By Bob Catanzarite
Planning - Chapter 2
Start with your floorplan. Determine the location of your CWP (Central Wiring Panel) and each of your outlet plates. Remember that a key part of a structured wiring system is running ALL of the cables from each outlet plate back to the CWP. This is the 'Home Run' configuration.
Having labels for your cables is very important. When you end up with 30 or 40 cables coming into the CWP you'll be lost with out some form of label to know where the cable goes to.
Give each outlet plate a short name. This short name should be somewhat
descriptive of the outlets location. Keep the name short because this name will
be used to label each end of the cables running to and from that outlet. In my
case I used:
Now, draw into the floorplan the approximate route the cables will take as they run from the outlet plates back to the CWP. Using this floorplan sketch with the cable routing shown to estimate the cable lengths required. This will help to get an idea of how much cable to order. Remember that this floorplan is 2 dimensional and does not show the length of cable needed to get from the wallplate up to the attic or down to the basement or to run in-between floors. This floorplan can also help for identifying areas where your builder may need to build in something to allow the large diameter cable bundles to get from one floor to the next. In my case, being a single story home with all the wiring running up from the outlet plate up into the attic, there was no need for any special wiring structures to allow the cable bundles to get back to the CWP. As you'll see in the CWP section, my CWP is surface mounted (mounted ON TO the wall as opposed to IN the wall). This allowed me to run the large diameter cable bundles down from the attic through PVC conduit tubes mounted ON TO the wall as opposed to IN the walls. This way I avoided having 4" to 5" cable bundles running through the walls and drilling large holes into the framing lumber.
Now that every outlet plate has a name we need to give each port or jack on the outlet plate a short name. Remember that the goal here of all these names is to be able to label each cable on BOTH ends of every cable so that when you know where every cable goes. On the right you see my outlet plate and the names I used for each port.
How I Assigned Port Names:
Now we combine the outlet plate name with the port name to make up a cable name. For example:
DNR-D2 indicates the cable going to the dining room (DNR) outlet
plate's data 2 port (D2).
I created an Excel spreadsheet as an aid for me in this planning process. You'll need to have Excel or an Excel Viewer to see this spreadsheet. Or you can view this version of the spreadsheet in PDF format. The spreadsheet shows which type of ports are included in each of the outlet plates. In my case, all of the outlet plates have the same ports on them. But if you decide to use some different set of ports on each of the outlet plates this Excel spreadsheet can be a great deal of help. One very nice benefit of this spreadsheet is that the column on the right has all of the cable names listed. I actually used this column to make the labels that I put on each end of every cable. I printed this spreadsheet then used scissors to cut out each cell in the column labeled 'CABLE NAME' to end up with a small label. Then I used scotch tape to tape the cut out paper label to the cable.
You can see these cable labels taped to the cables in the picture on the right. (Click the picture for a larger image)