Cabling Best Practices Guide

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jan 03, 2018

Surveillance cabling can be a major problem. Poorly installed and maintained networks are often costly, lengthy, frustrating ordeals to manage.

While keeping cables organized is not an advanced topic to understand and practice, in this note we address a few basic rules can go far in preventing "cabling nightmares."

Inside we explain:

  • Real Life Examples
  • The 5 'Best Practices' That Make A Difference
  • Cabling Specifications
  • 5 Question Quiz

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Bad Cabling Examples

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Cable Management

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Color Coded Patch Cables

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Excessive Length Patch Cables

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[****: **** **** *** originally ********* ** **** but *** ******* ** 2018.]

Comments (37)

And please be nice to your service folks and use Velcro instead of tie wraps  :)

Many agree with you: Cable Strapping IP Camera Networks

I like to use zip ties and cut the ends off so they're real nice and pointy so anyone trying to undo my work gets a couple of good jabs.

And I bet you put the brown pair on 1-2 and the blues on 3-6 just in case they’re not deterred by physical pain.

If one must use zip ties, I learned from a very quality conscious coworker to use linesmans to snug  up to tab and twist until excess breaks, it leaves a very clean and smooth surface. This guys panels were always a work of art, wish I had taken pictures to submit to https://www.reddit.com/r/cableporn/ (safe for work)

I love that subreddit. 

BICSI does NOT recommend cable tye-wraps as there is the potential for over tightening which causes performance issues with cabling such as increased Alien Cross-Talk, etc. 

The velcro straps are much better to work with

I go between zip ties and hook and loop. I like hook and loop if I have a bundle near the head end that may be added to in the future. I will use zip ties for dressing power cables or for cables that will almost never be added to and won't be touched. I watch how tight I bundle them. I can say I've never really been cut by zip ties. Maybe it's because I clean up messes that never use any form of cable management. I love when the expensive cable management exists in racks, and then is not even used.

Besides drop ceilings, the other location for bad cable management is in attics, especially those constructed with wood. It can be like an obstacle course not to step on data cabling thrown any way they please. I like to place the cables high while keeping in mind others will be in the attic at some point so I make sure the cable is seen and does not block or prevent navigating the attic. This means I generally keep the cable high and out of the way whenever possible.

Here are some fun pics:

Above the ceiling at a Save-A-Lot (They sure did)

A local cable company after the store got expanded to two bays, I lifted the ceiling panel and this bundle fell on me. That was fun. We call all bad cable installs doing it "Buckeye Style".

Not necessarily bad cable install but unique camera installation with bad cabling.

From Stanley Security

From my daughter's school (in-house installation) They even asked for volunteers to have a cable pulling day. Great charter school, but really.

The POS company said they would install the POS and thrown in the camera system as part of the deal. How generous of them.

This was fun:

There were labels on some of the cable. The only thing that remains now is a hole where they need to cut a piece of ceiling tile.

Hey John, maybe you can sponsor a photo contest to see who finds the worst cable or camera install?  Would be interesting.  Just a thought.

maybe you can sponsor a photo contest to see who finds the worst cable or camera install?

We are preparing an installation training book and an installer course that will help train in this area. 

We are not going to encourage photos of the 'worst' install as it encourages thoughtless attacks, e.g., What's With The Snarky Linkedin Install Photo Trend?

Just curious to know how many times this has been pointed out to a client, and how many times they bother to fix it?

This is pretty typical of the apartment communities we work with.

 

BTW IPVM When I click on the "insert/edit image" there is no upload option. Windows 7 Chrome Browser, hit ctrl F5. Seems to work in my office on Win 10 and Chrome. I had to drag the pictures over

 

 

 

BTW IPVM When I click on the "insert/edit image" there is no upload option. Windows 7 Chrome Browser, hit ctrl F5. Seems to work in my office on Win 10 and Chrome.

It's because our uploader uses Flash and Flash is being increasingly disabled by default. This month, we are going to replace our Flash file uploader with a JS one. Sorry for the inconvenience. 

As you pointed out drag and drop still works (we added that last year) and is now the easiest way to add images especially if you want to add multiple ones.

These best practices are a good start. However I would recommend that if you do a lot of commercial work that requires "standards compliant cabling practices" by specification and you perform your own IP cabling installation that your company invests in the ANSI/TIA Telecommunications Building Wiring Standards. They are available from IHS on CD and include TIA-568 Cabling and Components series, TIA-569 Pathway and Spaces series, TIA-606 administration standard, TIA-607 grounding requirements and TIA-758 outside plant standard. There are other sections in there as well but these are the critical ones. I see comments about zip ties in this string that would require replacement of Cat/ Cat6A cables in some cables due to damaging the geometry of the cable jacket. Just a word to the wise. Knowledge is power.

I am seeing more and more security companies that are doing their own cabling in the midwest. I don't know if it is because the cabling companies are starting to do their own security or if they are just to busy to be subcontracted to do security cabling.  Either way, this means that the quality of cabling on the installs has gone down.

