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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello AVS friends...


My wife and I just put a deposit on a new home for ourselves and our new son to be born in August. It will not be a custom home, but the builder does have certain options and customizations that will be available to us.


They do a basic home pre-wire which includes phone, internet and TV to every bedroom, kitchen, family room, etc. Additionally, the family room will be pre-wired for 4 in-ceiling speakers and conduit for a flat panel TV. There will also be wiring to the master bedroom for 2 in-ceiling speakers.


We plan on being in this house for a long time, so it is my goal to work with the builders low-voltage wiring contractor to do as future proof a pre-wire as possible.


Budget is not really my concern. The home is a three level patio home, which will make running wires at a later time very difficult and expensive. I would much rather do it up right during construction.


My current goals for the pre-wire are:
  1. 5.2/7.2 Audio in Family Room with in-walls and in-ceilings
  2. 5.2/7.2 Audio in Theater Room with binding post wall plates up front, in-walls for rear and surround
  3. Audio/Video distribution to all bedrooms, master bathroom, garage, back patio and rooftop deck
  4. Ability to utilize whole house automation and security in the future
  5. Utilize 1st floor "elevator" closet as central location for A/V distribution
  6. Utilize theater room closet for theater room controls/components
  7. Pre-wire for ceiling mounted projector system in theater room


I would also like the system to be able to accommodate a whole house paging system and doorbell.


This is my first time having a home built, and I want to make sure that I cover all the bases. Is there anything else I should be considering?


I would appreciate everyone's help in developing some kind of chart that details the specific types and quantities of wires that I should have running to each room/zone in the home. I've read the BOCS pre-wire guide twice now, but I'm still a little unsure on how to completely explain to the contractor what I am looking to accomplish. Your help is much appreciated!


Here is the floorplan of our new home:

 

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Look at the Wiring Your New House 101 and 102 guides at cocoontech as well...


Are you sure you want to consume the elevator closet with A/V gear? That will preclude putting in an elevator later. Also, the first floor will be the least accessible in terms of expansion / changes - I'd think about putting the stack in the media room closet. You could co-locate the theater gear and the whole house stack in one place, and since you'd have at least attic access to the rest of the floor, there's some ability to expand in the future.


Best piece of advice for a multi-story house is to run flex conduit from most rooms on the first / second floor up to the attic, so you can add whatever cables are needed in the future. And lots of Cat5e/Cat6.


Oh, and more important - take digital pictures of every square foot of wall / ceiling space in the whole place the day before the drywall starts.


The low volt contractor will probably understand what you're trying to do. Security and whole house audio are very common for them, and the wiring has been fairly standardized. Distributed A/V is newer, but is really just more cables in the structured wiring layout.


For any location you might want a TV, I'd run a minimum of 2 coax and 3 (4 is better) Cat5e/6 cables. The cat5's give you enough for HDMI/Comonent-over-cat5 (2), Ethernet (1), and phone/extra/who knows. In my house, since I knew I would be using a distributed HD system, I ran cables and power to recessed wall plates (Arlington TV Box). Since the equipment would be elsewhere, no reason not to just put the cables right behind what would obviously be a wall-mounted flat panel. Exceptions were the places that 5.1/7.1 would be used, where there would be local equipment. In my family room all the cable (and conduit!) go to an entertainment center. The theater has a rack location.


On the topic of "home automation" that's such a broad term that it's hard to give advice. But generally, anywhere there's a device you'd want to control, or a place where you may want a wall-mount touchpad, run some Cat5, and perhaps a smallish conduit. The technology is still changing rapidly, but cat5/6 cable is proably a good common denominator...


Who's the builder?


Jeff
 

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If you really want to take a good stab at future-proofing, consider also pulling fiber optic cable, specifically Corning's ClearCurve stuff. Don't know if you need their single mode or multi-mode or what mix would be appropriate.


I think (and more importantly, many CE companies think) the future of wired distribution is via serial optical transmission, and very likely based on Intel's Light Peak tech. While not yet available as such, the plastic and bendable fiber optic cable underlying this has been out for about two years. No idea what it costs. Google this a bit - have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the great input guys.


Jeff... the builder is Intown Homes. They are doing lots of building inside the loop and along I-10 all the way out to the energy corridor. Excellent build quality, but their standard wiring is pretty basic.


