The beauty of buying a newly constructed home these days is not only that you get better energy efficiency but also an easier way to manage your TV, data and voice wiring. In older homes, if you wanted to run a network data cable from your router to your computers or other devices in other rooms, you would have to have an electrician run the wires behind the walls or have unsightly cables running along the floors to each room.
I recently purchased a newly constructed home last year and was pleasantly surprised to find this centralized wiring panel in the master bedroom closet. Each room was pre-wired for cable TV and voice (phone lines). Three rooms included data connections in addition to the voice lines.
You no longer have to go into the attic to reroute connections or call an electrician to run cables behind the walls. Behind the panel, they included a coaxial and phone distribution modules with all the cables plugged in. The blue data lines were left hanging and is up to the homeowner to make the final connections.
The good thing is that both the data and voice ports were the same exact port with Cat 5e cabling behind them so they can be used interchangeably. You just had to route them to the correct device in the wiring panel.
Cutting the Cord with Free Over The Air (OTA) TV
I don’t subscribe to cable TV. I get all the TV I need with over the air channels in the Southern California area. So, instead of mounting a small antenna in each room with a TV, I mounted a larger array antenna in the attic pointed towards the broadcast antennas in the LA area.
From the antenna, it’s connected to a signal booster in the wiring panel that is then connected to a distributer. From the distribution panel, I’ve got it connected to all the rooms where I have TVs and it works perfectly. I no longer have unsightly antennas in each room next to each TV.
Most people don’t know and probably don’t care but since I come from a technical background and I do work with big files, I like my computers to be connected directly with a network cable. I installed a gigabit switch in the wiring panel and connected the cables from various rooms to the switch where I’ll have computers and other network devices.
802.11n wireless speeds range around 1/5 to 1/4 of the speeds that a wired gigabit connection is capable of so that’s why I like my devices wired if possible. 802.11ac wireless speeds come closer to gigabit speeds and is close enough where everything can go wireless efficiently but not all devices are at that point yet.
Since the phone and data jacks they used in the new house were the same, just differently colored to distinguish between them for new home owners, I was able to easily reconnect the voice lines in the wiring panel to the switch to use as data network lines. They both used the same port and Cat 5e cabling so it worked perfectly.
I’ve got my cable modem and WiFi router centrally located in my home in the loft area, not behind the wiring panel. So if you can imagine how I have this wired. Cable connection from street level goes into the wiring panel, which is connected to the cable going to the loft and plugged into the cable modem. Cable modem is then connected to the WiFi router located next to it. One of the gigabit ports of the router is connected back to the wiring panel to the switch where it is then distributed around the house.
One of the reasons I have the cable modem in the loft with the WiFi router is that when you have connectivity issues and have to restart your modem, you also should restart the router so that they can start and sync up together. If the modem was hidden behind the panel in the master bedroom closet and the router in the loft, I’d be going back and forth unplugging the power in both units and then plugging it back in. Keeping these two devices together is better.
Since almost everybody has a cell phone, not all households have a home phone. But, we still keep one just in case. We use the wireless home phone system that uses a centralized base station and all the other units can be placed around the house and plugged in for power only. Only the base station needs to be plugged into the phone line.
Because I only needed one phone line working, that’s how I have it connected in the wiring panel. The other thing is that I don’t subscribe to a phone service through our local provider. I use the Obihai OBi200 VoIP adapter with Google Voice for free home phone service.
Click Here to read my article on the Obihai OBi200 VoIP adapter
I mounted the Obihai device in the wiring panel just above the phone distribution panel. From a wiring perspective, I’ve got the Obihai device connected to the switch for data connection and then the phone connection is plugged into the phone distribution panel. From there, I’ve got one line connected to the port located in the kitchen where I have my phone base station.
The Beauty of Centralized Wiring in your Home
At my previous place, I had to crawl in the attic to reroute cable lines and it was a pain to route network cables and reconnect them when I needed to due to changes in our needs over time.
With a centralized wiring panel that’s easily accessible in one of the rooms, in this case it’s in the master bedroom closet, I’m able to wire the house exactly the way I want to and reroute lines as needed if things change.
The Obihai device is a new addition that I was able to hide behind this panel without cluttering up the kitchen counter area. And, normally the Obihai would only work with a single phone in your house but since I have the phone distribution module, I can actually have multiple phones plugged into it from various rooms around the house if needed.
Centralized wiring in a house is a must-have from now on. I won’t be able to live in another house that doesn’t have this feature.