If you’re building a new home or renovating an existing one and your wish list includes music throughout the house, distributed video in your favourite rooms, a reliable networking platform to let you stream to your heart’s content, or you’re going full bore with a whole-home automation system - it’s absolutely critical that structured cabling is a part of your grand plan.
Regardless of whether your house is new or pre-existing, cabling that is done correctly can save you time, money, and frustration. Whether you choose to run the cables yourself or hire a pro, here are some tips to help you get started.
Will the cabling that you install now still work for you in 10 years? Think about the devices that you may want to add to your house through the years.
Pencil in where your devices will be installed (from streaming devices to smart lighting keypads) and what types of solutions you’d like in each room. Do you often use your family room to listen to music and watch films? Would it be beneficial for you to control and manage the entire house from the kitchen while making dinner? Do you want to communicate via audio or video from room to room? Think about what would make life easier and more enjoyable, and make a note of the touchpoints.
On your floor plan, mark where the cables will run and where wall outlets are located in the rooms you will be automating. Which devices will require an Ethernet cable and which will require a coaxial cable? Which devices will be wireless? An audio / video technician, such as us at Aperio AV, or your builder or an electrician can help with this.
Speaker wires should be of minimum gauge wire (we can recommend and supply suitable cable) and no more than 100 meters in length. Be careful not to run the speaker wires too close to power wires to avoid interference.
At a minimum, your “structured” cabling will consist of at least two pairs of unshielded twisted pair CAT6 cables for Ethernet connections and video and a coax cable. The coax cable provides downstream and upstream signals for Freeview to your TV. The Ethernet cables support up to gigabit speed for your networking devices, wireless access points and even video distribution. Fibre cable is now commonplace to TV points to cater for future demands of video distribution.
Ethernet and coax cables will need to be run to each applicable device. The Ethernet cable needs to be attached to devices that require a network connection - like home automation controllers, touch screens, or door stations. However, thermostats and lighting can use their existing wires. Coax cable needs to be attached to a TV or other device that requires this cable type.
Some devices don’t require wiring at all and instead operate on a wireless connection - such as automated locks and motion sensors.
“Whilst wireless has come a long way, we use it in almost every smart home and audio / video system we install, we still want the cable to do the heavy lifting. Think of it like lorries vs. cars. The cabling can be compared to lorries - it does the heavy lifting. For example, carrying 4K video content, hardwiring the network into your TVs, delivering high-resolution audio to your speakers, etc. Wireless, on the other hand, we compare to cars - it does the light work. Lighting and climate control, and door locks are an example of that. We want a combination of both in the homes we install, but most certainly cable.”