Brand new home build - I'm doing low voltage wiring myself - Hoping for input on whole-home distribution - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 05-05-2013, 08:06 AM - Thread Starter
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We are building a home and my builder has committed to allow me to wire the LV myself. I'm going to do the obvious things like run Cat6 to each room for ethernet and phone, but this will be my first attempt at a whole-home AV system.

System Layout:

Total of 13 zones
-2 zones will be 5-channel surround with large HD monitors
-8 zones will have video - some with stereo ceiling speakers, some using monitor speakers
-Porch/deck/dining room zones are audio only

I'd like to eliminate AV equipment scattered throughout the house and distribute from a central rack in the basement. I'd like to distribute to monitors via HDMI, but Im having a hard time picking through the multitude of choices online for distribution equipment. I'd like to find a device that allows for an on-screen and/or smartphone/tablet app type control experience throughout the house.

Assuming HDMI is a viable transport for a whole-home system, my questions are as follows:

-Has anyone had any luck doing a whole home in Cat6 terminated to HDMI wall plates? Obviously this is the most cost effective route but I am reading horror stories about signal issues. Doing pre-made HDMI cables is possible, but I'd like to make it as clean and permanent with wall jacks and a patch panel at the rack and the ability to make custom length with Cat6 is attractive too.

-The eventual rack/distribution system is going to take some time to materialize, so in the meantime I'd like the ability to hook up equipment locally, especially in the great room. To accomplish this I envision having two wall termination plates for the 5-channel surround - one as a feed from the rack and the other connected to the speakers. In the interim I can hook up my receiver directly to the speakers, but once my whole-home system takes shape I can then "jumper" between the wall plates. Any commentary on this setup?

-Any other general wisdom for a whole-home a/v newb?


Please don't reply if your advice is for me to contact a local dealer/installer. The issue is not cost related - I just really enjoy this sort of thing and would like to design and execute it myself. Thanks in advance for constructive help.
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post #2 of 29 Old 05-05-2013, 10:16 AM
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I've read that the Erskine Group (of Home Theater design fame) also offers a whole house LV design service. Might want to research that option.

I think the easiest, and probably cheapest option, is to keep distributed audio and distributed AV/HDMI separate, sharing the speakers in each zone. The means of switching needs to be figured out. For the 5.1 zones, the distributed audio line level signal could be run to the [local] AVR as an input. You'll need TV audio signal amplification for those zones that are not 5.1; take a look at zone amps - some may offer switching.

Take a look at HDBaseT for eventual HDMI distribution, using category cable.

I think you're stuck changing wall plates when you switch to distributed AV. I wouldn't interrupt the signal of an HDMI extender with a wall plate; I would use a scoop/pass through plate, but it's arguable.

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post #3 of 29 Old 05-05-2013, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ecriswell View Post

We are building a home and my builder has committed to allow me to wire the LV myself. I'm going to do the obvious things like run Cat6 to each room for ethernet and phone, but this will be my first attempt at a whole-home AV system.

So are you doing 100% of the LV work? Is the builder giving you a credit back for the ~$1-2k that he's got built into the cost of the home for the LV contractor?

I'd suggest letting the LV guy do the basics (whatever the builder normally includes), and overbuilding on top of that.

If not, have you done this work (labor-wise) before? It's not a trivial exercise to take from scratch...

Quote:
Total of 13 zones
-2 zones will be 5-channel surround with large HD monitors
-8 zones will have video - some with stereo ceiling speakers, some using monitor speakers
-Porch/deck/dining room zones are audio only

Don't use in-ceiling speakers for TV audio. But as Neurorad points out, those can be shared with a 5.1 system to be used as surround channels if it's planned up front - both from a wiring and placement perspective.
Quote:
I'd like to eliminate AV equipment scattered throughout the house and distribute from a central rack in the basement. I'd like to distribute to monitors via HDMI, but Im having a hard time picking through the multitude of choices online for distribution equipment. I'd like to find a device that allows for an on-screen and/or smartphone/tablet app type control experience throughout the house.

Concentrate on the pre-wiring now, the equipment will come later, and certainly don't buy anything now - there's a CEDIA show between now and the time you move in, so new stuff will likely show up.

OSD for video selection generally takes you into an integrated system that will cost a lot more, and won't be DIY.
Quote:
-Has anyone had any luck doing a whole home in Cat6 terminated to HDMI wall plates? Obviously this is the most cost effective route but I am reading horror stories about signal issues. Doing pre-made HDMI cables is possible, but I'd like to make it as clean and permanent with wall jacks and a patch panel at the rack and the ability to make custom length with Cat6 is attractive too.

