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post #1 of 14 Old 01-02-2013, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Apologies in advance for the long post. Also, I am cross posting to try and get the right forums.

Construction started on a new home for my wife and me last week. We are using a custom builder who has been very accommodating of several non-standard things we want. He is, for instance, allowing me to come in after the electrical rough-in but before the insulation to run all the low-voltage wiring myself. I have enough experience pulling wire that I'm not too concerned about the job itself, but I want to make sure I've planned really well. I may only have a day or two to get the whole job done without slowing down the rest of construction.

My goal is to "future proof" the home as much as practical from a cabling stand point. I may not have the budget for whole-home automation, high dollar speakers, etc, as soon as we move in- but I will someday and don't want to have to retrofit cabling. To that end, I would appreciate any and all comments or suggestions about this plan and what I could or should add and change. I should add that most of these suggestions are based on the excellent work of David Feller and his ebook available from www.bocso.com.

I have a 5' wide, 2' deep alcove near my utility room that will be my “A/V Closet.” I intend to home run all cabling to that closet. I will be working with the HVAC guys to make sure there is ventilation in that closet.

The cabling I plan to use is Cat6 and RG6 quad shield.

From the outside in:

I plan to run 6 RG6 lines to a box on the south side of the house where a satellite can tie in. I plan to run 2 RG6 and 1 Cat6 to the cable demarc, and 2 Cat6 to the telco demarc.

From the Closet through the house:

I intend to run 4 Cat6 and 2 RG6 to wall plates throughout the home. Each of the bedrooms and the study will get two wall plates located in roughly opposite corners from each other. The kitchen, dining room, utility room, and garage will each get a single wall plate. I plan to install one plate on the back porch as well, but I’m less certain of what’s needed to take it outside.

The living room, which will be the main entertaining area, will get one wall plate as well. We will be hanging a large, to-be-determined flat screen on the wall. My wife would love to hide all of the wires for that. The wall we will be hanging it on is a standard 2x4 interior wall. Can some sort of recessed box be used make sure the connections to the tv stay hidden? Also, I intend to ask the electrician to install one of the outlets at this location at switch height instead of outlet height for the same purpose.

For surround sound in the LR, I intend to wire for a 7.1 system with in-ceiling speakers for the rear and side speakers, and bookshelves for the front three. My plan is to run 14 ga, 2 conductor speaker wire from the Closet to homemade speaker boxes at the ceiling locations and to wall plates on the TV wall. I also intend to run an RG6 to a wall plate near an outlet on the TV all for the sub.

Audio in the other rooms will be provided with in-ceiling speakers. My plan is to build really simple speaker boxes by attaching short sections of 2x4 between the rafters at the appropriate location and screwing a plywood top down with 4-5 screws per side. Most of the rooms will get two ceiling speakers, but I intend to go with just one in the smaller bathrooms, the utility room, and the front porch. I’m thinking I’ll run wire for 2 speakers in the ceiling of the back porch as well, but I’m not sure that’s enough sound for outdoors. The wiring for these speakers will be 14/4 and a Cat6 to a panel location near the door of each room, then 14/2 from the panel to the speakers themselves.

Security and automation are a lot more difficult for me. It seems like I am going to need to run 22/4 to each door and window for contact sensors. I think I will have extra runs of 22/4 for motion detectors, but I’m not really sure where these should be located. As far as cameras, I’m planning to run a Cat6 and one 18/2 to several exterior corners and to the front door. I’m hoping that by having the Cat6 run to a panel location near each door, I will have done enough for most things automation wise. I have read a suggestion to include an additional 22/4 to the panel location.

I also plan to run a Cat6 to the thermostats and to the location where the sprinkler controller can go.

What did I miss? What should I do differently? If you had open walls, what would you put in them that I don't have here? I'm really grateful for any and all help and advice.
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-02-2013, 11:41 AM
 
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You missed one important item...Conduit.

