October 23, 2007 by EH Staff
Coaxial Cable: This is also called RF, with an F-connector just like what comes out of your cable TV wire. Use RG-6 coaxial cable at a minimum. RG-6 is often bundled with high-speed Category 5, 5e or 6 data wire to form structured cabling for home networking.
Category 5, 5e, 6: Also known as Cat 5, 5e or 6, this is the high-speed data wire you use for a broadband Internet connection. It can be wired throughout the house for home networking, and audio and video signals can even be sent over it. The higher the number, the better the bandwidth and the faster a connection you will have. The “e” in 5e stands for “enhanced.” Get Category 5e or 6 if you can.
Speaker Wire: In this case, the lower the gauge, the better, because the wire will be bigger and hold more of the signal. We recommend 14- or 12-gauge for long runs in whole-house audio systems.
Optical/Toslink: These are digital audio connections. If you have them on both your DVD/CD player or receiver, use them. They’ll provide a much cleaner audio signal.
RS-232: This serial computerlike connection is used with some whole-house control systems. If you’re using RS-232, chances are you’re getting a pretty elaborate control system. Let your systems professional worry about it.
Fiber Optic: This super-high-speed wiring isn’t required yet in most homes, but it may be as we ever increase our bandwidth applications. Look for it coming to a curb near you.
For more information, check out our Best Wire and Cable of 2007.
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