Question about structured wiring management - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 21 Old 10-15-2019, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Question about structured wiring management

Hi Everyone

I've got a couple questions for you all.

First off, full disclosure, I do work for a company that sells structured wiring enclosures. I will NOT promote them here.

I am interested in learning what everyone is using for enclosures for their distributed audio / wifi / smart home systems? What are your challenges and needs for this?
I've read a few posts on here that talk about either using rackmount or just affixing components to the wall. I'd like to know what your ideal solution is.

Second question, for outside AV installations, how do you protect your equipment? Run cable from inside to out? Or in the case of wifi and smart home components, house the components in a NEMA enclosure?

I'm just looking to get some insight into what installers really need and hopefully start a discussion to find what the best solutions are.

Thanks!
James
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post #2 of 21 Old 10-15-2019, 08:26 PM
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OK, I'll go first. I'm in the middle of a fairly large house new construction, just finishing up prewire. We (various subs and me) have pulled something like 80 cat drops for TV/data locations, 15 cat drops for echo type poe connections, 25 drops for audio/automation/security keypad controls, 10 cat drops for WAP or lighting repeater locations, another dozen cat drops for camera poe, another 30 cat drops to pool equipment/garage openers/HVAC/water heaters etc.

Add to that 20 zones of audio cabling, 20 or so RG6 runs, 1.5" conduit to every room of the house and a few outdoor locations (some aggregates in nearby attic, only 4 total conduits make it to the equipment closet), a mess load of security wiring, some more 4 conductor to various water leak or other sensor locations, some rs485 for repeater locations...

This all comes to a single equipment closet on 2nd floor.

Now to answer your question...

For audio I decided to do typical wall plates since PE had a clearance on some 6 stereo zone plates and 4 of those covers me without the need for some exotic DIN strip or something.

Security gets its own panel, obviously.

Conduit comes up in an empty stud bay with several large access holes into adjacent stud bay, where all the cat drops congregate. I intend to mostly rack mount equipment (wha controller, amplifiers, automation server, security/BI server, pfsense appliance or server, unRaid server, patch panels etc.

I like the look of a recessed leviton or similar panel for all the wiring to enter within the stud bays (and conduit from the side in adjacent bay). However, with rack mounted equipment, instead of trying to fit a bunch of the router etc hardware inside the enclosure, the wiring needs to not only enter neatly but also exit neatly. I did not find a product that seems to accomplish both. For a recessed enclosure, this would mean either no cover or holes in the front cover. For a surface mounted enclosure it would typically mean conduit external to sheetrock entering/exiting the panel top and bottom.

After looking at alternatives, I am planning to surface mount a large 42" panel behind the rack, and cut large openings in the back of the panel for all wiring to enter from the stud bay. Then I can group cabling into logical functions and exit the enclosure via grommets and/or conduit headed to rack, security panel, whatever. There should still be room in the ensure in case I want to mount any smaller gear internally, like a fiber modem or something.

Perhaps there is an ensure made to handle just this type of job but I didn't find it. For racks I often just see raw wire exiting some low voltage boxes and open hole plates, and for enclosure installs most gear is typically mounted and structured inside the enclosure. I sort of wanted the best of both.
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post #3 of 21 Old 10-15-2019, 08:53 PM
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Too vague of a question.

Figure out what people use for equipment, first. Find your target audience.

What channel are you targeting?

Here is a relevant thread from a pro forum - http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin...read.cgi?42194

This AVS forum is predominantly for end-users, and DIYers, but there are a few pros here.

I think the solution you are seeking is very specific to the chosen equipment.

For conventional multichannel amps, people choose rack mounted options.

For smaller stuff, people use regular wall-mount enclosures.

Figure out why people don't use those options, and make them easier to use. Stupid simple. They don't require advanced degrees to use, but there is some basic knowledge required. It took me years to figure them out; shouldn't be the case.

Racks and enclosures are still mostly installed by pros. Doesn't have to be this way, with more education and support provided by manufacturers. They are very good solutions, just lots of pitfalls.

More to your point, enclosures should be designed to be more attractive, surface mount, included power outlets, and with adjustable shelves.

