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Builder gave in, I can wire......

jskibo

Member
Ok, so after a month of of pushing him, my builder has given in and is letting me run some wiring. Only problem is, I will only have 2 days to do it, it will be after the electrical rough in inspection before drywall, I have to fire caulk any holes I make that penetrate floors and he won't allow me to have wires hanging through the drywall (I can only secure behind and note the location to make a hole and connect after we close on the house......

This will pose a few issues for me since I will have to bury the wire and figure it out later.....

System will be an Elk M1, mix of UPB and Z-Wave lighting and thermo, likely IP cams but haven't picked them yet.

House is 2 story over unfinished basement, 3 car garage. Total finished sq ft is 3450.

My thoughts (any better ideas are appreciated)

1. Buy recessed contacts for doors and windows and wire those in while I am running the wire, then use a multi-meter to figure out which is which later (if my marking gets removed). Only concern is they use a junk entry door during drywall and paint then replace with the actual stained door after that. Hope the plunger doesn’t get messed up. Coverage is front door, garage side entry door, garage to house door, first floor slider and basement walkout slider.

2. Since I can’t wire the windows later, I was thinking of using the recessed contacts there as well (only needed at 4 first floor windows and 2 basement windows)

3. Wire in for sub panel boxes on each floor.

a. I was thinking of dropping all the upstairs wires for motion, temp and flood sensors to a future box location in the upstairs laundry room and putting a zone expander card in there. What do I need from the basement to that box? Cat 5 and Power? I won’t have 220v access in that box.
b. No plans for future audio or anything else upstairs, should I pull anything else to that box?
c. Box on the main floor would go in pantry area. I could pull all the first floor wire to that location for motion, but I think it would be easier to go straight down to the basement for door and window contacts on that floor. Maybe best to just pull all to the basement from there.

4. Pull wires for keypad locations at front door, master bedroom and garage entry door, leave wire in wall tacked to stud. 14/ 4 or Cat5 for these?

5. Wire for touchscreen (future) on kitchen wall? What wire? Double Cat 5 and 14/2 for power?

6. Wire for camera locations (Front porch, Garage, rear deck, driveway, family room and bonus room). Was thinking Cat 5 and 14/2 for power? Maybe I should run another 14/4 for Motion sensor for porch cam and garage cam?

The basement will be unfinished for a month after move in as we are using a different builder to finish it off (this builder only offers one stock basement plan), so I can catch the doors and windows down there as well as all of the home theater and basement bar / outside wiring for speakers.

Builder spaces all interior walls on 24” centers, guess I’ll just have to attach the cans (boxes) to one stud only.

Missing anything?
 

mrshanes

Member
Builder spaces all interior walls on 24” centers, guess I’ll just have to attach the cans (boxes) to one stud only.

Why are all interior walls spaced at 24"? Load bearing walls should always be 16". What type of drywall do they use? Half inch drywall on 24" centers will have a VERY spongy/weak feel to it. Hopefully they will use 5/8" drywall, but that offsets the cost savings of using 24" centers anyway.
 

jskibo

Member
Why are all interior walls spaced at 24"? Load bearing walls should always be 16". What type of drywall do they use? Half inch drywall on 24" centers will have a VERY spongy/weak feel to it. Hopefully they will use 5/8" drywall, but that offsets the cost savings of using 24" centers anyway.

Non-load bearings are 24 on ceneter. have no idea why and yes, 5/8's drywall. Just so happens the two locations I want to put boxes at are non-load bearing walls.
 

pbeaulieu

Active Member
Why are all interior walls spaced at 24"? Load bearing walls should always be 16". What type of drywall do they use? Half inch drywall on 24" centers will have a VERY spongy/weak feel to it. Hopefully they will use 5/8" drywall, but that offsets the cost savings of using 24" centers anyway.

while you are in there wiring why not install an extra stud for the other side of the can.
 

apostolakisl

Senior Member
If you want to put a box in between the studs you can just use a cross piece to secure it.

Take lots and lots and lots of pictures. And then take some more.

Before drilling holes in your windows, check to see what that does to your warranty.

It isn't a big deal to leave wire looped in the wall and find it later. Just do zig zag back and forth and leave plenty. Loosely staple it so that a gentle pull will release the staple. Don't use zip ties or similar. This can be your best bet because you get to pick the exact spot to pull your wire which sometimes is best determined after the house is "finished".

Sounds like you are going to have to pull an all nighter. That is a lot of wire to pull and a lot of alarm contacts to hook up, especially if you have a regular job during the day. I suggest you get yourself at least one helper who knows what is going on.
 

jskibo

Member
If you want to put a box in between the studs you can just use a cross piece to secure it.

Take lots and lots and lots of pictures. And then take some more.

Before drilling holes in your windows, check to see what that does to your warranty.

It isn't a big deal to leave wire looped in the wall and find it later. Just do zig zag back and forth and leave plenty. Loosely staple it so that a gentle pull will release the staple. Don't use zip ties or similar. This can be your best bet because you get to pick the exact spot to pull your wire which sometimes is best determined after the house is "finished".

Sounds like you are going to have to pull an all nighter. That is a lot of wire to pull and a lot of alarm contacts to hook up, especially if you have a regular job during the day. I suggest you get yourself at least one helper who knows what is going on.


Excellent idea on the zig zags. I will basically get a weekend and if needed I will work through both nights. Don't know anyone in the area yet as we just relocated here. I was going to see if I could find an electrician or someone that wants to make a few $$$ and help me on the side for this.

Is is a viable solution to put an ELK-M1XIN 16 zone expander in a box on each floor then just run a Cat 5 or 14/4 wire between that and the panel to save all those long wiring runs to the basement? Would I need additional power to tose sub boxes or would the four wire connector be sufficient?
 

mikejrc

Active Member
my suggestion since i had a chance to modify my low voltage while the house was being built.

