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#368660 - 19/04/2017 16:12 In-wall network enclosure?
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
My home came wired with Cat5e and coax, and it all runs back to a corner of my basement. There, it goes into this Bell Atlantic box that's set into the wall between the studs. I've been ok with this box, but it's cramped and I'm starting to need to fit more into it than there's space for.

I want to replace this thing, but I can't really seem to find a good replacement, or I guess I'm not using the right terms. Here are my requirements:
  • Must be in-wall. I'll never get my wife to sign off on something that protrudes into the room.
  • At least 21" high. I don't want to patch the drywall and I need the space anyway. I don't care how high it is, I can always open up more wall.
  • Preferably not too expensive. I did find a couple things that matched what I'm looking for, but I'm not willing to spend $400 on a bent piece of sheet metal with a door on it. I'm hoping for sub-$100.
  • Oh, it needs to have a door.
  • If possible, a way to affix an electrical box into it. My current enclosure has one so I'll want to replace it.

Where should I look?
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Matt

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#368661 - 19/04/2017 16:39 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3132
Loc: Portland, OR
What terms are you using? Try googling for "structured wiring enclosure". One of the top links is this:

http://www.legrand.us/categories/structured-wiring/enclosures.aspx

Prices on Amazon seem to run about $100, depending on the size, and whether you opt for a hinged door cover, or a simple screw-on cover.

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#368666 - 19/04/2017 23:20 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Bravo! You discovered the correct sequence of words! I guess it makes sense. I wouldn't want an "unstructured" wiring enclosure.

But anyway, you hit the nail on the head!

There are some very affordable models on there. I like this Leviton model. I don't mind the screw-on cover instead of a hinged door. I don't go into this very often. I also think I can do with a 28" model, because my current enclosure has a lot of wasted space.

Thanks so much! You rock!
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Matt

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#368672 - 20/04/2017 02:19 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Ok, I was looking at Leviton's products, but while they appear to be the most consumer-friendly, their prices definitely aren't. The actual boxes aren't unreasonable (I was considering a $122 model that was 30" high with a hinged door), but the accessories are absurdly expensive. We're talking about 4"x6" plastic brackets for $38 and 20 plastic replacement pegs for $10.

Now I'm looking at boxes from some company called OpenHome. They're not as pretty but they're reasonable, I think.
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Matt

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#368687 - 20/04/2017 17:11 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3132
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Dignan
Bravo! You discovered the correct sequence of words!

It wasn't my first choice -- I think I first tried 'in-wall wiring panel' or something like that, and the first or second hit contained the 'structured wiring enclosure' phrase. And you just know when a product describes itself with something so pompous sounding, it's gotta be the industry standard phrase. smile

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#368689 - 20/04/2017 19:23 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: canuckInOR]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: canuckInOR
And you just know when a product describes itself with something so pompous sounding, it's gotta be the industry standard phrase. smile

Ha! Too true. It looks like "structured wiring enclosure" is probably the standard term, but of course Leviton has their own term of "structured media enclosure."

I'm really conflicted. I would go with the Leviton product if they weren't so clearly gouging their customers on the price. OpenHouse appears to have very utilitarian products that will suit me just fine, it's just not as friendly and the product line isn't as fleshed out.
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Matt

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#368690 - 20/04/2017 20:57 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30724
Loc: Seattle, WA
I personally like my media to be pretty structured.
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Tony Fabris

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#368723 - 24/04/2017 03:23 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: tfabris]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: tfabris
I personally like my media to be pretty structured.

Boo.

But I liked it.
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Matt

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#368724 - 24/04/2017 03:38 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
I don't know if this interests anyone, but here's the process I went through, in as short and broad strokes as I can make it:

I Started looking at Leviton, because they're all over the place and clearly the most visible in the space (at least they are on Amazon).

Then I started looking for ANYTHING else when I found that Leviton charges insane prices for all accessories for their enclosures.

So I moved to OpenHouse, which had reasonable prices for everything, though their stuff was a little more dated and they had fewer accessories that worked with their platform.

But Openhouse started looking less and less reliable. I tried to find out more about their products but couldn't really find a website that would tell me about them. They were owned by another company that was owned by another company that was bought by Linear, I think. Anyway, their whole thing started to unravel.

Lastly I moved on to the only other option Amazon seems to sell, which is On-Q by Legrand. But they seemed to be pulling the same trick as Leviton, just with a smaller product line.

So in the end I bit the bullet and ordered this Leviton enclosure. It was delivered today, and the second I opened the box, I saw cracked plastic mad So now that's on the way back to Amazon and a replacement should be here Tuesday. I'm hoping to install it by the end of the week and I'll post pictures if anyone's interested.

