Ethernet wiring questions

So I’m going to run some ethernet wiring through my house. Specifically, I need it run to the locations where my wife and I work. The wireless is noticebly slower, and connection problems are becoming annoying. I have gigabyte service through AT&T, so I’m stuck using their modem and router, which is fine, I have no problem with that. I have existing coax runs throughout the house, so I’m thinking I can just use those to pull ethernet cable and already have holes in the wall and wall headers. I’m also thinking about running a couple of wireless access points to locations where I’ve been using a wireless repeater, including outside. So my questions are:

  1. To use the WAP, I want to use POE so I don’t have to plug each one in to a power supply. Is there a downside to running POE vs conventional ethernet cable and plugging each WAP into the power? Cost of the POE equipment is not an issue, and it’d be much easier than running power to every location, but wasn’t sure if there were performance/reliability issues with one way or the other.

  2. I know POE will require a POE switch. I was thinking about a high-temperature one in the attic. I have power there, and I have an existing coax switch. It seems easy enough to replace that with the POE switch, one that can handle the 140-degree heat. To use the POE switch, I just have to run a cable from my router to the POE switch, correct? I can then run POE cable to each connection point?

  3. Part of the run to the WAPs will be on the exterior of the house. Again, I have existing coax cable that I no longer use, so I was thinking just replacing that with exterior-grade ethernet cable. Is this a problem?

  4. Finally, I know anything CAT 5e and above can handle POE, but I want to future proof things as much as I can right now. What would be the recommendation? Do I need all the way up to CAT8? Or is that overkill? Again, cost isn’t so much the issue as things not being obsolete in 5 years.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Can’t help with the POE stuff, but for cabling I think Cat 6 is the one for you. It’s rated for outside, can run POE and can handle 10 gb/s. If you want that full bandwidth over distances longer than 55 metres, you’ll need Cat 6A.

Cat 8 goes up to 40 gb/s, but only over short distances. That’s probably a waste of money for your purposes.

That’s my 2 cents, but it’s probably best to wait for Waldo to deposit his $2 million before buying anything.

  1. No
  2. Yes
  3. No
  4. CAT6; there is a difference in the jacket for external.

PoE all the things. Not only is it cheaper and more convenient (single cable going to the APs, no 120VAC required nearby) but there are also economies of scale. Want surge protection or battery backup for your APs? Buy just one surge protector/UPS and put the PoE switch on it. Want to put cameras on the outside of your home? Get PoE cameras. Need to plug in a bunch of non-PoE gear? Your PoE switch will work for that too, if you have enough ports.

FYI, there are three variants of PoE, the main differences being the maximum wattage that can be delivered to each port (15W on PoE, 30W on PoE+, 60W/100W on PoE++). Make sure the switch and APs are compatible in this regard, and that the switch can handle the total expected wattage of all the APs. There’s no real benefit to massively overspending in this regard, e.g. using a PoE++ switch for regular PoE APs, unless you plan to use other devices with higher wattages in the future.

Correct. I might suggest finding a different place for the switch, though, just because of the humidity and extreme temperatures. The environmental requirements are going to drastically limit your options on PoE switches and you’ll pay a premium for them. It’s admittedly a little more work to drop the cables down a wall, but if you terminated them in the climate-controlled part of your home near your router (such as in a single-gang or double-gang wall plate) you’ll thank yourself later if that switch ever needs to be rebooted or replaced.

No. Just double-check that whatever cable you get has a UV-rated jacket. For example, direct-burial cable, while tough and billed as “outdoor” cable, isn’t a great choice for lots of above-ground exposure.

There are actually some new multi-gigabit technologies (2.5GbaseT and 5GbaseT) that run on Cat5e, although there are not many switches and devices that support them yet. Gigabit ethernet is still the de facto standard on twisted pair copper, and probably will be for a long time. Cat5e handles gigabit without breaking a sweat.

That said, for any new structured cabling, Cat6 is the responsible choice. If you want to future proof, go Cat6a. But none of these cable types, including Cat5e, will be obsolete anytime soon.


That was succinct. I appreciate the feedback.

Either that or Noe Ethernet’s advice above is good too.


Thanks. I appreciate the feedback. Right now there are five critical runs from the switch: two computer desks, the printer, and two AP (both outside where the house WiFi doesn’t reach well). I may add security cameras down the line. Then maybe I can find out who the Easter Bunny is.

Holy shit, is POTW still a thing?

I’m glad you found the humor in that as intended.

If you want to use WAP do you have to be down with oPP?

I get s’damn confused anymore.


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It took me a minute, but it finally dawned on me.

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If you already have coax runs, I’d recommend MoCA adapters (ethernet over coax). I have an older house with existing coax runs as well and my wife works in telemedicine. Her video conference stuff is much smoother on wired/MoCA.

The adapters top out at about 222 Mbps, but with much better latency than wireless. (222 Mpbs is far more than you need for normal web surfing and streaming, even HD). I have a couple of 'em sitting around doing nothing if you want 'em.

As for your numbered questions, I’ll just echo what outlawscotty already wrote.

Thanks, but I’ve tried those and they’re shit. Not the steaming pile that mesh is, but pretty damn stinky. Ethernet it is.

That hasn’t been my experience. It’s possible that you have interference on the wire, maybe from a bad splitter and/or amplifier. Regardless, Ethernet will indeed provide a superior experience. Good luck!

Could be. For whatever reason, none of these other methods have worked for me. Not over coax, not over existing electrical, and certainly not mesh. I’m just gonna bite the bullet and hard wire the important parts.

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Could also be the age of the coax, if the house and/or wiring isn’t fairly new.

So more network questions…after further review, I’m thinking installing a WAP on the back patio isn’t the best idea. The signal out there is weak, but it’s not zero. I could increase signal strength with a wired WAP, but it would be a different wifi signal as inside the house, correct? I would have to manually switch back and forth when I’m out there and inside, and it would not switch automatically as I move through the house. I understand I could set the SSID the same, but I read that’s a bad idea, and it’s still a different wifi signal. What I want is to have seemless handoff between different wifi access points…what I want is a mesh system. The problem is, I’ve tried a mesh system (the Linksys Velop) and it simply did not work, at least not with the ATT modem/router I’m forced to use. Do they make a “wired” mesh system, where each node is hardwired via ethernet to the router/switch, yet still has seemless handoff as you move from one node to another? Is there another solution?

If you’re having issues with your WAP, you could try installing Cardi B.


We have two networks in our house, and I cannot express strongly enough how frustrating it is, especially with things that have their own minds (e.g., Sonos) and come up on different networks after a power outage. Some day I have to fix all of this, but I probably only know enough to make my situation even worse.