Don’t believe it when people tell you that everything will be wireless in a few years. The best way to integrate electronics into your home at any time is to install cables that are dedicated to the data transfer required, whether you are talking about audio, video, cameras, intercom or security. There is no one best way to pre-wire; it depends on what you want to allow for. This quick point-form guide tells you what to think about first when considering the pre-wiring of a project.
Remember that just because it is wired for it doesn’t mean you need to spring for the cost of all the electronics at the start. As long as the correct cables are in place before you close up the walls and ceilings, the house will be ready for electronic upgrades at any time in the future. What you want is to be able to easily access whatever cables may be required to meet future needs as they arise. You can never put in too much Cat 5 (or Cat 6, if you want to spend the extra) and if you pre-wire with fibre optics, even without connections on the end, you’ll be up to speed for most of what’s coming.
#1 – STRUCTURED CABLING
Structured cabling means feeds for telephone, televisions and networking are home run from each room to a central hub. External feeds for services are brought to a demarcation point, where the hub panel contains splitters, amplifiers and modems. With your cables clearly labelled, it’s a neat installation easy to access for future changes or troubleshooting.
#2 – INTERCOM
Pre-wire to suit the intercom you want. Some systems interface with multi-room audio, to mute the music when the intercom rings or play your sources through keypads. Others have proprietary cabling requirements. Cable runs from the doorbell locations to the central hub allow for a video intercom using your TV’s and phones. Add a wire run for an electric door latch.
#3 – SECURITY
The best protection is a monitored system including smoke and gas detectors. A variety of sensors are available, including flood, glass break, power outage, motion detectors. A properly designed system goes beyond intrusion detection to interact with other systems to control basic operations, provide personal safety and future monitoring for independent living.
#4- MULTI-ROOM AUDIO
Cover all options with 2-Cat 5’s & one 4-conductor speaker cable from a central hub to the Volume Control Location in each room,2-conductor speaker cable from there to each speaker in that room. Install any system to this wiring configuration: volume control of a central source; keypads with control of sources; full colour touchscreens accessing Internet radio.
#5 – MULTI-ROOM VIDEO
Cover all bases by sending 2-RG6 coax cables and 2-Cat5 cables from a central location to each room where you want a TV. This means you can put a satellite or cable receiver in each room, locate just one receiver centrally and distribute its output to each room, or connect your TV to the Internet to receive IP delivered content such as Netflix or Apple TV.
#6 – LIGHTING SYSTEM
A lighting system responds to sensors, timers or push buttons and can control security, heating, and window coverings. Attractive keypads with programmable buttons replace multiple light switches. Pre-programmed buttons set lighting scenes for different moods. Different systems use different cabling so it’s best to decide on the system before prewiring.
#7 – WINDOW TREATMENTS
Blinds or draperies powered by quiet motors can be tied into a lighting system, respond to light sensors, timers or a remote. In addition to addressing privacy issues they save energy by governing the sun’s access. Advance planning ensures that the necessary power and control wires will be in place at each window.
#8 – CCTV
Outside cameras provide a view from any TV screen or computer. Interior cameras let you check the baby or see the house on your laptop when you’re away. Link cameras to your security system. Analog cameras cost less but require more hardware. Digital cameras provide better resolution and flexibility. Specific cabling is required by each so decide before you build.
#9 – OUTSIDE
Consider your gardens, yards and drives when you pre-wire. Run conduit with speaker wire for rock speakers in the garden, or cables to include outdoor dimmable lights as part of your lighting system. Cat 5 cables to the front gate can be used in the future for a gate opener, intercom, video or automated lights.
#10 – FUTURE-PROOFING
The Internet is evolving toward becoming the main road in the delivery of entertainment. Wireless transmission works for short distances but to ensure enough bandwidth for future needs pre-wire a web of data cables from a central location, specifically to entertainment centres. Networks of Cat 5E, Cat 6 cables or fibre optics provide the capacity for future needs.