I went with that model because it's the only one that was plastic. I figured it couldn't hurt to give the wireless signals from my router the best possible chance. I also like that the door and cover overlap the actual box by a significant margin, which I'll need because the box can't be attached to the side of the studs like some, but instead I'll have to notch out the drywall for the tabs on the front of the box to attach to the studs straight-on. Again, I'll take pictures.

I only ordered a few accessories. A power box that I figured would probably fit the enclosure better than something off the shelf, an 8-port coax splitter, and a few shelves to mount some of the equipment. I figure there will be a lot of velcro ties for most of it, though.
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Matt

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#368730 - 24/04/2017 17:55 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3132
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Dignan
I went with that model because it's the only one that was plastic. I figured it couldn't hurt to give the wireless signals from my router the best possible chance.

I think if I were going to the trouble of replacing the wall box, I'd run a new cable with PoE to a ceiling mounted AP, and just turn off the router's wireless.

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#368735 - 25/04/2017 01:45 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: canuckInOR]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: canuckInOR
Originally Posted By: Dignan
I went with that model because it's the only one that was plastic. I figured it couldn't hurt to give the wireless signals from my router the best possible chance.

I think if I were going to the trouble of replacing the wall box, I'd run a new cable with PoE to a ceiling mounted AP, and just turn off the router's wireless.

That would be much more trouble than just widening the hole in the drywall. I don't want to be messing with notching out the drywall at the ceiling and patching it up afterwards. I'm aiming to not have to patch or paint anything at all.

Plus, I'm using Google WiFi here. I'm not using the ISP's router at all, which is one of the benefits of Fios.

Of course, the main reason is because I don't think my wife would like it smile
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Matt

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#368799 - 01/05/2017 13:08 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Thanks again for the initial proper wording for what I was looking for. I couldn't have gotten started on this project without it. In case you're interested, here's an album of the project.

It's still not as neat and tidy as I'd like, but it's FAR better than it was before I had room to work with. The next step (when I have the funds) is to replace the switch with a POE model for the two IP cameras (I currently have one with an injector), and I'd like to get a backup battery in that lower left corner. Overall I'm quite pleased with it, and the wifi reaches very far through the cabinet (though I have another AP on the top floor anyway).

Thanks again!
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Matt

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#368800 - 02/05/2017 19:27 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1364
Loc: MA but Irish born
Matt, thanks for sharing this. I hope to be building a house next year and this would be great. Have you considered squeezing a generic UPS in there?

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#368801 - 02/05/2017 19:36 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30724
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm interested in those shelves in there. I have an enclosure similar to that, pre-installed in my fairly new house. Much of the gear in there is zip-tied to the holes. Didn't realize I could get neat little shelves for everything instead.
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Tony Fabris

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#368802 - 03/05/2017 00:38 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: tfabris]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 607
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I don't know that those are actual little shelves.

Might be more like flat brackets with holes through the 'shelf' area.

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#368803 - 03/05/2017 03:51 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Phoenix42]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: tfabris
I'm interested in those shelves in there. I have an enclosure similar to that, pre-installed in my fairly new house. Much of the gear in there is zip-tied to the holes. Didn't realize I could get neat little shelves for everything instead.
Originally Posted By: K447
I don't know that those are actual little shelves.

Might be more like flat brackets with holes through the 'shelf' area.

They're not technically shelves, but they work as such and most of the reviews mentioned that this was how they were using them, so I tried them out and they work fine. You should make sure you have a Leviton enclosure though, because they're specifically designed for the hole layout of their products. It looks like every company has their own proprietary layout for this kind of thing (because of course they do).

Leviton actually uses the same fastening method that my old metal box did. They're these little plastic push pins that expand behind the enclosure to lock things in place. They're super annoying, mostly because they sometimes do their job TOO well and are impossible to remove. I had to break a couple that came with one of the shelves when I wanted to move it. I couldn't get them to pop back out - even with pliers.

Originally Posted By: Phoenix42
Matt, thanks for sharing this. I hope to be building a house next year and this would be great. Have you considered squeezing a generic UPS in there?

The problem is the size, specifically the depth (though the other dimensions are tight too). The enclosure is a tiny bit more than 4" deep, which is pretty shallow for the vast majority of UPS products out there.

I'm currently looking at two products: this expensive purpose-built one, or this inexpensive model that might be trickier to position because of how the outlets are laid out.

Also, if you have the option, I recommend designing a closet to house a real rack. I'd prefer that to this.


Edited by Dignan (03/05/2017 03:55)
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Matt

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#368804 - 03/05/2017 03:54 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: K447]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: K447
I don't know that those are actual little shelves.

Might be more like flat brackets with holes through the 'shelf' area.

