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Discussion Starter #1
I was a mech engineer in a former life, have had my hands all kinds of dirty welding and machining, and have plenty of experience building speakers, amplifiers etc. Briefly before a career change I entertained the idea of entering the home theater/home audio design/install business and did a few small jobs that consisted mostely of pulling speaker wire in ceiling of a single room.

I understand the basic concept of pulling LV wire, firestopping, terminating etc but have never actually tackled anything more than a room or wall. Have never ran smurf tube.

For a largish new construction, say 7000 ft or so, how daunting of a task is that? Is it potentially a one person job evenings and weekends or is that asking for serious trouble?

I ask for a couple of reasons. One, my builder will let me, and I'm a DIY kind of person at heart. There aren't a lot of things I'm going to have time or motivation to tackle myself in construction... this may be the rare exception. Two, with the number of drops I would plan (multiple to room TV/computer locations, wall keypads, etc) I have some concerns over getting it done just the way I'd like and maybe getting it done right for a reasonable cost as well.

Thinking network, coax, and cat for keypad locations in anticipation of home automation now or in the future. Might consider security wiring for cameras too but I start to wince when I think of tackling window and door sensors everywhere.

Any thoughts or advice?
 

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For camera placement and cabling tips, hit the “Cliff Notes” link in my signature.

I sure wish I could go back and do it all over!

I ran Smurf tube when I finished my basement and I bought the namebrand Carlon blue stuff and I was surprised at how stiff it was

I installed 1 inch (pretty sure) and that diameter wasn’t enough for some of the longer runs with multiple cables but I didn’t Install pull strings either

If it were me and I had a really long run I would probably use glued PVC which is much smoother and easier to pull through.


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Discussion Starter #3
Wonder how hard it would be to run rigid PVC to needed locations? I guess plumbers deal with that and copper tubing so not impossible.
 

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Wiring one's home is certainly doable DIY. Nights / weekends are common.
The first step is your plan including what wires go where, and how to get them there. Put that in a spreadsheet and a drawing.
Get a nice Hole Hawg right angle drill with an aggressive bit to go through the 2x4s.

Wait until after the plumbing, HVAC and high voltage electric is done, unless you know for sure where they will be. You want to be just prior to insulation. You can plan your routes while the other trades are doing their thing so you can be efficient once they are done. Mark on the studs where holes are planned and for which wires according to your design spreadsheet.

Get some friends together and knock it out. Delaying insulation / drywall will not be a good thing to the overall schedule. Contractors are busy in most places now-a-days...they will move onto another job and leave your project hanging.

Pulling multiple wires at once is just as easy as one. This requires multiple boxes of same wire, or some good approximation of cable lengths to cut one box into the multiple runs. Go long, not short on approximations. The cost of the wire isn't worth running short.

Buy most of your wire from a wire supply and a couple from big box stores that have easier return policies...use the wire supply stuff first.

Running rigid pipe is way harder. We overwire the house without pipe, and use smurf tube on "high tech areas" like from equipment closet to projector for future proofing, or from basement to ceiling for major routes. Walk through how to get new wire to each area of the home assuming the drywall was up.

Not a whole lot of copper going on in most areas...all is PEX now.

Take pictures / video of the entire installation and where future wires might route. Use a tape measure in the picture to get the exact locations down.

And make sure you have put in your firestopping and aren't in any fresh air return chases etc that the inspector will flag before the walls are covered up.

Have fun!
 

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The flex conduit is for future cable runs. You would install all your LV cables outside of the conduit, during construction. As such, conduit would be useful where future cables will be needed. Mostly, I think, this would be for future HDMI cables, from equipment to displays. You won't need to install much conduit, typically. If there is attic above or crawlspace/basement below your TV, then you probably don't even need any conduit. This is, of course, if you think of every potential cable you might ever need.

I have installed flex conduit in my house to TV locations, from equipment locations. And, I installed some long runs of flex conduit from my attic to the basement mechanical room. I've been slowly adding cables over the years.

How long of a window will your builder offer you to install the LV cables and conduit? Single weekend? Usually, it's after the electrician is done.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I will have to see if the builder will give me a little more specific timeframe. I know there are lots of small things that take a while to complete before drywall goes up in a house, will ask about timing. Breaking ground is still a ways off, just trying to figure out as much as I can now.

