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DIY with Ring and String? Clarification for a small nonprofit

DIY with Ring and String? Clarification for a small nonprofit

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  #1  
Old 12-05-13, 09:27 PM
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DIY with Ring and String? Clarification for a small nonprofit

I have a couple of questions, but these are my main two:

1) If the GC provides ring and string during renovations, does that mean we can run cat5 cables at any time in the future without punching holes in our new renovations?

2) Does having ring and string make a difference on license requirements for pulling low voltage cable?

I'm involved with a small nonprofit organization with minimal data needs in Baltimore City, MD that is run entirely by volunteers. Our building currently only has cat3 cabling. We are about to start some extensive renovations. Part of me thinks we can get away with one POTS phone line and DSL forever, but I don't want to be limited in the future because of a decision we make now.

I'm not sure I completely understand what "ring and string" means. If the GC provides ring and string during renovations, does that mean we can run cat5 cables at any time in the future without punching holes in our new renovations? If we don't pull the cat5 cables during renovations, will it be too difficult/expensive do later if our needs change?

I've read conflicting opinions online about whether or not one can run low voltage cables without a license in Maryland. Sounds like it at least needs to be done under the supervision of a master electrician, but often GC's don't enforce that (perhaps illegally). Does "under supervision" mean the ME has to be present when work is being done? We have a volunteer who has offered to do it for free, but he's not an ME and isn't associated with one professionally. The volunteer is retired, but in the past he was in this line of work. Does having ring and string make a difference on license requirements for pulling low voltage cable?

Thank you in advance!
 
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  #2  
Old 12-05-13, 09:36 PM
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Ring and string means there is a low voltage ring cut into the wall and there is a pull string from there to up in the ceiling. Usually the ring is covered with a blank plate if not needed immediately. You can remove the blank and use it at any time in the future.

It's not hard to do in the future either.

In commercial settings..... low voltage wiring is handled by an electrician or someone certified by the state in low voltage wiring.

Ring and string is just a wiring method. In some commercial applications..... there is an actual metal box w/reducing ring set in the wall with pipe to the ceiling.

For more info: Low Voltage State Licensing Requirements
 

Last edited by PJmax; 12-05-13 at 09:54 PM. Reason: Added link
  #3  
Old 12-05-13, 09:45 PM
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I have no idea what the license regulations are, but yes, properly done ring-and-string is done precisely to allow data cables to be pulled in later without having to open the wall. It only works in a commercial space with a lay-in ceiling.

There should be blank plates on the walls, mounted to the data rings. Behind each plate, there should be a 1" or larger piece of conduit that ends just above the data ring. There should be a piece of string coming out of that conduit that's tied off to the data ring.

Above the ceiling, the conduit should have a 90o bend. The string coming out of that end will be tied to some piece of the building support members there.

Both ends of the conduit should have insulting bushings on them.

After you've moved in you can use the strings to pull data cables in anytime. As a tip, though, this is not really a DIY job. just keeping the cables flowing smoothly and avoiding damaging them is a skill. Properly supporting them above the ceiling is another. Then there's knowing and meeting code requirements, choosing the right cable for each application, and making up the terminals so that the information flows the way you want it to.

All of the electrical companies I know sub this work out to specialists. Finding one of those you can work with is almost certainly the best way to get your vision implemented.
 
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Old 12-05-13, 10:34 PM
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PJmax & Nashkat1,

Thank you both for responding so quickly! Your answers were both really helpful for me, because I'm working on an email explaining our options to people who understand this less than I do.
 
  #5  
Old 12-06-13, 08:07 AM
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My experience in light commercial (office building) type settings is that it's really easy to run telephone/network cables after the fact. Of course it's easier while all the walls and ceiling are open, but with metal framing and empty walls, it doesn't take much time at all for an experienced installer to cut a hole in the drywall where the plate is going and fish the cable.

So I don't know if you're paying more for the 'ring and string' installation, but I would consider dropping it and installing what you need now, and worry about the future in the future if you're watching the budget closely.


Consider instead any runs that would be much more difficult later. You'll need some Cat 5/6 runs from your office space to the telephone demarc (where the telephone company terminates their circuits). Again, if it's easy to run later, wait until you know what you need. But if it's running through other tenant spaces, up or down floors, etc., now might be a good time to run a few more than you think you need.
 
  #6  
Old 12-06-13, 08:22 AM
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I've read conflicting opinions online about whether or not one can run low voltage cables without a license in Maryland.
I'm involved with a small nonprofit organization with minimal data needs in Baltimore City, MD that is run entirely by volunteers.
Pcboss is from your state. When he comes along I am sure he can shed some light on whether you are allowed to do this yourself or not.
 
  #7  
Old 12-06-13, 08:50 AM
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I'll have to go with Zorfdt. No more expensive than it is I would install the Cat5, nekkid in the boxes. Connections can be made later. I'd hate to be in a situation where you snag the string, over pull it, or have inferior string installed, and you lose a pull.
 
  #8  
Old 12-06-13, 09:20 AM
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with metal framing and empty walls, it doesn't take much time at all for an experienced installer to cut a hole in the drywall where the plate is going and fish the cable.
No, but it's a major job to install the conduit that the data wiring really needs. That's what you get with a proper ring-and-string job.

If the string is never installed, the conduit is still there to shoot a fish tape down. Piece of cake.

I would install the Cat5, nekkid in the boxes.
I don't think I would. I'm thinking that having a long run terminated to a hub and just cut at the other end, which could happen, might mot be good for signal quality. But, that's just me thinking.

Clear labeling of each end should help avoid that though.
 
  #9  
Old 12-06-13, 09:45 AM
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Oh, label, of course. I just remember back when we had a string set up, it got snagged by sloppy work and we had to open up a wall to correct it. Too, having each run made, labeled, if by nothing but numbers, it would save one booger
 
  #10  
Old 12-06-13, 05:14 PM
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I"m running cat6 in my home reno. It's easy to do. Terminating the ends of the cable is easy as well. The terminals come color coded. You should use at least cat5e for your cable.

I don't see how leaving a cut cat5 cable in a box is oging to be a problem with signal quality. I certainly wouldn't hook tghe other end up to anything. Leave it hanging on both ends until needed.
 
  #11  
Old 12-06-13, 06:12 PM
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I don't see how leaving a cut cat5 cable in a box is oging to be a problem with signal quality.
Usually in those situations the cable gets folded up and kinking the cable which can cause signal issues. Kinking is also an issue when running the cable. As well, maintining the proper twists of pairs is important for signal quality.
 
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