Racks should be marketed with an eye to service - easy to swap components, plug and unplug equipment, troubleshoot. I personally prefer rack-mount equipment, but shelves are less intimidating. Power strip should be included. Small footprint, not deep, but the depth will be determined by the chosen equipment. The half-width rack idea should be pushed; most people don't have the space.
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post #4 of 21 Old 10-16-2019, 06:44 AM
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Your post struck me as well informed-beyond many followers of AVS who like me are amateurs do it your-selfers. I wanted to alert you that as I wanted to follow your link, it just takes me to the current first page of the Remote Central forum. Perhaps you could just post the information you were linking. Thanks

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post #5 of 21 Old 10-18-2019, 04:10 PM
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Middle Atlantic racks are the go to for me, but it depends entirely on budget and system size. Outdoor gear is typically just speakers and maybe a TV. All of which are rated to be used outdoors from day one. Then wiring is brought back into the home for long term operation.

I've faced racks into rooms to show them off, and I've hidden them in closets.

Actual cable management is all about zip ties for me. The lightweight 8" ones. Hundreds of them in a full sized rack and a lot of time.
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post #6 of 21 Old 10-20-2019, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by AV_Integrated View Post
Middle Atlantic racks are the go to for me, but it depends entirely on budget and system size. Outdoor gear is typically just speakers and maybe a TV. All of which are rated to be used outdoors from day one. Then wiring is brought back into the home for long term operation.

I've faced racks into rooms to show them off, and I've hidden them in closets.

Actual cable management is all about zip ties for me. The lightweight 8" ones. Hundreds of them in a full sized rack and a lot of time.
Try Velcro ties. Easier to service.

I switched from zip ties to Velcro One-wrap. This Velcro make/model wouldn't be a good fit for a pro given the cost- much cheaper options for bulk black Velcro straps.

Velcro One-wrap has a little hole for attaching it to a single cable (e.g. USB), so it doesn't get lost; don't use the hole for rack cables.
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post #7 of 21 Old 10-20-2019, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Postmoderndesign View Post
Your post struck me as well informed-beyond many followers of AVS who like me are amateurs do it your-selfers. I wanted to alert you that as I wanted to follow your link, it just takes me to the current first page of the Remote Central forum. Perhaps you could just post the information you were linking. Thanks
The thread is titled, 'I need a NEMA enclosure to fit an AMP and Sonos Port'.

Edit - Sorry, yes, at the RemoteCentral forum.

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post #8 of 21 Old 10-20-2019, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post
The thread is titled, 'I need a NEMA enclosure to fit an AMP and Sonos Port'.
Actually the thread is titled "Question about structure wiring management"

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post #9 of 21 Old 10-20-2019, 09:20 PM
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I think he meant at the remotecentral forum.
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post #10 of 21 Old 10-20-2019, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post
Try Velcro ties. Easier to service.
Also, hook and loop type fasteners are a CEDIA recommended best practice for cable management. As a CEDIA HTP awards judge, I was a participant to quite a few discussions about rack wiring in the awards submissions.
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post #11 of 21 Old 10-21-2019, 07:57 AM
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I think he meant at the remotecentral forum.
Thanks, for a moment I thought there might be a glitch in the AVS forum matrix.
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post #12 of 21 Old 10-28-2019, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, I'll go first. I'm in the middle of a fairly large house new construction, just finishing up prewire. We (various subs and me) have pulled something like 80 cat drops for TV/data locations, 15 cat drops for echo type poe connections, 25 drops for audio/automation/security keypad controls, 10 cat drops for WAP or lighting repeater locations, another dozen cat drops for camera poe, another 30 cat drops to pool equipment/garage openers/HVAC/water heaters etc.

Add to that 20 zones of audio cabling, 20 or so RG6 runs, 1.5" conduit to every room of the house and a few outdoor locations (some aggregates in nearby attic, only 4 total conduits make it to the equipment closet), a mess load of security wiring, some more 4 conductor to various water leak or other sensor locations, some rs485 for repeater locations...

This all comes to a single equipment closet on 2nd floor.

Now to answer your question...

For audio I decided to do typical wall plates since PE had a clearance on some 6 stereo zone plates and 4 of those covers me without the need for some exotic DIN strip or something.

Security gets its own panel, obviously.

Conduit comes up in an empty stud bay with several large access holes into adjacent stud bay, where all the cat drops congregate. I intend to mostly rack mount equipment (wha controller, amplifiers, automation server, security/BI server, pfsense appliance or server, unRaid server, patch panels etc.

I like the look of a recessed leviton or similar panel for all the wiring to enter within the stud bays (and conduit from the side in adjacent bay). However, with rack mounted equipment, instead of trying to fit a bunch of the router etc hardware inside the enclosure, the wiring needs to not only enter neatly but also exit neatly. I did not find a product that seems to accomplish both. For a recessed enclosure, this would mean either no cover or holes in the front cover. For a surface mounted enclosure it would typically mean conduit external to sheetrock entering/exiting the panel top and bottom.