Look at HDBaseT systems.
Quote:
-The eventual rack/distribution system is going to take some time to materialize, so in the meantime I'd like the ability to hook up equipment locally, especially in the great room. To accomplish this I envision having two wall termination plates for the 5-channel surround - one as a feed from the rack and the other connected to the speakers. In the interim I can hook up my receiver directly to the speakers, but once my whole-home system takes shape I can then "jumper" between the wall plates. Any commentary on this setup?

That's the right approach - flexibility, especially in primary areas, is a good thing.
Quote:
-Any other general wisdom for a whole-home a/v newb?

Plan out everything, then talk to the LV contractor before going further. I did this, with a punch list and diagrams, and got a great deal on him doing all the labor and I supplied the wire. I got what I wanted, and it was done properly...
Quote:
Please don't reply if your advice is for me to contact a local dealer/installer. The issue is not cost related - I just really enjoy this sort of thing and would like to design and execute it myself. Thanks in advance for constructive help.

Ok, sorry, pretend you didn't read that. biggrin.gif

If you're going to do the work yourself, plan on several days of wiring, and absolutely get some "friends" to help. At least a 2-man job to get it done in any reasonable timeframe. Note that you can very easily get in the way of the builder's schedule, you generally will have a week-ish window to get this done before you start paying for it, one way or another.

Jeff


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post #4 of 29 Old 05-05-2013, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I think the easiest, and probably cheapest option, is to keep distributed audio and distributed AV/HDMI separate, sharing the speakers in each zone. The means of switching needs to be figured out. For the 5.1 zones, the distributed audio line level signal could be run to the [local] AVR as an input. You'll need TV audio signal amplification for those zones that are not 5.1; take a look at zone amps - some may offer switching.

Neurorad - I would like to have an integrated solution to be able to access SAT-DVR/Blu-Ray Jukebox/NAS Digital Media/Apple TV from any room in the house using a tablet or smartphone as the remote interface. I don't intend to have a "local" AVR as part of my end-game solution. I'd like to find something that can bridge all my different sources and direct just audio, or if applicable video to the appropriate zone. I don't really want to deal with separate systems.


Jeff - Thanks for your responses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

So are you doing 100% of the LV work? Is the builder giving you a credit back for the ~$1-2k that he's got built into the cost of the home for the LV contractor?

I have negotiated a sizable credit for completing the work myself. Aside from phone and coax jacks sprinkled throughout the house, what else am I missing?
Quote:
I'd suggest letting the LV guy do the basics (whatever the builder normally includes), and overbuilding on top of that.

Any particular reason?
Quote:
If not, have you done this work (labor-wise) before? It's not a trivial exercise to take from scratch...

I have an IT background and have participated in structured wiring projects of many kinds, as well as server room builds and data rack and patch panel install. This is the first time I will have stood in a framed-up house and started from scratch on an AV system. I'm 3-4 months from actually doing the work, so I'm trying to start early and formulate a solid plan ahead of time.
Quote:
Don't use in-ceiling speakers for TV audio. But as Neurorad points out, those can be shared with a 5.1 system to be used as surround channels if it's planned up front - both from a wiring and placement perspective.

Good advice. I hadn't really thought it through, but I think you're totally right. It would be silly to worry about TV audio through ceiling speakers. The two surround zones will have wall-mounted rear surrounds.
Quote:
Concentrate on the pre-wiring now, the equipment will come later, and certainly don't buy anything now - there's a CEDIA show between now and the time you move in, so new stuff will likely show up.

This is exactly what I'm trying to do, especially since I am likely a year or two to actually having a distribution solution in place. I just want to make sure that HDMI is the transport I should focus on to all monitors. I am finding quite a bit of equipment designed for component video so it has me wondering if I am missing something.
Quote:
OSD for video selection generally takes you into an integrated system that will cost a lot more, and won't be DIY.

I have some resources who are very familiar with Crestron and have access to the programmers, but my personal knowledge is very limited. It may be a DIY with some help. I also am interested to know if the Pioneer Elite SC-68 reciever may accomplish what I am looking to do.. possibly for 3 zones. Do you have any experience with this unit?
Quote:
Look at HDBaseT systems.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'm realizing that I may be much better off just purchasing pre-made HDMI cables from Monoprice and skipping the Cat6. Any savings seem to be eaten up by the need to purchase baluns. None of my runs will exceed 100' - most are less than 50'.

