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Old 11-19-2012, 11:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quick Background:

After many years of renting, I finally bought my first house. After years of dealing with neutral paint colors and hiding wires behind furniture and under carpets, I'm excited to finally be able to modify my home, run wires, etc. In the past, I did the best I could with the limitations of renting, as documented in my thread from a few years ago (Link to my old setup), but now I plan to take my "theater" and automation systems to the next level. And before anyone asks, yes I am a bachelor, and so inevitably this will end up turning into a high tech bachelor pad.

This Thread:

I started this thread to A) give me a place to document a project plan to keep myself straight, and to B) create a forum for questions, comments, and feedback. Please don't be shy about posting criticisms, especially if you see me making mistakes or can offer up better methods.

The Plan:

I bought a 2 story house in Charleston, SC (so, no basement). The house was built in 2001, but it is very builder basic, including the wiring. Right now, the house has one cable jack in the living room, and a few sporadic phone jacks placed in weird locations. The overall (optimistic) plan is to upgrade the entire house to be fully wired for cable, ethernet, phone, automation, and distributed video and sound, including a family room "theater", and TVs with 5.1 sound in the master bedroom and office. I may add lighting control down the road (most likely RadioRA), but that won't be for a while. I'm also considering adding in-ceiling speakers in the dining room, kitchen, and screened porch.

Here's a quick floorplan that I sketched up.

HousePlan.png

When I bought the house, the family room and living room were separated by a wall, making the living space feel closed off, so the first thing I did was open up that wall.

Before: (Picture from the MLS listing since I forgot to take a "before" picture.)

l33d9bf43-m1x.jpg

Demolition: (I also enlarged the opening from the entry way to the living room. It was a small arch before.)

IMG_0141.jpg

New header since it is a load-bearing wall:

IMG_0156.jpg?t=1353390781

Final product:

IMG_0165.jpg

Please ignore all of the boxes, etc. It's not worth me completely unpacking / organizing while doing construction.

This shot was taken from the top of the stairs. It gives a bit of an overview of the living area and how everything, including light, now flows through the space.

IMG_0162.jpg

Now that the living area is opened up, the electronic upgrades can begin.

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Old 11-19-2012, 11:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Phase 1: Upgrade the "infrastructure."

As I mentioned above, the house currently has very limited wiring, so the first phase of my upgrade is to run new wiring throughout the house. There is a coat closet underneath the stairs on the first floor that I have designated to be my new media closet. The plan is to install a Leviton structured media panel in there where all of the cable runs will terminate. The closet will also have a rack that will hold all of the equipment that will service the entire house (router, network switch, media server, automation server, etc). Receivers, amplifiers, etc will be located in the various rooms with the TV systems. I plan to run two runs of 2" Resi-gard conduit from the media closet up through a chase (to be built) in the closet of the 3rd bedroom, and up into the attic. From there I will run 1-1/4" Resi-gard conduit to the second floor rooms. For the first floor rooms, I plan to run schedule 40 conduit underneath the house in the crawlspace (probably 2" to the front of the living room and 1-1/4 to bedroom 4).

Here are a few "before" shots of the media closet:

IMG_0202.jpg?t=1353390781

IMG_0201.jpg?t=1353390781

The first step was to remove the back wall and see how much space I could gain before running into the A/C return:
IMG_0203.jpg?t=1353390781

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Old 11-20-2012, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
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One of the greatest "perks" of taking on construction projects is that they give me reasons to buy new tools. Here are a few of my new toys:

IMG_0215.jpg

So far, the most helpful new tool has been the inspection camera. It wasn't cheap, but it's saved me from having to tear down a lot of drywall as I plan out everything.

UPS and FedEx have been visiting my house a lot lately. I also recently received my flexible conduit, and cat6e (Belden 7851A) and rg6 (Belden 1694A) cabling.

IMG_0213.jpg?t=1353390825

IMG_0211.jpg

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Old 11-20-2012, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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While I'm working on the media closet, I figured I'd give everyone a taste of what's to come. This is a pic of just some of the equipment that is going to be installed in the house.

IMG_0207.jpg


Also, Phase 2 (or maybe 3) of the project is going to be reconfiguring the fireplace wall of the living room. Here is a picture of my current temporary setup (Kuro plasma with just my LCR speakers hooked up).

IMG_0216.jpg


My plan thus far is to keep the cabinets on each side of the fireplace. In the cabinets on the right, I plan to install a pull out rack for a cable box, the receiver and amp powering the living room speakers, and a power conditioner. This cabinet will be connected back to the media closet by a 2" conduit underneath the house.