I'm definitely going to rethink using the elevator closet for the central wiring panel. While I doubt I will ever have the need for an elevator, it would be nice to keep that space reserved for any future owners that may want one.


I'm still a little confused on the implementation of distributed A/V. Probably because I have never seen any really good examples of it...

I want to be able to access local sources, as well as network attached sources in most of my viewing/listening locations.


For example... in our master bedroom,I'd like to be able to:

Play music from NAS device through in-ceiling speakers.

Watch TV/Movie etc. from either NAS device or local source and have audio through in-ceiling speakers.


I'd like to implement something like this in the family room, home theater room and master bedroom at the very least.


I've done some reading on the use of A/B switches, to allow access to local sources as well as networked sources. How do these work with video devices like video game consoles, etc.?


Definitely planning some conduit runs too for future expansion. Hopefully I don't have to fight too hard to get what I want from the builder.


Jeff... if you get this, check your PM box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sorry to resurect an old thread... I have a quick question.


I'm planning on using this WHA system from HTD.com: http://www.htd.com/Products/Lync


One of my favorite things about this system is that it incorporates a whole house intercom into the keypads. Each keypad has a microphone and when pushing a button on the keypad, transmits your voice throughout the speakers connected to the WHA system. Very useful in a 3-story home.


The way I'm planning to wire it, there will be 2 zones that will have their own local sources and wired for 7.2. Those zones will have a keypad in them, but since the sources and speakers in those rooms will be separate from the WHA system, how do I make the intercom work in those 2 rooms?


I've read about A/B switches. Do I need to pull speaker wire from the media closet where the WHA gear will be, and connect 2 of my surround sound speakers to the A/B switch?


I'll be calling HTD about this in the morning, but any tips are greatly appreciated.


Here's an updated floorplan with zones:
 

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Gotta run for work, but a quick few thoughts:


1) This project is over the scope of HTD. I'd look at other systems.

2) Zone 1 - I can understand the surround that you want to put in here, but trust me that you will likely want a separate zone for the kitchen and a separate for the dining. You would want to control volume independently in those two areas.

3) You are generally not planning on in-ceiling speakers for the 2x 7.2 theater areas you are going to have, right? On-wall will certainly sound better. Rear speakers can be in-ceiling if absolutely necessary.


Gotta run. My other thought is that with all these zones and other wiring you will likely need in this very nice house - you are likely over your head for a first-timer. You may want to hire someone in at least for consulting so you don't make mistakes that can't easily be fixed later.


Best,


Carl
 

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Use your cabling contractor to bounce your needs and ideas off of. They'll tell you what not to do and why in more detail. You may need to pay them for consulting time, but ask for a 'design review' or consultation. Make sure all your needs are listed, on paper.


Unless you're doing this out of interest and as a hobby I recommend that you get some systems consulting now, even if for only a few hours. That can save a lot of time/$/grief. If you're doing this to save $, be advised this will take a lot more of your time than you think it will and may frustrate not only you but your family.


If you're doing this for the challenge and/or hobby you've come to the right place. I'd still recommend getting consulting during this phase then tinker to your heart's delight once the home is wired.


I'd just put a 5.1/2 in the Family and have a separate zone in the Dining/Kitch. Use a speaker level relay for the surrounds to switch to distributed audio when distributed audio is turned on.


Conduit is good for future proofing but be advised of local building/fire code. A plastic pipe running from the lower floor/garage all the way to the attic could be construed as a fire path and may need to be in metal or terminated in a box. A local wiring contractor should have the experience to know how to address this. Conduit is great, but be advised adding too many can be real work to manage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I actually do have a professional installer that I am working with who will be doing the wiring. They have a very good reputation here in Houston, and I'm confident they will do a great job. They have already been a huge help with walking through the house and helping me figure out each room would function best. The gear they sell and are recommending is out of my price range and will be for a while. They understand their are more affordable options out there, and are willing to wire for them, but they need my guidance on what wires to run for a particular system.


The top floor 7.2 room can function purely as a home theater. It will share a closet with all the distribution gear, so piping WHA sources to that system won't be a problem.


I would like wire the 1st floor living area to be 7.2 capable, but also be able to use those speakers for WHA and intercom functions.


BigPapa - you mentioned the use of a speaker level relay. Is that the same as an A/B switch?

