Before running an ethernet cable through an exterior wall, check your home for existing ethernet lines. You may be able to change the course of an existing line to bring ethernet connectivity where you need it. If no existing lines are running into your home, drill a hole through an exterior wall. Make sure to avoid drilling through electrical wires, HVAC ducts, or plumbing. Then, run the ethernet cable to the desired location. Finally, seal the hole around the ethernet cable with silicone caulk to prevent water infiltration.
Can You Put an Ethernet Cable through an Exterior Wall?
It is safe, legal, and simple to run an ethernet cable into your home through an exterior wall. Before drilling, make sure to run the cable to an exterior box to provide internet connectivity.
- Running an ethernet cable is a safe DIY task that can be performed without damaging your home.
- An ethernet cable is extremely low voltage, making it safe for DIYers to install.
- Check local building code to verify that ethernet installations are not regulated.
Because an ethernet cable is extremely low-voltage, most building codes do not significantly restrict running ethernet cable. This means it is often a DIY job you can do yourself. If you have any concerns about running an ethernet cable, check your local building code before you begin work.
Is a Flat Ethernet Cable Better than Round?
Flat ethernet cables typically have less shielding and weatherproofing than round ethernet cables. This makes round ethernet cables a more durable choice when installing cable through an exterior wall.
- Round ethernet cables are more shielded and better insulated than flat cables, making them better for outdoor use.
- Always use weatherproof, outdoor-rated ethernet cable when running cable through an exterior wall.
Whether you choose flat or round ethernet cable, make sure it is rated for outdoor use and is classified as weatherproof. If your ethernet cable is not designed for use outdoors, it will break down quickly. This will result in service outages and require you to replace the cable. Avoid this pitfall by choosing a high-quality cable.
How Far Can You Run Ethernet Cable from Your Router?
Ethernet cables are designed to sustain a run of no more than 328 feet (100 meters). Cable runs greater than 328 feet will cause the signal to deteriorate, leading to nonfunctional or poor internet access.
- Maximum functional length of ethernet cable is 328 feet (100 meters).
- Running cable past maximum length leads to signal deterioration.
- Plan your install to ensure your cable is less than 328 feet.
When planning to install an ethernet cable through an exterior wall, make sure you are not running more than 328 feet of cable. Attempt to make the shortest useful route from the exterior box to an interior wall jack.
9 Steps to Run Ethernet Cable Through an Exterior Wall
Running an ethernet cable from outside your house to a point inside your home can be accomplished with a few standard tools. However, there are some special steps to ensure you have a durable, safe ethernet cable installation. Below, we’ll cover exactly how it’s done.
Check for Existing Ethernet Installation
Before you put any holes in the exterior of your home, inspect the exterior box where the hardline from your ISP is installed. Are there ethernet cables leading from the box into your home? Ethernet cables are commonly run through crawlspaces and basements.
- Inspect the exterior box where the cable coming from your Internet Service Provider terminates. Is there currently an ethernet cable leading from the box into your home?
- If there is an ethernet cable running from the box to your home, follow the cable to determine where it enters your home.
- It is common for ethernet cables to run into crawlspaces and basements.
If there is already an ethernet line leading into your home, attempt to follow it. This may require entering your crawlspace or basement. However, it’s much easier to complete a half-finished installation than install a new line. In the event there is no line leading into your home, move on to the next step.
Mount an Outdoor Rated Box
The point where your ethernet cable connects to the line coming from your ISP must be protected from the elements. If there is not already a weatherproof box installed on your home, you will have to install one yourself.
- If there is not currently a weatherproof box installed to protect the connection of the ethernet cable to the ISP hardline, install one.
- This weatherproof box will protect the point where your ethernet cable connects to the ISP hardline.
- If there is already a weatherproof box that can be used to house this connection, use it to make sure your ethernet cable stays dry.
It’s essential to make sure the connection between your ethernet cable and the existing internet line remains out of rain and sunlight. Use the existing box if one has been installed. Otherwise, protect your cable with a weatherproof box of your own.
Choose the Right Cable
Before running a cable from your weatherproof box into your home, make sure you have the best one for your needs. An outdoor cable must be weatherproof and rated for outdoor use. The elements will destroy any cable that isn’t rated for outdoor use. When this happens, you’ll have to run and install a new cable.
- Choose a weatherproof, outdoor-rated ethernet cable, such as this one.
- Find out the speed of the internet service coming from your service provider. Choose a cable rated for that speed.
- Newer ethernet cables, such as cat8 and cat7 can handle speeds up to 40 and 10 Gbps, respectively.
- Older-style ethernet cables, such as cat6 and cat5 can deliver speeds of 1,000 to 100 Mbps.
Speed is essential as well. Determine your speed needs, as well as the speed of the service coming from your ISP. Cat8 ethernet cable is the fastest available and allows speeds up to 40 Gbps. Cat7 allows 10 Gbps. Older cable types such as cat6 and cat5 allow 1,000 Mbps and 100 Mbps, respectively. Remember, a fast ethernet cable can’t increase the speed of the internet coming from your provider, but a slow ethernet cable can serve as a chokepoint, slowing down internet speeds in your home.
Choose a Place for Your Ethernet Line to Run
To run a new ethernet line where none exists, you will have to drill a hole through an exterior wall of your home. Choose a point that allows you to run a cable into your home easily. The best position is typically on the same wall as the existing internet hardline installed by your ISP. It’s essential to drill a hole in a place where you will not damage electrical wiring, plumbing, or HVAC ducts. When drilling through exterior walls into a room in your home, use a wall scanner to detect elements in the wall. Then, mark the safe location for the hole. This is best done from inside the home.