When it comes to the fireplace, I'm still struggling with what I would like to do. The fireplace is very high, and so if I mount the TV above it in that square indentation on the wall, it will be very high for watching. I'm thinking about replacing the wood burning fireplace with a much lower gas fireplace. I would then remove the paneling above the fireplace so that area sticks out only as deep as the shelves on each side. There is no chimney behind that paneling - only piping that runs up through the roof. So if I replace it with gas, I would only have to leave enough clearance for the ductwork to fit in the wall, which hopefully would be about the depth of the shelves on each side. This plan would allow me to mount the TV at a lower height, while also hopefully giving me the clearance to mount a drop-down screen in the overhang above it (between the pot lights) that could drop down in front of the plasma.

I'd like to get some feedback on this plan. Good idea? Bad idea? It'll never work? Thanks.

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Old 11-20-2012, 08:50 AM
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Great start!

Spend some time in the AV Distribution subforum, if you haven't already.

Not sure what you mean by schedule 40 - my white PVC for HVAC vent is stamped schedule 40. The gray electrical may be better. Use wide sweeps, to help with pulls.

You'll need venting of the closet, with a rack, maybe to the crawlspace below?

LV enclosures need space in front of them, for a work area. Is there enough room in the closet for a rack and enclosures? NEC specifies the space requirements, for all enclosures, but inspectors often let LV enclosures slide.

Try to stay to codes, as an inspector will be reviewing your work, when you sell your house.

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Old 11-20-2012, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Neurorad. I've been reading all of the forums for years in anticipation of finally being able to do a build thread. They've been a great help in helping me plan this out.

The schedule 40 I plan on using under the house will be the gray electrical PVC.

As for the venting, I've considered several options from tying into the HVAC return to running a bathroom fan. I decided that I would like to not bother the HVAC system, and I want to keep noise down, so I'm planning on using a DIY version of something like this http://www.coolcomponents.com/HiFlo-Vent-System_p_214.html. The ceiling outside the closet is very high, and there is a good gap underneath the closet floor, so I plan to use a system like that cool components one above the door. See pic.

IMG_0219.jpg

As for the space issue in the closet, it's not wide enough to install the leviton panel next to the rack, and I'm trying to avoid using the sidewalls so that I can easily turn it back into a coat closet when I go to sell. So the plan is to put the rack on wheels in front of the leviton panel rather than permanently mounting it. The closet is deep enough for me to have about 2-2.5ft between the back of the rack and the back wall, but I'll also be able to pull it out of the closet should I need even more space.

Believe me that I'm paying as much attention to codes as possible, especially with regard to running electrical and drilling holes for wiring. However, if anyone sees me doing anything that may be questionable to an inspector, please point it out!

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Old 11-20-2012, 09:13 PM
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I'd install cables in the chase outside of the conduit, letting you use the empty conduit for future cable pulls, after drywall is up. Adding cables to conduit one at a time is progressively more difficult, too, so keep the conduits as empty as possible.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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Old 11-21-2012, 05:32 AM
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Same here. Treat your existing cables as something you'll leave in the walls when it's time to upgrade. Save the valuable conduit space for future expansion.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:36 PM
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I was going to suggest you hold off on the tech hardware purchases until the cables are run, and you're ready to finish. Tech changes rapidly, and harder to return, if there is a problem.

Of course, it would take me a year or more to do all that work, and you, as a bachelor, will probably finish in a month. wink.gif

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Old 11-21-2012, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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All of the technology is stuff that I have owned for a while, with some of the components going on 6-7 years old (e.g., my Denon 3805). Hell, my speakers are from ~1998, but I still love the way they sound. As long as my equipment keeps working, I'll keep using what I have. The only new thing that will be purchased for this install will be baluns for HDMI over cat6 distribution. I've always used component video in the past when everything was located in the same spot, but now I may try my hand at HDMI. I'll probably give the monoprice 4x4 matrix a shot before I have to venture into the big money.

I think being a bachelor will make this project take longer. Between work, happy hours, date nights, all day Saturday football drinking, etc, there's just not many hours left in the week to work on the house. But, I would like to have at least the A/V distribution portion finished in the next month or so. The rest of the project phases may take well longer. I may have to rely on peer pressure from this forum to keep me focused.

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Old 01-02-2013, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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It's been a while since I updated this thread, and as expected my progress is going much slower than I had hoped. I have however been able to plan out the path for all of my runs though out the house and have made decent progress on the media closet. The pic below shows the media closet in it's current state.

