How to Wire an Ethernet Patch Panel

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Many homeowners and small-business owners are discovering the benefits of wiring their buildings or offices for network connectivity. Printers, home entertainment and Internet radio can all be made available to any room in the house. By adding a patch panel and network ports, connecting computers or accessories to your network becomes simple and quick. There are companies that specialize in network cabling and termination, but networking a home or small office is easy enough for almost anyone.

How to Wire an Ethernet Patch Panel
(Jason Grzeskowiak/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Patch panel
  • Network cable stripper
  • Punch down tool
  • Marker or label maker
  • Cable tester
Step 1

Purchase an inexpensive cabling punch down tool and network cable tester. Purchase a network cable patch panel for RJ45 connections with the number of ports you need. Choose a place to mount the panel in the area where the network cables terminate.

Jason Grzeskowiak/Demand Media
Step 2

Inspect the 110-style punch down connectors on the rear of the patch panel; note the difference in the "A" color code on the connectors and the "B" color code. Use the "B" code, which is the common network standard.

Jason Grzeskowiak/Demand Media
Step 3

Trim off damaged areas using scissors on the outer jacket or sharp bends from the network cables you will connect to the panel. Use the cable stripper to score the jacket about 1½ inches from the end. Remove the scored jacket.

Jason Grzeskowiak/Demand Media
Step 4

Untwist each pair of wires that make up the cable. Gently straighten each wire and fan them out from the cable end. Keep matching colors together; for example, keep orange with orange and white, and blue with blue and white.

Jason Grzeskowiak/Demand Media
Step 5

Lay the fan between the two rows of connectors on the patch panel for the port you wish to use. Match each wire to the corresponding color in the "B" color scheme. Gently pull the wire between the two halves of the connector for each color.

Jason Grzeskowiak/Demand Media
Step 6

Use the punch down tool to push the cable completely in to each connector. Be sure the cutting edge on the tip of the tool is on the outside of the connector so that it trims the excess cable flush. Repeat for each wire.

Jason Grzeskowiak/Demand Media
Step 7

Use the cable tester to ensure good connectivity between the panel and the wall ports where the cables end. Connect the remote terminator to the port in the panel, then connect the cable tester to the wall port at the other end of the cable. Check the tester's lights for a good connectivity reading. Repeat for the remaining ports.

Jason Grzeskowiak/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • CAT5 cable runs must be less than 300 feet in length; adding a repeater or network switch can give you a greater range.
  • Always use the "B" color scheme unless you are absolutely sure the wall ports have been installed with the "A" scheme. Either color scheme is fine as long as both ends of the cable are installed using the same scheme.
  • Most home improvement stores carry network cable, panels and tools.
  • If you're going to buy a cable tester, be sure to get one with a remote terminator for testing open runs of cable. These are still inexpensive.
  • A $30 cable tester works just as well as a $100 cable tester.
  • The light scheme can differ from cable tester to cable tester; read the manual to avoid confusion.
  • Be sure your connections are secured against vibration or movement to avoid loss of connectivity.
  • If the cables were not numbered by the installer, you may not know which port they lead to. Leave the cable tester in the wall port, and test each panel number with the remote until it lights up. Label the wall port with the corresponding number from the panel.

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