Data Cabling Containment Varieties and Design

Data Cabling Containment

Structured cabling designs vary in their requirements of what is required in the current situation. Furthermore what could potentially be required in the future. A tenant space may only be patricianly occupied when they first move in. Therefore only installed for current cabling purposes when the tenant initially moves into the building. However considerations should be made for allowing the correct communications room, containment routes and cabling capacity for the potential uplift in staff. Therefore an increase in the requirements for structured cabling installation and electrical sockets

Communication Room Size

The communications room should be built to provide enough space and cabinets for the largest amount of expected data outlets that the communications room will service. For example if the tenant space could potentially have 500 employees and 1200 data outlets the space should be built for that allocations. Thus this allowance even if 400 staff and only 1000 outlets are first installed.

As an outline of size against number of data outlets in the building the following guidelines apply

Number of Data Outlets Recommended overall Floor Area Representative Dimensions
 <100 9sqm    /    100sqft 3m x 3m
100-200 13.5sqm    /    150sqft 3m x 4.5m
200-800 36sqm    /    400sqft 6m x 6m
800-1600 72sqm    /    800sqft 6m x 12m
1600-2400 108sqm    /    1200sqft 9m x 12m

Note: future requirements to be estimated for room size allowance

User Service points

Containment and termination points at the user end can vary depending on the construction of the tenant space. Furthermore the requirements of moving the installation to suit new layouts or staff. In addition the cost of the installation and the trade-off between installing what’s required now against what’s required potentially in the future

Common Types of User termination points

  • Floor Boxes

Floor boxes are commonly installed in a removable false floor and cut within the individual removable tile. However these can also be installed into solid wooded flooring or encased in concrete screed. Furthermore the power can either be hard wired in a circuit from box to box or attached to an under floor busbar system allowing easy click on and off to relocate. At the same time the data cabling can also be direct connected or connected to sub floor termination points (MUTOA / Consolidation Point)

The advantages are that the floor box can be located under desks and eliminate the need to have cables running across floors from wall points. Furthermore they can also be relocated to suit new layouts when installed in removable floor tiles

The disadvantages are that if the floor boxes are installed in floor tiles they aren’t always able to go exactly under a desk. To illustrate when it doesn’t match where it is cut into the tile. Of course they can be costly to move if encased in screed or solid wooden floor

  • Grommets

Similar to a floor box in that they are commonly used in false floor environments. Thus they are seen less in screen and solid floors. Similar to floor boxes they can also be directly connected or attach to a sub floor termination for both power and data. Specifically the connection boxes for power and data are brought out of the grommet and connected to the desk.

The advantages are that the grommet is easier to locate exactly under desks or open areas. This is due to its smaller size and easier arrangement.

However the disadvantage is the dedicated power bars and breakers can be expensive to install.

  • Power Pole Cabling containment

These are commonly used to access island desks. Furthermore when access is only possible from the false ceiling or overhead tray work.

A rectangular pole is installed from floor to ceiling in the middle of a bank of desks. Subsequently the power and data drop down through the middle of the pole. Then they are terminated on its exterior to access the desks.

The advantages are that it allows island desks to have data and power from ceiling access only offices environments. Thus avoiding trailing power and data leads. Generally these would otherwise have to come from the wall sockets

To summarize the disadvantages are most see the poles as unsightly. In addition its creates a busy look within the office space

  • Surface Dado Trunking Cabling Containment

Commonly a 2 compartment or 3 compartment plastic containment / trunking that will fix to the walls of an office space. The dado is usually installed at desk height or along the skirting.

The containment has separate compartments for power and data to run inside to access the user locations.

The advantages are that additional power and data cabling can be installed in the dado trunking to a certain final limit allowing for easier and cost effective installations should the tenant space grow in staff numbers. It also avoids unsightly individual containment and conduit drops to each additional outlet

The disadvantages are that the containment becomes full quite quickly so if it’s not designed correctly additional trunking needs to be installed alongside which can look unappealing

  • Consolidation Point / MUTOA

This refers to an area where numerous data cabling outlets are terminated and then “patched” into local by the users.  The most common way would be 12-24 data outlets terminated into a sub floor termination point which would serve 6-12 desks. The users would then attach data patch leads from their user locations to these sub floor locations. These could be directly inot equipment or via a floor box or grommet assembly

The advance of this system is that if you wish to move staff you only need to patch back to one of these sub floor locations and not have the disruption or cost of running brand new cables all the way back to the communication room

The disadvantage is the upfront cost usually associated with this design. This is where you would usually install enough cables for the potential end number of staff and as staff grow they access these sub floor points. However over the long term this arrangement is more cost effective than running new cables every time the company expands or moves desks.

  • Sub floor power bars / Electrak style power

In a similar way to the MUTOA for data cabling a section of under floor power bars are installed under the floor which consists of a number of electrical ports which use a bespoke system to snap on and snap off the connectors safely. This connector connects via a lead to the power of a floor box, extension lead, or desk power bar

The advantages and disadvantages are similar to the MUTOA in that the upfront cost is slightly higher but office moves, changes and additions are a lot more cost effective when only having to connect locally rather than connect back to the main power distribution board.

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