IMG_0236_zps42c860ca.jpg?t=1353390781

I decided to beef up the stair supports while I was in there in order to eliminate the stair creaking when you walk up them, and so like everything I do, this closet is completely over-engineered. The right hand side of the back wall will have the structured media panel on the bottom and some rack rails on the top to mount my switch and one or two other components. The left hand side will be shelves. You can also see the 2" conduit that I managed to snake into the bedroom closet above, which will ultimately lead to the attic. The only wires I've run so far are speaker wires and a single cat6 for the dining room.

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:36 PM
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What's your cooling plan for the media closet?

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

What's your cooling plan for the media closet?

If you look at the picture in post 6, I'm planning on cutting out a vent above the door and using two 140mm fans to exhaust air. The gap below the door should be big enough to replenish the exhausted air.

One question that I do have is if it is OK to run 12v power lines for the fans within the drywall?

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Old 01-03-2013, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
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If you look at the picture in post 6, I'm planning on cutting out a vent above the door and using two 140mm fans to exhaust air. The gap below the door should be big enough to replenish the exhausted air.

The gap below the door probably won't be enough... You won't want to run those fans high enough to pull enough air through that narrow of a slot. If you can provide an intake vent somewhere, you'll get much better results. I've had to leave my equipment closet door cracked open for the same reason (I don't have any easy place to add an intake without it being really ugly).

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Old 01-05-2013, 07:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

The gap below the door probably won't be enough... You won't want to run those fans high enough to pull enough air through that narrow of a slot. If you can provide an intake vent somewhere, you'll get much better results. I've had to leave my equipment closet door cracked open for the same reason (I don't have any easy place to add an intake without it being really ugly).

The gap is 1.25" high and 29.5" wide, so that's 36.875" sq of area, a little more than a 4x8" vent would provide. Do you still think I should look into an additional vent? Granted it is less area than the fans (23.86" sq each; ~47.7 total sq in of exhaust opening). I suppose I could pipe in a vent and locate it right above the HVAC return, but that wouldn't look the greatest.

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavalier240 View Post

The gap is 1.25" high and 29.5" wide, so that's 36.875" sq of area, a little more than a 4x8" vent would provide. Do you still think I should look into an additional vent? Granted it is less area than the fans (23.86" sq each; ~47.7 total sq in of exhaust opening). I suppose I could pipe in a vent and locate it right above the HVAC return, but that wouldn't look the greatest.

Well, that's a pretty big gap... Mine is much less than that (and on carpet, not hardwood flooring). If you can find another location for an intake - I'd still plan for it - but wait and see if you actually need it. No reason to cut another hole in the wall if it turns out you've got enough flow. But if there's anything you can do now to prepare for the possibility, I think it's worth the thought.

Also, looking back at your thread - if you're considering changing out the fireplace, think about relocating it to the far side of the wall (corner). Yes, more work and cost to redo the cabinets, but then you could place the TV correctly. The area for the TV can then be created for any size you desire, and since you can safely assume no future TV will be much thicker than today's flat panels, you'd have a lot of design flexibility. You'd certainly have space behind the TV spot to route the fireplace exhaust to match the existing work.

Jeff

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Also, looking back at your thread - if you're considering changing out the fireplace, think about relocating it to the far side of the wall (corner). Yes, more work and cost to redo the cabinets, but then you could place the TV correctly. The area for the TV can then be created for any size you desire, and since you can safely assume no future TV will be much thicker than today's flat panels, you'd have a lot of design flexibility. You'd certainly have space behind the TV spot to route the fireplace exhaust to match the existing work.
Jeff

Jeff, I've definitely thought about putting the fireplace in the corner next to the windows. I'm just struggling with figuring out how to integrate it - I think it would look odd if I didn't angle the corner all the way up to the 18' ceiling, but I'm afraid doing that would make the room feel smaller. I definitely haven't eliminated the thought though. My other idea is to do something along these lines (pic from houzz.com - click it for larger on that site):

122574

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:39 PM
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Yeah, my first thought would be angle the fireplace in the corner, too, but a transitional or contemporary style with a flat fireplace might work better. I saw some images somewhere that had a good example of this. My fireplace is placed on the side, and is angled in probably 30 degrees, with a stacked stone hearth/chimney treatment.

Here's an example - not what I was thinking, but at least is in the ballpark... This one is very contemporary - don't know if that's where you'd headed or not! (also from houzz.com):

modern-family-room.jpg

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Old 02-27-2013, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
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So, my initial thought was to run two 2" conduits up into a small media panel in a closet on the second floor. From there, I was planning on running 1.25" conduits up into the attic and continue them unbroken through the attic and down into the various rooms. My thought was that this would both protect the wires in the attic and make it easier if I have to pull wires in the future. However, I'm noticing that most people just run conduit into the attic and pull the wires from there, rather than continuing the conduit through the attic and back down to the various outlet locations. Other than cost, is there a reason for this? Am I going to run into condensation issues if I have conduit that goes from conditioned space through the attic and back into conditioned space?

