Need Advice for new wiring

bto24February 20, 2009

My wife and I are building a new home. We are at the point where they are putting in the wiring. We need to be sure that we are wired for cable/dish, high speed internet, and telephone. We aren't doing anything fancy but really don't know what we need to buy and or ask the guy doing the wiring to do for us.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. They are hanging wall board next week.


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It would cost more for the electrician to do it...

Usually it's done after the drywall, by the service providers for free....

Call the service providers and ask some questions ...

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 10:45PM
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i disagree with the above. it is better done prior to drywall so that the wiring can be hidden. you don't want a brand new house with wire stapled to teh baseboards!

if nothing else have the electrician run conduit to the desired locations and even to a few places you may potentially need it later. do you know how many folks later on decide to put a small tv in a spot visible from teh tub! run everything back to a central location so that it can be tied in later.

if you plan on doing surround sound in a room, now is the time to decide where the controller will be and run the conduit/cableing back to that location as well.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 11:56AM
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Professional cable/TV installers don't staple it to the baseboard, they run it behind the drywall, possibly up from the basement if you have one.

Conduit ? $$$

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 2:53PM
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pro's will also tell you tha tyou have more flexibility in how to run it before the rock goes up. and yes certain things should have conduit so that when tech changes, and it will change, you cna add what is needed easily.

i know when i was installing our price was usually 2x normal if the drywall was already up. why, well it took 2x as long because we had to fish it. no drywall, you drill the holes and drop the cable. if you need to run horizontal, then you can do it easily. try that once the drywall is up and you either patch a lot of drywall or staple to teh trim.

for example, my house is on slab. my den has a vaulted ceiling and only 1/2 of the walls are accessible from the attic. the only way to run 1 of my speaker lines was to run it under the edge of the trim then up the wall in teh corner. no, it ain't on the baseboard as i said earlier, but it is still in plain sight wher it goes vertical.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 11:12PM
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The installers the cable etc companies send out are not always very 'professional' - my next door neighbour ended up with cable running down the outside of the FRONT of their house- looks awful.

Before the drywall is the way to go. Whether you can do it yourself in a new construction is probably a grey area, you'd want to read up on it anyway. If you can do your own electric, you should be able to do your own cable/internet.

As a rule of thumb on most of the new construction I work on- RG-6 cable run from a central distribution point - say, in your mechanical/furnace room if permitted, (make sure it's not going to be obstructed by furnace or hw or electrical- or an understairs closet - that's your central point, run cables from that out to any area that will have a tv, or might have one- cable is cheap and now is the time to do it.

Where the cable/satellite box will be, you'll want two or more cables there, plus an ethernet cable or two - you may also want one or more ethernet cables where blu-ray or cable boxes will be so they can be updated etc- if satellite, or just in case, look at orientation of neighbouring dishes, and run a couple of coax (RG-6 by the way) to the outside wall where this dish might be.

There will also be a demarcation box on the outside of the house where any cable tv feed from the street, plus telephone, will run to. You will want one or more (a spare) to run from there back to the central point.

The central point should have power readily available. At this point you should be planning to mount a structured media panel, and also run ethernet cable from those rooms where tv etc are, keeping in mind this is where your computer networking cables will run, and any future devices that may require an internet connection, keeping in mind the best position for these.

You will also want to run phone outlets too, you can use ethernet for this too, either cat5e or cat 6. 5E is fine for connections up to gigabit, which is more than adequate for most applications. I don't even know if the next higher networking standard is really out there yet, but if you want to future proof a little, cat6 is the way to go, but it's harder to find, in my experience. Note that many networking/ethernet jack products use the same coverplate size as electrical switches and outlets, and you can mix RJ-11 jacks (phone) with RJ-25 (ethernet) in the same coverplate.

Hope this helps somewhat.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 12:25AM
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You will want to run speaker wires etc if you are planning a home theatre setup, it's probably a must-do if you're going to have a screen of any size, and for most people, this'll be their main avenue for playing music. You might decide you want an alcove or media closet, so you'll want the audio/video cables running there (you may even want component video cables for some applications) from where the tv will be, and provision for audio etc. Again you'll want one or more ethernet connections there - some people will argue wireless makes this unnecessary, but a wired setup is always faster, more reliable and more secure than a wireless one - and usually cheaper in the long run.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 12:30AM
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... and how long before "wired" is obsolete, in a few years they'll have wireless TV (from one main cable box),
wireless internet (from one main box), wireless speakers (powered by the wall outlets),
and believe it or not, "cordless telephones" ...

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 8:44AM
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Back when they were still building houses around here there was an option to have all rooms wired for phone and cable while the house was under construction. The installers around here are subcontractors who do really messy work and being subcontractors getting remedy is a sometimes a bit difficult. I suggest having it all done during construction.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 11:31AM
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They may well have 'all wireless' but this gives the residents more options. It is also a great selling point because it looks like they planned ahead and didn't skimp on construction.

Yet another thing to consider is prewiring for a security system - yes, you can get them wireless but they sometimes suck a little and are more expensive.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 2:30PM
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Absolutely have the wiring done before drywall if you can manage it. For us the tricky part was figuring out where to run the wires to. We ended up with a closet under the stairs that acts as a central hub for all wiring to go from and to. So the external signal sources (phone, cable, satellite) run to there, and all of the outlets on the walls run from there. We also ran speaker wires to and from the closet in case we change our mind about how we want them controlled in the future. And finally, we have the items that need transformers (security system, front and back ground lighting) based in there.

