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What to wire before walls are closed

jlokanis

Member
Hi All,

I am trying to make a list of what to wire for before the walls are closed up on our new house. I plan to use a 'wireless' light control solution (most likely Insteon). I am leaning towards using an Elk for security, but need to wire the sensors (or hire someone to do it). I would like to have some cameras inside and out for security and monitoring.
For entertainment, I currently use DirecTV and want to be able to move up to their HDTV set in the future. So, I need to wire for the dish on the roof, and each location a box would go. How many runs of RG6 and to where?
For audio, I would like to run speakers and 2nd room audio to three places (bedroom, rec room and deck).
For network, I want to run some cat5 (cat5e? cat6?) to each room where a PC might someday live, as well as where a sat box or other web enabled device might live.
I would also like to use some touch screens (RAD-I/O? Others?) some day in a few areas.
Can I even route HDTV around the house? Over RG6? (like we used to route TV on channel 3?)

My goal is to wire the right kind of things now so later I can add all the goodies. This will take lots of time and $$ over a year or two, but I only get one chance at wire in the walls, so I want to get it right.

thanks in advance for your tips, info and pitfalls to avoid.

-John
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
I'm right in the middle of helping my friend pre-wire his new home (custom build) before his drywall goes up also! Here are some of the things we did:

Use DEEP electrical boxes for outlets and switches!

We picked out a small coat closet as the "media/HA center" and ran ALL the wires back to it.

Cat 5e will be used for network and phone. We will terminate all the Cat5e to RJ-45 patch system in the closet, then just patch in network or phone as desired. All wall plates (to various rooms) will be terminated with RJ-45 also. When you want a phone, just plug in the RJ-11 phone jack into the RJ-45 plug. My house is wired this way and I love the versatility of having a phone or network in any of my RJ-45 wall plates.

For coax make sure you use the QUAD SHIELD RG-6 cable.

Each window has one pair of wires going to it for magnetic security contacts. We even mounted the contacts and wired them in place (so much easier to do now).

Each exterior door plus the laundry room door (to the garage) will have one pair of wires running to them (doors are not installed yet).

The garage door will have two ea. two pair of wires running to them (look for the "Ultimate Garage Door Monitor" How-To here soon for why you need this).

Each bedrooms "left and right" walls will have two Cat 5e and two coax cables ran to a lower box, and two ea. two pair wires run to a middle box. The two pair wires will be used for glass breaks, motion sensors, temp monitors, etc...

Two places where a main "computer" desk work area will be has extra Cat 5e cable going to it.

The main entertainment center in the family room will have three RG-6 coax plus three Cat 5e cables.

The air filter doors have a pair of wires running to them.

The laundry room as 2 ea. two pair of wires (monitor washer and dryer as well as motion sensor).

Several areas of the house have a two pair cable for voice announcement speakers.

Two pair cable is ran to areas where security keypads are needed (main doorways, family room, master bedroom).

A pair of wires and RG-6 coax is run to areas security cameras are wanted.

A two pair cable is run to areas (other than bedrooms listed above) where glass breaks, strobe lights, motion sensors and sirens are needed.

Extra cat5e and coax runs were made from the demarcation entry for phone and cable to the wiring closet.

A pair of wires were run to the outside electrical box and cable tv door entry areas for security monitoring purposes).

Conduits will be run to an area in the back yard for future lighting, fountain controls, etc...

Conduits will be run from the wiring closet to the garage area for future use.

Any inside wall where wires might be needed in the future will have a conduit and junction box installed (conduit just stubbed above the framework so you can just run wires inside the wall, then just lay them across the attic framework.

Remember when running electrical to leave outlets for outside lighting, cameras, fountains, etc... Don't forget about Christmas lighting if desired.

Think about how your touch screens will be mounted, what type of touch screen (PC behind the touch screen or separate PC required). Think about how you would get power to the touch screen (maybe have an outlet behind the drywall where touchscreen is needed. Don't forget about running some Cat5e to that location as well.

He hasn't decided what to run for speaker wires yet. I'm trying to convince him to go with whole house sound system and run at least one pair of in-ceiling speakers to each room. If you have the funding go with a control system such as Russound and remember to run the keypad control wiring needed for this also.

If you want an intercom system, wire for it to each room with multipair cable.