Quote:
Plan out everything, then talk to the LV contractor before going further. I did this, with a punch list and diagrams, and got a great deal on him doing all the labor and I supplied the wire. I got what I wanted, and it was done properly...
Ok, sorry, pretend you didn't read that. biggrin.gif
No worries. I just cringe when I see someone write a well thought out post looking for help and people jump on them for not hiring the work out.
Quote:
If you're going to do the work yourself, plan on several days of wiring, and absolutely get some "friends" to help. At least a 2-man job to get it done in any reasonable timeframe. Note that you can very easily get in the way of the builder's schedule, you generally will have a week-ish window to get this done before you start paying for it, one way or another.

I do have other IT type people willing and capable to help me complete the job. We are hoping it will be during a long weekend timeframe while consuming cold beverages and eating delivery pizza! Like I said earlier - I have the means to hire someone to do this for me. But for the same reason I change my own oil in my car, I would like the satisfaction of researching this myself and executing a plan. It should be a good time with my buds and I look forward to contributing some man-hours to building my family's dream home.
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post #5 of 29 Old 05-05-2013, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ecriswell View Post

I don't really want to deal with separate systems.

"Integrated" systems are significantly more expensive, and most of them will require a dealer to install / program as they are not "DIY friendly" - meaning the software and equipment is not accessible...
Quote:
Aside from phone and coax jacks sprinkled throughout the house, what else am I missing?

Lots. Read the "Wiring Your House" wiki pages over at cocoontech.com...
Quote:
Any particular reason?

Yes. See below...
Quote:
I have an IT background and have participated in structured wiring projects of many kinds, as well as server room builds and data rack and patch panel install.

That's part of the story, but both the techniques and the labor involved is considerably different...
Quote:
This is the first time I will have stood in a framed-up house and started from scratch on an AV system. I'm 3-4 months from actually doing the work, so I'm trying to start early and formulate a solid plan ahead of time.

And that's the other reason. It's a lot easier to expand / copy the wiring / routing methods once you see how the pro did the basics. They'll also cover stuff you might not think about, like the lines to the service entrance and sat dish access...

If you haven't done a residential wiring job before, you need to spend some time looking at how it's done - if there are other homes nearby at that phase of construction, walk through them, take notes and pictures of how it all gets done. Note routing of cables, how they're held in place to avoid damage during drywall, etc.
Quote:
This is exactly what I'm trying to do, especially since I am likely a year or two to actually having a distribution solution in place. I just want to make sure that HDMI is the transport I should focus on to all monitors. I am finding quite a bit of equipment designed for component video so it has me wondering if I am missing something.

You'll see a lot of component video equipment - especially on the used market! biggrin.gif It's still a viable solution, but with many new devices (all BD players, streamers like AppleTV and Roku) shipping without component outputs, it's going to have limitations. That said, I have no plans to replace mine, because it's bulletproof. Also, the economic answer for AppleTV and other <$100 products is to just dedicate them to the zones anyway.
Quote:
I have some resources who are very familiar with Crestron and have access to the programmers, but my personal knowledge is very limited. It may be a DIY with some help.

A lot of help. The programming is not rocket science, but there are whole companies that do nothing but offer the programming services and UI design. Their very anti-DIY stance also means you're just going to be banging into issues that you won't be able to get assistance to fix. If you're thinking Crestron, think dealer - if you can get one that will work with you, then maybe. I wouldn't even consider their gear without a good "friend" as a source for gear, support, and software.
Quote:
I also am interested to know if the Pioneer Elite SC-68 reciever may accomplish what I am looking to do.. possibly for 3 zones. Do you have any experience with this unit?

No, but any multizone receiver, if it has Internet streaming services (available on Zone2, 3) and an "app" for control can be a viable solution for 2-3 rooms. Any more than that, and no, wrong product.
Quote:
Thanks for the suggestion. I'm realizing that I may be much better off just purchasing pre-made HDMI cables from Monoprice and skipping the Cat6. Any savings seem to be eaten up by the need to purchase baluns. None of my runs will exceed 100' - most are less than 50'.

I wouldn't run any HDMI cables in the walls except for an in-room system. The cat6 wires will be useful for lots of things, the HDMI cables are problematic >25' anyway (Redmere will work easily at 50'), and are likely to be out-of-date within a decade.
Quote:
No worries. I just cringe when I see someone write a well thought out post looking for help and people jump on them for not hiring the work out.

They're usually not that well thought out...
Quote:
I do have other IT type people willing and capable to help me complete the job. We are hoping it will be during a long weekend timeframe while consuming cold beverages and eating delivery pizza! Like I said earlier - I have the means to hire someone to do this for me. But for the same reason I change my own oil in my car, I would like the satisfaction of researching this myself and executing a plan. It should be a good time with my buds and I look forward to contributing some man-hours to building my family's dream home.