As a company, we take pride in the fact that all of our cabling is installed per BICSI standards.  While most people think that is doesn't make a difference, we have seen first hand what doing things the correct way does for your reputation. It makes you look like a true professional when at the end the of your project, you hand over closeout documents with all documentation and this documentation includes certified Cabling test results. 

Another thing we always do is always use velcro. How many people have gone into an IDF and seen 50 tie-wraps on 20 cables, because people are to lazy to cut them off.  Velcro makes it so easy to keep your cabling manageable and organized.  

Recently spotted in a warehouse in Atlanta GA.

 

I saw this on Facebook the other day. An integrator had to relocate an alarm panel, here's how he made the splice:

It's a terminal block by a company called Phoenix Contact.

That's really funny. If the splice is that nice looking, I can't imagine how nice the panel is. If anyone has a picture of an alarm panel that was installed without just stuffing the panel with wire, I would love to see it. I don't install alarms, but around here I have never seen a nice looking panel. Everyone I have ever opened had cable that flies out.

It's certainly possible to do nice looking work, it just takes a little more time and a modicum of professionalism and self-respect. I used to do it all the time when I was a tech. 

Here's a photo of the panel and expanders, also from Facebook:

 

Are those resistors attached to them there chicklets?  :) 

Those aren't EOL resistors, they are those special ITB (in the box) resistors :)

Since none of the zone expanders in that picture have any beanies hanging off them, we can assume the installer is smart enough to know that's not the way you're supposed to do that. Therefore, we can assume the ones we can see are supposed to be there. 

I would guess those are for NO devices such as four wire smokes or hold-up buttons. 

Looks to be wired normally closed so it wouldn't be a smoke detector or hold-up button. Regardless of what is connected, it isn't being supervised with the resistors in the box and not at the end of the line. 

True. 

My point is, I see 56 points (zones) and ~5 beanies. What they're doing I don't know, but I doubt they're for ITB resistors. 

Perhaps a battery was moved from the middle to the lower sub-panel, leaving the bare spade connectors?

Aesthetics aside, if they were to accidentally cross, the system might fail without Zwirning, no?

Zwirning

LOL funny!

pretty sure those have the pinkish plastic insulators around those loose battery connectors

 

pretty sure those have the pinkish plastic insulators around those loose battery connectors

pretty sure I was just trying to make a Zwirn joke ;)

Since Professionalism starts in the install , and looks great at the very beginning. 

after several techs or outsourced contractors tear the application apart to add or fix problems , that is where it gets messy 

Changes , adding to system s , then tech's cut out the ties , dont wrap the new wires and leave a messy job behind them. 

Cheep Help , or outsourced contractors with no oversight to keep them in check. 

will send some great examples later on 

In rack applications I like hook and loop because it does allow changes and ease of service. I have seen what you describe happen and you can generally tell that it looked professional at one time.

I've also seen many times where it was done poorly from the start and there were no signs of a professional install. Or there are the times where the rack looks professional and then you peek above the drop ceiling.

I have cleaned up racks on poor initial installs. If the equipment is working though, no one typically wants to pay to have the entire plant rewired properly since nothing was "broken". 

"Its in the closet, who cares if it looks horrible" is the typical mindset.

 

Until we have to troubleshoot, have no idea what cable belongs to what, or which 8 port switch (3 or 4 of them daisy chained) the device is connected to.

 

Or there are the times where the rack looks professional and then you peek above the drop ceiling.

A contractor jamming the drop ceiling is as wrong as a maid sweeping everything under the rug.

 

It's important to understand the differences between codes, standards, and best practices.

Codes are for life safety.  In the cabling world, the NFPA and other codes are relevant.  A code violation may effect permits, and has liability ramifications.  One example is installing a riser rated cable in a plenum space.  This should never pass an inspection, and if this type of violation causes loss of life, then liability comes into play.  Some code documents are available on-line free of charge.

Standards are all about performance.  Category 5E, 6, and 6A are all ANSI/EIA/TIA standards, which measure performance.  Attenuation, NEXT, FEXT, return loss, are examples of values measured in cabling performance.  Based upon verified cabling performance, network protocols can be sure that the infrastructure will provide reliable transport.  Obtaining standards docs usually require payment to a 3rd party, which is unfortunate.

Best Practices are generally a combination of codes, standards, and recognized industry best practices summarized in one document.  The BICSI TDMM and Installer Courses are perfect examples.  These types of documents generally require a fee, and are a valuable reference for codes, standards, and best practices.

Most Professional Companys have and live by the IT standards

Expect the professional , and wont hire back the T.S. if they mess up 

In the contract and the contracts I submit , I mandate the code, to the minimum standard

When I service others and I mean a lot of others , I see very poor work , like they dont have the time to put back into place what they tear apart. 

As said earlier , standards are only as good as the enforcement and holding back pay is how you force the compliance 

 

When the available time on a project runs short, the time necessary to properly route and dress cable seams to always be sacrificed.

Question #4 on the quiz needs the correct answer to be corrected. From at device, to at rack

Thanks U6, that has been updated.

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