Another note about the wiring closet. Remember to install additional outlets and lighting inside it. He also installed a nice thick plywood wall instead of drywall so he can mount items to it such as the Elk control box, 12 volt power distribution center, 12 volt source with battery, shelving for stereo distribution equipment, etc...

Just some random thoughts, sure others will have some as well. It really didn't take all that long to do the work also. Just the two of us ran over 7500 ft of wiring in four days (not full days either) inside a 4500 sq ft. house, and this included installing the window sensors (and testing them). Plus we got sidetracked a lot (as various contractors came in and out).

We used deep boxes for all the "future" stuff so we don't have to dig around the drywall trying to find wires (will just install a blank plate over them until they are needed).
 
Wow, quite a list! Here's a couple things I don't recall seeing mentioned.

If the house is built on a crawl space, put the demarc box in the crawl space and then put a security contact on the crawl space door. The phone company may not be happy about it, but I learned they have no choice if the home owner wants it installed this way.

Run 4 conductor wires from the wiring closet to each thermostat in case you want to tie them to your automation system.

Determine ahead of time which wires are for automation and which are security and try to get them in the right place in the wiring closet.

I was convinced to keep automation and security seperate. I ended up with an NX-8E for security and am now working on adding the automation stuff. I like the way this turned out because I can leave my security system alone while I'm playing with automation. Eventually I may have automation use some information from the security system, but I'm more comfortable knowing that no matter what I do to the automation stuff, I won't hose my security system.

A spare conduit or two from the wiring closet to the attic and crawl space or basement.
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Good point piper_chuck about the T-Stats, forgot all about them.

Yes, the reason for the pair of wires to any demarcation point that has an external door (including electrical power box) is to mount a magnetic sensor for the security system. This is because a burglar may try to disconnect the phone lines and power before entry. I have these zones as "instant" when alarmed in away or stay, and also have a voice announcement that someone is in those boxes when the system is not armed.

As far as keeping security separate from automation I slightly disagree. I also have an NX8e and an Ocelot with SECU16I and RLY-8 add on modules. Since I already have motion sensors and all the doors and windows wired to the NX8e, why not use those for automation purposes as well? I hate the fact that the NX8e doesn't play with my Ocelot and wound up having to do some funky relay outputs from the NX8e to the SECU16I and RLY-8 outputs going to an NX8e input zone. Not to mention the fact of trying to synch up CMax with the Caddx DL-900 software!

You do this one time and you will appreciate the Elk M1 Gold even more!

I do have both tied to my HomeSeer computer (voice announcements, EMail on Security alerts, etc...) (But hey, the Elk has some of these features incorporated also).

One more thing to consider on the wiring is if you may think you would want to automate any hvac vents.

Regards,

BSR
 

tech-home

Active Member
BSR,

With such a frequent question you should make it a How To?


"Use DEEP electrical boxes for outlets and switches!"
Don't forget if your planning on using Zwave or any other RF go with plastic boxes.
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
tech-home said:
BSR,

With such a frequent question you should make it a How To?
Great idea Brian;

I think I'll compile all the great suggestions from this thread into one that can easily be referenced!

Thanks for the idea,

BSR
 

jlehnert

Active Member
I learned they have no choice if the home owner wants it installed this way.
That depends on how much the state corporation counsel is in bed with the telco. I used to work at Verizon during it's Hell Atlantic days, and in one state you could get the NID mounted inside. In the other three states in the area, you could'nt mount it inside. It's been awhile since those days, so I'm sure things have changed, but don't assume that you can dictate the mounting location.

Excellent idea about turning this into a "how to". You'll probably need to break it up into multiple entries (ie electrical planning, security, A/V, whole house audio, etc) for clarity.
 

tanstaaf1

Member
I'm really glad this came up as a topic. Having decided how I'm going forward with light switches, I was perusing "Structured Wiring Design Manual" but didn't really feel it did a comprehensive job of covering the state of the art.

...
Cat 5e will be used for network and phone. We will terminate all the Cat5e to RJ-45 patch system in the closet, then just patch in network or phone as desired. All wall plates (to various rooms) will be terminated with RJ-45 also. When you want a phone, just plug in the RJ-11 phone jack into the RJ-45 plug.
...