Umm - if none of them has done this before, you're going to spend your entire time supervising - so be prepared for that and also the blowback if "they're doing all the work". Running patch cables through cable trays in a datacenter and getting them in the right jacks is much different than drilling through studs and pulling wire. You'll be better off with friends that have done any form of residential construction trades than IT folks, frankly. You'll spend half the day explaining why they're doing something, and why their "suggestions" won't work.

Make sure you have it all planned out, then, with diagrams, punch lists, and end points marked. Best to hammer the LV boxes in place ahead of any help, so that folks know where they should go. Note that line-voltage work will very likely need to be done by a licensed electrician - and you'll want a number of outlets placed for the equipment, and behind TV wall-mount locations.

Consider that "the plan" can be the equipment and the ability to perform the AV distribution tricks that the final installation will be able to perform, rather than the labor portion of that job. I get plenty of satisfaction out of my system(s) doing what I designed them to do - the fact that a skilled trade did the labor doesn't diminish that satisfaction at all. Besides, it's the stack of gear in the wiring closet that gets the attention and the questions. No one will ever ask you how you routed all that cable to the attic, for example...

Jeff


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post #6 of 29 Old 05-06-2013, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

"Integrated" systems are significantly more expensive, and most of them will require a dealer to install / program as they are not "DIY friendly" - meaning the software and equipment is not accessible...
Lots. Read the "Wiring Your House" wiki pages over at cocoontech.com...
As I read more on the subject I can see that a fully integrated solution will be almost impossible short of finding a bunch of used Crestron equipment - but the likelihood of that seems remote considering it's their current generation product that seems to do what I want and I cant imagine there is a lot available second hand. Regardless of what end solution I use, I just want to make sure I run enough wire to accommodate any potential scenario.

Each TV location will have (1) RG-6, (5) Cat-6 (One ethernet, and HDMI needs either one or two Cat cables to work, depending on the way it's transported.. right?)
Each appropriate room will also have (1) RG-6 and (1) Cat-6 for data and phone

Any other suggestions?
Quote:
That's part of the story, but both the techniques and the labor involved is considerably different...
And that's the other reason. It's a lot easier to expand / copy the wiring / routing methods once you see how the pro did the basics. They'll also cover stuff you might not think about, like the lines to the service entrance and sat dish access...

If you haven't done a residential wiring job before, you need to spend some time looking at how it's done - if there are other homes nearby at that phase of construction, walk through them, take notes and pictures of how it all gets done. Note routing of cables, how they're held in place to avoid damage during drywall, etc.
Good advice. I will talk with my builder and their LV sub.


Quote:
A lot of help. The programming is not rocket science, but there are whole companies that do nothing but offer the programming services and UI design. Their very anti-DIY stance also means you're just going to be banging into issues that you won't be able to get assistance to fix. If you're thinking Crestron, think dealer - if you can get one that will work with you, then maybe. I wouldn't even consider their gear without a good "friend" as a source for gear, support, and software.
I do have access to two crestron certified installers through one of my clients. I think, with the proper finesse, I can coax them into helping with the planning and install. But I'll concede that it's not likely I will be able to find the equipment for a reasonable price anyway.
Quote:
No, but any multizone receiver, if it has Internet streaming services (available on Zone2, 3) and an "app" for control can be a viable solution for 2-3 rooms. Any more than that, and no, wrong product.
The reason I specifically looked at that reciever is it has 11 audio amp channels, and I'm reading that they are assignable. I believe I could serve my whole house with two of them. Just a thought.
Quote:
I wouldn't run any HDMI cables in the walls except for an in-room system. The cat6 wires will be useful for lots of things, the HDMI cables are problematic >25' anyway (Redmere will work easily at 50'), and are likely to be out-of-date within a decade.
Good advice too. Are my concerns about HDMI over CAT cable overblown? There seem to be alot of people having problems.

Quote:
Umm - if none of them has done this before, you're going to spend your entire time supervising - so be prepared for that and also the blowback if "they're doing all the work". Running patch cables through cable trays in a datacenter and getting them in the right jacks is much different than drilling through studs and pulling wire. You'll be better off with friends that have done any form of residential construction trades than IT folks, frankly. You'll spend half the day explaining why they're doing something, and why their "suggestions" won't work.
The resources I have, myself included, are much more capable than "running patch cables through cable trays". Regardless of that, I think your comments about following a professional's lead regarding cable routing is good advice and I think I'll give it some more thought.
Quote:
Make sure you have it all planned out, then, with diagrams, punch lists, and end points marked. Best to hammer the LV boxes in place ahead of any help, so that folks know where they should go. Note that line-voltage work will very likely need to be done by a licensed electrician - and you'll want a number of outlets placed for the equipment, and behind TV wall-mount locations.

