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Old 02-23-2012, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
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We are deep within construction on a remodel of our home. I've done a fair amount of research, but still concerned that my plan might not be ideal. Ultimately, I would like all of my equipment in one central location (basement) -- no wires and everything controlled via a Harmony 900 remote. If things don't work smoothly, my wife will not be pleased.

We are approaching the stage where the electrician is going to come in and start wiring the house. This is a remodel, but we've pretty much gutted the house and expanding. The basement is unfinished. Given our lack of funds, I'm trying to be my own audio consultant. The electrician has done some home audio wiring in the past, but I'm not certain of his expertise in this field.

Existing equipment:
(2) Receivers
(4) TV's
(2) Harmony 900 Remotes
(2) Sonos 120's (Plan to add more as budget allows)
(5) TiVo's
(1) AppleTV
(1) PS3
(1) XBox 360
(1) Wii
(1) DefTech Subwoofer
(1) Windows 7 Server, (1) Mac mini HTPC

I'm going to print out the plans and mark off where I'd like speakers. The goal here is to wire every room with a set of speakers. The master bedroom and family room will be wired for 5.1 and 7.1. Given the large quantity of speakers, I'm going to order in-ceiling and in-wall speakers from Monoprice. I figure I can always swap them out down the road. Right now, my focus is to have everything wired.

Outside of the bedroom and family room, the other rooms will only be utilizing Sonos 120's. Speakers -> Sonos 120.

The contractor has determined that under the stairwell in the basement is the only open spot for the A/V closet. This is in the center of the house.

Here's where things get fuzzy, but these are my thoughts on how this might get accomplished.
  1. Send all speaker wires as outlined to A/V closet. Connect them to either Receiver (1), (2) or Sonos.
  2. Wire coaxial to basement from all TV locations.
  3. Wire Cat6 from all TV locations to A/V. This is more for future proofing (or if this doesn't work), since connected devices will be stored in A/V closet. Should these be connected to a large switch, which I don't currently have?
  4. HDMI runs from all TV locations to A/V closet. Is this practical and how it's normally done? These could be rather long runs I would presume? Also, should I run multiples in case one craps out.
  5. Have electrician have a wallplate jack for subwoofer(s), which connects to either receiver (1) or receiver (2). This allows me to use a patch cable and just plugin my subwoofer.

First off, does this sound like a good plan? What changes would you recommend? Also, I have a few questions regarding this set-up.
  • Should I pick up additional Harmony 900s for the additional bedrooms where there will be TVs.
  • I might want to source my own materials for the electrician. What products do you recommend I include on my Monoprice shopping list.
  • Are the Harmony 900 remotes reliable at these distances?
  • Any suggestions for racks and/or equipment I might want to consider for the A/V closet?

Any help is greatly appreciated. If we weren't so tight on budget, I'd find someone local to help consult. This has been a very stressful project. My wife loves TV and if "my project" doesn't go off as planned, I'll never hear the end of it.
LL
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:12 AM
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Couple points:

1. Don't run HDMI cable. Run extra Cat6 instead. You can use HDBaseT extenders that use a single Cat6 or proprietary ones that use 2 cables. This is much more future proof than HDMI. I would think 3x Cat6 at each TV drop would be the minimum.

2. I wouldn't have all of the Cat6 cables running to a patch panel (I assume that's what you meant by saying "switch"). Get a structured panel (for me that is a big piece of plywood), send phone lines into a phone panel, data lines into a router/switch and the lines for HDMI should be terminated and plugged directly into the extenders.

Edit: And it wouldn't hurt to run empty conduit to each TV as well. This is your best future proofing option.

Edit 2: Ask your electrician about whole house surge protection! Trying to fit a surge protector behind a slim, wall mounted panel is a pain in the @$$
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ljo000 View Post

Couple points:

1. Don't run HDMI cable. Run extra Cat6 instead. You can use HDBaseT extenders that use a single Cat6 or proprietary ones that use 2 cables. This is much more future proof than HDMI. I would think 3x Cat6 at each TV drop would be the minimum.

2. I wouldn't have all of the Cat6 cables running to a patch panel (I assume that's what you meant by saying "switch"). Get a structured panel (for me that is a big piece of plywood), send phone lines into a phone panel, data lines into a router/switch and the lines for HDMI should be terminated and plugged directly into the extenders.

