You can create flexible, multi-line telephone wiring using Cat5 or Cat6 RJ45 patch panels. Here's some tips on how to wire RJ45 patch panels for telephone wiring.
Home networks are becoming more important and many people are adding structured wiring for high speed data lines in their existing homes or new construction to be able to transport large files such as video and backups quickly. While adding these new data lines it's a good time to rewire your outdated home telephone wiring too!
It's common to use a 66 block or 110 block for analog phone lines but it seemed a bit complicated to do what I wanted. You can create a simple switch board to help you manage multiple analog phone lines using the same RJ45 patch panels you're using for your Cat6 data lines.
You can have multiple lines per room and easily change which lines go to which rooms. You can have as many or as few incoming phone lines as you need but for this tutorial I'm going to assume there are 4 incoming phone lines. Let's say one main house voice line, 1 line for a home office plus 1 fax line and another line for an older kid's room.
I spent half this past weekend trying to find info on how to do what I wanted without much luck. After I figured out how best to wire telephones using Cat6 patch panels I decided to post it here so I don't forget and incase anyone else finds it useful.
If you don't have a need to regularly switch around your phone lines have a look at my posts on how to wire a 66 block and how to wire a residential 110 block. If you want something very simple use a Leviton Phone Distribution Panel which was very quick and easy to install.
In-Wall Wiring To Patch PanelUse the same type of cable you're running for data (Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, etc.) for the voice cables that go between your patch panel and wall plates. You don't need Cat6 for voice lines but it's a good idea to use Cat6 cable and patch panels in case you want to convert the system to digital lines in the future. Each cable has 4 pairs of wires and each pair handles a single line. So by running one Cat6 cable up to a room you can have 4 separate phone lines.
Depending on how many lines you have you may want to have a separate patch panel for data and a separate patch panel for voice or you can have them all run to the same patch panel. Just try and keep them easy to distinguish so you don't accidentally patch a phone line to a network port which may damage whatever equipment is connected to it.
To make things easier to understand I'm going to assume a separate patch panel for voice lines and a separate patch panel for the incoming analog phone lines.
In the future you may change from an analog phone system to a digital VOIP or PBX system or maybe even decide you'd rather have an extra data line instead of a phone line in a particular room so punch down your phone lines the same way you punch down your data lines. That means either T568A or T568B, whichever you're using.
Incoming Phone Lines Patch PanelIn our example we're going to have 4 incoming phone lines.
- Main House Voice Line (blue)
- Home Office Voice Line (orange)
- Home Office Fax Line (green)
- Older Kid's Voice Line (brown)
|Incoming Phone Lines Patch Panel Front|
Also note that the wiring doesn't need to be restricted to a single patch panel. If you have a need for more incoming lines and more phones in your home you can add a larger or additional patch bays.
The back of the patch panel will not be punched down like a traditional RJ45 patch panel. Instead we're going to daisy chain the incoming phone lines across multiple ports like this.
|Incoming Phone Lines Patch Panel Back|
We're only going to wire the two center pins, 4 and 5, on the patch panel. The other 6 pins won't have wires connected to them.
For line 1 (blue/white-blue wires) we're going to loop the solid blue wire through all the #4 Pins of the first 4 ports and the striped white-blue wire to all the #5 pins of the first 4 ports. When punching down the wires remember to reverse the cutting blade so you don't cut the wires.
Repeat for all your incoming lines and additional ports. See diagram above.
If your incoming lines are red/green (or yellow/black)...
- Pin 4 - Red (or Yellow)
- Pin 5 - Green (or Black)
Cat 6 Multi-Line Break-Out CableAt this point we have all the cables coming from in-room wall plates connected to a patch panel and all the incoming telephone lines punched down to a second patch panel. Now we need to figure out how to make connections between the two patch panels to be able to send specific phone lines to each room.
To do this we're going to need to make our own break-out patch cords using Cat6 cable. (I couldn't find any ready made patch cords like this.)
|Cat6 Break-Out Patch Cable|
The opposite end of the break out cable we're going to strip down a sufficient amount of the sheath to separate each colored pair and have a long enough length for each pair to lead it to the various ports for the incoming lines. It's important to try and keep the twists in each pair intact.
Each pair will have an RJ45 terminator crimped to it. Only two wires will go into each plug and connect to the 2 center posts. The solid wire will go to pin 4 and the striped wire will go to pin 5.
|Pin 4||Pin 5|
Keep in mind that the 4 different lines in the patch cable are independent of your incoming phone lines. You can plug the patch cable's line 1 into line 4 on the incoming lines patch panel if you wanted.
Because we're not putting the whole cable in the RJ45 terminator the connection might not be that secure. I was thinking of using these RJ45 Strain Relief Boots and filling the back up with silicone adhesive for a stronger connection.
Patching Incoming Phone Lines To Wall PlatesLet's say port 1 of the in-wall cabling patch panel leads to your home office. You plug the main RJ45 connector into port 1 of that patch panel. The break-out end of the patch panel you can connect the blue pair RJ45 connector to one of the free ports for Line 2 and the orange pair RJ45 connector into a free port for Line 3 on the Incoming Lines Patch Panel. If you'd like to also send your main home phone line to that room you can plug the green pair RJ45 connector into one of the free ports for Line 1 on the Incoming Lines Patch Panel.
Example Home Office Patching
In your home office you'll have three phone lines.
- Home Office Voice Line
- Home Office Fax Line
- Main Home Voice Line
Wall Jack Ports
|Leviton 6-Port 1-Gang|
The main difference will be the type of ports that are used to terminate the cables.
RJ11 Keystone Ports
To use the home office example again where we are sending 3 phone lines over the same cable we'd need 3 RJ11 Keystone ports. The pair of wires would be punched down (using a 110 blade) to the center pins of each keystone port (3 & 4). Many, like this Leviton 41106-RY6 Voice Grade QuickPort Connector are available in different colors to make it easy to identify different lines.
In the home office we'd need 3 ports. One for the HO Voice line, one for the HO fax line and one for the main house voice line.
With these types of ports you can plug any type of phone directly into the port.
RJ45 Keystone PortsLeviton 61110-RW6) in the wall and then break out the individual lines outside the wall plate.
Then you can make a break-out cable similar to the break-out patch cable used on the patch panels except on the break-out end you'll want to attach the RJ11 keystone ports that will allow you to plug in regular phone patch cables to connect your equipment.
Honeywell LBO-1 Telephone Line Breakout Module which has 1 RJ45 input and 4 RJ45 outputs. It breaks up the pairs so that each output port has 2 pairs on it for use with a multi-line phone (L1/L2, L2/L1, L3/L4, L4/L3). For a single line device you'd just be able to access the primary line on that port. (L1, L2, L3, L4). One thing to keep in mind is the LBO-1 is wired as T568A. If you've punched down your voice lines as T568B you'll need to use a crossover cable (T568A on one side T568B on the other) to connect the module to the wall jack.
Using the RJ45 Keystone port approach is a little more expensive and labor intensive but allows you to quickly change that port over to a data port in the future.
If you go with the separate RJ11 ports, be sure to leave a decent amount of slack cable behind the wall plate so you can change to data port in the future if necessary.