I plan to have at least one, if not more, walk throughs with the electritian and make sure our TV placements are well thought out and fully powered.
Quote:
Consider that "the plan" can be the equipment and the ability to perform the AV distribution tricks that the final installation will be able to perform, rather than the labor portion of that job. I get plenty of satisfaction out of my system(s) doing what I designed them to do - the fact that a skilled trade did the labor doesn't diminish that satisfaction at all. Besides, it's the stack of gear in the wiring closet that gets the attention and the questions. No one will ever ask you how you routed all that cable to the attic, for example...
Very true. I'd really like to conceptualize and design the system myself, but I do get some satisfaction from building the physical part as well. To each their own I guess.

I do appreciate and value your input. Thanks for taking the time to discuss.
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post #7 of 29 Old 05-06-2013, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by ecriswell View Post

Each TV location will have (1) RG-6, (5) Cat-6 (One ethernet, and HDMI needs either one or two Cat cables to work, depending on the way it's transported.. right?)
Each appropriate room will also have (1) RG-6 and (1) Cat-6 for data and phone

"Gold standard" of pre-wire would have 2x RG6 to many of those locations. I'd recommend doing that at least to the primary AV locations.

"Appropriate room" should mean just about every room in the house. Bedrooms and other locations likely to have a TV or wired network device should have more than one jack pack per room. My recommendation is that you should be able to run a cat5e cable to any viable wall space without crossing a door frame (entry or closet). For bedrooms, that's typically two per room.
Quote:
The reason I specifically looked at that reciever is it has 11 audio amp channels, and I'm reading that they are assignable. I believe I could serve my whole house with two of them. Just a thought.

Some are assignable to zone2/zone3, which is why I said for ~3 zones total it could be a solution. More zones than that, no. Buying two of those is not a good approach for >3 zones, either.
Quote:
Are my concerns about HDMI over CAT cable overblown? There seem to be alot of people having problems.

There are tons of people using these solutions. The problems tend to be in the cheap solutions, especially the unpowered wallplate <$50 products.
Quote:
The resources I have, myself included, are much more capable than "running patch cables through cable trays". Regardless of that, I think your comments about following a professional's lead regarding cable routing is good advice and I think I'll give it some more thought.

That wasn't meant as an insult. I have a building full of computer and electrical engineers and I wouldn't trust any* (ok, maybe a few) of them to properly wire my house. Different skill set / experience / trade.

Jeff


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post #8 of 29 Old 05-06-2013, 04:59 PM
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So the electrician has not pulled any wire yet? If so, then definitely walk through your plan with him, with at least a sketch of your planned LV runs. I bought my house after they had plumbed and wired everything and keeping the LV separate from line voltage is a nightmare. If low voltage and line voltage have to co-exist remember to cross at 90 deg. or run parallel no less than 4-6 inches between to lessen interference. Run flexible conduit to various spots for future expansion. Place ceiling speakers for bedrooms left and right of planned bed location, in case you want to use them as surrounds.

FYI I did home runs of 2x RG6 and 3x CAT6 to various locations and bedroom drops were terminated in the wall that I estimated the TV would reside. The reason I ran 2 coax was one is for dish and the other for OTA signal. The 3 CAT cables were one for my LAN and the other 2 for a possible HDMI balun or whatever else might come along. For audio I pulled one 14/4 cable and one CAT6 to each audio control location and then from there ran 14/2 to the ceiling speakers.

I would suggest buying one of these and this to drill the holes needed in order to pull the wire through studs and top/bottom plates. Here's a pic showing a lil' trick my dad showed me for pulling wire in a residential setting. He was an electrician for 20+ years, so his knowledge is priceless, and his help. Sorry for the crappy cell phone pic, but you can see the 3 CAT6 (violet cable) spools on the right, 2 RG6 on the lower left/middle and 14/4 audio top left.