Edit: And it wouldn't hurt to run empty conduit to each TV as well. This is your best future proofing option.

Edit 2: Ask your electrician about whole house surge protection! Trying to fit a surge protector behind a slim, wall mounted panel is a pain in the @$$

Thank you. This is great information!
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:39 AM
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Hi there,

First and most important: Wire this in a manner that will allow you to expand and do the right things going forward.

Do some reading on cocoontech 101-102-103
http://www.cocoontech.com/wiki/Wirin..._New_House_101

I dido the above statements for the Video, do this with HD Base-T solutions via Cat 5e or Cat6 cables. I also recommend you upgrade from 3 to 5 cables per run (I know I typically say 7.... But HD Base-T is changing things)

If you wire right... there will be tons of Cat 5-6 cabling to buy and wire everywhere.

Before you order your speakers from Monoprice, please check out the Outdoor speaker depot ACE 800 speakers. They are great. For In-walls (especially in a Home theater setup), check out the Emotiva. More Money but well worth it!
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:17 PM
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Why 3 speakers in the kitchen? Place 1 pair in the ceiling dividing the room in half.

Place the dining room speakers on each end of the table. Not in the corners.

Place the powder room speaker in the middle of the room. I might suggest eliminating the powder room speaker in favor of speakers on the porch. How much time are you planning on spending in the powder room anyway?

Why place ceiling speakers in the family room? Utilize the surround speakers for music duty as well. And get rid of the ceiling speakers just off the living room, they won't do much good so close to the surround speakers.

I would actually suggest ceiling speakers for your surrounds. They would be better than in walls firing at your tv.
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:31 PM
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+1 to everything ifor said - especially the porch vs. powder room...

And in general, place the ceiling speakers along one axis, not diagonal in the room(s). Study put them over the desk, dining room over the table, etc.

Jeff

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Old 02-27-2012, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the feedback. I've made changes and provided the electrician with positioning of speakers. I've also eliminated the powder room and moved a set to the front porch.

He wasn't so clear on plans to run Cat6 with adapters. I'm guessing previous jobs didn't involve placing components for 2nd floor bedrooms in the basement.

As for the TV set locations, would these HDMI extenders from Monoprice be the appropriate accessory for this project?

He did mention something of interest and that's a Media Panel that would be the hub where all this wiring ends. Is this something I can source online and provide him? Monoprice?

I'd like to limit what's needed for the job to cat6 and rg6 cable, thinking I can probably get things cheaper online.

He's also going to run RG6 coaxial to all TV locations. The contractor mentioned cable TV would come in via the attic? I'm guessing those would also get run to basement?

As mentioned, I have two Logitech Harmony 900 remotes. These each come with mini-blasters and Blaster, all of which go in the A/V closet in the basement. Do I need anything additional on the second floor bedroom to help make this work? I'm a bit concerned that the RF signals from the 900 won't be strong enough to go two floors down. Should I have him wire anything additional? Is this Logitech RF extender something I might need?

Thanks for all the help. Feeling a bit of pressure from my wife who thinks I'm crazy and will not be happy if there is delay when changing channels. Despite how awesome this set-up could/will be, even the slightest hiccups will cause plenty of grief.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:03 AM
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You want to determine where you want the demarc to be located. This is where the service from the street comes into the home. Around here, in Cali, the demarc is usually at the garage. This is where all of the telephone (cat5e), computer (cat5e) and cable (RG6) lines get run to. An attic run would be good in case you want to go with Sat tv instead of a cable company.
We constantly home run all the lines from each location to a central place, under the stairwell would also make a good location. This is where you want to place a distribution panel that gets installed in the wall between 2 studs. This is where you services will meet up like this:


Now, keep in mind this is totally seperate from your a/v wiring. I normally have the speaker wire, cat5e and anything else coming out of low voltage brackets and covering those with low voltage entrance plates.

As for the HDMI extenders, I would look at something with HDBaseT.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmeinck View Post

As for the TV set locations, would these HDMI extenders from Monoprice be the appropriate accessory for this project?

As HDMI extender products go, yes, any of the HDBaseT products would be preferable...