- Choose a point to run ethernet cable from the exterior hardline through the wall of your home.
- Avoid places where you will drill through wiring, plumbing, HVAC ducts, or wall studs.
- Use this wall scanner to find in-wall elements prior to drilling.
- If possible, run the cable into a basement or crawlspace to eliminate the chance of drilling into unseen wall installations.
When possible, it’s best to choose to run your ethernet cable into a basement or crawlspace instead of drilling through an insulated wall. In both basements and crawlspaces, plumbing and electrical lines are easy to find and avoid. This also allows you to run the cable along the basement ceiling or crawlspace, then up and along the wall in whatever room you choose.
Drill a Hole for Ethernet Cable
Once you have chosen a place to drill the hole, use a ½-inch (13 mm) drill bit at least 12 inches (30 cm) long to drill a hole through the exterior wall. If you are running the ethernet cable directly from the exterior into a room in your home, it’s best to drill from inside. That way, you can pinpoint the location where the cable will enter your home.
- Use an electric drill equipped with this ½-inch drill bit to drill a hole through the exterior wall.
- If you are running the cable through an exterior wall directly into your home, drill from inside the house.
- If you are running the cable into a basement or crawlspace, it is usually easier to drill into your home from the outside.
If you run your ethernet cable into your basement or crawlspace, it’s often easiest to drill from the exterior wall into the interior space. Basements and crawlspaces are often cramped, which makes maneuvering a drill difficult. Plus, the precise location where the cable enters these spaces is less important. You will be running the cable elsewhere in your home from your crawlspace or basement.
Run Your Cable Through Hole
With your hole drilled and cable selected, it’s time to feed the cable into your home. To do this, tape a length of thin, stiff metal wire to the end of the ethernet cable. Feed the wire through the hole you drilled. Then, go to the other side of the hole and pull the wire through. It will bring the ethernet cable along with it.
- Use electrical tape to secure a 18-inch (45 cm) length of thin, stiff wire to one end of the ethernet cable.
- Feed the wire through the hole you drilled.
- Go to the other side of the hole and pull the wire through, bringing the ethernet cable with it.
- Avoid twisting or bending the ethernet cable.
This quick tip makes feeding ethernet cables easier. Whatever you do, avoid excessively bending, twisting, or forcing the ethernet cable through the hole. This can cause damage to the cable.
Run the Cable to the Desired Location
Once the ethernet cable has been fed through the hole in your wall, you can now run it wherever you need to. If you are installing the cable through an exterior wall directly into an interior room, you may not need to run the cable further. You can move on to installing a wall jack at this point.
- Feed the ethernet cable through the hole to the final installation point.
- If you are running a cable from an exterior wall to an interior room, you won’t need to do any special work during this step.
- If you are running your cable through a crawlspace or basement, measure and determine the point where the cable should come up within an interior wall.
- Running your cable up into an interior wall allows you to install an ethernet jack in any room you wish.
If you are running the cable through a crawlspace or basement, carefully determine where you want the cable to enter your home. Snake the cable along the ceiling and drill a hole up through the floor at a point inside a non-insulated interior wall. This allows you to cut a hole in your drywall and connect the cable to a wall jack. This way, you can install an ethernet jack in any room in your home.
Install a Wall Jack
Now that your ethernet cable has been run into the desired room in your home, it’s essential to wire the outdoor cable to an RJ45 wall jack. Then, you can plug interior ethernet cables into the jack. This is the safest and most durable way to run an ethernet cable from the exterior of your home to the interior.
- Connect your outdoor cable to an ethernet jack installed in your wall.
- Check out this video as a guide for installing ethernet wall jacks.
- It is essential to run an outdoor cable to a wall jack for the best durability of your ethernet cable.
Although some installers will run an ethernet cable through a wall directly into a modem or router, you will have a safer, more durable installation using a proper wall jack.
Seal the Hole Around Your Ethernet Cable
Once your ethernet cable is securely installed and runs from a weatherproof box to an interior wall jack, it’s time to weatherproof the hole you drilled in your home. To do so, use silicone caulk to fill the hole around the ethernet cable on the exterior of your home. This will form a waterproof, weatherproof, bug-proof shield, so nothing but your ethernet cable enters your home.
- Seal the hole around the ethernet cable using this silicone caulk.
- It’s best to seal the hole on the exterior of the home.
- This seal will prevent water, weather, and insects from entering your home.
If repair or replacement of the line is necessary, you can remove the plug of silicone caulk with a utility knife. However, silicone caulk is flexible and resists shrinkage, making it a great way to weatherproof the opening.
What is the Best Way to Run Ethernet Cable Through an Exterior Wall?
To run an ethernet cable into your home through an exterior wall, you should:
- Check to verify no ethernet cable is running from an exterior box into your home.
- Install a weatherproof box where your ethernet cable will connect to the internet hardline, if one is not currently present.
- Choose an outdoor-rated ethernet cable.
- Choose a location to drill a hole for the ethernet cable to enter your home.
- Drill a hole so you can feed the ethernet cable into your home.
- Feed the cable through the hole, into your home.
- Run the cable to the desired location in your home.
- Install a wall jack at the point where the ethernet cable enters a room in your home.
- Seal the hole on the exterior of your home with silicone caulk.
These steps will create a safe cable path that provides internet access for your home. Whether you are connecting a wireless router to your ethernet jack or running a cable to your home computer, this installation will provide everything you need.