If you are embarking on a new building project, take some time to really think about how the electrical and networking will work for you. It’s best to get it right now even if it costs a fraction more. Below are some of my thoughts to help get you started.
For office areas, you should put a double power outlet for each desk. Also consider spaces in the office area that may occupy a desk at some time in the future. If you have a reception desk, it is often worth installing two double power outlets as the reception desk often has additional equipment.
You should also install at least a double network outlet at each desk. It makes sense to install the outlets adjacent to the power outlets wherever possible. Again the reception desk is one place that four outlets is worth while for Eftpos machines or Answering machines.
You should also consider an area in the office for printers and photocopiers. You will want to have a good number of double power outlets and network cables in the vacinity of the printers and copier. Most copiers these days will connect to the network and can also work as a fax, so multiple network cables at that location is a good idea.
For Boardrooms and Small meeting rooms, you will want to make sure there are a few network outlets around the room. If it is possible, install an in-floor box with power and network cables. This allows you to set up one or more tables in the centre of the room as a boardroom format. You can run laptops and phones on the table without running cables acroos the floor to the wall which would pose a trip hazard.
If you install a projector mount on the ceiling, and install a screen on one wall, you will get a far better image without having to try to prop up the projector on books etc on the table. If you have the option, run one VGA cable to the floor box in the middle of the room and another one to a wall outlet on the wall opposite the screen.
If the room is too small for a projector, you could also consider using an LCD TV. Most LCD TV’s these days have hdmi and VGA inputs along with video and antenna inputs. The Price of LCD TV’s have dropped significantly lately and the popularity of LED tv’s is driving the LCD prices down further.
At each desk you will typically want a PC or laptop and a phone. By having two network cables at each desk you can use one for the computer and the other for the phone. You will need to have the phone system set up to use the networking cables. Most older phone systems can be easily connected to use networking cabling by simply running all of the extension cables to a patch panel in your data rack. You then run a patch lead from the phone patch panel to the required desk port.
You could also consider using a Voice Over IP phone system. This has the benefit of using the data network as the connection back to the main phone system. There are considerations though. VoIP phones need to be powered, and while you can use plug packs on each phone, I find these a pain to manage. It is far better to use Power Over Ethernet which is where the power is sent to the phone over the same cable as the data connection. This is neater and more reliable, however the data switches that provide power over ethernet are more expensive. Most VoIP phones also have a PC port on the back, which means you only need to use one network connection back to the data switch.
The other benefit of VoIP is that you can run a phone quite a way away from the main system. If you have a building that is separate from the main one, you only have to run a network link over there (which could be wireless) in order to support a VoIP extension. You can also have phones connected via the internet if you wanted to have one phone at the minister’s or managers house several blocks away.