Phone, Network, and TV Wiring (done in 2002/2003)

When we ordered our manufactured home in late 2002, we decided to order 5 telephone jack locations without the wiring.  I figured I would do the wiring myself.  As time progressed, my plans expanded considerably and the final count of what I wanted was 10 jacks in the house and a number of additional ones in my garage, shop, and motor home garage.  These jacks were to include not only the telephone, but also TV and computer network wiring (Cat-5).

When the house arrived, I discovered that the manufacturer's installation of the phone jacks consisted of a standard plastic electrical box with a hole drilled in the bottom end.  Through this hole extended a length of 1/2 inc PVC conduit which passed down through the wall, the floor, the insulation, and the moisture barrier.  This way wire could be easily pushed up to the box.  I quickly found that all the wires I had decided to run would not fit the 1/2 inch conduit, and the termination of so many wires would not fit a closed electrical box, so in addition to adding 5 new outlets using 3/4 inch conduit and low voltage mounting rings, I replaced the conduit and boxes on 3 of the existing ones.   The two remaining outlets were fine, as I was only planning on phone and Cat-5 wires in these two over-counter locations.   The low voltage mounting rings have the mounting shape and size of an electrical box,  but have no box.  This allows the wires to use the entire thickness of the wall for their bends and service loops.  This is not a problem, as these are all low voltage devices, and the building code allows open runs of these wires.

I then went to Home Depot and bought 500 foot rolls of both black and white RG-6 cable for the tv, blue Cat-5 for the network runs, and grey Cat-5 for the telephone wiring.

After several days of crawling under the house, I had all the wires run.  These were left under the house in a large bundle for the time being.

I had decided on having a "master connect panel" on the garage wall, so all the wires would terminate somewhere on this panel.  This posed a problem, as the normal manufactured home is installed 2 to 3 feet higher than the garage, and has several steps coming down to the garage.  As Betty had a severe case of Rheumatoid Arthritis and could not climb steps, I had the contractor lower the house and raise the garage levels from normal so they were level with each other.  We could now walk easily between the house and garage.  Normally I would only have had to drill through the wall below the house and above the garage floors.  With the floors level, I could no longer do that.  Instead, I mounted three lengths of 1 1/2 PVC conduit with sweeping bends at the bottom.  These were positioned so the tops would extend through the poured concrete garage floor and the bottoms would be accessible under the house.  NOTE!  Whenever you do something that is so final, be sure to make the capacity handle the most you think you could possibly need and then DOUBLE IT!  I thought I had plenty of excess capacity in these conduits, but ended up really packing them with wires.

Most of the house wiring has been run in this photo.  I was very careful to accurately label each wire as I ran it!


These conduit sweeps extend under the floor level of the house and above the concrete floor level of the garage (when it is poured).  I will add vertical extensions before the garage floor is poured.

After construction was pretty well completed on the garage, shop, and motor home garage, I completed the wiring for the house by running all the wires through the conduits and up onto my patch board.  I also ran a number of wires throughout the garage, shop and MH garage.  All this wiring was done over the ceilings using runs of 1 1/4 inch PVC conduit.  These ran to my shop, to the back of the garage, and to the MH garage.  In the MH garage, I left an access panel on the wall where the conduit ended and ran two additional conduits down to the wall below feeding both the garage and MH garage, and to the center of the MH garage ceiling.  Here I made another access cover and ran two more conduits to the center of the right hand wall (looking from the driveway), and to the left rear corner.  The first fed a jack that was close to the utility bay of the motor home, and the second fed down the common shop/MH garage wall and fed jacks on both sides.  The access panels were used to feed a wire from one conduit into the correct other conduit.  Many of these jacks were phone only.  I sent TV (two wires) and Cat-5 only to my shop work bench and the utility jack by the motor home.
After all the wires were run, I had the joy of connecting all of them to the jack plates or to the various terminations on the main patch panel.  I used a system of small square modules which can be mixed and matched to snap into various size and configurations of cover plates.  They make a very neat installation.  Most of the house jacks were  done on 4 position plates.  These included 2 TV feeds, a phone jack, and a Cat-5 jack.  In my office I used a 6 place plate and had 3 TV feeds, 2 Cat-5 feeds and a phone jack.  In the hall I have a counter with a jack above it.  Here I installed only a phone jack, a Cat-5 jack, and a special jack for a weather station.  In the utility room I had another over counter jack which has only phone and Cat-5.  All the phone and Cat-5 jacks are "punch down" connections on the rear.  The TV jacks are type N jacks just like the fronts.  I bought a decent punch-down tool with dies for both the small terminals on these connectors and the larger ones on the telephone punch-down blocks I used on my patch board.  I also bought a number of high quality TV connectors and a special installation tool for them.  I want this job to be reliable!

