Like all building and construction trades, low voltage wiring has
many different contractors performing vastly different levels of
work, ranging from one-man butcher jobs to professional operations
such as Farious Net Solutions. Due to this, it is important that
you, the consumer, learn to recognize quality operations before
work begins. Fortunately, this is made easier due to the fact that
you can look for several telltale clues in the potential installer's
In general, quality contractors will do the following things:
- Follow applicable, published standards such as ANSI/EIA/TIA-568
(the primary standard for low-voltage network installations) for
the installation. If the contractor doesn't know what these standards
are, or tries to explain them away, saying that they are not important,
you should be very wary.
- Test all wiring at a minimum for continuity and guarantee, in
writing, all work. This is obvious; anyone not willing to guarantee
their work is not confident in it.
- Install flush-mount (inside wall) jacks if possible, instead
of unsightly and easily damaged surface mount jacks. Surface mount
jacks are easier to install, and therefore many low-quality contractors
opt for this style instead of the better flush-mounted jacks.
- Pull in an auxiliary string, if possible, along with the wires
they are running in order to facilitate future changeouts or upgrades
to the system. The string will ease running future wires by making
the pulling easier, costs very little and adds no time to the
- Install high-quality (Category 6) wire to all locations,
regardless of whether they are meant to be telephone or network
connections. Higher quality wire costs slightly more, but it can
be used for either telephone or network connections and allows
a future upgrade path should you need more network jacks in a
particular location, or you decide to implement a voice-over-IP
(VoIP) telephone system.
- Use punch-down jacks instead of crimp-style jacks. Punch-down
jacks are usually slightly more expensive and take more time to
install than crimp-style jacks, but Farious Net Solutions has
determined that crimp-style jacks cause the majority of problems
at the client (wall jack) side of the wire due to them easily
- Design and implement a clean, managed home (concentrator) location.
The main location that all the wires run to is called a home or
concentrator location. Obviously, this is where a large number
of wire terminations will take place and it is imperative that
it is out of harm's way and has low humidity and little temperature
variation over time.
- Use high-quality stranded and strain-reliefed patch cables.
Patch cables provide the last connection between your computer
and the wall jack. Some installers provide solid-copper patch
cables or patch cables without strain relief, which usually leads
to problems. Solid-copper patch cables are very inflexible and
the internal wires can break over time as the computer is shifted
around while patch cables without strain relief can snag on other
wires or be ripped out of their connectors.
While contractors you should avoid will do the following:
- Split pairs from a single wire to create more than one jack.
High-quality cabling today usually carries 8 conductors, twisted
together into 4 pairs. It takes one pair to implement a telephone
jack and two pairs to implement a network jack. As you can see,
there are usually left-over conductors, which can be used, in
a pinch, to implement more jacks at a location. Low-quality installers
will, instead of running more wires, utilize these extra conductors
to give, for instance, two phone jacks and one network jack at
a given location instead of running three different cables. Again,
this can be done in a pinch, but is not recommended, and is never
recommended during new installs. Doing this can create crosstalk
between the different pairs which can lead to degraded network
and phone performance as well as other performance or reliability
- Daisy-chain telephone jacks. It used to be common practice to
daisy-chain (connect jack-to-jack) telephone jacks. This usually
make installation easier, but makes it impossible to utilize those
jacks with a phone system, to give different jacks different telephone
numbers, or to upgrade the jacks to network connections. Unless
you have a very unusual circumstance, this should never