There is no way you can future proof a home because somewhere someone is going to think that 1gbps is slow and you'll need to run new cables, if you plan to stay in the home a while. 2" conduit running down the walls will provide you a way of adding new wire or bypassing HDMI wires that have been damaged. 2" conduit is the mimimum size we would use. I use the attic to go across and the conduit to go down. Particularly with your plan to add over time, conduit is important. I just added two cat 6 100' lines three years after our walls were closed-off. No wall work and new lines were added.

Also take as many photos of your walls before the walls are closed-off. It's like having x-ray vision two years later when you've forgotten where the cross-beams are located.

Also by cross-posting you've made it much more difficult for people to follow this thread since each of your three threads will likely have different answers.
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-02-2013, 11:48 AM
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Looks good from what I can tell. One word of caution re: wall plates. Do not terminate all your cables at wall plates. Each time you terminate the cable, you're degrading the signal and creating the potential for another problem spot. My suggestion is to pass them through the wall (this will work http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=105&cp_id=10425&cs_id=1042509&p_id=3997&seq=1&format=2). I would terminate 1 or 2 Cat cables at each location for internet connectivity, but leave the others hidden in the wall or pass them through. If you have any long runs and are going to use HDMI over CAT, you definitely don't want to terminate the cables at a wall plate.
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-02-2013, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 View Post

You missed one important item...Conduit.

+1. Flex conduit to key locations is really, really useful. Install them empty - run any cables outside the conduit - save it for the future. I have 5 conduit segments in my house, and just used my first of 5, only 3 years after the build... Although even that was something I could have predicted (speakers to the back yard), I probably would have gotten it wrong since I needed another run for an outdoor subwoofer.
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2" conduit is the mimimum size we would use. I use the attic to go across and the conduit to go down. Particularly with your plan to add over time, conduit is important.

2" would be great, but anything is better than nothing. While 1.5" or larger would be needed pull an HDMI cable through, it's more likely you'll be adding bare, unterminated wire. And that's an important point about the conduit runs - they don't have to be end-to-end. Get the conduit to somewhere you can access and stop. It's cheaper that way, and probably more useful.
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Also take as many photos of your walls before the walls are closed-off. It's like having x-ray vision two years later when you've forgotten where the cross-beams are located.

+2. I took 500 pictures and still missed some things. Make sure you get "landmarks" in every photo so you can identify them and the scale (outlet boxes, other things of known dimension).
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Also by cross-posting you've made it much more difficult for people to follow this thread since each of your three threads will likely have different answers.

-2. biggrin.gif Yeah, don't do that. Ask the mods to combine and delete. This is the correct forum for these questions.

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Originally Posted by Gramin View Post

Looks good from what I can tell. One word of caution re: wall plates. Do not terminate all your cables at wall plates. Each time you terminate the cable, you're degrading the signal and creating the potential for another problem spot. My suggestion is to pass them through the wall (this will work http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=105&cp_id=10425&cs_id=1042509&p_id=3997&seq=1&format=2). I would terminate 1 or 2 Cat cables at each location for internet connectivity, but leave the others hidden in the wall or pass them through. If you have any long runs and are going to use HDMI over CAT, you definitely don't want to terminate the cables at a wall plate.

+3 This is good advice, but be careful leaving extra wire at the "far" end, it will be more likely to be damaged by the construction crew if it's not coiled up in a box or secured. I'd suggest leaving extra wire for un-interrupted runs only at locations where there's either a whole bunch of wire (at the wiring closet end), or the wires will end up in a cabinet (entertainment center), such that they will be somewhat protected during most of the construction. In either case, wrapping the cables up in a protective cover / scrap flex conduit, even rolled up newspaper taped over it, is a good idea.

Also, the products like HDMI extenders that will be most sensitive to breaks in the cable are on their way out - HDBaseT and Ethernet-based distribution will be much more tolerant (and designed for) patch cables in the chain. But the advice is still sound - the less breaks in the cable the better.

Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-02-2013, 04:03 PM
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Your sat dish/mast must be grounded, or the Dish/DirecTV installer will mount the dish at the demarc.