If I run all Zone 1 speaker wires back to the source in that room (Onkyo 608 located below the TV), and then run additional speaker wires from there back to the media closet where the distribution gear will be... shouldn't I be able to connect an A/B switch in zone 1 which will allow the back speakers to function independently of the other 5?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidag02 /forum/post/19657654


I would like wire the 1st floor living area to be 7.2 capable, but also be able to use those speakers for WHA and intercom functions.


BigPapa - you mentioned the use of a speaker level relay. Is that the same as an A/B switch?

If I run all Zone 1 speaker wires back to the source in that room (Onkyo 608 located below the TV), and then run additional speaker wires from there back to the media closet where the distribution gear will be... shouldn't I be able to connect an A/B switch in zone 1 which will allow the back speakers to function independently of the other 5?

Close. A speaker level relay is an automatic A/B switch controlled by voltage. You would need two of them in your desired design. Your assumptions about how they are cabled are correct.


The reason I suggested a 5.2 as opposed to a 7.2 is due to the room layout, seating area, and use of ceiling speakers. The side channels would actually be above your head and rear surrounds way behind you in the ceiling behind our kitchen island. If your seating area was the kitchen island it would be better. I'm not confident it would perform that well.


However, if you wire the way you say you can try it and change to 5.2 wiring if you don't like it so I wouldn't really worry about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks BP. I'm having them run 2 additional 16-4 speaker wires between the TV and the media closet for 2 relays. Thanks for your help!
 

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I may be too late but in my opinion the only way to future proof the home is empty runs of conduit. Very cheap but you can run anything you want in it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thought you guys might like an update...


Pre-wire is done, and I couldn't be happier.


There is probably more wire in this house than I will ever use, but overkill was my goal and the installer came in just a hair over what my initial budget was.


Here's a pic of the media closet:



Any ideas on how to keep this clean for when the drywallers come?

I'll be putting trash bags around all the bundles and taping them up. Also thought about stuffing newspaper in all the gang boxes. Anything else I should do to protect this investment?
 

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David, we built in the Houston area as well (Brighton Homes was our builder). Smartest thing we did was vertical conduit in all rooms - multiple vertical conduit runs. We should have used all 2" but we used a combo of 1" and 2". All horizontal cable runs go through the attic and then down to the appropriate room.


Pre-wiring is great but what happens when the consumer electronics consortium comes out with a new cable? If you had built 10 years ago you couldn't have put Cat 6 (or HDMI) in the wall since they didn't exist yet.


We also have a single room for all of the house A/V equipment except for the TVs and speakers, which vary by room.


One area I should have paid more attension to at design-time was cooling of the equipment. We have no problem when the HVAC is on but for the times where there is no air flow we are about to put-in an active vent.


(Append restored)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 /forum/post/19776290


David, we built in the Houston area as well (Brighton Homes was our builder). Smartest thing we did was vertical conduit in all rooms - multiple vertical conduit runs. We should have used all 2" but we used a combo of 1" and 2". All horizontal cable runs go through the attic and then down to the appropriate room.


Pre-wiring is great but what happens when the consumer electronics consortium comes out with a new cable? If you had built 10 years ago you couldn't have put Cat 6 (or HDMI) in the wall since they didn't exist yet.


We also have a single room for all of the house A/V equipment except for the TVs and speakers, which vary by room.


One area I should have paid more attension to at design-time was cooling of the equipment. We have no problem when the HVAC is on but for the times where there is no air flow we are about to put-in an active vent.

Hey Andy,

Thanks for the advice. Glad to know you're in Houston. We should get together sometime.


The home is a 3 story home, and the installers ran as much conduit as they possibly could. Besides that, there are 4 Cat6 runs to every TV location. We did that with the idea that we could balun just about anything that the future might hold. This is really only designed to be about a 10 year house (for me) anyways.


I just got back from Home Depot. Picked up some trash bags, tape, and nail plates. Going to head over on Saturday and make sure all the exposed wiring is wrapped up nice to keep the mud off of it. Also going to add some nail plates in a few areas just in case.


They did a good job labeling everything, which I'm thankful for. Trying to visually trace the path of a bundle of wires between 3 floors is impossible.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidag02 /forum/post/19776795


Hey Andy,

Thanks for the advice. Glad to know you're in Houston. We should get together sometime.


The home is a 3 story home, and the installers ran as much conduit as they possibly could. Besides that, there are 4 Cat6 runs to every TV location. We did that with the idea that we could balun just about anything that the future might hold. This is really only designed to be about a 10 year house (for me) anyways.