As for the smurf tube, this will be 2.5 story center of house on slab, theater in .5 above. Matt bdrm and kitchen 1 story with attic above, garage with bonus space above. So some accessible, some not so much. I would leave conduit empty at install but mainly wondering about fiber or who knows throughout house in the future. Things change, but we hope this is the last house we live in. Will probably do at least 1 or 2 runs to each room in cat6a, others in 5e or 6.

Would love to avoid the smurf tube, especially when looking at some runs of 75 feet or so from say network closet to bonus room. Seems like I may want some though at least in key locations.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Planning on structured wiring, network, automation etc closet fairly center of main house mass on second floor. Theater only thing above. Hopefully going down with cables just as easy as going up.
 

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I will have to see if the builder will give me a little more specific timeframe. I know there are lots of small things that take a while to complete before drywall goes up in a house, will ask about timing. Breaking ground is still a ways off, just trying to figure out as much as I can now.
Good, you've actually got time to plan - which is unusual for posts like this (typically "hey, I need to wire my house this weekend... what do I do?") :D

Post a floor plan and we can help with the where/how much wire...

As for the smurf tube, this will be 2.5 story center of house on slab, theater in .5 above. Matt bdrm and kitchen 1 story with attic above, garage with bonus space above. So some accessible, some not so much. I would leave conduit empty at install but mainly wondering about fiber or who knows throughout house in the future. Things change, but we hope this is the last house we live in. Will probably do at least 1 or 2 runs to each room in cat6a, others in 5e or 6.
Forget fiber. Lots of category cable is the best answer. Multiple runs to multiple points in most rooms. Make sure you can reach a category cable outlet from any usable wall space without crossing a door frame - which for most rooms means two locations in the room.

Would love to avoid the smurf tube, especially when looking at some runs of 75 feet or so from say network closet to bonus room. Seems like I may want some though at least in key locations.
You don't need to run the smurf tube for an entire run. You just need to provide a pathway from an accessible point to the "outlet" location. Which normally just means running up to the attic. As long as you can reach the end of the tube after construction, you can drop wires down.

Now, for a theater you should run smurf tubes between the projector location and the equipment rack/area at least, but those "in the same room" flex conduit runs are rare.

Don't forget runs for outdoor cameras, outdoor / garden / pool speakers, WiFi access points (think ceiling), wall-mount touchscreen locations and a few others we'll suggest.

And since you're on a slab, I'll recommend floor outlets with splits for AC and LV in the study and family room. AC Floor outlet under the dining room table is one I wish I'd remembered to do. Same for the flush mount outlet on the top of the fireplace mantel for xmas lights and such...

And speaking of the fireplace, please don't plan to put the TV up there.


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #9
No TV above fireplace if I can help it. Then again, I love my wife and if it really comes down to it...

What is outlet under dining table for? Guess I've never put a light on one. Interesting idea.

The theater on third "attic" floor will occupy the vast majority of room up there. There may be a corner I could leave accessible for smurf tube runs, but to be honest if they are going to say the master bdrm or family TV room, they would have to pass the 2nd floor network closet on the way!

I will certainly post a floorplan. Could post the current version I suppose but think we have a couple of weeks of tweaking to do before I feel rooms are "set enough".

Thanks for the tips. Trying to learn all I can about areas that are somewhat lacking in my knowledge or skills to know what I need others to do, and yet know enough to make sure it is done right.

Really leaning toward Aruba instant products for wifi. Tired of not having a simple yet robust network.
 

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You might want to read up on Dolby Atmos and pre-run your theater speaker wires for all those possible options.


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No TV above fireplace if I can help it. Then again, I love my wife and if it really comes down to it...
I had my fireplace placed in the corner of the room, so that it wasn't the "central focal point" (yawn) and then the built-in cabinetry and TV could fill that area, with the display at a proper height. And certainly for our climate here in Houston, focusing the room layout on an always-off (except one week a year) fireplace is stupid...

What is outlet under dining table for? Guess I've never put a light on one. Interesting idea.
Not for a light... If you use your dining room for anything other than "dining", having a power outlet under the table means you don't have to run cords across the room (where people walk). I use my dining table for party buffets - the hot plates, and sometimes decorations need to be plugged in. If your kids want to do homework or crafts at that table, same issue for laptops or glue guns, etc.

