Running Wires

Even in this wireless world, locksmiths must run wire for access control installations. This guide to wiring and tools helps select and install the right product.



Cat 5: Twisted pairs are often bundled together as four pairs within one outer cover and used in networking. This family of cable is referred to as Category 5 cable.
Currently Cat 5e is the most often used version of Cat 5 cable, with Cat 6, which has a higher performance specification, also frequently used.


There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the Category cable for your projects.
Although Category 6 is rated for Gigabit network speeds, unless every component in system is gigabit rated, you are not going to achieve that level of performance and the extra expense for the Category 6 cable is a waste of money, and perhaps misleading to the customer. At this time, Category 6 cable costs more than Category 5e, but Category 5e does not cost significantly more than Category 5.


With Category 6 cable, the maximum speed of the network is throttled down by the slowest component in the network, making the investment not justifiable.


However because of the minor cost differentials between Category 5 & 5e, the use of Category 5e can be justified as it provides the best possible topological environment for the data, and the smartest cost/benefit ratio to the dealer and end/user.


CAT 5e cable provides a significant performance enhancement over Category 5 with respect to crosstalk (electrical interference when one wire’s signal effects another wire’s signal).


Bandwidth is the information-carrying capacity of a system. The greater the bandwidth, the greater the information-carrying capacity is in a given period of time. CAT 5e cable is rated at 350 megahertz. This increased bandwidth (compared to CAT 5 cable) allows it to support Gigabit Ethernet.


COAX: Short for coaxial cable, this is an inner conductor enclosed in a outer shield, and all covered by a protective outer cover. The physical construction of coaxial cable is designed for higher frequency data such as video signal transmission, connecting surveillance cameras to DVRs. Coaxial cable is usually RG59 or RG-6.

Where & Why Wire Is Used


Power: Operating equipment frequently will require power. Locks and cameras which cannot be operated with self-contained (batteries) or alternative (solar) power need wiring to bring in the juice.


Power wiring used for locks and security range from a pair of #22 gauge to a pair of #14 for some heavy duty locking devices. The gauge of the wire is determined by the power required by the particular device, the required operating voltage, and the length of the cable between the power source and the device being powered.


The parameter which will vary and which needs to be calculated when selecting wire gauge is Voltage Drop. The correct wire gauge is determined by the calculations which identify the correct gauge to deliver the required voltage to the device. Voltage Drop calculators are available for use for free on-line.

Data: Refers to information such as that sent by a card reader, or a digital device. Generally the data is in serial streams. Weigand is a typical format used with card readers and keypads in access control.

Control: Wiring sends on and off signals, usually but not always by switching a voltage on or off. If it switches on and off very rapidly, it graduates to being referred to as data. Again, conductor diameter and wire length must be calculated to ensure proper operation of your device. Other examples of signals are DPS (Door Position Sensors) and REX (Request To Exit) controls.

Image: Video signal is typically analog and sent over coax. If it is digitized (the output of an IP camera, for example), it is referred to as video data.


Installation of wiring is considered by many as much an art as a skill. Snaking cable is the term used to refer to concealing wire and getting through tight places such as in door frames an inside walls. This takes experience and in many situations specialized tools and hardware components.

Fluke Networks


Fluke Networks TS90 works on virtually any two-or-more conductor cables. With the patented SmartTone analog tone generator that generates five different tones, identifying a specific pair is quick, even in proximity to current-bearing cable. SmartTone capability identifies the exact pair by changing the tone at the far end of the cable when the correct pair is shorted.
The bright large LED screen and simple menu is easy to read, even in low light conditions. When clipping on to an unidentified pair at a job site, with voltage up to 250V AC, the unit will immediately sound an alarm.

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