I just got back from Home Depot. Picked up some trash bags, tape, and nail plates. Going to head over on Saturday and make sure all the exposed wiring is wrapped up nice to keep the mud off of it. Also going to add some nail plates in a few areas just in case.


They did a good job labeling everything, which I'm thankful for. Trying to visually trace the path of a bundle of wires between 3 floors is impossible.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidag02 /forum/post/19776051


...There is probably more wire in this house than I will ever use...



Now, that's funny! You snuck that in just like you're serious. Too much wire; as if!!




Craig
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidag02
Any ideas on how to keep this clean for when the drywallers come?

I'll be putting trash bags around all the bundles and taping them up. Also thought about stuffing newspaper in all the gang boxes. Anything else I should do to protect this investment?
I used metal insert plates from Hometech. Sadly, I cannot find a link. If you send my a private message, I can arrange to send mine to you, as they really are only useful once!


As far as the closet goes, I would recommend not drywalling until you get the system working. I am not a professional, but I did just finish a very extensive project and I had to rip the drywall out in my wiring closet to accomodate changes.


If I had to do it again, I would have used finish plywood or melamine instead of a wiring cabinet. That way you can rearrange wires as needed, install patch panels, and deal with keeping it neat as you add random components later. If you pull the wires in, drywall around them, and then cut the wires to the locations of their termination points, you are stuck there forever. If you keep a service loop behind the plywood, then you can always take the plywood down to change it.


One example is that I did not think about PoE when I did the cabinet layout. Subsequently, when I decided to do my WiFi heads using PoE, I had to put in the injectors, which did not fit in my layout. I ripped out the drywall, screwed everything to plywood on the wall, and now I have much more control.
 

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Very nice! Good job future proofing there.


Two notes I thought of when looking at it:


1. Like others have said, photograph, photograph, photograph. Because you have so much, I wouldn't terminate most of the speaker locations, so that you don't have a ton of unused wall plates and such, but know where they are, so if you want them in the future, you can go in and fish the wire out. Drywall is pretty easy chop a hole in and mount whatever you want in the future.


2. I wouldn't go out and buy an analog whole home audio system. Airplay is probably going to take over this market within a year or two, and there is software out there to hijack audio off of a laptop and send it to Airplay devices in addition to your iPods. That being said, if a system like Airplay ends up being a flop, its good to have documented wiring locations that you can go and fish the wires out and install analog gear.


Also, avoid in-wall speakers if you can. They are pricey and won't perform as well as standard freestanding speakers, especially for your HT setup. Again, good to have the wiring there, but don't terminate it until you have tried out the much less expensive alternatives.


Lastly, do not terminate anything as a phone wire. If there are phone wires in the house, they should be CAT-5 or 5e, and terminate those at 8p8c, so that they can be used for ethernet. Phones these days only have one base station, and then wireless handsets for the rest. We learned this the hard way, having a house built in 2000, with CAT-5 terminated as phone, that is now almost impossible to re-terminate because half of the jacks are behind massive pieces of furniture, so we had to run some new CAT-5 lines for ethernet. Speaking of those cordless phones, they also have intercoms, so you won't need that functionality from an expensive in home system, as a
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BiggAW
Also, avoid in-wall speakers if you can. They are pricey and won't perform as well as standard freestanding speakers, especially for your HT setup. Again, good to have the wiring there, but don't terminate it until you have tried out the much less expensive alternatives.
I am definitely not a pro, but I just finished my house and I am very happy with my in-ceiling speakers from Monoprice and in-wall from B&W. They sound great and are inconspicuous. They are also much more in line with my wife's aesthetic perspective - which is more important than often gets recognized on AVSForum!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by archbid /forum/post/19800894


I am definitely not a pro, but I just finished my house and I am very happy with my in-ceiling speakers from Monoprice and in-wall from B&W. They sound great and are inconspicuous. They are also much more in line with my wife's aesthetic perspective - which is more important than often gets recognized on AVSForum!

I get aesthetics, but there are some seriously nice looking speakers out there, that look more like a piece of furniture than anything else. While they may not be much cheaper than the in-wall system, they probably have a lot better performance. On the lower end cost wise, there are a lot of iPod Dock/ radio/ mini stereo systems that are designed for certain Aesthetics and looks.
 
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