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    Wiring new house - what would you change?

    I am helping a friend plan the low-voltage wiring for a new construction. I did my own wiring 5 years ago and have been thinking about what I would change or add if I were doing it now. I've come up with the following:

    Less data jacks - I am using wireless network and notebooks. I would still run to every room, but not mulitple outlets per room as I did then.

    VR/Annoucement - I didn't wire for mics and annoucement speakers. The speakers haven't been a problem, but I wish I had at least pre-wired at the proper height for mics (I am not sure what that is). What cabling would/did you run for mics and where did you locate them?

    Touchscreens - I added a couple of Audreys and I like the touchscreen interface. I think I would cable for some build-in units in the future (they can't afford anything right now).

    What else would you like to have done when you wired your new construction?

    Thanks,
    Barry T

    #2
    I would specify a centralized equipment closet w/power and hvac, with enough area for punch down and/or connection blocks. I'd bring all phones, ethernet, audio, security, intercom, cableTV, etc lines to that closet. I would specify at a minimum cable conduit between the floors (to pass additional cable through later as either technology or needs change), and to any room that did not have easy access to either the top sill or bottom wall sill.

    Win2000 Pro SP2, IE6, 1333Mhz512KRam, PN576V, MR26a-B10, HS-B42, HSP-B17, VR/TTS-SAPI5ATT

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      #3
      I would be sure to put some network drops and whatever else on every exterior wall (since you can't easily fish wires later on through them)... the wire is so cheap, even if you just put the wire in a box and put a blank plate over it (saving the $5 for the connection at the end until you actually need it), it seems worth it to me... Also, i wish that i had put some cat5 to the ceilings of every room, for later use with hardwired motion detectors... Speaker wiring is another thing that i did not have an opportunity to put in...

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        #4
        The house I'm in right now was just built. I really wanted to fish some cat 5 cable throughout the house, but it wouldn't pass the inspection, even if I used the proper cable for in walls, which I didn't understand. Fortunately, it is a ranch, so it's rather simple to wire them in later.

        I would suggest running 2 lines to every room. Reason being, one for the actual network, the other cable for other low voltage stuff (speakers, 1-wire temp sensors, etc).

        Also make sure there is an outlet coming right out of the breaker panel (As far as I know, it's standard) and make sure you can get access to it because that seems to be the best spot to plug your CM11a in to.

        (UPDATE)
        I live in a small city in north-eastern ohio; figured I would mention that.

        ---
        Todd
        My HomeSeer - My Website

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          #5
          I went through that same BS last year when having a new house built by a somewhat large company that specializes in that kind of stuff... They didn't want you to install anything yourself, they wanted to be paid for it... It was easier for them to tell you that it would not pass inspection if you wired stuff... BUT, you could pay them $200 per cat5 drop to have them do it...

          What it comes down to is that they want the money to do it, charging $200 or even $100 to wire a cat5 cable in a house with no sheetrock up yet is just plain robbery. I know some builders who will do that stuff for free (even when you pay the $200 per line to have it installed, the minimum wage kid ends up installing it anyway)

          I live in a small town in NJ where they want you to have a permit to blow your nose, and from what i hear, it comes up as a question sometimes 'what are these wires for?' and 'why aren't they in the plans?'... If you are worried, have the wires put into the plans...

          I have been fishing whatever i can into all the interior walls of the house, and it is a pain... I have contemplated many times just ripping down all the exterior wall sheetrock at once, running all that i want, and then putting it all back (so there is just a mess once)... It's disgusting to even have to think of that... If i ever move, it will definitely be to an empty lot that i have something built on by a private contractor...

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            #6
            Have you ever considered having your contractor just stub a conduit to a blank box in each future location? This way, you are open to pull CAT5, coax, speaker, etc. to whatever box you want after the fact. I don't mean homeruns of conduit, just enough to put you to the attic or crawlspace.

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              #7
              One of the best things I did in my new home was to specify that ceiling light fixtures be added in each room. The standard would have been a switched outlet which I would then plug lamps into.