The theater on third "attic" floor will occupy the vast majority of room up there. There may be a corner I could leave accessible for smurf tube runs, but to be honest if they are going to say the master bdrm or family TV room, they would have to pass the 2nd floor network closet on the way!
Yeah, whatever is the "nearest" / "easiest" accessible location is where you run the tubes... Just note that bringing a bunch of conduit into a finished closet area is something you'll have to plan for - there's not a lot of "pretty" options that don't consume a lot of wall space.

I will certainly post a floorplan. Could post the current version I suppose but think we have a couple of weeks of tweaking to do before I feel rooms are "set enough".
Well, if you want feedback on the floorplan, too... :D


Jeff
 

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the only thing I see missing from giomania's smurf tubes is a pull string in each. That should be installed with the tubes. Ideally the tubes are empty when the house is constructed. It's always much easier to pull a new wire if the tube is empty. Not seeing the purpose of pulling a run wire out after the fact.
 

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Discussion Starter #14

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Discussion Starter #15
Third floor theater will be nothing like that... architect took a stab at it for some reason.
 

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Sure... more thoughts are always welcomed.
Boy, all that space and the theater ends up directly over all the bedrooms? :eek:

When I started laying out my house (same basic problem - no basements here, either), I put the theater over the garage and away from all the bedrooms. In your design, that space now showing the 'bonus' room would be ideal for a theater. It's completely separated from the main house.

My other comment would be about bathroom access from the back yard - is there a pool? Unless you have a pool house / cabana planned, I'd move one of the powder rooms such that it has either direct, or almost direct access from a back door so all the outdoor activities don't have far to come in...

And yeah, you're definitely going to want a floor outlet in that study! :D


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Bonus area over garage is just too narrow. I'll wind up with something like a 40 x 30 ft space for the theater room on third floor. That's just too much to give up. Some earlier sketches had larger space over garage by pulling in kitchen and keeping room under one roof but the massing of the house just wasn't good. So I'll deal with sound containment over kids bedrooms. That will be one of the early questions when I get to the point of a build thread. Probably floating osb/gg/osb over rubber mat, and I'll price the cost of DD+gg and clips for the entire 2nd story ceiling. I plan lots of sub capacity so containing all of it will be impossible. Moderate volume while kids are asleep will be needed. Its a trade I'm willing to make for such a large space.

The door between storage areas in garage will be moved into the corner nearest the house for easy access to powder room under stairwell. That will suffice from the pool until a poolhouse/guesthouse is built a couple of years later.

Floor outlets in study and dining seem like good ideas. My experience is trying to guess where furniture will be in living rooms for floor outlets is just that... a guess.
 

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flexible non metallic conduit

The smurf tube people are talking about is rated for high voltage. I would recommend installing Carlon's Riser-Gard. It's orange ( the new black;)) and rated for low voltage so it's more flexible. It can also be ordered with pull tape which is handy. http://www.carlonsales.com/risergard.php
 

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Just to add on to what others have posted:

- Plan and map out every wire on paper
- Run lv wires after plumbing and electricians are done
- Take as many phots as you can, dry Wallers are known to hide wires or if your unlucky they will trim/cut you wires if it gets in their way.
- Print and paste notes on each room indicating where LV wires are located. This will help painters/mudders not to cover them up.
- Empty Conduits with pull strings for main entertainment areas.
- For outdoor cameras you need to have junction boxes (I missed on this ended up drilling a whole in the soffit and outdoor walls)
- for Ethernet cables make sure you don't end up buying copper clad aluminium cables
- leave extra length wires for the rack area and also for junction boxes.
- Not sure if you have planned for wireless access points if not add Ethernet drops for celling

jautor: And speaking of the fireplace, please don't plan to put the TV up there.
100% agreed


Excited to see you progress.

Love it when builders allow you to run LV wires.
 

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One thing I would add is to be mindful of sharp turns. I took the time to install conduit with a pull cord but had several 90 degree turns close together. I tested it after installation and could not pull HDMI through it. I was able to pull cat6 but it was an effort and I was concerned that I would have overly stressed fiber. If you have to do sharp turns consider a junction box. I ended up taking my conduit out as it wasn't going to work and I couldn't use junction boxes in my locations. It never occurred to me in planning my house that bathroom location would be a dealbreaker in low-voltage/conduit planning.
 
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