March 15, 2023

Structured Cabling And Low Voltage Installation: 2023 Guide

structured cabling and low voltage installation

The 2023 Guide To Structured Cabling and Low Voltage Installation

What is structured cabling and low voltage installation?  This guide will compare and contrast the different types of cabling, the subsystems involved with each, in addition to explaining what makes up the installation process. Furthermore, we will go over what type of cabling is best for you and your business. 

Structured cabling is a specialty process and can grow with the ever-changing technological advancements. It is provided by many companies- such as Network Data Cabling – and makes up a more comprehensive IT infrastructure process. Structured cabling often includes cable management and wiring and the more complicated IT infrastructure processes. Here we will delve into all the important factors to consider when choosing between structured cabling and low voltage options for your business and the differences between the two. So let’s get started!

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Structured Cabling Systems VS. Low Voltage

Expanding technology from low voltage wiring used for telephones and simple things, such as power outlets and lighting, to now a more complex cabling network has become a specialty for electricians and the electrical industry as a whole.  New construction often needs more voltage and power than just telephone lines and power outlets.  These companies realize these needs, but forget to focus on the low voltage needs.  Hiring a company who specializes in low voltage cabling who will design and install a structured wiring and low voltage infrastructure. 

Structured cabling and low voltage wiring are often synonymous; however each and every installation is different.  These companies take many different factors into consideration when they are designing the systems.  These factors include:  the floor plan of the building space, the structure of the facility, the needs of the company, and any plans for expansion.  As a business, planning for expansion is crucial.  Technology is always changing, and structured cabling can always be added/modified.

What Makes Up a Structured Cabling System?

Having a structured cabling system is important for any business and their network.  These copper and fiber wires connect in walls and ceilings, joining your computers, security cameras, telephones, copiers, and more.  This system is different for each installation and can use panels and other components besides just low voltage cabling.  These systems are comparable to the human body’s central nervous system.  The spinal cord and the pathways for nerves send signals for the brain and body to work together.  

Benefits To A Structured Cabling System

This structured cabling system can be modified easily to grow with your usage needs and is a good return on your investment (ROI).  This system also has network cabling which provides more flexibility and optimizes company uptime.  This system will increase productivity and limit down time.  When designed properly, the installed system will give a more streamlined look.

The Subsystems That Make Up A Structured Cabling System

The Structured Cabling System will provide optimum benefits when installed.  These systems are made up of 6 different subsystems that work together.  These subsystems are:  Vertical Cabling, Horizontal Cabling, Entrance Facility Structured Cabling, Telecommunications Enclosure, Consolidation Point Structured Cabling, and Work Area Components.

Vertical Cabling

This cabling makes up all of the components that connect all of the facilities in a campus.  This includes entrance facilities, equipment rooms, and telecommunication rooms.  This can also be used to connect all of the buildings within the campus.  This type of cabling is known as the Backbone Cabling.  Other than just the cables, this type of cabling includes routing components.  These include raceways, conduits, and sleeves through floor penetration.  

Horizontal Cabling

These subsystems connect all telecommunications and their outlets to a closet and include most of the total system’s cabling.  These include the cable terminations (where fiber or wires connect), subsystems and equipment (using jumpers and patch cords), cable run connections, transition points (where cables connect to each other), communication outlets (outlets for phone and desktop computers), and more.

Entrance Facility Structured Cabling

This subsystem contains components that connect a building to a different outside telecommunication provider, or to a cabling system with a private network.  This cabling, like vertical cabling, can be used for the backbone cabling between building structures.  This is where the building being served connects with the provider of the service.  

Telecommunications Enclosure

This enclosure is where the vertical and horizontal cabling stop and cross connect.  The components are patch cords, intermediate and main cross connects, and any auxiliary equipment.  

Consolidation Point 

Rooms are used for large networks with equipment such as servers, routers, and more mechanical components.  These rooms are centrally located and the main point for the structured cabling system.  For smaller networks, a telecommunications enclosure is used.