              Switched outlets totally suck when using X10. You can't really use Lamp modules with them. You shouldn't replace the switch with an X10 dimmer switch (because someone might plug a vacuum cleaner ot laptop into the outlet controlled by the switch).

              Bholio

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                #8
                Since I had an older house and all the rooms were setup with switched outlets (no ceiling fixtures), here is what I did to change them. Take the two wires on the current switch and connect them together, thus making all outlets in that room always on. Replace the switch with a Leviton HCC1D-1L switch www.worthdist.com. Connect the black wire to the two wires you connected together from the old switch and the white to the nuetral wire. (in some cases I had to pull a nuetral wire to the box because one wasn't already there) I can now use lamp modules in any outlet of the room and be controlled from the wall switch. If I ever need to put it back the way it was, all I have to do is connect the two wires back to a standard switch and the outlet is back as it was when I bought the house. This has worked very well for me with very little rewiring.

                The Pod

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                  #9
                  We had a townhome build last year. Our builder kept saying that it was a stock house, no changes or upgrades. Well I convinced them to do some special wiring for me. The first quote back for 2 x RG6 and 2 x Cat5 to 7 locations in the house was $2500!!!! Well needless to say, my jaw dropped and and respecfully said "Hell NO!!!"

                  They came back a day later and said, "we found this new stuff that has those 4 wires in it and we can do that for $450....is that better?"

                  The reason for the price difference was the fact that there were 28 drops (4 wires x 7 locations) and the bundle was only 7 drops...so labor was cheap.

                  Ask your builder about the bundled stuff and see if it is any cheaper....

                  Patrick Sikes
                  SikesCentral Home Automation
                  patsikes@sikescentral.com
                  mobile@sikescentral.com (180 char max)

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                    #10
                    I bought 500 feet of that wire, with the intentionof wiring all over my house from the attic on upstairs rooms, and the crawlspace on the downstairs rooms... The plan was to drill through the tops/bottoms of interior walls, put the wire in, and then fish it out and put in a box at each drop... The only thing that worries me is that the wire i have is 2 rg6's and 2cat5's in one jacket, and that jacket is a bit more than 1/2" in diameter... i planned to home-run all of them to a closet upstairs... I got seriously worried about compromising the structure of the walls by hacking away too much wood with all those 1/2" holes... I ended up running all the wire into the closet by drilling the holes straight through the sheetrock ceiling in the closet, so as to not compromise anything... The other option was to drill a 4" hole in the ceiling, and get some sort of PVC conduit that would terminate in a box of some sort, and put the patch panel on that, but i couldn't find anything that looked too hot... so i ended up with 1/2" holes 1.5" apart in the ceiling with a rackmount cat5 patch panel just hanging there... i still haven't figured out what to do with the coax, i am not sure if it is good to put a patch panel on that or not (signal quality wise, i would think those extra connections would degrade the quality)...

                    Also, don't overlook how cheap wireless stuff has become... i am using two wireless machines in my house because it would be a pain to run cat5 there... the $200 for an access point and wireless adapter was probably much cheaper than paying the doctor bills for the injury i probably would have caused myself running the wire...

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                      #11
                      here goes:

                      Chris, you should see the holes drilled for the conduit feeds. 2x4s (1.5x3.5s, actually) with 1-1.5" holes for conduit feeds in a typical conduit implementation. Your 3/4" hole in a 3.5" "2x4" in a few locations will not compromise the stability of your home.

                      To the original question: I recommend the conduit solution, if you can afford it. It allows later implementation of /anything/ you can think of (fiber, phone, LAN, video, etc) as long as it all fits. If it doesn't fit, there are a lot of - less expensive by the day - multiplexing / "structured wiring" solutions that will bring many things over less wires if necessary.

                      I really recommend wired alternatives wherever possible, as they are always going to be faster, more reliable, more secure and less expensive than any wireless solution.

                      I would consider doing the alarm system wiring to every opening if at all possible. It's small enough wire that I don't think you'll get too much flak for it - provided you do it at the same time as the phone wiring.