To ground the dish/mast, run RG6 + carrier cable from the dish location to the demarc. The specialized cable includes a 17 AWG stainless steel wire as a part of the cable assembly. Its designed for elevated/suspended installation (utility pole to utility pole), but is used for grounding dishes.

You're going to need lots of hands to get that done quickly. I'd print up labels ahead of time, knowing they will be replaced when you terminate properly.

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post #6 of 14 Old 01-02-2013, 04:28 PM
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That 17 awg stainless steel carrier wire, used for ground, is more commonly called a messenger wire.

http://www.homecontrols.com/RG6-U-Bulk-Bare-Copper-Coax-Cable-with-Messenger-500-Ft-Black-WRRG605MES

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post #7 of 14 Old 01-02-2013, 04:34 PM
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Don't forget wireless access points, and security keypads. The front door security keypad shouldn't be visible from the front door. Another KP in the MBR. Third in the mudroom or near back door (not visible from outside).

Maybe you can sub out the alarm wiring to make sure it's perfect. If you use the builder's alarm guy, it may buy you more time for the other cabling.

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 #8 of 14 Old 01-02-2013, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SETX Aggie View Post

The living room, which will be the main entertaining area, will get one wall plate as well. We will be hanging a large, to-be-determined flat screen on the wall. My wife would love to hide all of the wires for that. The wall we will be hanging it on is a standard 2x4 interior wall. Can some sort of recessed box be used make sure the connections to the tv stay hidden? Also, I intend to ask the electrician to install one of the outlets at this location at switch height instead of outlet height for the same purpose.

Arlington Industries TVBox:



http://www.aifittings.com/catalog/communications/8-inch-by-10-inch-tv-box/TVB810

I have a lot of these I had installed during construction, and had the electrician wire up as well. Makes the whole thing really simple and clean. If you intend to place gear in the same room, run lines between the TV Box and that location, or better, flex conduit.
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Audio in the other rooms will be provided with in-ceiling speakers. My plan is to build really simple speaker boxes by attaching short sections of 2x4 between the rafters at the appropriate location and screwing a plywood top down with 4-5 screws per side. Most of the rooms will get two ceiling speakers, but I intend to go with just one in the smaller bathrooms, the utility room, and the front porch.

If you have small enough rooms for one speaker, wire it for stereo dual-voice-coil speakers to keep it consistent...
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I’m thinking I’ll run wire for 2 speakers in the ceiling of the back porch as well, but I’m not sure that’s enough sound for outdoors. The wiring for these speakers will be 14/4 and a Cat6 to a panel location near the door of each room, then 14/2 from the panel to the speakers themselves.

Good! I ran a pair to my back porch, and conduit to a low-mounted box on the back wall as well for future use. Which "future" turned out to be 3 months ago - used that conduit to run additional speakers to the garden/patio area and an outdoor subwoofer... Conduit good. biggrin.gif
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What did I miss? What should I do differently? If you had open walls, what would you put in them that I don't have here? I'm really grateful for any and all help and advice.

You've hit the majors pretty darn well. I wish I had run a few more cat5/6 to what would be "obvious" control panel wall-mount locations. Document the wires and bury them behind the drywall - if you ever need them - punch in and grab it.

Cat5/6 to potential outdoor IP Camera locations. WiFi access points (outside and in-ceiling). Garage - TV / speakers / cat5. High-mounted TV location in the master bathroom. TV location on back porch.

Read the Cocoontech Wiki if you haven't already - it's more, um, "involved" than David's ebook... biggrin.gif

http://www.cocoontech.com/wiki/Wiring_Your_New_House_101

But you've got a pretty good handle on things - just remember wire is soooooo cheap at this stage. You will probably choke a bit when you see the total number of runs - avoid the urge to skimp. If anything, drop to 3 cat6 runs at TV locations (except the primary viewing areas) if this starts to add up. Some cable at a lot of locations is better than "more than enough" at some and NONE at others.

Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
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post #9 of 14 Old 01-04-2013, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the great advice guys. I am definitely incorporating several runs on conduit into the design now. It seems the limiting factor on the size of the conduit is the size of hole that can be drilled through the top plate of the wall. I haven't done a lot of shopping yet, but is there any good conduit that is maybe an oblong shape? Something that allows more internal room without being a larger diameter than I can drill?

Along these same lines, does anyone have good recommendations for places to buy materials?

I know monoprice, but am curious if there are other sites.

Also, how do y'all feel about the "bundled" or "structured" cables? It seems that one cable with 2 Cat6 and 2 RG6 all in one jacket is pretty widely available. I can see the convenience factor, but are there significant drawbacks?

Oh, and sorry about the cross-posting faux pas. If there are any mods watching and they'd like to consolidate these, I would appreciate it.
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-04-2013, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by SETX Aggie View Post

Thanks for all the great advice guys. I am definitely incorporating several runs on conduit into the design now. It seems the limiting factor on the size of the conduit is the size of hole that can be drilled through the top plate of the wall. I haven't done a lot of shopping yet, but is there any good conduit that is maybe an oblong shape? Something that allows more internal room without being a larger diameter than I can drill?

Not that I know of. Any conduit is better than none. The recommendations here for "as large as you can" are just that. The big hassle currently for flex conduit is snaking HDMI connectors through - but with HDBaseT costs coming down, I wouldn't expect to be retrofitting long HDMI cable runs, either. Most of my conduit runs are 1.5".
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Along these same lines, does anyone have good recommendations for places to buy materials?I know monoprice, but am curious if there are other sites.

For cables and materials, Parts Express, Markertek, Broadband Utopia, Sewell... Once you know what you need, use Google shopping to do a price/shipping comparison and go from there. The issues with the smaller / unknown sellers is usually lack of real-time inventory, or they drop-ship so you don't really have a good idea of when the stuff will arrive. So anything time-critical, get from a dependable place (Monoprice is very good about shipping when they say they will).
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Also, how do y'all feel about the "bundled" or "structured" cables? It seems that one cable with 2 Cat6 and 2 RG6 all in one jacket is pretty widely available. I can see the convenience factor, but are there significant drawbacks?

Not a fan. Expensive, harder to work with, and won't always have the exact number of cables you want, which means you'll need separate cables anyway, or will have a lot of excess cables. But working with multiple spools of standard cable is a must - you really want to pull all the cable for each run simultaneously, not go back and do the same run multiple times.

Jeff

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post #11 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 05:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the great info. It's really starting to come together in my plan, and I'm getting excited.

Based on a lot of advice, I'm not planning to terminate any of the cables initially. For the Cat6 and RG6, I'm planning to just loop the cable into or behind the mudring and leave it there.

With the security system wiring, I'm a little less sure of what to do. I'm going to run 22/4 to keypad locations and potential motion detector locations. I'm also going to run 22/2 to all doors and windows for contact sensors. The keypad locations I'll put a mudring in, but the contact sensors and motion detectors are worrying me.

How should I terminate/store for later the prewiring for these devices?
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post #12 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Not a fan. Expensive, harder to work with, and won't always have the exact number of cables you want, which means you'll need separate cables anyway, or will have a lot of excess cables. But working with multiple spools of standard cable is a must - you really want to pull all the cable for each run simultaneously, not go back and do the same run multiple times.
Jeff
Definitely a +1 on that!

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #13 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 10:24 AM
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Most alarm keypads will accommodate category cable in lieu of 22/4, but running 22/4 and category cable, to the KP location, will have you covered, if you don't want to research further.

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 #14 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 10:48 AM
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Not sure if it's been mentioned...but while your at it, add wire for security cams. I personally would run at least 1 cat5e/6 to each "planned" location so you can always add the cam later. Plus, one cat5e/6 these days will be enough for POE ip cams!

I wish I would have done a lot of the things mentioned here when building my house (can you say multiple conduit runs) !!!

Michael
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