Structured Wiring, also known as structured cabling, describes the arrangement of a building’s telecommunications infrastructure, including their audio, video, data, telephone, television, home automation, and security signals. This type of wiring network appears in both commercial and residential spaces, as technology continues to shape aspects of everyday life, such as security and entertainment. Structured wiring begins at a structured networking panel, or SNP, that connects signals from an outside provider to lines throughout the building.
The primary physical components of any structured wiring system are the Category 5E and Coaxial cables. The frequency and inclusion of each type of cable depends on the needs of the building and the types of signals provided by the structured network panel. Ethernet cables are typically referred to as CAT-5e, Category 5e, or CAT-6e, Category 6e Cables. These are the most common methods of wiring found in modern homes, as they connect telephones and computer networks. Coaxial cables, on the other hand, function to spread television and cable-based broadband Internet signals.
Other physical elements of a structured wiring system include Modular Sockets, F Connectors, and Blank Inserts. Modular sockets connect the internal wiring to a room, where they can be plugged into and used as needed. F connectors are specifically used with coaxial cables to broadcast over and connect to television equipment. Blank inserts are used to cover up extra ports that are currently unused but available for future connections. Each of these components play an important role in connecting devices to their corresponding networks.
As is to be expected, the structured wiring required for commercial spaces is more complicated than household connections, though some characteristics are shared with both. The infrastructure of commercial structured wiring has six subsystems: Entrance Facilities, Equipment Room, Backbone Cabling, Telecommunications Room and Enclosure, Horizontal Cabling and Work Area.
Entrance Facilities are where the cables, connecting hardware, circuit protection devices, and other necessary equipment initially meets the signals from the access provider or private network cabling. The equipment room is a climate-controlled space for equipment and cross-connects that uses Backbone Cabling to link to the telecommunications room and enclosure. Horizontal Cabling extends from the Telecommunications Room and Enclosure to the Work Area with mechanical terminations, jumpers, and patch cords. This electrical pathway links the source of the signals to the employee while taking precautions to protect and divert the signal as necessary.
While today’s homes do not necessarily require structured wiring in their construction, many electricians and contractors should plan rooms and outlets with it in mind. Older homes can be retrofitted or remodeled to add these features but including them initially into a new build provides residents with the convenience and peace of mind of easily adapting their lifestyles to the space.
A newer aspect to consider when arranging structured wiring is Smart Home Devices. Appliances, doorbells and thermostats are just some of the smart devices that have made their way into domestic life. When considering the toll of these new devices on a wireless network, in addition to that of personal laptops and smartphones, electricians should make every attempt to alleviate that pressure with various ways to connect to a household’s structured wiring.
How does structured wiring (or the lack of it) impact your daily connectivity? Share your experiences in the comments.