                      My advice is to see if you can do the wiring yourself. It's easy to do with the right equipment and a couple of auger bits. No one will do it as well as you will.

                      I have wired the last three houses I've had with home-run phone, LAN, security, speakers, audio and video in every room. It's a lot of trouble, but so incredibly flexible to use over time. Oh... all of those were wired "after the fact", which was a lot of money and hassle - holes in walls and such. Figuring a way to get it done up front is hard to beat.

                      Cheers!

                      (see profile for environment)

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I'm really late on this thread, but thought I'd quickly jot down some things we wired for in our home about 1.5 years ago when it was built.

                        First off, we were able to select our builder. During the interviewing process I brought up wiring to each of the candidates. Here in Maryland, it's not necessary to get a low-voltage wiring permit, so it was mostly a task of finding a flexible builder to work with. We found one who thought HA sounded cool, and had no problem giving us a week's notice for when we'd be able to wire. When I showed him the witing plan, before we started, he nearly had a heart attack. I think we ran 2 miles of wire.

                        Briefly, each room got 2 runs of CAT5 (phone/network), one quad-shielded RG6 (video), a CAT3 to the ceiling for a motion detector, a 2 pair 14 gauge wire to a volume control in each room, and a CAT5 to the volume control for IR. There was also a single pair 14 gauge cable run directly to each ceiling for a TTS speaker, and 2 single pair cables from the volume controls to the ceiling for the music speakers. Each room has 3 speakers: One stereo pair is hooked to the vol control, which, in turn is attached through an HACS AB8SS speaker switcher to an MP3 server. A single speaker in each room is hooked through a secondary AB8SS to the HS machine. I didn't want our kids to accidentally turn the volume control off and nuke our TTS announcements, hence the three speakers.

                        CAT3 was run to some window and door locations, to the garage door openers and also to the doors, themselves for magnetic sensors. CAT5 was run to the power meter for an IR sensor that counts revolutions of the disk inside. Phone/network CAT5 was run to the TV for CID overlay and who knows what in the future. 2 RG6 were run from the attic to the TV in case we use an antenna later on. Several runs of CAT5 were run from the attic to the wiring closet for the Davis weather station. CAT5 was run to the thermostat locations, as well as to the furnaces. Video runs to the kitchen cabinets in case we add an under-counter TV in the future. RG6 (video) and CAT5 (power) were run to all the corners of the house for video cameras, as well as to the front porch lantern. We didn't wire for microphones, as I always thought I'd use the phones for that sort of thing.

                        "Booger cable" was run along the driveway for a sensor and to the mailbox for another sensor. Pulsor sensors were attached to several joists and some other items that are slipping my mind right now were wired.

                        Oh, most importantly, we ran a 3" PVC pipe from the attic to the basement to make it easier to add cable in the future. I've already used it.

                        Only a subset of the items I mentioned are being utilized right now, but I wanted to wire the living daylights out of the place while I could. All the cable cost about $800, total. Not too bad when you consider a retrofit later on.

                        Oh, if I were to do it again, what would I do differently? I'd use different color CAT5 for phone vs. network. That would've made life so much easier. Also, I would have done what Dan Hoehnen did in his house, and had wider electrical switch boxes (e.g. 3 gang instead of 2 gang) placed in the main rooms so I could install some of the Leviton multi-button switch devices in there.

                        Sorry for any typos! Write if you want any more details.

                        --David

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                          #13
                          <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by PepsiBoy:
                          .... CAT5 was run to the power meter for an IR sensor that counts revolutions of the disk inside....

                          <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                          This statement intrigues me. Would you mind elaborating on this a bit?

                          1. What kind of IR sensor did you use to count the meter revolutions?
                          2. What is the source of the IR "light" that the sensor sees?
                          3. What do you do with the information you capture? Do you use it to estimate your electric bill? Or do you actually use it to manage electricity usage (ie, shut stuff down when it's really spinning?)

                          Thanks!

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