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Conduit Installation Strategies

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
We are having our house built. I plan to do the low voltage wiring (coax + cat6 for now).

The house is 2 story with attic and basement, though the attic height will be very limited.

I plan to run 1-1/4" conduit to all outlets. This is because it is the largest size hole I can put through the load bearing 2x4 stud walls and stay to code.

First floor conduit it easy. I'll make stub-outs to the basement then run the wires to the equipment room.

I'm looking for advice on how to run conduit for the second floor. I see these possibilities. Perhaps there are others.
  1. 2-3" conduit from attic to basement. Outlet conduit stub-outs in attic, run wires in attic to main conduit.
  2. 2-3" conduit from 2nd story closet to basement. Outlet conduit runs to the closet. I can pull wire to there then feed through main conduit.
  3. Each outlet conduit runs in floor joists to nearest first floor wall then directly to basement.
I really dislike (1). I retrofitted my previous home like this and really hated working in the attic. Plus, the attic height will be very, very limited in the new home.

I don't like (2) as much as I have to take a little room from a closet to access the conduits. But this may work better than option (3).

Option (3) would require conduit runs up to 25 feet with up to 270 degrees in bends.

Regardless of the above I'll be running an extra 2-3" conduit basement to attic for the future, as well as a second conduit some distance away for potential future electrical runs.

Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
post #2 of 13
What do you mean by 'all outlets'?

Most of the cables you can install during construction. The conduit will be for extra stuff you forgot, or for a future unknown technology (e.g. HDMI 4.9d).

Conduit to all TV (or potential TV) locations should be good, with the additional multiple attic to basement large diameter runs. Rigid PVC might be cheaper than the flex for these long, large runs.

Install the conduit empty - install cables outside of the conduit; it's for future runs. Hopefully, you'll never need it.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
By all outlets I mean all the outlets for cable, telephone and network. Two in each bedroom, one in the kitchen, one on each side of the great room, one in the eating nook, two in the study.

Because of time constraints I may not be able to run all the wires I need before they have to close up the walls. I will try, though.

I do plan on the large diameter grey electrical conduit for the long attic to basement and flexible conduit for other runs.

The question still remains for recommendations on where to route the flexible conduit.

And come to think of it, I've not considered running the cables outside the conduit before now. Is it best practice to run them to a central spot in the 2nd floor joists and then down, or just run them to the basement via the nearest first floor wall?
post #4 of 13
conduit is not for before walls are put up...you are creating a mess by wanting to run conduit to each location.

i would:

1.) Run as many wires as i could before walls up (buy a couple of spools of structured cable....you can run the whole house in a day).

2.) put in a couple of 3 inch basement - attic conduits for future proofing (having a stop-off at each floor).

3.) all runs terminate at same point in the basement

4.) If you are really concerned that you cant finish the work, then use short coax runs....drill your top plate hole, drop the coax in and run it to the outlet and tie off, tie off the top in a knot above the top plate....LOOSELY nail so it is out of way of sheetrockers but can be pulled through.....now you have a CL3 rated pullstring at all your drops, so if you forget something, you can run it up your master 3" conduit, then bring it over the the room drop and use your built in pull string.
post #5 of 13
btw, i am 100 percent certain that 100 percent of the time you can run structured cable faster than you can install conduit.

so the time argument makes no sense.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Because of insulation in exterior walls, it would be extremely difficult to upgrade outlets there in the future without conduit. Some of the insulation will be the sprayed foam that then hardens, which could make it nearly impossible.

We'll also have insulation in most of the interior walls for sound proofing, making the interior walls also difficult for runs without conduit.

Thus my desire to run conduit to all outlets.

Since I need to run conduit, I fear I won't have time for the other runs, thus my discussion of the time.

