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Whole House Network, Video and Audio

16 February 2001
Scottsdale, AZ
Hello, I'm rewiring my home to include whole house audio, video and networking. I'm going with the homerun method to a closet in the basement. I just wanted to run my plan by you guys to see if I'm missing something.

I plan to run the following to each room (10 total rooms):
3 CAT5 (2 data, 1 phone)
2 RG6 (1 Cable, 1 House video)
2 16Ga speaker wire (house audio)

I haven't decided on how I'm doing the closet wiring (patch panels, splitters, punchdown boxes etc.)

My goals are:
To be able to listen to music in all rooms. (Should I go in wall speakers?)
To be able to watch Home Theater/Cable/DSS in all rooms.
To be able to watch security cameras in all rooms. (Probably the X10 wireless system with RF channel modulator)
To be able to access internet in all rooms.
Are you planning to do the work yourself or bring in a contractor? The biggest thing to worry about is making sure you have a GOOD contractor who really knows how to properly run data and video cable properly. They can also present all your options and give you the pros and cons.

That being said, a couple recommendations...

1. If you plan to stay in this house for a while, consider higher than CAT5 cable. The marginal materials cost is not that big compared to the labor.

2. Consider lower gauge speaker wire if you want anything much beyond background music.

3. If you plan to stay in this house for a while, consider pulling fiber and just leaving it in the walls for now. This is a fair expense but again it is small compared to the labor involved.

4. If you want to run X10 across your entire house you may need to do a bit of electrical work as well. Many houses are not wired in a way that X10 works very well throughout the house. You can simply trial-and-error it if you like. There are a bunch of really good X10 resources on the web with more info.

5. I like the plan of running all the CAT5 (or whatever) cable to punchdowns in the wiring closet. This gives you the added flexibility of being able to switch a port between data and voice by simply switching it at the punchdown. Very handy.

6. Make SURE you get everything labeled and tested properly. You may not use some of these cables for years and you don't want to find out then that you have a problem.

I am running the wiring myself. Unfortunately I have already purchased the cabling so upgrading isn't possible. However, I think CAT5 should be adequate for now, plus I will run it in conduit with additional pull strings so future wiring will be easier.

With the speaker wire, my runs are not very long so I went with 16ga. I don't plan on putting very good speakers in every room. This isn't going to be an audiophile type system, just a system to pipe music to every room.

I don't plan on doing more X10 to the house. I've read X10 requires a neutral electric wire which my old house doesn't have so I'd have to rewire the electric to achieve this.

BTW, I got all my cables through Ebay, very cheap! Now I need to buy jacks and outlets!
A good source for A/V parts and accessories is http://www.partsexpress.com/.
If you're running through conduit, you should have a seperate conduit for each type of wiring, ie one for speakers, one for CAT5, one for RG6, etc.
Try as much as possible to avoid running parrallel to any line voltage wiring. If you have to run parrallel, stay as far away as possible. This will minimize picking up any unwanted electrical "noise" on your lines, even with shielded cables. Metallic conduits
act as an extra shield, but can still pick up interference of their own, as well as heat, if run too close in parrallel to line voltage sources. No problems at all with perpendicular crossings. None of that applies if you're running fibre-optics, as the glass and light are not affected by the magnetic fields caused by current flowing through a conductor.
As well it is against building codes in most states to run low voltage and high voltage cables or wires in the same conduit or boxes.