [NOTE FROM ANG: I suggest linking to your fiber optic page here.]
- Category 5: Commonly referred to as Cat 5, you typically find this as a Cat 5e. This network cable option has a max speed of 1 Gigabit. The cables are usually unshielded and used in Ethernet over twisted pair applications. This is your least expensive cable wiring option.
- Cat 6: You get speeds up to 10 Gigabit, making this a popular option in terms of speed for the price. Cat 6 cables have a distance limit of 100 meters, but it features improvements over the Cat 5 and Cat 5e as regards crosstalk.
- Cat 7: Although this cable also has a 10 Gigabit limit, it’s shielded, which offers even greater protection against crosstalk. It has a higher price than either Cat 5 or Cat 6, so it’s more commonly used for business applications.
- Fiber optic cable: You get the greatest speed and quality at the longest distances with fiber optics. Instead of the copper wiring of Cat cables, fiber optics are made of fine strands of glass. However, the cost of fiber optic cables is prohibitive for smaller networks.
The type of cable you choose depends on your particular application and budgetary requirements.
Can You Install Cable Wiring Yourself?
For the most part, installing cable wiring is best left to an electrician or IT professional. Our cost estimates include labor costs, but these vary widely depending on your area.
If you are extremely tech-savvy, you may be able to perform this as a DIY project. In that case, your only worry is the cost of materials. Of course, your time is worth something, and it would likely take a non-professional significantly more time to complete this project.
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Cost Factors to Install Cable Wiring
The cost to install cable wiring varies depending on the number of rooms to be hardwired, the type of cable you choose, the length required, average labor costs in your area, and the number of Ethernet switches. In addition, the following items influence the total cost of your project:
- Number of drops: The number of network connections you require may be the most common method installers use to determine pricing.
- Material quality: In order of quality is Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 7, and fiber optic cable. That list also ranges from cheapest to most expensive.
- Building age: The newer the building, the easier it is for your installer (which means it’s also cheaper). Older buildings often have access issues. It also makes a difference if there’s already wiring installed – and the quality of that wiring. If the current cabling is of bad quality, your installer will likely decide it’s easier to start from scratch.
If the installer doesn’t charge a flat rate, you’ll pay hourly for labor and typically by-the-foot for the cable, plus any additional equipment needed.
The Cost to Install Cable Wiring
Depending on the number of drops and type of cable, expect to pay between $300 and $500 per room.
- The flat rate to install a Cat 5e network with 150 drops ranges between $13,000 and $15,000.
- A Cat 6 network with 75 drops costs between $15,000 and $17,000 on average.
- Hardwiring a single 120 square foot office averages around $1,200, depending on the cable used and number of connections.
- The average hourly rate for an electrician in America is around $75 per hour. To gauge rates in your area, consider how other costs stack up against national averages. For example, New York City is around 75% higher than the national average, so you’d multiply that $75 by 1.75 for a rate of $131.25. Athens, Georgia is around 10% lower, so you’d multiply that rate by 0.9 for $67.50.
- What you pay per foot of cable depends on whether you buy it yourself. Installers usually mark up their materials costs. Depending on the cable type and how many feet you need, you’ll pay between 10 and 50 cents per linear foot on average.
- Ethernet switches cost between $25 and $50 on average.
- Patch cables typically come in five-count packs for $25.
- You’ll pay around $25 for RJ45 jacks, plates, and plugs.
Additional materials you may need include patch panels, grommets, and velcro strips. The total cost for these items typically falls between $50 and $100.