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post #9 of 29 Old 05-06-2013, 05:06 PM
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I was gonna put some "quotes" in here, but there are just too many. I thought I would throw some recommendations in there as well:

  1. When wiring, either run smurf tube, or make sure you have access to re-pull any wires necessary or add new ones. You never know what the future will bring and in a house, it's not always possible to get in the Attic or crawl space to run a new wire
  2. HDMI: I agree with jautor on this one. If you can, go with the HDBase-T. I tried the "cheaper" wall plates he is talking about and it ended up frying an HDMI port on my TV as well as my Receiver (I think due to static charge pulling more cables). I did replace it with a 60' redmere cable, but I know that for a fact it is in a place that I can easily replace if I need to.
  3. If you are running wires in the attic, organize them and keep them from HV lines. I personally took a piece of gutter downspout (plastic) and cut it in half lengthwise to make a cable tray. It works pretty well, though I assume it's not UL approved...LOL. I'm actually going to replace it with some cable rings attached to the joist webbing in my attic. I only have a 20' run in my attic where the majority of lines run, so it's not a huge issue for me. Bigger houses, or multi-story houses probably can't really take advantage of this (and smurf tube is probably a better solution anyways).
  4. I don't know if you can convince them of this, and I have no good reason and/or basis for this suggestion (other than OCD and preference), but if you can, have them lay the HV lines out as close together as possible and in straight lines (instead of spidering out). It takes more cable, and probably more labor (hence more cost), but honestly, while trying to keep some of my cables (speaker, etc) away from HV, I found that it was nearly impossible to do this due to HV lines EVERYWHERE!. Granted my house was built in the 70s. Maybe practices in general have changed. If I ever have the house re-wired, I plan on having them run the lines down the center of hte house and branching off in right angles.
  5. I agree with jautor on the friends thing again. Having people with residential experience (or no experience at all) might be preferable over IT folks. I have some friends who are great at "doing what their told" no matter what the job. They follow directions the first time and without question. They may offer up a suggestion now and then, but they understand that I have a plan, and I need it done a certain way, and I probably have my reasons (sometimes dumb!). Then again, I have some that will sit there and discuss the "Best way to handle this little small problem" for hours and hours. Chose the right people for the job, and if you end up with more than 3 or 4 people, I agree that you'll be more in a supervisory position, or you'll end up with a bunch of people standing around (I know from experience).
  6. For wiring locations, I've for the most part followed this plan:
    • Wall (one on each wall of a room, where reasonable) - 2 cat6 White (phone), 2 cat6 Black (ethernet), 2 RG6 for cable/satellite
    • Tv locations (behind TV wallmounts) - minimum 1 Cat6 white (phone). minimum 1 Cat6 Black (ethernet), 1 cat6 red (IR), 2 cat6 Purple/Orange (HDMI over Ethernet), 2 RG6
    • Subs (2 locations in living room) - 1 RG6, 1 12GA speaker wire (not used, but could be used for front speakers..I currently use in-walls).
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post #10 of 29 Old 05-07-2013, 08:20 AM
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[*] I don't know if you can convince them of this, and I have no good reason and/or basis for this suggestion (other than OCD and preference), but if you can, have them lay the HV lines out as close together as possible and in straight lines (instead of spidering out). It takes more cable, and probably more labor (hence more cost), but honestly, while trying to keep some of my cables (speaker, etc) away from HV, I found that it was nearly impossible to do this due to HV lines EVERYWHERE!


This is what I was trying to say as well, the electricians will run wires everywhere, unless you specify that you want "this area" for LV only.

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[*] Wall (one on each wall of a room, where reasonable) - 2 cat6 White (phone), 2 cat6 Black (ethernet), 2 RG6 for cable/satellite


IMO seems a bit excessive for a bedroom to have that bundle on each wall, but that's up to the OP.

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[*] Subs (2 locations in living room) - 1 RG6, 1 12GA speaker wire (not used, but could be used for front speakers..I currently use in-walls).

This is a good approach because it lets you use the RG6 for a powered sub or the 12 GA. for a rack amp, it's all about options and flexibility.
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post #11 of 29 Old 05-07-2013, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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These are all great suggestions. Thank you!
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post #12 of 29 Old 05-07-2013, 06:21 PM
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IMO seems a bit excessive for a bedroom to have that bundle on each wall, but that's up to the OP.

Well, I work from home, so any room could be my next office. So I guess for me it just made sense at the time. My thinking was also that if for some reason I didn't go with a wall mounted tv, any wall jack would work for the TV as well (2 for HDMI, 1 for ethernet, 1 for IR or Phone, and 2 RG6 for satellite/cable/OTA). I don't plan on putting a wall mount on ever wall, but instead on the most "likely" wall to have a TV. If one of the kids decides they want to put the TV on a stand somewhere else, I'm covered. Just hang a picture over the TV's recessed wall box and hook it up to the appropriate wall.
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post #13 of 29 Old 05-08-2013, 06:19 AM
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You don't have to put in a hi/low TV box until you actually mount a display there. Just pull the wires to a low box at typical outlet height for the room. That's what I've done in places that are 'likely' to be TV locations.