After looking at alternatives, I am planning to surface mount a large 42" panel behind the rack, and cut large openings in the back of the panel for all wiring to enter from the stud bay. Then I can group cabling into logical functions and exit the enclosure via grommets and/or conduit headed to rack, security panel, whatever. There should still be room in the ensure in case I want to mount any smaller gear internally, like a fiber modem or something.

Perhaps there is an ensure made to handle just this type of job but I didn't find it. For racks I often just see raw wire exiting some low voltage boxes and open hole plates, and for enclosure installs most gear is typically mounted and structured inside the enclosure. I sort of wanted the best of both.
Thanks you. A lot of information here. This is a huge job it sounds like.

In this instance you've got a whole equipment closet to work with and that gives you a lot more working space for racks and such to work with. Your stud bay is your Structured wiring enclosure?

I've seen the Legrand enclosure. They have plastic and metal? Which do you prefer? Why did you choose them? Do you install DATA/VOICE modules? And are yui using Cat6 or Cat6a?

Thank you.
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Too vague of a question.

Figure out what people use for equipment, first. Find your target audience.

What channel are you targeting?

Here is a relevant thread from a pro forum -

This AVS forum is predominantly for end-users, and DIYers, but there are a few pros here.

I think the solution you are seeking is very specific to the chosen equipment.

For conventional multichannel amps, people choose rack mounted options.

For smaller stuff, people use regular wall-mount enclosures.

Figure out why people don't use those options, and make them easier to use. Stupid simple. They don't require advanced degrees to use, but there is some basic knowledge required. It took me years to figure them out; shouldn't be the case.

Racks and enclosures are still mostly installed by pros. Doesn't have to be this way, with more education and support provided by manufacturers. They are very good solutions, just lots of pitfalls.

More to your point, enclosures should be designed to be more attractive, surface mount, included power outlets, and with adjustable shelves.

Racks should be marketed with an eye to service - easy to swap components, plug and unplug equipment, troubleshoot. I personally prefer rack-mount equipment, but shelves are less intimidating. Power strip should be included. Small footprint, not deep, but the depth will be determined by the chosen equipment. The half-width rack idea should be pushed; most people don't have the space.
Thanks. Followed the link. Good info. So is metal preferred over plastic for outdoor enclosures or is plastic NEMA box better?

I've seen a lot of enclosures on the market that fit your criteria of "attractive, surface mount, included power outlets, and with adjustable shelves".
do you have a favourite brand? Why?
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post #14 of 21 Old 10-28-2019, 06:02 PM
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Using cat6. I asked about cat6a, would have had to purchase myself and since no one really knew how much this job would end up taking it was easier to just let electricians use what they could source on demand. Cat6a would have given me a little more liklihood of being able to support 10gbs speeds should I ever need to do that, but cat6 should be capable even over the longest runs I have.

To be honest though, it's only because I have sufficient conduit run everywhere that I didn't feel the need to insist on the 6a. If I didn't have conduit I would have for sure.

Metal enclosure. Have ceiling/cabinet locations throughout the house wired to support WAP, zwave repeater, Lutron repeater or whatever else wireless communication I need. Didn't feel the need for plastic enclosure since I don't intend to have any wireless in it.

Will have plenty of room in the enclosure should I want any structured modules in it, but will mostly stick to rackmounted equipment.

One stud bay has all cat and coax pulls into it and over this bay I will surface mount the enclosure.

The adjacent stud bay has empty conduit, will have a simple 16" access panel to get into the space later, and has large holes through the stud into the adjacent bay with the panel. If I ever need to run a fiber cable, or cat8, or whatever, I can easily route through the bays into the enclosure then out to wherever needed.
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I've seen the Legrand enclosure. They have plastic and metal? Which do you prefer? Why did you choose them? Do you install DATA/VOICE modules? And are yui using Cat6 or Cat6a?



Thank you.


I’ll jump in ..... I use the Legrand enclosures; typically metal with in-ceiling AP’s. Depends on customer budget.

Metal enclosures can use a vented extension which gives extra room for cable management and in-cabinet UPS, although the extension isn’t required to fit the UPS. They offer a nice clear or smoke acrylic cover along with metal covers. I always use a hinges cover instead of the screw on.

I use their modules for terminating cables. CAT5 or CAT6 also depends on budget. The Cat5 modules are considerably less expensive.

I like their universal bracket; you can strap pretty much anything to it; routers, RF lighting hubs, etc...