Had never heard of this. Just had to test for myself that the telephone cords will fit an RJ-45. Sure enough! And RJ-11 wiring is the same as the same-positioned RJ-46 wires? How do you tie this together at the other - router? - end so both phone and network are supported. Do you see VOIP changing the need for dedicated telephone lines? I hope my question makes at least a little sense. ;-)

For coax make sure you use the QUAD SHIELD RG-6 cable.

Each window has one pair of wires going to it for magnetic security contacts.
...


Is QUAD really important? I've heard not...unless you live near an airport or other source of lots of noise. For windows that don't open much, don't you think wireless sensors would be as good and more cost effective?


The garage door will have two ea. two pair of wires running to them (look for the "Ultimate Garage Door Monitor" How-To here soon for why you need this).
...


Let me guess... 2 wires to open/close and 2 to the sensor which keeps you informed on the state of the door? (it could be opened from a wireless in a car or it could be jammed)

Each bedrooms "left and right" walls will have two Cat 5e and two coax cables ran to a lower box, and two ea. two pair wires run to a middle box. The two pair wires will be used for glass breaks, motion sensors, temp monitors, etc...

Why all the wiring to left/right walls? Is this just in case you decide to put a computer or TV there in the future?

The main entertainment center in the family room will have three RG-6 coax plus three Cat 5e cables.

The air filter doors have a pair of wires running to them.
...


Would you mind explaining why so many to the entertainment center? Is this for three channels or are you sending different colors on different cables (what I understand Crestron suggests, along with secret-sauce "Crestron cable" for highest fidelity pictures).

Are you planning for a "filter dirty" sensor in the future? Does such a thing exist now?


Several areas of the house have a two pair cable for voice announcement speakers.

Two pair cable is ran to areas where security keypads are needed (main doorways, family room, master bedroom).

A pair of wires and RG-6 coax is run to areas security cameras are wanted.
...


Same wire for all the "two pair" runs? What gauge/type of wire?


He hasn't decided what to run for speaker wires yet. I'm trying to convince him to go with whole house sound system and run at least one pair of in-ceiling speakers to each room. If you have the funding go with a control system such as Russound and remember to run the keypad control wiring needed for this also.

If you want an intercom system, wire for it to each room with multipair cable.
...


Well, here we are launching off into a question I was going to be asking anyway. I think I'll open a new thread.

No recommendation for fiber optic, eh?
 

bfisher

Active Member
A couple comments:
- Like Piper-Chuck, I have seperate security and automation systems and like this a lot (as mentioned, I can make automation changes all I want, but my work won't screw up my security system). I have NX-8E (Caddx) and it talks serially to my HVPro - so all of my security contacts are being used by my automation system - and it's completely seamless and transparent they aren't in the same box. It's very easy and powerful.
- Quad shielded cabling - I agree completely, and to answer your question tanstaaf - you might be able to get by with a lessor cable... but what IF you do have interference? It is MUCH harder to fix later than it is to prevent it up front. The additional cost of the cable is very minimal.
- I didn't see mention about IR wiring (maybe I missed it). CAT5 wiring works fine - you can use 3 of the wires for IR receiving, and 2 for each emitter (example, I have emitters on all my TVs, my HA system knows their state, and can power them down/up if needed). You can put IR receivers in the wall (looks like a blank plate), or plug them into a minijack and use an external receiver (I use a mix of both, more external though).
- Tanstaaf - wired vs wireless sensors. It's a matter of personal perference, but I ALWAYS (always) go wired if at all possible. As more and more wireless components become available, I do not want any interference issues with anything else. Yes, they are all smart and can help avoid each other with different frequencies, etc... but personally, once it's wired - unless someone cuts/shorts that wire - I know it's going to work.

Great stuff in this thread... definitely a good how-to topic
 

Steve

Senior Member
Just to add my $.02

I agree about the wired security sensors. If at all possible to wire the perimeter thats the way to go. Save the wireless for where you just can't get a wire.