A pre-fab structured cable is likely out since it costs double. I'm having enough trouble getting the costs past my wife as it is
post #7 of 13
spray foam is a slight detail you left out, lol.

i think you are grossly underestimating how difficult it is to retrofit even with conduit in the walls.

buy 2 spools of coax, 2 spools of cat 6 and run all 4 at the same time.....

you will not love running cables later, EVEN with conduit.

So trust the comments here, wire first, make the time, then future proof with conduit as time allows. 2 coax and 2 cat 6's should future proof you for 10 years anyway.

with 180 degrees of bends in conduit it becomes a miserable job to pull wire..miserable. if you have 270 degrees, depending on the orientation, it may actually be impossible, that static friction is amazing. (think of a rope that is re-woven into itself....you can moor a ship with that and the only thing holding it together is friction).

anyway, if you MUST do the conduit to every outlet (oy-vey!) then option 2 is the best....3" conduit to closet, then home-runs from close to outlets. That way you have a giant pull box (the closet) and and replace any bad runs/upgrade later much more easily.
post #8 of 13
I'd go with 3 or 4 cat6 to each TV/display location, if you're considering distributed video with a conventional matrix switch. Pretty pricey, for powered hdmi over ethernet cable solutions.

2 for AV, 1 for LAN. Control usually included with the 2 for AV, or it will be done RF. 1 Extra or for other control.

2 Coax...conventional cable? Video cameras planned?
post #9 of 13
If you buy your cable locally (electric supply store) they may take returns of unused spools/boxes. Ask them before you buy.

Running the cables will take 2 inexperienced people a couple days. The conduit could take longer.

If the LV cables and conduit will be inspected, talk to the AHJ before you start. He may have some things to say about the conduit - blue smurf tube (rated for line voltage cables) vs. orange (LV only), penetration sizes and locations, where you need fire caulking, and the spacing of the D-ring fittings.

Maybe you can come in after the electrical inspection is done, builder would prob prefer that.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Builder is fine with me doing conduit. I already talked to the inspector. He seems pretty lax, e.g. doesn't care about what color conduit I use (I'm using the orange LV anyway), but did talk about fire caulking, penetration sizes, etc.

Video cameras and other security up in the air.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Builder is fine with me doing conduit.

I already talked to the inspector. He seems pretty lax. Doesn't care what color the conduit is (I'll be using orange LV anyway), says I need to follow NEC but said "most of it is bull". But he did clear my penetration sizes, remind me to use fire caulk, mineral wool or cap conduits, etc.

There is no budget for an initial security system or video cameras. I need to review what, if any, prewiring I might do. I'll post questions later on that after I've done some research.

The plan is for network distribution of video to an AppleTV, SageTV, or something similar to each TV.

Neurorad: What are your thoughts on conduit strategies? (1, 2, 3 or ?). And for running outside the conduit, do you recommend running to the attic then down to the basement in one spot, or just take the shortest path from the second floor to the basement via first floor walls?

Thanks all for your comments.
post #12 of 13
I'd go with option 1 for conduit, stub outs into attic. But, I really don't know how low the ceiling is in your attic.

Attic work is MUCH easier in the Fall/Winter in my home. I don't know if you have seasons. Now that I've done a lot of work in the attic when it's hot and cold, I will avoid running cables during summer, no comparison. The project can wait until it cools off, and the wasps hibernate/die.

I built a cat-walk in one part of my attic a couple months ago, to make crossing a large tray ceiling easy. What used to be an exhausting exercise in cortortion is now a 3 second trip.

I digress - install the cables you need, now. Keep the conduit runs short with few bends (option 1). Try to avoid needing new cables.
post #13 of 13
I ran 4 rg6 and 2 cat5e to all of my outlets..

I use one to zero of the rg6.

I have need for more than 2 cat5e.. FOr example, one bedroom has a ps3 and a toshiba hd-a1.. I have no network connections left, nor can I put a telephone there. Yes, I could put a cheap switch there.. but vs the cost of installing more cat5e originally..

You can pretty much run anything over cat5 with a balun, so i personally would run at least 4 cat5e to each tv location.
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