I also use their home audio stuff that mounts in the enclosure. I’ve also mounted their Nuvo single zone players inside the cabinet.

A rack is nice, but not everyone is willing to dedicate a space for it.


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post #16 of 21 Old 10-29-2019, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Also, hook and loop type fasteners are a CEDIA recommended best practice for cable management. As a CEDIA HTP awards judge, I was a participant to quite a few discussions about rack wiring in the awards submissions.
Thanks. Good to know. What about wall mounted enclosures? Should they be more secure in the enclosure with zip ties or is velcro still ok? I ask because added tamper-proofing with ties so homeowner doesn't remove or move components.
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I’ll jump in ..... I use the Legrand enclosures; typically metal with in-ceiling AP’s. Depends on customer budget.

Metal enclosures can use a vented extension which gives extra room for cable management and in-cabinet UPS, although the extension isn’t required to fit the UPS. They offer a nice clear or smoke acrylic cover along with metal covers. I always use a hinges cover instead of the screw on.

I use their modules for terminating cables. CAT5 or CAT6 also depends on budget. The Cat5 modules are considerably less expensive.

I like their universal bracket; you can strap pretty much anything to it; routers, RF lighting hubs, etc...

I also use their home audio stuff that mounts in the enclosure. I’ve also mounted their Nuvo single zone players inside the cabinet.

A rack is nice, but not everyone is willing to dedicate a space for it.


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Thanks. You don't worry about wifi signal loss with metal enclosures?
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Thanks. You don't worry about wifi signal loss with metal enclosures?


I don’t use wireless routers in metal enclosures; only in ceiling AP’s.

It seems in most of my projects there isn’t a good central point to use a plastic enclosure with a wireless router. That or the customer isn’t willing to give up the wall space for it, so the enclosure ends up in a closet somewhere at the edge of the house.


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post #19 of 21 Old 10-30-2019, 06:54 PM
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If you're developing an enclosure for the masses, use plastic/ABS, for RF reasons.

If you want to offer security to the Airbnb owner, then yes, of course put an exceptionally designed lock on it; make the lock design worth the up-sell. Mechanical, and electronic. And, monitored - hardwired tamper option, and electronic.

Offer a main, larger enclosure for most stuff, and smaller units for repeaters.

Most stuff on the wall is at pre-determined heights - outlet, switch, thermostat (60").

Promote that extra spot higher on the wall - doorbell - not sure what the ideal level is for that, but it probably exists. Probably in the corner of the wall in the room adjacent to the front door. Inconspicuous, houses the wireless doorbell or matches it in appearance/location (needs power, of course) and the repeater for the front door equipment/camera. May be a good spot for another inconspicuous WAP, inside your beautiful enclosure. Yeah, you'll need to make sure its appearance is no short of incredible. If you're an engineer, sub out that work...rounded corners, clean lines, minimalist branding are beyond your abilities.

Put the mechanical lock on the top of the enclosure so nobody can see it.

Go buy all the equipment you think anyone would ever use in your enclosure(s), and then use it. Set up a lab. Try it yourself.

When you launch your product, set up a stupid easy method for feedback, so you can figure out how to most easily improve it. It kills me that nobody does this now. Hard to improve, if no feedback.

You can't offer a single enclosure for interior and exterior. The NEMA rating will be more expensive, and uglier (unless you work really hard on that).

It's starting to rain, here, on my deck. Have to sign off.

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Something else I’d like to add.....

I’d like to see someone come to market with an enclosure that is wider than 14-1/2”. Something like a 20” wide can (like you see with electrical panelboard cabinets). And maybe even taller, around 60”.

Right now I usually install two 42” cans and nipple between them. A single can that is wider and possibly taller would eliminate some of that for me. It also leaves ample room for future expansion.




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post #21 of 21 Old 11-02-2019, 10:25 PM
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Something else I’d like to add.....

I’d like to see someone come to market with an enclosure that is wider than 14-1/2”. Something like a 20” wide can (like you see with electrical panelboard cabinets). And maybe even taller, around 60”.

Right now I usually install two 42” cans and nipple between them. A single can that is wider and possibly taller would eliminate some of that for me. It also leaves ample room for future expansion.
This is a decent idea, but most people these days don't need a large enclosure.

I'm sure you're aware the current design allows for both flush and surface mount options. Fits between 2 studs, when recessed.

I much prefer the flush/recessed option, personally, but the surface mount is much more functional - easier to install and change devices over time.

If you don't care about the appearance, skip the enclosures and use plywood. So much simpler.

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