Full wall panel system WTD - intercom, A/V, usb, temp sensor, IP address, IR, doorbell, control from remote location...does it exist?! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 09-23-2013, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey all, I'm looking for a complete system with all the above (probably best if it has an app and/or browser compatible program, right?) for a new home project, for which I will put the details here as I go. Can anyone get me started on brands that are as complete as possible with what they offer? Thanks,
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post #2 of 10 Old 09-24-2013, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Perhaps I could re-phrase to generate some replies, I know my original question is fairly vague.

I am building a home and want to have maximum control down the road from now, but won't have time to delve into all the details while building.

To make it future ready for as much automation as possible, what wires do I run? I am guessing I run CAT6 from a central location closet behind a TV to the lightswitch areas on all the walls, and wires for speakers in the rooms that would have them. Is anything else required? I am thinking of going with raspberry pi units but don't know what to use for a "central nervous system" (sorry I'm coming at this from a biology background)

Thank you in advance!
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post #3 of 10 Old 09-24-2013, 02:12 PM
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You really want to get together a far more detailed plan of what you want to accomplish over the long run. Consider if this a long term permanent residence, or a short term place. Automation can be a fun hobby, but it can also be very pricey over the long haul, so if you are only planning to be there for 5 or 6 years, perhaps you want to just keep it simple.

Wiring will always depend on your desires more than anything else. TVs should get no less than 3 runs of Cat6 IMO if you want to add video distribution down the line. You want to map out hard wired Ethernet in your home for reliability and accessibility where you need it.

There is a lot of talk about some automation systems which run off your PC and work well... I have just never used them, so I can't specifically recommend one.

I would suggest you don't tell us what you are going to use, unless you actually have some specific use for it already. That is, what are the "raspberry pi units" going to be used for? Do you have a specific plan for them? Have you used them before? Do you have experience with them in home automation? Are you just thinking that they sound really cool and you want to buy some? Similarly, USB is a standard connection type for computer peripherals... Saying you want USB is like saying you want 'vehicle'... It needs to be narrowed down to something far more specific, and that specific area might have several days worth of research associated with it by itself.

Don't get me wrong, but keep the cart behind the horse, and do your research first.

Step one: Figure out what you want to do.
Step two: Start asking for ideas and consider those ideas... Lighting, fireplace control, garage door, HVAC, locks... and most of all, audio and video everywhere you want it.
Step three: Revisit step one and two a few more times to get a good idea of what you are really after.
Step four: Plan your wiring!
Step five: Ask about your wiring, include drawings/diagrams, etc. Ask for ideas (again) - Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan.
Step six: Revisit steps four and five a few more times... This may even push you back to step one and two a couple of times!
Step seven: Get your wiring in place with the home build. There is no other time in your life you get this unique open access to everything, so do it well and plan carefully.
Step eight: Worry about the rest.

A game plan is key, and it comes down to planning more than anything else. Cat6 is one of the most versatile cables you could ever find, so use it in earnest.

AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology installation in the Washington DC metro area.
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post #4 of 10 Old 09-30-2013, 08:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your reply and all the information.

I do have a lot more research to do and more info to provide, but I need to start somewhere. On many forums here there are FAQ's, so I will look for one in this forum. I just thought maybe there was one product in the field that was known to take care of everything - sometimes it happens in the technology field (more often, it doesn't). I'm looking for standards, so for example if most control units run off CAT6, then I will plan for lots of CAT6. As long as I leave pull cords for wiring in the appropriate places, I don't think it all has to be rocket science unless you are working in the field trying to generate a regular income off it.
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post #5 of 10 Old 09-30-2013, 01:25 PM
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The real problem with A/V is there is no standard. It's almost a joke with how little there is in the way of any standard. You get companies which produce a beautiful product like the Nest thermostat... Then they completely hide the Ethernet control protocols so that there is no way for any control system to talk to them to just get the current temperature of the house, let alone bump the temperature up or down a few degrees. One company will do things one way, and another company will do things another way.

Certainly, there are companies you can go to which provide a great deal of automation products. Crestron, AMX, Control4, etc. are all automation companies, but they generally have higher than typical price tags, they are not (generally speaking) end-user installed or programmed. They may provide some decent products, or some excellent products, but quite often, you want to buy the 'best' product, and that will come from a different company altogether, so then you must build that interface.

Eventually, you start thinking more about finding a control solution to every system in your home as you want it. Fireplaces are generally low-voltage relay controlled at the basic level, but perhaps you want something more. HVAC has a few control options out there which are decent... But, how often do you want to change your thermostat and do you need something integrated, or is a stand alone application like Nest offers sufficient? Same with your home security. Lighting can get very expensive, but certainly is one of those 'most desired' control options that I hear about.

But, it is cat-6 cabling which really can do a lot of different functions for control. It can carry some low-voltage power, it can carry control signals, it can carry Ethernet, audio, video... Kind of a long list of things it can do pretty well.

Speakers, on the other hand, should all be wired, and they should all have a decent speaker wire run to them.

Plan on your equipment location (head end) and make sure it is large enough to handle all the gear you want to put into it. That's where your cable TV system should go, where your security should go, where your phone, and Ethernet should go. Generally speaking, whatever space you allocate will probably not be enough. So, that's when you go back to your planning.

