So let's limit our discussion to Cat5e and Cat6 cable. To accomplish our comparison we must take a little time and examine some specifications on each type of cable. The story begins with Cat5 cable which will validate 10BASE-T and 100BASE-T network standards. It supports networks running at 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps. Cat5e is an improved version of Cat5 that expands specifications for crosstalk. The added specifications of Cat5e enable it to support Gigabit Ethernet 1000BASE-T, or networks running at 1000 Mbps. If your mainambition is Gigabit Ethernet, Cat-5e will work out great.
The Expensive Mistake
Home Owners have been inaccurately told that by pulling Cat6 they will then have a Gigabit Ethernet. If every linked component in the network is gigabit rated, then you will pull off a gigabit network. However, 99% of the time one does not have every component in their network capable of Gigabit Ethernet speeds. It makes sense that your network will always run at the speed of your slowest device. To implement true Gigabit Ethernet speeds, every linked component on a network must be gigabit rated. Cat5e runs near or at Gigabit speeds it just won't be 'certified' for this speed. The difference between Cat5e and Cat6 cable is in the transmission performance. Cat5e can support gigabit speeds, however Cat6 is certified to handle gigabit Ethernet. In addition, Cat6 cable is better suited toward environments that have lots of interference like power lines and lights. However. all of these negatives can be defeated with careful and prudent installation techniques. If you can be certain that all the components on your network are gigabit rated, and the volume of the data being transmitted calls for certified gigabit performance, then Cat6 is the best bet.
Cat6 Cable is a Higher Gauge
When it comes to Cat6 wire it must be recognized that it is a marginally higher gauge than Cat5e. The reason is that because as you increase the number of twists per inch, you also increase the length of the wire. It makes sense that the longer the wire the greater the resistance in the wire. From an installation angle one must realize that the covering is a lot heavier. The cable doesn't bend as easily because the copper is a slightly heavier gauge. All that adds up to a slightly harder to deal with from pulling it in the walls to stripping it and punching down the individual wires. It is common knowledge that the price of copper is at an all time high so draw your own conclusions.
Once you come to the same answer as ninety percent of other people that Cat5e cable is the least expensive, capable of gigabit speeds, and compatible with all the components that presently go into a LAN system, you will get down to figuring out how to install the generic structured wiring system.
Plausible Plan of Action
I would like to offer my many years of experience as a Security / Low-Voltage Contractor and give you a very acceptable plan of action. If you install the technology yourself you will save thousands of dollars. To install your own structured wiring system you will first need to know precisely what componets are necessary. What specific electronics distribution panel, what telephone, data, video, and optional modules make up a successful system? What type of wiring in addition to Cat5e cables need to be pulled in the walls of your home? And just as significant, specifically which connectors or the best from and economical and installation point of view? You are going to need a book to lead you through the process.
Installing Numerous Systems
It has been my experience that when home owners are considering one system for their new or remodeled home, they are likely considering other technologies as well. It would be in your best interest to have installation guides on each system you would like to include in your project. Read them all then procure your components, special tools, and cable so that they are all on the job site ahead of your proposed start date.
Get Some Help On The Jobsite.
Don't even think that you will pull all the wire through the structure by yourself. You will need at least one additional helper and hopefully a couple of additional set of hands. Depending on the total number of technologies being installed on a given project, it will normally take two or three people ten days to three weeks to properly install systems.
Your Granny Could Install The Systems
When I say Granny could install the technologies, I don't actually mean that she would be actually pulling the cables and mounting the panels. If Granny was the one who read the installation manual, acquired the equipment, and led the way, all she would need is a couple of relatives to give her a hand or she could hire a couple workman for a short period of time. After all, this is not rocket science we are talking about here, it's just technology for your home.