Just don't overlook how much of a wall plate you're going to need for all the wires. While those 3x2 decora keystones look nice, it can be a real bear trying to get all the wires to fit. For a TV location you're much better off having at least a 2-gang box dedicated to just the low voltage wiring by itself.

I also had to be VERY, VERY vigilant regarding the electrician's placement of AC lines. I had to have them move lines FOUR times, even after making it perfectly clear I needed certain areas to stay entirely clear of AC lines. In the end it was the fire sprinkler guy that screwed up the available space in a bulkhead next to a duct! But I still managed to get everything in there. And don't get me started on plumber issues...

Now it's a matter of making sure everything is effectively protected from the coming drywall crew... Nail plates galore...
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Just pull the wires to a low box at typical outlet height for the room.

FYI typical height is the length of a hammer or approximately 12 inches.
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post #15 of 29 Old 05-08-2013, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

You don't have to put in a hi/low TV box until you actually mount a display there. Just pull the wires to a low box at typical outlet height for the room. That's what I've done in places that are 'likely' to be TV locations.

Well, you don't HAVE to, but if there's an obvious location where a TV would go, chances are a wall-mount would be a likely future direction. Certainly any future TV purchase would be a flat panel. I wired my house with most of the bedroom / obvious TV locations with the Arlington TV boxes mounted up on the wall, so that power could be run at the same time.

It may be more flexible to run the wires to an outlet-height location, just make sure there's a path within the stud bay to pull power and signal back up to a TV-mount-height. Especially if any distributed AV is in the future...


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post #16 of 29 Old 05-09-2013, 06:09 AM
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FYI typical height is the length of a hammer or approximately 12 inches.

Interesting you'd say that, but two of the hammers I've got are different lengths; neither of which is the height the electrician used for the boxes. I'm guessing the 'right' kind of hammer would have the typical height, otherwise just use a tape measure or a short piece of wood as a story pole.
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post #17 of 29 Old 05-09-2013, 06:10 AM
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It may be more flexible to run the wires to an outlet-height location, just make sure there's a path within the stud bay to pull power and signal back up to a TV-mount-height. Especially if any distributed AV is in the future...

Yup, this is the key, if you have the walls open and you know what's in there then you can always come back later and rearrange. Just leave enough slack to handle the different options; which can sometimes be tricky when it comes to avoiding the drywallers or insulation folks from making a mess of the cables...
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post #18 of 29 Old 05-09-2013, 09:38 AM
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I think this is a neat solution to long 'service loops', and possibly spray foam.



http://www.backboxx.com/product2.html

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 #19 of 29 Old 05-11-2013, 10:38 AM
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Lot of good comments here, so let me add what I did.

I bought a single story ranch and hired a contractor to scrape the roof off and add a second story along with a two story addition in the back for a rec room below and a man cave (read HT) above. I negotiated the credits to do the LV wiring myself and started planning and buying.

Plan:
I wanted 2 RG6Quad Shield to every room I thought anyone I might sell the place to might want a TV. In some of these rooms (like the rec room and HT), I pulled double to allow setup on multiple walls. My basic wall panel called for 2 CAT6 for LAN, 2 CAT5e and 2 phone wire. Plan was to have the phone wire in case anyone wanted a landline, but also to use for doorbell or intercom. Each theater like room was planned to have it's own equipment rack and in-wall distribution from the rack to speakers to support 7.1 surround. I planned to bring all external signals into a downstairs wiring closet and distribute from there. There would also be an upstairs LAN closet to distribute to those rooms, but all of the RG6 was a direct run from the downstairs distribution panel. I planned to tie the two LAN closets together using 4 CAT6, 4 CAT5e, and 4 phone to allow for expansion.

During the build I realized I never should have pulled the first wire until the plumbers were finished. Replacing a pull because they burnt through insulation was quite frustrating, and as far as my contractor was concerned, a squabble between two subs. He certainly agreed with me, but he uses the plumber a lot more than me, so not much done.

Immediately on moving in I realized I needed another RG6 cable as I installed an antenna in the attic for local TV and radio. Thankfully, I could run this to the upstairs rooms easily enough from the attic and distributing from the upstairs LAN closet and was also able to pass thru to the downstairs LAN closet using available RG6.

