Finishing Wiring Closet

Hey gang,

I'm building a new house. I've already pretty much decided what wiring I want (a lot) and where/how to run it. My question involves the finishing of the wiring closet.

I would like to wire it more like a commercial building, due primarily to the large number of cables I will be running. This means that I will be terminating the cables on patch panels in a freestanding rack, instead of using wall-recessed HA panels.

So, I'm looking for suggestions as to how to bring lots of cables from the wall/ceiling space into the wiring closet and to the rack such that it looks nice, neat, and finished. And, of course, it has to meet fire code. FYI, the ceiling is not a plenum.

Yes, I could just chop a hole in the ceiling and dangle them down. But, that would hardly look very nice. I'd really like to end up with something that looks like I know what I'm doing, versus an explosion in a sphagetti factory. :-)


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Longtime Lurker
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If it's a drop ceiling you could bring the wire down inside one or more 2" diameter PVC conduits to a surface mount cabinet behind the rack.

Alternatively, you could do what I've done for a number of clients:

  1. Install a 4x8 sheet of ACX plywood instead of drywall on a stud wall. The ply- wood goes up horizontally, 4" below the ceiling. Paint or stain the plywood.
  2. Bring the cables out of of one or more holes in the wall directly above the plywood. Use distribution knobs and rings to split and guide the cables to their respective destinations.
  3. Instead of a free standing rack (which will almost certainly scare away 99% of future home buyers when you decide to sell some day), install 110 and 66 blocks directly to the plywood.
  4. Along the bottom of the plywood affix an outlet strip with duplex outlets every
12" or so. This gets wired directly to a dedicated breaker.

  1. Above the strip mount an 8-10" deep shelf on 10-12" brackets so that there's a 2" gap between the shelf and the plywood. This gives you a place to rest tools, meters and perhaps a gooseneck lamp while you work, as well as a convenient place for free standing devices like a cable box, etc.

I've installed quite a few systems over the years and this method has proven handy for me. It's neat, efficient and not too intimidating to technophobes, many of whom were our clients. :^)

Reply to
Robert L Bass

This is certainly an option. For this, how would the conduit terminate in the ceiling space? Then, how do I get the wire bundle neatly out of the cabinet and over to the distribution rack? What sort of cabinet did you have in mind? The room in question is a 10' ceiling, so I could certainly install some drop tiles, or anything else for that matter.

This is certainly doable, too. But, that goes back to the original question - how do I get all those cables out of the wall in such a way that it looks neat rather than just a bunch of wires hanging out of the wall?

BTW, your point about the freestanding rack is well taken, and I suppose I could go with wall mounted patch panels just as easily, and use racks for equipment that won't stay with the house. For what it's worth, I plan to live here a long time, though!

Reply to
Longtime Lurker

If it's a drop ceiling you could place cable clamps on the ends in the ceiling. Just don't tighten them beyond "snug".

You can make up several smaller bundles and dress them with wire ties (again, not too snug) or Velcro strips.

I've used PVC and metal cabinets for things like this. However, I wouldn't select a free standing rack for a residential app for the reasons previously stated. It would function just as well, for sure, but I like residential jobs to look ...well, residential.

Actually it would be cables coming out of the wall, but that can still be done neatly. If the plywood backboard stops a few inches below the ceiling the wires will come out of the wall directly above it. They get dressed with wire ties or Velcro as mentioned above and are fed into distribution rings and knobs, then run directly to their termination points.

We always seem to plan that way, or at least I do. But I've had a dozen homes in the last 35 years. That's an average of less than 3 years per location. In my CT home (the one I kept the longest) I had an elaborate backboard similar to what I've described here. It was the "wiring closet" for security, intercom and whole-house entertainment systems. The transmitter and power supply for our 2-way radios was in there, too. The phone system KSU was on the same board with cabling for a dozen phones (10-room house). We had sensors from an automatic start generator set with auto-transfer, an "E-panel" and just about everything else

-- all wired to the same place.

The wiring was neat, well organized and clearly labeled. Everything worked perfectly. I felt that my work was an asset. When we decided to sell the realtor said it "might not hurt the value" of the house. :^)

Reply to
Robert L Bass

Actually, I think I may have found what I was looking for:

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The cabling in the picture there is the look that I'm going for, it's a firestop, and it allows for future expansion with no messy caulk. Looks like a win. I'm open to suggestions for other/better/easier solutions, of course.

Heh. Well, that's sort of the issue. Around here, most of the residential jobs I've seen (from touring lots of model and new homes) fall into 2 categories: wires hanging out of the wall, or a recessed, premade panel. Unfortunately, the pre-made panels don't have the capacity or flexibility I'd like.

Fortunately, I don't think this will be an issue in our case, but you never know. And I fully do understand your point. The guy from Best Buy has to be able to install some gizmo for the next owners, and if the wiring is too complicated, even if neat, well...

Seven years ago, I had to explain what structured wiring was to our real-estate agent. Now, it's pretty much standard in every home we've seen. So, it looks to me like this stuff is getting pretty mainstream, and buyers are going to expect it rather than be afraid of it. Or, at least, I hope so! :-)

Thanks for the advice! In a few months, I'll shoot you an email - I'm going to need an alarm setup and various and sundries.

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Longtime Lurker

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One option would be to install wiring ducts like the ones made by Panduit.

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I was designing custom industrial automation, we used this inside of everything that had more than a few wires. The snap on covers make it easy to change wires. The slots in the side allow you to break wires out anywhere along the length.

or surface raceway

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They make a lot of products for handling cables neatly.
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Reply to
B Fuhrmann


That is very similar to the way I would do it except I'd orient the plywood horizontally. This puts all the major panels at eye level.

That part was ingenious.

Reply to
Robert L Bass

Use Panduit wire duct for inside panels and cabinets. For outside the walls, surface raceway is best. Panduit has a unique surface raceway product called Pan-way Cove raceway. It's designed to look like crown molding. Plus it's paintable, so you can match your wall or trim color. It's great for running cables in a basement because you can access the wire easily and add wires or make changes without punching holes in your ceiling or walls. It also has drop down junctions so you can run cables from the top corner of your walls down to any location.

here's the link:

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Good Luck.

byPanduit.> When I was designing custom industrial automation, we used this inside of


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