BTW, I believe that they're designed to accept small boards that Leviton makes with various connectors on them. Like a small row of RJ11 jacks or BNC connectors. I'm guessing that these boards are mostly accessible to professional installers because I didn't come across many in my searches. They seem like a fairly inefficient use of space, though.
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Matt

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#368805 - 03/05/2017 06:23 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 607
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The UPS does not have to be located inside the enclosure in order to feed UPS protected AC into the enclosure. But it is more complicated to house the UPS elsewhere and run the correct AC wiring from UPS into the cabinet. Possible though.

Often the question of how long is long enough, in terms of the UPS being able to keep the load powered up without AC. I now configure my UPS size to run the telecom gear for several hours after the AC feed fails. It is so much easier to cope with an extended power outage when the WiFi and home telephone continues to work.

Yes, we have cellular voice and data, but there is some hassle to get the computers, iPads, etc all switched to smartphone tethering. And then switch them all back to WiFi after power is restored.

I am about to install one of these along with an external battery box. It should run my entire computer desk (four big displays) for multiple hours, and be loafing.

Will be modifying the cooling fans to minimize fan noise, then putting it into service.

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#368807 - 03/05/2017 14:13 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Yeah, it's possible, but I don't need it. I just need something to keep things going through blips in the power, which is the most common type of outage we experience in our home, fortunately. If I had to estimate, I'd say that 90% of our power outages are 1 second long or less, 8% are about 2-5 seconds, and the last 2% are the kind that last 10-24 hours, which we haven't seen in years.

The UPS I linked is rated for only about 3 minutes at half load. That's more than enough.

And when the power is out, we're usually fine with browsing on our phones until it's back.
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Matt

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#368808 - 03/05/2017 14:26 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: K447]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3417
Loc: Guadalajara, MX
Originally Posted By: K447
But it is more complicated to house the UPS elsewhere and run the correct AC wiring from UPS into the cabinet. Possible though.


You mean like an extension cord?
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~ John

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#368809 - 03/05/2017 15:12 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Dignan]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1364
Loc: MA but Irish born
Originally Posted By: Dignan
Also, if you have the option, I recommend designing a closet to house a real rack. I'd prefer that to this.


My problem with a closet is that it would be too easy to set or hid it in a poorly accessible corner, and for it to end up a tangled mess. I see an SMC as forcing a certain level of organization on me, whether I like it or not.

If we do get the opportunity to build next year, I will be leveraging the hive mind of the empeg community as we wade through the options and decision we'll be making, because this is the smartest group of people I know.

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#368810 - 03/05/2017 18:59 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: JBjorgen]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 607
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: JBjorgen
Originally Posted By: K447
But it is more complicated to house the UPS elsewhere and run the correct AC wiring from UPS into the cabinet. Possible though.


You mean like an extension cord?
I meant with the extended AC wiring run inside the wall. Extension cord is not legal inside the wall structure.

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#368811 - 03/05/2017 19:15 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: Phoenix42]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: Phoenix42
Originally Posted By: Dignan
Also, if you have the option, I recommend designing a closet to house a real rack. I'd prefer that to this.

My problem with a closet is that it would be too easy to set or hid it in a poorly accessible corner, and for it to end up a tangled mess. I see an SMC as forcing a certain level of organization on me, whether I like it or not.

Makes sense, I can see that. I'm moving my office down to the same room with the SMC, but there aren't any attractive ways to run wiring in and out of that enclosure, so I'll need to figure out a new place for my Synology. I don't have many ideal options, but I'll figure it out. I'd rather have a rack that I could put all of this stuff in.
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Matt

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#368812 - 04/05/2017 01:34 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: K447]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3417
Loc: Guadalajara, MX
Originally Posted By: K447

I meant with the extended AC wiring run inside the wall. Extension cord is not legal inside the wall structure.


A wall-mount power inlet and a piece of romex should do the trick. It'd be far more difficult to patch the drywall well than it would be to run the power, but even that's not difficult with a little patience. Of course, the farther away you put your UPS, the more hairy it gets. It is legal to run romex (nm) through the crawl space as long as you run it through the framing or along the framing and not under it, so that's another option to avoid cutting the drywall as much.
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~ John

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#368813 - 04/05/2017 22:42 Re: In-wall network enclosure? [Re: JBjorgen]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11917
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: JBjorgen
Originally Posted By: K447

I meant with the extended AC wiring run inside the wall. Extension cord is not legal inside the wall structure.

A wall-mount power inlet and a piece of romex should do the trick. It'd be far more difficult to patch the drywall well than it would be to run the power, but even that's not difficult with a little patience. Of course, the farther away you put your UPS, the more hairy it gets. It is legal to run romex (nm) through the crawl space as long as you run it through the framing or along the framing and not under it, so that's another option to avoid cutting the drywall as much.

I should note that in my case, there was already power running to the enclosure, so it would make little sense to bring that out of the wall, into a UPS, then back into the box. I'd rather just live with the "undersized" UPS (which will give enough backup for my purposes).
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Matt

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