I had the perfect setup for me, then I got a job offer in Key West and couldn't say no. The next time I hope to use wireless or just CAT6. I find I don't watch much TV or movies anywhere but the theater and will focus more on audio distribution. Then again, there are easier ways to do what I did back in 2006 for this project and the parts I used then are a lot cheaper now.

Good luck with your project!
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post #20 of 29 Old 05-12-2013, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
HDMI: I agree with jautor on this one. If you can, go with the HDBase-T. I tried the "cheaper" wall plates he is talking about and it ended up frying an HDMI port on my TV as well as my Receiver (I think due to static charge pulling more cables). I did replace it with a 60' redmere cable, but I know that for a fact it is in a place that I can easily replace if I need to.


How / where exactly are installers placing the receiver of this kit? The transmitter seems simple enough in that it will be installed in the Mech space or basement etc...however, are most folks installing the receiver on a stud then using a pull through for the HDMI / power cord?
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post #21 of 29 Old 05-12-2013, 03:53 PM
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How / where exactly are installers placing the receiver of this kit? The transmitter seems simple enough in that it will be installed in the Mech space or basement etc...however, are most folks installing the receiver on a stud then using a pull through for the HDMI / power cord?

The Receiver is pretty small (somewhat). If you have a recessed box , like this one:



You can just put it in the box (I used that exact same model, but some companies make ones that are wider and probably have more space in them, though may not be as deep. Another option that I can think of, if your tv isn't using one of those super slim mounts, is to just use some zip ties to mount it to the back of the TV. The latter option isn't really a great one as it will keep your tv from sitting too close to the wall, but if it's alrready out far enough, you could do this.

The specific kit I used was a cheap wall plate one, and I'd not recommend that at all. Go with the HDBase-T one. If I'm not mistaken there are some HD-BaseT wall plates as well out there that might work great as well.
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post #22 of 29 Old 05-12-2013, 05:55 PM
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Double sided foam tape and industrial Velcro (Home Depot) are other options for sticking the receiver to the back of the TV. I've never used the foam tape, but I know the extra-strength Velcro works very well; I use it for my DirecTV client box.

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post #23 of 29 Old 05-13-2013, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
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Interesting you'd say that, but two of the hammers I've got are different lengths; neither of which is the height the electrician used for the boxes. I'm guessing the 'right' kind of hammer would have the typical height, otherwise just use a tape measure or a short piece of wood as a story pole.

Yeah a typical DIY hammer found around most homes is ~12" tall and 12 ounces, not a framing hammer or ball-peen. Personally I bought a 16 ouncer to build my shed, but don't usually use it to hang pictures, build IKEA furniture, etc. and use a pneumatic framing gun for the big stuff.
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post #24 of 29 Old 07-08-2013, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Project update: Just completed 3 days of pulling over 6k feet of cat6, rg6, and speaker wire.

Now have color coded home runs for video, control, ethernet, coax, and speaker to a utility room where I will locate a central distribution rack. It was a lot of work, but having a bundle hanging down the wall that my hands won't fit around is somehow very satisfying!




I plan to separate the cabling into function and bring it into its respective rack in bundles of like cable.

As said before in this thread, it was no small job but very doable. Ill post more pics below.

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions.
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post #27 of 29 Old 07-08-2013, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I forgot to get some pics of the roughed in recess and low voltage boxes. Ill take more pics as the project progresses and post.
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post #28 of 29 Old 07-09-2013, 03:25 AM
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Good job!

Category cables are susceptible to being crushed and pinched. Do what you can to move them away from the studs, within large buncles - I see that large bundle taking a dive over a joist above the black pipes. Move the cat cables to the 'outside' of the bend, within the bundle, and/or break up the bundle now.

I always worry when I see pics showing pipes above racks/rack locations.

Take a thousand pics to show where all the cables are, before drywall.

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 #29 of 29 Old 07-09-2013, 05:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Good job!

Category cables are susceptible to being crushed and pinched. Do what you can to move them away from the studs, within large buncles - I see that large bundle taking a dive over a joist above the black pipes. Move the cat cables to the 'outside' of the bend, within the bundle, and/or break up the bundle now.

I always worry when I see pics showing pipes above racks/rack locations.

Take a thousand pics to show where all the cables are, before drywall.

Good comments. I should have mentioned that currently the bundle's weight has been supported until I separate and bundle the runs. There is very little weight being carried on the edge of the joist. Also, those pipes are air intake and exhaust for a high efficiency on demand water heater. They dont carry water. Also they are being moved so they are not a factor on the final rackspace.

Im planning to do a very slow walkthru HD video of the entire house before drywall goes in to document wire location, as well as take alot of pictures.

Thanks for the reply
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