Work Area Components

This is the end result of the horizontal cabling system.  This component connects the user’s desk equipment made up of phones, computers, and copiers to the telecommunication connector.  These components are made up of PC adapters, patch cables, outlets, and other cables.  Any equipment located at the workstation is a component of the system.

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What is Low Voltage?

Low voltage wiring is assembling components for anything that is different from standard wiring for high voltage needs.  These include: switches, power outlets, light fixtures, and heating and cooling systems.  This low voltage is for anything using 50 volts or less of electricity.  These systems include security, intercom, and voice phone and data.  This system is a pathway for all of the digital systems to connect and share any important data.  Low voltage is accomplished by using a variety of different low voltage cables and options.

Installing Ethernet and Fiber Optic Cables 

Ethernet cables are used to connect routers and PC’s together in the same network.  These cables are copper based, and different categories are used depending on the distance between equipment and the speed of data. Cat5 cables are for data speeds of 10 to 100 Mbps.  These connections are for around 300 feet.  Cat 5e supports transmission for up to 1000 Mbps.  Cat 6 is for faster data to 10Gbps.  These use fiber optic cables and are made of glass strands, as opposed to copper.  The glass strands carry digital information instead of electrical currents.  Ethernet cables support lower speeds and shorter distances, while fiber optic cables support higher speeds and longer distances.  

Data and Voice Cable Installation

Depending on the needs of the user, these types of installations use both ethernet and fiber optic cabling.  Data cables run the data and phone cabling through ceilings and walls to every part of a building, including each office and cubicle.  These connect all devices back to the telecommunication enclosures and rooms.

Security Systems Cabling 

The security system type of cabling is also connected with low voltage cabling.  The companies use Cat5e or Cat6 cables and run them through walls.  These connect security cameras to recorder equipment within the network.  These can provide power to the cameras and phones.  This is called Power-Over-Ethernet, which requires a separate PoE switch within the network.

Intercom Cabling

Intercom Cabling is another form of low voltage cabling.  Intercoms are independent systems used for video and voice communication in between buildings.  When a person speaks into an intercom, they can be seen and heard by people in a separate room.  Intercoms can be part of a security system, and be used to relay important information.  The intercoms can be used for announcements and to broadcast information over a large area, such as a school or college campus.  These can use Cat5, 5e, or Cat6 cables, depending on the needs of the infrastructure.

When Should Low Voltage Be Used?

Low Voltage is a specialty, and many electric companies have a low voltage crew, but sometimes a separate crew is hired.  These crews are hired because of technology changes, and can be completed after the electricity is completed.

Construction for Commercial Buildings

Low voltage wiring construction is well thought out, as it has to work in conjunction with other cable systems in commercial buildings.  Reference codes, guidelines, and standards must be followed in the plans.

Installation for Data Center Architecture 

The data centers store applications for different locations and organizations.  The IT content is passed through the switches, routers, firewalls, and servers.  The cabling includes both ethernet and fiber optic cables.  The types of data centers include: entire buildings, one room in a building, multiple buildings, or even in the cloud.  

Cabling for Office Networks

This is a challenging type of cabling, especially when the facility is occupied.  To have a successful installation, planning is crucial and will help to avoid problems.  Choosing the right cabling system for the business will help with performance, speed, and connectivity.  Color coding and labeling the cables will help with any problems in the future.  Cable length determines signal strength, so ensuring those are correct is also important.  The cabling timing should be thought out as working in an occupied space is difficult with workers present.

Conclusion: Structured Cabling & Low Voltage Installation 2023 Guide

This comprehensive guide compares and contrasts the differences and complexities between low voltage wiring and structured cabling installation.  When designing and installing these types of networks, there are many factors to consider.  Assessing the business needs is crucial in determining the type of installation.  Technology is always expanding, and the structured cable installers need to know the different methods and needs of the users.  Make sure to hire a professional company such as Network Data Cabling that has the best standards and commitment to keeping up with the latest technological advancement. You can contact Network Data Cabling on this page here and reach out to them regarding structured cabling and low voltage installation services in NJ.