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(Tech Tip: Wiring) How to install an ethernet jack (rj45 cat5e)

imageWe get asked all the time about home networks and how to wire them.  Generally we find too many people using wireless signals for things that really need a wire like gaming or video streaming.

It’s very easy to connect the wires – the hard part is concealing it and making it look ‘pretty’.

This guy goes through (a bit too much) detail about the installation but at least he’s thorough and the pics are good.

and this guy does the same

Here’s my own version

(I've plagiarized the pics from these guys- sorry guys!)

Here’s the setup you will end up with

Computer <---- 7’ cable ---> Cat5eJack <---- 100’ cable ---> Cat5eJack <---- 7’ cable ---> Router or Switch

You are building this portion : Cat5eJack <---- 100’ cable ---> Cat5eJack

Basically you need to buy a spool of Ethernet cable.  They are all the same but look for 8 strand Cat5e cable (at least).  You could even buy a 100’ pre-made cable and cut off the ends but that would defeat the whole purpose I guess.

I would buy at Home Depot or Lowes.  Or Radio Shack if you don’t mind a bit of a rip off.

Here’s your shopping list:

- 100’ Ethernet cable of type Cat5e or Cat6 (or whatever length you want)

- 2 punch down Ethernet jacks (female)

- 2 surface mount boxes (optional)

- 2 7’ pre-built Ethernet cables (male to male) . These are the standard network cables you probably already have.

Here are what the jacks look like.


You don’t need any tools besides a wire cutter because these jacks include a ‘punch-down tool’ (see the grey thing in the picture).

These jacks were designed to ‘snap in’ to a housing like a surface mount box (easiest) or a flush mount box if you feel like making it look like a professional install like an electrical outlet.

This is all cosmetics so it’s optional.  Here’s a two port version.  You will only be using one port per box.


After you run the wire you have to cut the wire and strip the outer white (or blue) jacket only.  You can almost pull it off by hand.  Do NOT strip the 8 wires inside the jacket.

Strip off about 6 inches or so and un-twist all the wires.  Then line up each color to the corresponding colors on the jack.  Note that the jack has A and B color standards.  Use the B section although as long as you use the same standard on both sides you will be fine.  Use the punch down tool to push the wires into the slots.   The slots are designed so that it strips the jacket when the wire is pushed in.

The 8 colors are blue, blue with stripe, green, green with stripe, brown, …. You get the picture.

Also, the outer jacket should go right up to the jack so that no color wires are exposed unnecessarily.  This prevents signal loss.


Then you just snip off the ends of the wires.  You could re-punch everything to make sure it’s tight.


Snap it in the surface mount box and you are done!

Now attach your computer to one end using a standard Ethernet cable.

On the other end use another Ethernet cable to connect to the switch or router.

Hopefully you will see a connection pop up on your computer.    If not you will have to re-terminate both ends!

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