But you should be looking at a matrix switch if you're putting all the TiVo's in the basement. Although with 5 TiVo's networked together, you could just dedicate one to each display. (That's a lot of TiVo! )

Quote:


He did mention something of interest and that's a Media Panel that would be the hub where all this wiring ends. Is this something I can source online and provide him? Monoprice?

Where are you going to run all the cables? Is it an unfinished area in the basement? If so, a small sheet of plywood mounted on the wall is the best solution as you can easily mount both cable termination components and powered devices (network switches, etc.).

Quote:


I'd like to limit what's needed for the job to cat6 and rg6 cable, thinking I can probably get things cheaper online.

Yep, should be all you need.

Quote:


He's also going to run RG6 coaxial to all TV locations. The contractor mentioned cable TV would come in via the attic? I'm guessing those would also get run to basement?

Yes, both locations would be good (for cable and/or sat). More important is to make sure you have a cable chase path from the basement (or wherever the wiring center will be) to the attic. That will allow you to add wires in the future in the upstairs, or bring service feeds from the attic down to the basement for distribution.

Quote:


As mentioned, I have two Logitech Harmony 900 remotes. These each come with mini-blasters and Blaster, all of which go in the A/V closet in the basement. Do I need anything additional on the second floor bedroom to help make this work? I'm a bit concerned that the RF signals from the 900 won't be strong enough to go two floors down. Should I have him wire anything additional? Is this Logitech RF extender something I might need?

You shouldn't need anything else...


Jeff

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Old 02-27-2012, 02:53 PM
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You will want to list your equipment to each individual room. This will help us out in trying to determine what you might need for your system to work.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Just received my quote from the electrician. Wow. $105 for each Cat6e run with him supplying cable/connectors. $60 for each speaker run, with me providing materials. $50 for each HDMI run and $50 per speaker to install.
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:06 PM
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You forgot the conduit to each TV location.

If you're going to be paying...that much, hire a LV pro/custom installer to make sure everything is prewired correctly. You should be getting real expertise as well.

Wouldn't hurt to get another quote, and get an idea of additional benefits of hiring a LV guy.

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 03-13-2012, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmeinck View Post

Just received my quote from the electrician. Wow. $105 for each Cat6e run with him supplying cable/connectors. $60 for each speaker run, with me providing materials. $50 for each HDMI run and $50 per speaker to install.

Is this a "real electrician" and not a low-volt audio/video/security guy? If so, get a quote from a non-electrician if you can. You don't need the real expertise of a licensed electrician for the low-volt work (YMMV, check local requirements)...

Really surprised at that cat5e (or is it Cat6) price, as the rest are very much within reason. Find out what the category runs would be if you supply the wire - should be the same as a speaker run at that point ($60).

Jeff

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Old 03-13-2012, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Is this a "real electrician" and not a low-volt audio/video/security guy? If so, get a quote from a non-electrician if you can. You don't need the real expertise of a licensed electrician for the low-volt work (YMMV, check local requirements)...

Really surprised at that cat5e (or is it Cat6) price, as the rest are very much within reason. Find out what the category runs would be if you supply the wire - should be the same as a speaker run at that point ($60).

Jeff

Yes, he is doing all of the electric work in the house. For some reason, he included Cat6e cable in his quote, although I said that I would provide it. I might look for another quote and also see if he'd do the Cat6e for $60 per if I supply the cable. If he agrees, perhaps I'll do less runs to further drop my cost.

How and when do they install the speakers? Do they wait until after the sheetrock and go fishing for the wires they placed in the ceilings?
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:49 PM
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For the speakers, get these for wiring:
http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

The p-rings make the install go sooo much faster, easier and smoother since you won't be guessing what is behind the drywall.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:50 PM
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Also , there is Cat5e or Cat6. No Cat6e.
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:52 PM
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EDIT: Dang it ifor! Stop typing so fast!

You should be using either "cat5e" or "cat6". There is a Cat6A, but that's really getting into overkill.

Speakers can be installed one of two ways. If you know beforehand what speakers you'll be installing (and they'll be installed immediately), you can use "pre-install brackets" which are metal or plastic frames tacked to the lumber that provide a cut-out for the speaker. The drywall installer just cuts out the frame like they do an outlet box.

This does make it easier for you, but you have to decide on both the exact locations and speaker models before drywall.

