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no sticky for whole house wiring?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I was hoping to find general recommendations for whole house wiring.

High level stuff like cat6 to every bedroom? When I go to order cat6 bulk from monoprice, there are options for solid or stranded. Which do I want? Where is a good place to buy the keystones and wall plates? Is cat6 enough for everything, or do I need to pull HDMI? Is there any value in pulling fiber?

I want to have audio in 9 rooms, broken down by zones:
zone 1: Master bath (2nd floor)
Zone 2: kitchen, dining room, family room (1st floor)
Zone 3: pool room & pool bath (basement)
Zone 4: guest bedroom & guest bath (1st floor).
Zone 5: Office wired multi-channel for gaming (2nd floor)

Those are zones in the traditional sense that the music is the same on all the speakers in the zone. For content / control, I would want 3 "zones". Some sort of dockable iPod source for guest bed & bath. PC source in the office. And the rest pulled from "my music" either a server or some sort of appliance.

I know home running everything is generally recommended, but I have 3 floors / 5600sqft finished area, so there is no real convenient central area. I was thinking of doing a home run per floor. I've seen multichannel amps from QSC, but I've never seen a multi zone pre-amp other than the typical zone A + B. No idea how to control the audio or where it would come from.

Mainly, though, I just need to get the wiring run while my builder is giving me time. What kind of speaker wire should I get? Is stranded or solid better for speaker cable? Should I get the 2 conductor wrapped in insulation, or the one with 2 conductors separately wrapped in insulation with a jacket over the top? Monoprice had both and the latter is cheaper by a few cents.

For speakers I was going to get the B&W in-ceilings. They advertise better bass than most in-ceiling speakers. Maybe that's overkill, not sure. Is there anything special to terminate the wires for in-ceiling speakers, or do I just leave bare speaker wire in the joists about where I plan to put the speaker (assuming speaker goes in after drywall)?
post #2 of 5
You need to make 1 convenient central area. Dennis Erskine's group provides whole house wiring diagrams depending on your needs. There is a lot to learn, and you have 1 shot at prewiring. Many local custom installation companies to choose from, if you want it done with minimal effort. This is exactly what they do.

If you have a couple months to do the research then search for 'prewire' and 'new construction'.
post #3 of 5
In agreeing with Neurorad, for the sake of wiring... don't kill yourself trying to figure out how to DIY this! Running basic structured wiring tends to be such an inexpensive task you are much better off leaving this to people who do it every day.

1st off, I'd be VERY surprised to learn that your GC doesn't have a LV wiring company already... I mean you're in the research triangle for goodness sake! But if not, there are numerous companies who can help that we can recommend... but really, start with your GC since they have to warranty the house. Also, while it sounds like you have a lax GC; few are very tolerant of people DIY'ing or bringing their own subs onto a job; it is a huge liability for them for numerous reasons.

Just remember, you do this yourself, or even take the approach of "I'll furnish the wire to the LV contractor", you're asking for trouble the moment there is a problem. If you DIY it, when you have a problem, you don't have the tools or expertise to troubleshoot it; thus you're spending lots on tools or lots on a service call. If you furnish the wire, the LV company is not likely going to warranty the job.

Bottom line is you're not going to save a ton of money here. Most wiring companies are not marking the wire way up. Also, if you find a company who offers security; many of these guys do the wiring VERY cheap if they can get you on board with signing a security monitoring contract (which if you're going to do anyway, may be a good thought while vetting people).

I run a company which does systems all over the country... even in our own back yard we almost never do the wiring internally... it just doesn't make sense for us to staff to do this; we simply write a spec and then come back in to run performance certification testing when it's done to make sure they did it right.

To protect yourself against someone using totally cheapo wiring; you need to provide a spec; dictating wire specifications... and telling someone to use CAT6 solid or stranded is not the spec; it has to be based on bandwidth, bit-rate, shielding type, intended use, etc. This way if their is a problem and they provided inadequate infrastructure you can hold them responsible.

The only time we furnish the wire for a LV guy is if it's something special. For instance, in areas where we really care about performance we might furnish Transparent Audio speaker wire & HDMI cables... or we might simply have them run a conduit network that we can pull our own wire through post-construction that terminates to an equipment location or pull-box.

If you don't trust a local company for helping you create a spec (for instance if you're concerned they are trying to sell you their stuff), I'll be glad to talk with you further about creating a system design spec that is not based on "what I want to sell you". You can then take the spec out for bid and have something to manage against.

Contact me Via PM if interested as I don't subscribe to forum threads (too much to keep up with; and rarely from the person who had the questions).
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

You need to make 1 convenient central area. Dennis Erskine's group provides whole house wiring diagrams depending on your needs. There is a lot to learn, and you have 1 shot at prewiring. Many local custom installation companies to choose from, if you want it done with minimal effort. This is exactly what they do.
If you have a couple months to do the research then search for 'prewire' and 'new construction'.

+1 on central home run.
post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

When I go to order cat6 bulk from monoprice, there are options for solid or stranded. Which do I want?
Use solid wire in the wall. It performs better. Use stranded wire for patch cords where you need flexibility.
Quote:
Where is a good place to buy the keystones and wall plates?
Monoprice, local local big box home improvement store, lots of other places...
Quote:
Is cat6 enough for everything, or do I need to pull HDMI?
Depends on what you want. Most folks run coax as well. HDMI may be appropriate in some locations. Check out the numerous threads in these forums on the topic.
Quote:
Is there any value in pulling fiber?
Probably not unless you have really long runs. You can do HDMI over Cat 6 up to 100m with HDBaseT, longer than that if you daisy chain.
Quote:
What kind of speaker wire should I get? Is stranded or solid better for speaker cable? Should I get the 2 conductor wrapped in insulation, or the one with 2 conductors separately wrapped in insulation with a jacket over the top? Monoprice had both and the latter is cheaper by a few cents.
There is no difference in performance between stranded and solid speaker wire. Stranded is usually used because it is easier to work with. Architectural wire (the kind that goes in walls) is normally sheathed to protect the wires during installation and after. Wire that is going in walls, ceilings, etc. needs to be appropriately listed (CL2, CL3, or CM).
Quote:
...do I just leave bare speaker wire in the joists about where I plan to put the speaker (assuming speaker goes in after drywall)?
Yes. Make sure it isn't in the way of the trades who are working on your house. Take lots of pictures before the drywall goes up so you can find everything.
Edited by Colm - 8/20/12 at 3:49pm
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