• LA: (337) 474-4249 TX: (409) 724-0440
  • Lake Charles, Louisiana 2950 Country Club Lake Charles, LA 70605
  • Nederland, Texas 2909 Spurlock Rd Nederland, TX 77627

“Yes, we can do that for you!”

Be careful of these misleading words.

Just because your local electrician knows how to fish wire through a wall doesn’t mean he/she understands low power cabling.

You see, data wiring (low power) and power wiring (the kind of wiring that the appliances in your house or the lights in your office use) are similar but different.

Sure, an electrical contractor can follow the specs, buy the wire, and install the wiring according to the diagrams.

That’s not the problem.

The challenge comes into play in the fact that most electrical contractors seldom work with low power cabling. This unfamiliarity leads to oversights and mistakes that could cause your network not to function efficiently and even cost you thousands in fixes to the wiring after completion of renovation/construction.

IT managed services providers – like the National Networks team – deal with low power cabling every day and are uniquely qualified to get your cabling installation project across the finish line.

What’s so different about low power (network) cabling?

In Low Power Cabling Too Little Power (Signal) is a Concern.

Because the power levels coming into the business are throttled/controlled by the internet provider, you usually will not have to worry about overloading your circuits with power but having too little signal will cause pain and frustration.

The attenuation (signal loss) from one end of a cable to the other must be taken into consideration. The longer the cable, the more voltage/signal loss you will have.

Be Careful to Examine the Quality of the Signal Running Through the Cabling.

Because power utility companies police the quality of their signal very carefully, (keeping the sine wave around 60 hertz) electrical contractors generally don’t concern themselves with the quality of the power coming into a home or business. It’s there. It’s dependable. It’s consistent.

Low power cabling is altogether different. With data cabling, the quality of the signal is a primary concern. If the shape of the signal changes (flattens out) in transmission down the cable, that’s a big problem — even if the power levels going into the cable are exactly the same as the power levels coming out of the cable. Why? Because when a signal degrades in this way, it makes it difficult for hardware to discern the difference between a “1” and a “0” – thus making the signal worthless – even if the power levels are maintained throughout the transmission.

Roughing In Your Low Power Cabling Has Significant Differences From Power Cabling.

For those of you not familiar with the construction process, running all the wiring for a renovation or new build has two stages.

  • The “rough-in” is the stage in which lots of holes are drilled in wall studs and through walls, and then cables are pulled through those drilled holes to the approximate locations of outlets and junction boxes.
  • The “trim” is the stage in which the ends of the wires are “trimmed” and attached to the wall outlets and connected to other wires within junction boxes to make the necessary circuits or connections to fixtures.

A low power rough in differs in the following ways:

  1. The cabling is much smaller and therefore more fragile than its higher-power counterpart. As a result, an installer must exercise great care not to stretch, break, or kink the cabling as it is pulled through the wall to its
  2. The signal running through the cable can be distorted if it is run in close proximity to anything that creates an electromagnetic field. The common things that cause this kind of distortion to low power signals are light ballasts, electric motors, and transformers.
  3. Power cabling is made of heavier gauge copper wire than low power cabling and can handle more abuse. Because of this, it’s important to protect the low power cabling during the rough-in stage and for any period between the rough in and the trim stage.

Get Ready to Love the Metric System

One of the big differences between working with power cabling and low power cabling is that low power cabling is measured in metric units. So, if you aren’t familiar with the metric system, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with Google’s metric-to-standard conversion tool.

Test, Test, and Document

A powered circuit is easy to test. You just have to plug in a light and voila! It works – or it doesn’t.

Low powered circuits are different.

As we have already stated, you have to test for both power and the quality of the signal.

Once you have tested for both power and signal quality on the circuit, it’s important to document the results of your tests, so you have those results handy for reference down the road should you need to troubleshoot.

Understanding The EIA/TIA 568 Standard Is A Requirement.

The EIA/TIA 568 Standard is a set of best-practice guidelines that dictate how cabling is run within a commercial building. A contractor that runs low power cabling will be intimately familiar with EIA/TIA 568 and will be able to articulate the reasons that EIA/TIA 568 dictates specific cabling, installation, and application.

Get Comfortable with the Terminology

Here are some words/phrases that a competent low power cabling installation professional such as those at National Networks may use. It’s helpful if you have a working knowledge of them to be able to understand his/her cabling installation for your renovation or new build.

  • Communication’s Closet – This is the “hub” of communication’s activity. All of your data cabling branches out from this little room – feeding the data signal to devices throughout your facility.
  • Cat 5 (or 6,7) – This is the cabling that is run between the wall outlet and the communication’s closet.
  • Patch panel – Also known as a patch bay, jack field, or patch field, a patch panel is a device that has ports for low voltage wires to be plugged into – allowing for circuit connections, tests, and routing.
  • Punch-down block – This electrical connector allows for a large number of wires to be pushed into various copper connection slots to make connection with other wires “punched down” into other copper connection slots on the same block.
  • Backbone cable – In structured cabling, the backbone cable connects different floors of the facility, external entrance points, and various communication’s closets.

Want to know more about reliable low power cable installation? We have more helpful articles for you HERE.

Published on 4th May 2018 by Shawn Maggio