Is Installing Voice and Data Cabling a DIY Project?
Most people do not have the skills, training, or tools to hardwire their home or office. It’s a project reserved for the truly tech-savvy do-it-yourself enthusiast. Instead, the majority of these installs are conducted by IT professionals and electricians.
However, if you choose to DIY this project, we include costs for materials. But don’t forget to factor in your time – that’s worth something, too. A pro takes around 3 hours to hardwire a single room, depending on size and number of drops. Unless you’ve performed one of these installs before, you’ll probably take around twice that time.
Types of Voice and Data Cable
Twisted pair and fiber optic are two main types of cable for voice and data cabling.
- Category 5e: Commonly referred to as Cat 5e, this twisted pair type replaced Cat 5 in 2001. This is your least expensive hardwire cabling option, with a max speed of 1 Gigabit. It’s a good choice, though, if you have an older networking system. Please note that Cat 5 is being phased out.
- Cat 6: For the price, Category 6 cable gives you the best value in terms of speed. You get up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet speed but no shield protection.
- Cat 7: Although also limited to 10 Gigabit speed, Cat 7 cable has shielding that helps prevent crosstalk. Its higher price, though, tends to limit it to business applications.
- optic cable: Made from extremely thin strands of glass, fiber optics offer zero interference and extremely high speeds with the greatest distance capability. However, fiber optic cabling costs about double what Cat 6 hardwiring costs, so you rarely see this used for smaller networks.
Although the types of cable differ as to capabilities and speed, they all perform the same basic function: transferring voice and data information.
Get Free Price Quotes
Voice and Data Cabling Cost Factors
A number of factors influence how much you’ll pay to hardwire for voice and data.
- Number of drops: This probably plays the largest role, since most installers charge by the number of network connections.
- Type of cable: We listed the cable types above in order of both quality and price (since they’re the same).
- Distance: How many feet of cable do you need?
- Number of Ethernet switches: Each switch has a finite number of ports. Depending on the number of drops in your job, you may need multiple Ethernet switches
- Age of the building: Newer buildings generally have fewer obstacles. That means the install is both faster and cheaper.
The final cost factor is the average labor rates in your area. The national average is around $75 per hour. To gauge labor costs, you need to know where your area falls in relation to the national average.
- Los Angeles is around 10% higher. Multiplying $75 by 1.1 gives you an average hourly rate of $82.50.
- El Paso is around 25% lower. Multiplying $75 by 0.75 gives you an average hourly rate of $56.25.
These are, of course, averages. We provide them to help you budget for your project.
How Much Does it Cost to Install Voice and Data Cabling?
Most companies charge a flat rate based on either the number of drops or the number of rooms (or both). The average rate per room is around $400.
- Expect to pay around $14,000 to install a Cat 5e network with 150 drops.
- The average cost to install a Cat 6 network with 75 drops is around $16,000.
- It costs between $800 and $1,600 to hardwire an office measuring 120 square feet, depending on the number of ports.
- The cable itself costs between $0.10 and $0.50 per linear foot on average.
- The average labor to hardwire a single room is $75 per hour for three hours, or $325.
Your install likely requires additional items, including:
- Ethernet switches range between $25 and $50 on average.
- Patch cables cost around $25 for five.
- RJ45 jacks, plates, and plugs cost around $25 on average.
- Materials to organize your cables – including patch panels, grommets, and velcro strips – average around $75.