Originally Posted by dst
Update - the electrician came back with a much more reasonable quote on speaker wires at about $75-80 per wire. Now I have to decide on the Cat 5e/6 wiring which is $115 or $70 per wire respectively.
I assume he's charging more for cat6, correct? The tradeoffs between running "more" cat5e vs. "less" cat6 is a tough one. I would probably lean towards more wires, but a mix of say one cat6 and the rest (to each TV location) as cat5e might be the best compromise. I don't see, IMO, anything on the horizon in the next 3-5 years that would require cat6 in your house. Longer term than that, I doubt it, but predictions out much further than that become guesses... My reasoning is that most folks have been installing cat5e for a decade, anyone building a product to work in anything other than future-new-construction had better make it work on cat5e if they expect to sell any of them...
Based on all of the input here, I was planning on doing 3-4 Cat6 runs per tv location -- 2 for tv/hdmi, 1 for LAN, and 1 for extra. But now I am questioning whether I truly would need hard wired network access at all the locations and pay for the extra "future proof" cable. I'm now thinking just two Cat6 lines to each room that should suffice for just tv or possibly tv and data.
If you're planning to distribute HD soon, 3 cables would be a good minimum. If that's just a future plan, 2 is probably enough (assuming HDBaseT and one other use). You should absolutely plan for hard-wired networking, though, as it will always be cheaper and more reliable than any wireless solution(s).
On my most critical run, I will also have a conduit as a backup plan.
We're talking about 6-7 non-critical locations, so this could save me $700-1400 now that can easily be used on more immediate needs. Am I being penny wise and pound foolish? Why wouldn't 2 Cat6 cables work for most rooms (e.g., kids rooms)?
For non-critical locations, I would first make sure you have good coverage in the rooms with cat5e. Meaning, can you get to any area/wall in the room big enough to hold furniture with a cable strung from the outlet without crossing a door frame. From there, adding more wires at the display locations would be the next priority.
One other question -- 2 of my tv locations are outside and they are long runs from the central closet so I was planning to run hdmi over Cat6. I really have no need for LAN jacks outside, so do I need to play it safe with 2 Cat6 drops per tv, both reserved for hdmi?
I would recommend you keep your wiring consistent at all display locations. "Long" cables in most houses aren't really that long - under 100' won't push you to cat6 requirements by itself.