As for how much to wire, we were a bit aggressive, trying to anticipate what we might ever want in any room. This typically included a few ethernet connections and a few coax connections, and generally to two locations in each room (family room, study, kitchen, bedrooms.)

The one bit of advice I got from the installer after I told him what I wanted where was to place these outlets near power outlets. Generally if you're plugging anything into these, they'll also need to be plugged into power.

Best of luck. We're still only partway through our remodel, so I don't have any real idea if everything will work as planned.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 7:14PM
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Yes, good plan re the outlets. As for ethernet connections in bedrooms/studies, consider also the likely placement of desks, ie, near windows.

Re the wireless thing again, computer or gaming console, ponder the speed/reliability of wired vs wireless. Wireless is great and getting better (I'm on wireless right now, but that's mostly because I haven't retro wired my house yet, and I really want to because I have driver issues with the wireless dongle I'm using) Wireless will continue to improve, but those airways are also going to get more and more crowded. There are provisions for going to other channels but the more all neighbouring devices try to default to one channel, the more your system slows down as it tries to connect to it.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 12:43PM
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We did pretty much the same as mpsalisbury describes. We don't have a stairway, so no "Harry Potter" closet. But I did install a very large structured wiring panel in my utility room. All the low voltage wiring runs to this panel. There is also conduit going down to the crawl space and up into the attic for future use.

I put in two outlets per room, each with 2 cat-5e cables. Also ran a RG-6 to every room. In a few select places, ran a "satellite prewire" (structured cable w/2 RG-6 + 2 cat-5e) back to the main panel. Finally, with the walls open, it was a good time to install security wiring to all the doors and windows.

When a friend of mine did his house, he claims he laid nearly 2 miles of low voltage wiring in it. He has at least one outlet on almost every wall in every room! I think I am at somewhere between 1/3rd and 1/2 of a mile. And I already have one location where I wish I'd run a third cat-5e. (Has a phone, computer, and network-connected printer...)

As the others have said, wireless is great. But hardwiring is a lot faster and more reliable.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 3:21PM
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Thanks for all of the great suggestions and ideas. I knew this was the place to come.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 11:38PM
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I'll try not to repeat too much of the excellent advice given here, esp by pjb999 (you can build my house anytime!)

But here's a bit of my personal experience - and since we got hit by the southern OK tornados a coupla weeks ago, we'll be doing all this again with the same guy, thank God!

When we started planning our build, there were certain things I knew I wanted my house to "do," but I had no idea how to make it happen. The smartest thing I did was meet with a CEDIA-certified "guru," as I call him. I see from the date of most replies that this may be too late to benefit you, but you got excellent advice and someone else will surely come along with the same questions.

We're a family of four, so we knew there would be at least four heavily-used computers in the house. I had him explain to me the basics of what an LAN is, basically our own in-home network. I wanted to be able to access certain info and a centralized printer from any station, much like some larger firms I'd worked in.

We were building outside of city limits, so DISH tv and satellite internet service were our only real options. Britt (our guru), handled EVERYTHING for us, short of selling us anything. Yep, that's one reason I trusted him so quickly is because as a member of CEDIA, he doesn't make his living off selling the technical equipment for your home theater/cable system/family computers/etc.

Now, he most certainly advised me as to what HE would purchase at each step, going so far (only at my request) as to handle the ordering from pro catalogs from which he received a discount, and taking delivery since he would be the person responsible for installing everything. But I saw every receipt, matched them up with every invoice received from him, and I can say without a doubt we paid only for his considerable expertise, labor, and of course the wire/cable he provided. There might be a piece of equipment on an invoice from him, but since I had the prices ahead of time and the receipts, it was clear he did NOT make a profit on equipment. (Unlike the "pros" who set up my parents' hi-end theater room, which has never functioned as it should.)

We DID dedicate a closet to rack mounts and a hard-wired distribution panel. Next time I'll just make it a bit bigger for better access - once you get all those cords in there, it gets crowded quickly - and I'll make sure it gets more than just a basic a/c vent to handle the heat of the equipment! And to be clear, we weren't doing anything over-the-top: no true "home theatre," but we did wire for in-ceiling speakers in the living rm. We also wanted to be able to watch the same DVD in multiple rooms (I'm a junkie, and I love knowing I've got my movie going and can move from the laundry rm to the kitchen to the bedrm, and continue watching the same movie.) The same with regular tv channels; and since we were having to use DISH, I wanted to watch and record in most rooms without a ton of receivers. Britt even talked w/the tech pp whenever there was a glitch, because he's the guy who knows where everything is buried, so to speak!

I absolutely agree that wiring is still a good investment, no matter where you live. Once a house is built - esp a 2-story like ours - retrofitting can be close to impossible. The best Britt could do for us 5 yrs ago was to run cat5 and fiber optic, and hope we were good for ten years. I can tell you that including the master hub panel, receivers, all the in-wall wiring, and of course labor, it was the best $30K we spent on that entire house. Sorry to go on so long, but I've seen too many pp spend a fortune on an elaborate whole-house system, and end up having the local cable guy or computer tech that knows less than I do installing the wiring. After that, the problems never completely go away. You are wise to seek advise and have it done right, from the start.

One added note: if anyone does embark upon a custom build and works w/a certified technology expert, make sure you click on a personal level and can work well together. At the rate technology changes, we have improved upon almost every system in the house at some time or another, and Britt has now become a dear personal friend - he was one of the first pp I called after the tornado hit, and he immediately offered to do anything he could to help ease my mind about removing, cleaning and storing any surviving equipment. I feel privileged to have stumbled upon him, and am grateful we'll be working with him on our rebuild.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 1:06PM
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