Most of the house jacks and a couple of the shop and MH garage jacks look like this.  The two TV feeds are on the top, the phone is the lower left, and the Cat-5 the lower right.
In my office, I went a little heavier.  I have 3 TV feeds, a phone feed, and 2 Cat-5's.

The other ends of all these cables were routed to and terminated in my master patch panel in the garage.  I layed it out in three sections.  The top section is for the Cat-5 network cables, the center for the TV, and the bottom for the telephone.

I bought a network distribution strip consisting of 24 Cat-5 connectors on a metal frame.  Each connector has punch-down terminals on the rear.  I mounted this on a hinge and connected my 14 network cables to the first 14 connectors.  I can now plug in Cat-5 patch cables from my router into the appropriate connectors to feed the desired house jacks.

I originally subscribed to cable TV and convinced the installer to bring the cable directly into my garage instead of having an unsightly box on the outside of the building.  He also gave me an 8 way splitter from the cable and verified his signal was strong enough to drive all 8 positions.  The TV cables were just brought to the area in a bunch.  The appropriate ones attached to the splitter and the others just sort of hung there.  After I changed to satellite TV the splitter was no longer used and the main function of these cables was to deliver the dish antenna signals to the correct locations and to connect multiple TV's to the receivers.  This was all done with barrel connectors between cables, so now the wires just hang in their bunch with several connected as needed.  It is not too pretty, but very effective.

My experience with crimp-on TV connectors in the past has been pretty poor.  The crimped barrels never seemed to be tight, and I have had problems with intermittent connections and even with the wire pulling completely out of the connector.

For this project I wanted reliable connections, so I bought the best connectors I could find.  These fit over the end of a properly stripped cable, then have a plastic bushing pressed into the bottom to ensure a weather tight and physically secure connection.

I have literally hundreds of these connections in place and have not had any problems at all.  It pays to use quality parts!

When the cable company stopped carrying the Flagstaff station which I liked very much for the news, I installed a large TV antenna in the MH garage attic and fed it to the board.  As the signal was poor, I added an amplifier, but the results were only marginal.  It really doesn't matter, as shortly later, the Flagstaff station stopped producing their own news and just mirrored a Phoenix station.  I get those!

I used two standard telephone punch blocks for the phones.  I did not want any daisy-chaining of the phone wiring, as I have had problems in the past that were almost impossible to locate.  Each of my 20 phone jacks has a wire running from the jack to the punch down block. I wired all the jacks for 2 line capability, even though I have only one line.  I was also able to talk the phone installer into putting his box in the garage.  I have no messy cable or phone wiring on the front of the house.  This is also much more secure.

When I converted to a VOIP phone (phone service over high speed  Internet), I added a junction box with 3 phone jacks in it.  One is attached to the phone company wire, one is attached to my house wiring (the feed to the punch blocks), and the third is merely an additional phone jack for testing or adding a phone.  I have a short jumper which will connect the phone company wiring to my house wiring.  If I remove this jumper, as for VOIP, I can feed the house wiring from my VOIP box with no connection to the phone company.

This is my master patch panel.

The strip across the top is for my network connections, the block below it is my TV amplifier for the antenna.  Below that is the messy bundle of TV wiring with the 8 way splitter just below it.

The telephone punch down  strips are at the bottom with my jumper box on the left.

The telephone company hookup box is mounted below the panel next to two of my "through the floor" conduits.  The three conduits going through the ceiling feed my shop, garage, and MH garage outlets.

The shelf just to the left of the panel holds my cable modem, my wireless "N" router, my VOIP box, and a UPS to provide service if there is a temporary power loss.


Dick Mason, Prescott, AZ 5/15/11