- contact the manufacturer of your windows, call them and verify before you make any holes, most window manufacturers will void their warranty if you make any holes for window contacts. if they void the warranty then go with wireless contacts.

- concentrate your wiring to very specific devices that most likely you wont find a wireless version of them, those devices will be: keypads, sirens or speakers, strobes. I would suggest run CAT5e to every door that you consider to be an entry/exit point. I missed this and now I wish I had installed wires for 2 more doors.
Sirens or speakers and strobes are devices that use a little more current, so wire them using 18AWG not smaller than that. For motion detectors 20 or 22AWG should be fine if you decide to wire them instead of wireless

- For cameras I prewired for the locations I needed covering my external perimeter, I used one CAT5e and a 2 conductor 18AWG wire per camera. This will allow you to use IP cameras that send power over the ethernet cable. Also some network cameras have higher power requirements specially those that have Pan Tilt and Zoom, you will need that 2 conductor wire to power the camera and the CAT5e for the data. Also you could use common cameras that use coaxial or RCA by getting modules that convert the video and send it using your ethernet cable.

- CAT6 cable has very unique requirements when it comes to install it. Things like: how much you stretch it when is pulled, how many kinks you put in it when you leave it inside a box, how much extra slack is left, if you strapped it or nailed it too tight, are examples potential performance issues that will arise based on the physical properties of the cable.

- Consult with your builder because in my case, every box that had low voltage in it could not be left buried in the wall, they said the inspector wanted a blank cover for each box with wires in it. I would contact your local authority having jurisdiction and ask them about this.

- Having sub panels for every floor is a very good idea specially for future additions, I would run 2 inch conduits between them so you have more room for those wires. But the catch is some times you have a limitation on the size of hole you can make on the framing or subfloor. You should double check with your builder about the sizes of holes you can make and where is safe to make them.

- Running conduit for example ENT ( smurf because of its blue color sometimes orange) to each location could also save you time. Instead of running individual runs of wire you run this conduit from each box you mount to a subpanel in that floor and from there to your main panel later. I did several runs of smurf specially to a location close to the door in each room. This allowed me to run wires for thermostat sensors in each room, and in the future some intercom or sound.

- Consider the use of low voltage single or double gang brackets rather than boxes. Specially if you run the ENT conduit to them, they are easier to install, and will allow you to use the space in the wall as a cavity to accommodate the wires later, rather than a box that has a set capacity forcing you to leave the right amount of cable inside, you wont have slack for mistakes later. Also if running conduit use at least 1 inch, again if your builder allows that size holes in your studs.

- Anything that goes outside, gates, fences, any perimeter protection, either run conduit for future installation or run those wires now, but that will depend on your particular application or devices that you will be installing.
 

apostolakisl

Senior Member
Is is a viable solution to put an ELK-M1XIN 16 zone expander in a box on each floor then just run a Cat 5 or 14/4 wire between that and the panel to save all those long wiring runs to the basement? Would I need additional power to tose sub boxes or would the four wire connector be sufficient?

Yes. A single CAT5 is all you need. Get the databus hub to make your life easy too.

And to add to panamanian, conduit is nice. You said you had unfinished basement below and I assume unfinished attic above, so you won't need too much of it. I suggest conduit to all exterior wall boxes for future upgrades since wiring through insulation is a pain. Inside walls are pretty easy to fish up/down if they are empty. Also a very large conduit from attic to basement is great. Like 2 inch pvc. As far as smurf tube, it is great but I found for a small fraction of the price using the 10 foot grey pipe for $2 a piece is much cheaper. A propane torch and it gets nice and flexible too for gentle curves.
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
dont forget speakers - for the keypads and anywhere else... at a keypad, I run 18/2 or 18/4 for the speaker alongside of the cat5.

The zone expanders work great in the boxes; I'd run a few extra wires though just to be able to home run speakers, relays, power, etc - at the mid-point boxes as well; though it's best to homerun the speakers so you have better control over the number of ohms at play.
 

jskibo

Member
dont forget speakers - for the keypads and anywhere else... at a keypad, I run 18/2 or 18/4 for the speaker alongside of the cat5.

The zone expanders work great in the boxes; I'd run a few extra wires though just to be able to home run speakers, relays, power, etc - at the mid-point boxes as well; though it's best to homerun the speakers so you have better control over the number of ohms at play.


Will I need extra power at those zone expander boxes, or are they fine powered from the main?
 

apostolakisl

Senior Member
Will I need extra power at those zone expander boxes, or are they fine powered from the main?

You only need a single cat5 to run a 16 zone expander. Pulling other wires may serve you in the future for as of yet unconsidered items, but not the zone board.
 

Neurorad

Senior Member
jskibo, where do you live?

You may be able to hire a couple seasoned installers, on a weekend. Call some local AV companies - ask the owner if his guys need some extra work on their days off.

Several people would be better than 2.

Don't staple ethernet cable.

If you buy some cable locally - electric supply store - you may be able to return extra boxes/reels that you don't use. Maybe buy the bulk online, e.g. Monoprice, and buy a few extra locally.

You can rent right angle drills. Will you have power on site?

Have you considered sub-ing out the entire install? You won't pay as much as if the builder did it.

Maybe you could sub out the security portion of the install? I think the sensors are a little more tricky than the other LAN and AV cables.
 

Ranger Digital

Active Member
I have never heard of not being able to have low voltage wire sticking out of the drywall. Is that a stupid low voltage code there or something? If not, demand your builder allow you to do that.

Again, I reiterate STUPID code if it is one. Unless I am not seeing a bigger picture.
 
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