For your consideration: I have two 6' tall equipment racks in my basement and they are almost completely filled. I am starting to make some other considerations for where I will be putting more equipment in the future. More likely, I will relocate some networked items to a different spot. Still, the space does fill up.

So, that's why you start with the first step.

Figure out what it is you want, and then start planning for it.

The FAQs are nice, but probably won't give you enough information for your specific setup, but some basics can certainly start you on your way. Before you pull the first wire, and well before the first studs are in place, you should be asking questions and putting together a serious wire-pull list for your home. Consider conduit, and other access for the future as well.

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post #6 of 10 Old 10-01-2013, 06:58 AM
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This Cocoontech Wiring Your New House 101 Guide (and 102-103) may be helpful.

http://cocoontech.com/forums/files/file/64-wiring-your-new-house-101/

You need to register at Cocoontech to download.

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post #7 of 10 Old 10-01-2013, 07:13 AM
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Although that Cocoontech Wiring Guide is from 2006, it's still very strong. If you cable correctly, you'll be all set regardless of hardware you eventually install.

For each (potential) TV location, you'll run category cable x 3-4 and RG6 x 2, to the wiring closet.

You should choose a lighting control platform now, to make life easier. Most are not wired with category cable to the dimmers/switches.

Thermostat wire and category cable to the thermostat locations.

Category cable to all potential keypad and in-wall/on-wall touchscreen locations. Phone and table control are essential; wall-mount keypads and tablets don't wander off.

Bury the low-voltage cables behind drywall, and cut when you need them. Take a few thousand pics before drywall goes up, grouped into folders by room.

Install power outlets at all potential on-wall TV locations, low on the wall, at outlet height. Add the outlet behind the TV, at TV height in the same stud bay, when the TV is installed. Of course, if you know you'll want TVs in specific spots, install the TVs at TV height now.

You'll want the option of Cable, FiOS, Dish, or DirecTV. Make sure the cabling can accommodate any, even if you choose 'none' for now. 'Futureproofing' is what you're shooting for.

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post #8 of 10 Old 10-01-2013, 07:23 AM
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AV_Integrated makes a great point with empty conduit to the TV locations, to help with futureproofing. Install current cables outside of the empty conduit. It's for future use, keep it empty.

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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post #9 of 10 Old 10-16-2013, 05:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

AV_Integrated makes a great point with empty conduit to the TV locations, to help with futureproofing. Install current cables outside of the empty conduit. It's for future use, keep it empty.

Or, as I did, pull typical wire to those locations AND leave an empty conduit for anything else needed later. I did that on all the locations that would be 'really difficult' to fish wires later. Everything else has at least some nearby point from which lines could be fished without wrecking drywall.

Take pictures of infrastructure before insulation or drywall goes up. Take a LOT OF PICTURES. We've had to use them several times to find where things go buried along the way. Like a vanity light wiring in outside wall foam insulation, or even entire outlets covered by drywall. Or where the AC condensate drain line went to explain where a leak might be coming from (tubing got ripped somehow).

And if you've got anything that's going to get left in a ceiling (we have a few rooms lacking speakers, but that have wire) I found it VERY handy to use a laser level to pinpoint the exact location and record measurements on the floor below. As in, there's a speaker wire up there and it's 48" from this wall and 77" from that one...
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post #10 of 10 Old 10-16-2013, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

Or, as I did, pull typical wire to those locations AND leave an empty conduit for anything else needed later. I did that on all the locations that would be 'really difficult' to fish wires later. Everything else has at least some nearby point from which lines could be fished without wrecking drywall.

Take pictures of infrastructure before insulation or drywall goes up. Take a LOT OF PICTURES. We've had to use them several times to find where things go buried along the way. Like a vanity light wiring in outside wall foam insulation, or even entire outlets covered by drywall. Or where the AC condensate drain line went to explain where a leak might be coming from (tubing got ripped somehow).

And if you've got anything that's going to get left in a ceiling (we have a few rooms lacking speakers, but that have wire) I found it VERY handy to use a laser level to pinpoint the exact location and record measurements on the floor below. As in, there's a speaker wire up there and it's 48" from this wall and 77" from that one...
That's exactly what I did in my last house, but it was pricey to get wires and conduit in place. In the future, I would stick with a single piece of conduit since I'm mostly happy to go into my attic to run new wires as necessary.

Really, the best way is to run all the wires you need, then run conduit as well to an accessible location. Never run wires inside of conduit as that wastes space in the conduit which you may need to use later.

And the photos right before drywall are a must. There is no such thing as to many photos. I often would find myself staring at 10 different photos trying to find out what I had done in one section because I was missing a close up, or a good picture of the ceiling in that area, or something else. I often would count studs instead of measuring, but I certainly took notes on hidden wires and measured out from walls exactly as you described. "That speaker wire is 7'3" from that wall and 6'9" from the other wall". It works very well.

Strangely enough, my last builder charged me the same amount to put a piece of conduit in place as they did to put a wire in place. I was supplying the conduit. So, I had several hundred feet of conduit that I put in my last home along with a lot of wires. Still ended up running 100+ wires of my own.

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