As far as the combined vs separate HA/Security system, I am usually an advocate for separate systems, usually you get better quality and the fact that if 1 thing breaks you are not without everything. Kind of like a component stereo system vs an all-in-one. In this case though I have them combined with an Elk M1. I kind of view the M1 as the security system first with the added bonus of doing HA stuff. It has the same reliability of a dedicated security system so if it goes out I am just losing HA, which I can live without if needed. I don't see the HA taking out the security system. Things are separate enough as far as components go and it is really hard to do something in RP that would mess up the security system. I also know that if anything did happen I could get another controller overnight. So in this case I prefer the integration of the two into one highly reliable hardware platform. I suppose if it were possible to get a security platform and a hardware based HA platform that were tightly integrated, spoke the same language and were easy to program together then that would also be a good avenue.

On the RG6 Coax, I heard it was a good idea to use compression type fittings instead of crimp fittings.

And BSR, you spoke about 2 pair wire to security keypads, etc. and then later mentioned touchscreens. Since these are getting more and more integrated, I would consider them the same and run Cat5 and power to the locations that you think may even only be a standard keypad because you may want to put in a touchscreen at some point. It doesn't have to be a TS with a PC, could be like an HAI or new Elk TS that is all in one but still may require power or Cat5.

On audio, in my younger days when I built this house almost 15 years ago I only ran 1 wire to each room for audio. I since learned even if you don't have the budget or space for 2 speakers, run the 2 (each channel) wires to each room anyway and you could always use one of those single stereo speakers.

Great ideas on the contacts in phone and electrical boxes! Also have my vote for the how-to, there are several threads like this around with all different tidbits in it.
 

un-wired

Active Member
I didn't get the chance to read each post completely, I just skimmed so ignore me if i'm repeating.

Wired vs Wireless: Simple decision really, wired. wired sensors are 5 dollars and wireless are 50 or so dollars. Wireless sensors have batteries which thanks to Murphy's law only die when you are away, or at 3 am. Last but not least, because you can.

I didn't see anyone mention the famed conduit runs. Some PVC pipe from floor to floor to facilitate future wire runs.

3 RG6 runs and RG6 quad vs cheaper cable: I think the basics of undoing is alot more difficult then doing in advance. I reccomend the three runs for a simple reason. Digital cable eats all of your bandwidth so you either have to decide to chop out a few channels per modulated channel or you can run a second RG6 with a standard cable feed and room for lots of modulated channels. The third cable makes a great backup, as well as a seperate input for cable vs satellite or DishTV.

Multi room audio: Simple cat5 runs or cat5 and 18awg depending on the audio system.

If you need help with a structured wiring panel let me know, I would be more then happy to design the panel in Autocad and send you a PDF of the actual layout of the devices as well as a spreadsheet with prices model numbers and descriptions. The items in the PDF also have model numbers on them. The only information I need from you is what you would like and in how many rooms and the distance of those locations if they are over 100 ft. For example

6 rooms with phone, 2 data, 2 rg6 quad shield,3 modulated outdoor security cameras and an 4 source A-Bus setup.

There's an example of the layout and PDF HERE
 

JohnBullard

Active Member
One other comment on the RG6 coax.

use quad shield with a SOLID COPPER (not copper plated over steel) center core,

as High Def video needs this, IMHO
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
A few other thoughts...

Make sure all phone wires are home-run to a central point (wiring closet).

Use a dedicated Cat-5 wire for each phone jack even if you will initially only be using 1 pair for phones. (Needs tend to change over time.)

If your telephone demark is in a different location from your wiring closet, make sure they are conbected with a dedicated Cat-5 cable that terminates on a 4-line telephone surge device at the wiring closet end. (do not depend on the protectors the phone company puts at the demark.)

Put phone jacks in all rooms, even if you currently use wireless phones. (Needs tend to change over time.)

Put multiple phone jacks in rooms where you are likely to change the furniture arrangement from time to time. (Bedrooms, Study, Living Room, etc.)

Always terminate field wiring on punch blocks or patch panels. The reason for this is NOT just to make things neat and convenient. Over time you may change the equipment in your wiring closet many times to incorporate new technology. Since field wiring is permanent, you do not want it to experience excessive wear and tear. Punch blocks and patch panels take all the wear and tear of hookup changes so the ends of the actual field wires don't have to.

Don't forget to pre-wire for electric door strikes on outside doors even if you won't be using electric locks at first.

Don't forget to wire for microphones in each room in case you want to do full blown VR someday.

Don't forget to wire for interior cameras for things like baby monitoring and nanny cams.