The other method is to tuck the cables in the walls/ceiling, away from the finish side (so that they hopefully don't get hit/cut during drywall). Usually loosely stapled in a zigzag across the joist/stud bay to make it easier to pull out later. Then document with photos and measurements the locations, as well as the distances of nearby studs/joists. When it comes time to install, cut the drywall to size and reach in for the wire...

The latter makes more of a mess, but the results are effectively the same. The pre-install brackets are simply there to guide the drywall installer - they don't "hold" the speaker or do anything else. The benefit of hiding the wires is that you can put off speaker selection, and more importantly, you can pre-wire rooms that you don't immediately plan on outfitting. Just as easy to come back years later and poke some holes.

Jeff

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Old 03-14-2012, 12:52 AM
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lol!!! I think we should join forces.

What jautor said but i'm lazy.
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Old 03-14-2012, 05:23 AM
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The electrician has a different knowledge set than the LV expert. Hard to be good at both.

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 03-14-2012, 06:21 AM
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On the Cat6 his cost may be higher because of termination. You could always do that work yourself once the wires are run. In that case it would be no more work for the installer than any other wire.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:34 AM
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The electrician may still be paying a lot for cat6, if his local distributor hasn't dropped prices to match the online market. Or perhaps the electrician hasn't dropped his prices to reflect the drop in price of cat6. Just a few years ago, cat6 was new and much more expensive than currently.

Just make sure his prices include termination. You may want to confirm that he's testing them also, to some extent. Most pro LV guys/CIs will terminate and test, as they're usually the ones to install the equipment, and want everything to work well - vested interest. Electrician is off the hook, after the install.

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Old 04-01-2012, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I've changed the plan a bit to have a receiver, TiVo in the closet of the master bedroom. This way, my Logitech 900 will definitely work, given the short distance between the closet and our bedroom.

I have all the speaker runs going to the basement, along with cat6e runs.

For the master bedroom, should I have the cat6e runs go from the TV location to the AV closet in the basement? Or should I run them from the AV closet in the basement up to the master closet where I house my audio equipment?

I don't plan on using the cat6e initially, so this is more about future proofing?

Thoughts?
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:03 PM
 
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I would run them where you feel that they would best serve the purpose. If you think that the equipment that will be serving that space will be in the main floor equipment closet, place them there. If you think that the equipment will be in the basement, that may be the best solution.

Keep in mind, that if it was me, I would have a pre-planned plan for what I am doing in the future, due to if you cut those cables short and find later that you want them in the basement, not on the first floor, someone is going to be pulling new cables. Basically keep the rolls long enough that when you are ready to terminate, you have them at the longest length that you will ever need them, and if you don't need them in the basement, you can always cut them and use the extra for something else.

I always keep my extra lengths on hand, due to there is always that case that that length may work out for the pull that I am doing at that moment. Now of course, you can always keep the boxes in the close out of the way and that way when you are ready, you are not short cutting lengths and ending up with odd lengths that may never get used.
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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My issue is that I'm having trouble understanding what future equipment will use Cat6e? With my previous plan, it really didn't matter, since the speakers were also being wired to the basement. I had (2)Cat 6e runs from the TV to the basement.

I've reconfigured my setup, moving my AVR/TiVo for the master to the master bedroom closet on the 2nd floor.

Now that I've decided to wire my speakers from the 2nd floor to a closet on the 2nd floor, I'm not sure where the "future cat6e cabling" makes sense. Do I make the runs from the TV to the basement? or Do I have them run one from the TV to the 2nd floor closet and then one from the closet to the basement? Maybe the latter is the solution?

Would conduit from the 2nd floor to basement help, since it would allow for future runs?

I have to make a decision tonight, since they are wiring tomorrow before the insulation, sheetrock.

Thanks to everyone for your help.
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmeinck View Post

For the master bedroom, should I have the cat6e runs go from the TV location to the AV closet in the basement? Or should I run them from the AV closet in the basement up to the master closet where I house my audio equipment?

Both. Home run everything, and include the master closet as another location. Then, in addition, wire from your master bedroom to the closet. Loop the speaker wires in the master through the closet on their way to the basement. Then you can place your receiver in the closet, or move it to the basement later. Or do something completely different in the future.

That master closet location is also sounding like a prime candidate for a flex conduit run...

Jeff

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