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Old 02-27-2013, 11:27 PM
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No, it's for cost / simplicity / flexibility. You just need to get the conduit to a location that can be accessed, which is usually a few feet into the attic... Pulling cables through short conduit sections, then running through the attic, is fairly easy. Also, if you brought all of your conduit runs back to the 'home run' location, that's a lot of conduit in the wall cavity.

Jeff

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Old 02-27-2013, 11:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Jeff - thanks for the response. It actually will be the same amount of conduit in the walls. I have sections running from the closet into the attic (call these "A"), and I have sections running from each room outlet up into the attic (call these "B"). Since I have extra conduit, my question was just would there be any harm in using that conduit in the attic to connect the "A" conduits to the various "B" conduits. The negative that I see is that it may take a little longer to pull the cables through the conduit runs, but continuous conduit also keeps spiders and other attic dwellers from turning open end conduit into highways into my house. If there's no worry about condensation building in the conduits, I'm going to go for it since I already have enough material.

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Old 02-28-2013, 04:00 AM
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Long conduit runs are much more difficult to pull through, especially with multiple bends. You'd be making more work for yourself, not less.

You plan on removing equipment when you sell? You said 'so it can be turned back into a coat closet'. I don't think removing the LV enclosure, for the LAN distribution, will be a wise move, when you sell. Maybe the sidewall of the coat closet would be better, so you don't have to rip it out. Or is there enough room in front of it for coats? Looking back to post 6, did you change the media closet location?

Where will the racks be located? Or did I miss it?

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Old 02-28-2013, 04:04 AM
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Ah, I now see the shelf bracket on the right wall of the closet. wink.gif. That is the very back of the closet that you have exposed. Plenty of room to keep the enclosure back there when you sell.

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Old 02-28-2013, 04:11 AM
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I don't see any electrical outlets in the closet. You may need one in the enclosure, via knockout, and of course for your switch and other components.

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Old 02-28-2013, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Long conduit runs are much more difficult to pull through, especially with multiple bends. You'd be making more work for yourself, not less.

You plan on removing equipment when you sell? You said 'so it can be turned back into a coat closet'. I don't think removing the LV enclosure, for the LAN distribution, will be a wise move, when you sell. Maybe the sidewall of the coat closet would be better, so you don't have to rip it out. Or is there enough room in front of it for coats? Looking back to post 6, did you change the media closet location?

Where will the racks be located? Or did I miss it?

Everything related to low voltage distribution and whole house audio is going in the built-in enclosure. Those items will be left in there when I move some day. The rack for equipment such as media servers will just be freestanding in the closet.

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Ah, I now see the shelf bracket on the right wall of the closet. wink.gif. That is the very back of the closet that you have exposed. Plenty of room to keep the enclosure back there when you sell.

Exactly.

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Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

I don't see any electrical outlets in the closet. You may need one in the enclosure, via knockout, and of course for your switch and other components.

Already done. I had an electrician run a new 20amp line to the closet with two outlets - one about halfway deep in the closet so I can plug in the freestanding rack, and one back in the enclosure that I'm building so I can power everything in there. I'll try to get some updated pictures posted at some point.

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Old 02-28-2013, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
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It doesn't look like much progress, but I promise I've been working when possible. Here's the closet in its current state.



On the back wall, you can see the conduit that runs to the second floor. On the floor, you can see the conduit that runs through the crawlspace and over into the cabinets in the living room (see post 4 - they run into the cabinets on the right under the small TV). I also have the wires run for the dining room speakers, dining room keypad, kitchen speakers, kitchen keypad, and conduit and cat6 wires run to the projector location. The black RG6 cable on the floor runs through the crawlspace over to where my cable feed comes in from the street.

I took the advice of Jautor and added an intake vent for cool air. On the left hand side of the back of the enclosure you can see where that enters the back of the closet. I was able to use flex pipe to locate the inlet for that in the hallway right above the HVAC return, so it doesn't look too awful.

The planned layout is: Bottom left - UPS for power. In that area is where the dedicated 120v line enters. Above that on the left will be shelves for my modem, router, etc. Those shelves will stop about 8" from the back of the enclosure (at the vertical 2x4) to allow for airflow from the vent. On the right will be a structured media panel on the bottom half, and rack rails on the top half for a patch panel, network switch, WHA controller, etc.

In addition to adding the intake vent in the back, I added these fans to exhaust hot air. I still have some finishing work to do on them.


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