Don't forget to plan your electrical circuits such that they can be easily divided into critical zones for use with a backup generator.

Make sure any place that has a coax feed-in for cable also has a coax feed-out so that local A/V signals can be shared around the rest of the house.

Make sure you account for all required coax feeds: analog cable, digital cable, HD roof antenna, Central FM antenna, Multi LNB satellite dish, video cameras, signals to and from modulators, PC to video converter connections, satellite radio, cell phone boosters, wireless phone boosters, RF to IR converters, WGL X-10 receivers, etc.

Make sure you think through your delivery method for HA announcements: via whole-house music system? Phone system page? Speakers in keypads? Dedicated speakers in each room? Intercom system?

If you ever find yourself saying "I'm never going to want/need that" then just stop what you are doing and think it through again. Chances are close to 100% that you are wrong and will later regret not adding the one wire that would have been so easy to run when the walls were open!
 

jlehnert

Active Member
Yikes! This thread is quickly turning into a King Kong of threads (I have first dibs if Naomi Watts shows up :lol: ). I'll see if I can throw some of my answers in without getting a post exceeding a complete page.

Do you see VOIP changing the need
Not anytime soon, considering huge mass of installed wiring and existing phones. I think it would be more likely to have VoIP going into a residential portal, which then connects to the current house wiring system. Beside, can you see yourself telling your daughter "No honey, you can't have that cute Mickey Mouse phone. It's not VoIP".

Is QUAD really important
As others have noted, YES. For all the reasons stated. And yes, compressions fittings are better than crimp fittings.

Why all the wiring to left/right walls?
So you are not limited on where you can connect things. In a bedroom for example, you would have the option of having a TV on one side of the room, and a phone next to the bed, WITHOUT running a telephone extension calbe under the carpet. In my house (designed 6 years ago now), there is at least 2 cat5/2 RG6QS drops on EVERY wall. Even with this, I sometimes find myself cussing because there isn't a drop were I want to put something. In locations where you know you will need extra capacity (ie in the home office or behind the entertainment center) put in extra drops. In my office, I have network drops to my desktop, laptop, and print server. Add in telephone, computer modem (thankfully gone), and fax, and I'm up to 6 cat5 drops. I have a PBX in the house, so I can handle multiple lines from one jack, but if you don't have a PBX, add a telco jack for very 2 phone lines you want in the office.

A pair of wires and RG-6 coax is run to areas security cameras are wanted.
18 gauge is fine for power to the camera. Actually, for the best quality you should use RG59 instead of RG6. That said, for security cameras, most people won't notice (or care about) the difference, so go ahead and use RG6. Also, consider putting a cat5 drop to the location, so you can use an IP enabled camera.

One thing that is often overlooked is the electrical system.
/rant ON
You need to have the electrician overwire, overwire, overwire. Most electricians will wire strickly to code, which in reality should be the minimum standard. For instance, code generally calls for any spot on a wall to be no more than 6 ft. from an outlet. This means that a 12 ft. wall can have a single duplex jack in the middle of it, and still meet code. However, with the number of electrical appliances in today's houses, the number of plugs quickly outstrips the number of jacks. If you plug in a reading light, you've used half the capacity of that wall.

Walk around your current house and see how many extension cords and power strips you have installed. The ideal number is ZERO! IF you have a power strip in your current house, consider beefing up the electrical capacity for that location in the new house.
/rant OFF
 

pkoslow

Active Member
DON'T FORGET NAIL GUARDS IN NEW CONSTRUCTION!!!

Nail guards are metal plates that are attached to studs before the drywall goes up. They are used to protect wires (high & low voltage) as well as PVC pipes.

A little hard to describe, but they should be installed anywhere a wire goes through a stud and it's possible a sheetrock nail/screw could penetrate and damage the wire.

Depending on you general contractor and his subs, this can be easily overlooked (especially if you run low voltage wires after the high voltage & plumbing is in). If these aren't in place before the drywall guys show up, chances are they just start banging up the sheetrock and will likely damage some wires.

I couldn't find much info on the web about this, but below is an example with a photo. In most contruction around here, the nailguards are a little simpler. They are just some metal straps where the metal has been punched to produce some small points so you can hammer them on.

Nail Guards

Cheers,
Paul
 
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