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Wall Plates

I decided to use simple wall plates (Figure 2) that mount directly to standard electrical wall boxes instead of the "Decora" style (Figure 3) that has separate insert and wall plates because the simple plates are less expensive and work just as well. I got my plates, and most of the other supplies that I used from Deep Surplus. (While Deep Surplus has been an ongoing advertiser, I got my stuff the same way you would... I paid for it!)

Figure 2: Standard Wall Plate
Figure 3: "Decora"
Insert Plate
(images courtesy of Deep Surplus)

The plates take standard "keystone" style inserts, which hold the actual connector and snap into the cutouts in the plates. Figure 4 shows the two inserts that made up my wall plates - a CAT5e jack on the top and "F" style coax connector on the bottom.

CAT5e and F connector keystone inserts

Figure 4: CAT5e and F connector keystone inserts
(images courtesy of Deep Surplus)

Tip TIP: Many manufacturers, including Leviton, AMP, Siemon and Pass & Seymour/Legrand make modular plate / insert systems, but they aren't all physically compatible with each other. Fortunately, I found that the plates and inserts I purchased from Deep Surplus were compatible with those from Leviton. This came in handy when I ran out of something, because I was able to pick up the Leviton equivalents at HomeDepot.

Even though plates are available that take up to six connector inserts, I took my electrician's advice and used a maximum of three cables per electrical box. You can actually deal with the stiffness of more than three CAT 5 cables when terminating cables and stuffing the cables back into the box when you attach the plate to the wall box. But I found wrestling with three RG 6 coax to be plenty challenging when trying to get the plate screwed down onto the box.

I ended up using mostly three position wall plates, but also had some two position plates. Most of the three position plates looked like Figure 5 when completed with data, phone and video jacks, while others held three F coax connectors, and one carried three CAT5e connectors for the two data and one phone line to my office.

Plate with data, phone and video jacks

Figure 5: Plate with data, phone and video jacks

You'll note that I used CAT5e connectors for both data and phone, with the only difference being the color of the jack. The 4 position RJ11 plug used by most consumer phone equipment fits nicely into the 8 position RJ45 jack, as does the 6 position RJ12 connector used by some telephone equipment.

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