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Am I required to use in wall speaker wire?

Posted by tigerninety (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 22:48


I've read that some jurisdictions require that speaker wire running in enclosed walls be in-wall speaker wire, rated CL2 or CL3.

I'm open to all kinds of views on this, but I'm specifically wondering if anyone knows if this is required in Montgomery County, Maryland (or where specifically I can find this information)?



Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Am I required to use in wall speaker wire?

Check out the home entertainment forum for your answer (to the same question you posed there!!) :p

RE: Am I required to use in wall speaker wire?

If you are putting it IN the walls then it must be in-wall rated, regardless of where you are.

RE: Am I required to use in wall speaker wire?

Most of the confusion appears to be over wring rated for use in plenums.

Walls are not plenums under the NEC unless they are used as part of an HVAC distribution system.

They are communications lines, at most.

RE: Am I required to use in wall speaker wire?

In that case though, plenum-rated cable would be ok, I assume, since it would be a higher spec?

Here in BC, FT1/FT4 speaker cable would be acceptable...anything run in a wall must be rated as such.

RE: Am I required to use in wall speaker wire?

Questions like this always amaze me since in-wall rated LV wiring such as: speaker, coax, HDMI, video, low level audio, communication, control, and CAT5/5e/6 is so readily available, you actually almost have to go out of your way nowadays to find wiring & cable that not in-wall rated.

Usually it comes up when somebody is attempting to run that "speaker wire from the 80's" through walls - that clear zip cord junk that starts oxidizing before you even strip it.

In-wall rated speaker wiring, besides being proper from a jacket safety standpoint, is easier to work with, has a more durable jacket, and is much smoother to pull. And the other thing - it is usually less expensive than the cheap stuff.

The NEC does not specifically address low voltage "home theater wiring" such as in-wall drops from a display device to equipment below, and in-wall connections from finished product, in residential settings, since is not always considered "structured wiring".

However, NEC articles 640, 725, & 820 come closest to addressing this and would probably be what most AHJs would reference if the installation was being inspected.

RE: Am I required to use in wall speaker wire?


Yes, CL2 with an R(riser) suffix, and then above that a P (plenum) suffix, can always be substituted for CL2. However then, CLX2 is a lower quality limited to restricted residential use and is rated below CL2. Same goes with CL3.

Get's confusing since "CMX" on some cables will actually be used to designate exterior rated communications cable, with a underground or UV resistant suffix afterwards.

Somewhere, I have a CSA to UL cross reference chart for the FT1/4/6 designators, but don't know where it is off-hand.

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