If all goes well, this summer I’ll be building a new house. I’ve owned a few houses before, some of them built in the 1920s and 30s, and full of all the charm and quirks of an old house, and a couple that were pretty new, with the lack of craftsmanship and imagination that’s typical in most new construction in the USA today. But this time I’m building a custom home, just to my specifications, so I can have whatever features I want, limited only by my imagination (and budget). I’d like to integrate some home automation features into the house, and include wiring for future expansion. Some of the features that I had in mind:
- Sturctured wiring (Cat5, RG6, and a patch panel)
- Wired networking (ethernet)
- Wireless networking (802.11g)
- Remote lighting control
- Remote heating and air conditioning control
- Intrusion alarm
- Fire alarm
- Surveillance cameras
- Audio distribution
- Making my computer’s mp3 library available to the house
- Video distribution
- Distributing two Tivos to four TVs
- Notification of cars entering the driveway
- Notification that mail has been delivered to the mailbox
- Remote control of the system via the internet
- Remote control of the system via the in-house Wi-Fi network
I just got back from the International Builders’ Expo in Las Vegas, where I was able to see all the various vendors’ wares, and there are some impressive and very flashy technologies on display. Plenty of LCD touchscreens and impressive patch bays packed with wires. Systems that will pipe music to each room in the house, that will allow you to program your home’s lights in complex themes, so one touch will create a romantic mood throughout or bring up every light to full blast when an alarm goes off. Your fire alarm can shut off the air conditioning automatically to prevent smoke from filling the house. You can send video over cat5, lighting controls over the electrical wires, and virtually everything wirelessly. It’s quite difficult to decide what’s the best way to do it.
I’m sure I’m not the first prospective homeowner to be interested in these kinds of gizmos, but a little bewildered at the variety and frankly a little scared off by the cost. That’s why i’ve decided to embark on a mission, and I’d like to take the OSNews readers with me. I’m going to study and evaluate the various home automation technologies and consider them for my building project. Once I’ve made the determination of which combination I want, I’ll price out the various options, and eliminate the ones that are too expensive, or seek cheaper alternatives. Once I’ve got my kit designed, I’ll work with my electrician to install the system into my new house, and I’ll tell you all about it.
Some of the company’s products that I’ve looked at:
Eaton Electrical – Structured Wiring
USTec – Structured Wiring
OnQ – Structured Wiring
Vantage – Automation
HAI – Automation
Leviton – Wireless home automation
Smarthome – X10-based home automation
Centralite – Lighting Systems
Architectural Audio – Distributed Audio
OWI – Speakers
MAS Audio – Speakers
This first story, before I really know anything, is to get a little pre-feedback from the readers to guide me on my way. Do you have any experience with home automation? Do you have any advice? What worked for you, and what didn’t? What do you wish you had, or hadn’t, done? If you haven’t done it before, what would you like to see? Is there any aspect of home automation that I haven’t mentioned that you think merits a look?
C’mon, really. Who wants a wired home when you could have a “wireless” home!
I’d like to here what this guy learns.
4x DVD-R buringing needs 5.5 MB/s, 8x 11 MB/s, which is beyond 100 Mbps either net.
USB 2.0 hard drive has a peak data rate of 34 MB/s, 1394 will do 40 MB/s, both are beyond the 7 MB/s figure for a 100Mbps network.
How fast is a wireless link ? 54 Mbps wireless link is probably only 50% faster that a 11 Mbps link – so maybe around 1 MB/s, which is not enough for 16x CD-R burning.
Having been down this road and taking lessons learned from my first custom home to my second…
1) Run CAT6E everywhere and *make sure* all ends are terminated to a patch panel. Many will run the cable, but not punch them down or test them.
2) If you go with a wiring closet, make sure it has room for a hub/switch, maybe a router, and definitely an 100V AC outlet that, at minimun, can have a 6 outlet surge protected plugged and allow all doors to close.
3) Make sure every port is labeled properly and tell the builder to get the newer faceplates that have 2 100V AC + 2 RJ45 and 2 RJ11 outlets. That way, everywhere you have power, you also have data and phone (don’t cheat by mixing and trying phone over power or power of data… they suck).
4) If you’re feeling like spending a bit extra… have a power and data drop put into the ceilings as well for ceiling mounted WiFi APs.
5) For home audio, have fiber and standard RCA run throughout any room you *might* have an entertainment system in (think 10 years in the future) all tied back to a common area. This will allow for surround sound, remote speakers, etc.
6) And it truly pays to have your cable (cable company) run in advance, with at least one outlet per room, though I ususally put one per wall and integrate it with my AC/data/phone faceplates.
7) *big suggestion* after having done some post-build cable runs… have all you cables run through 1” PVC pipe. This leaves room for snaking new cables in.
8) many installers like to terminate unused data pairs at each junction. Make sure all are continuously wired.
9) if you plan on an alarm system, run separate CAT6 just for it.
I could say a lot more, but these are things that I did wrong on my first house and did right on the second.
>C’mon, really. Who wants a wired home when you could have a “wireless” home!
Speed and security maybe? You can get gigabit ethernet, but wireless is much slower.
Security is also a major issue. The author mentions various remote control mechanisms. How secure are these? I wouldn’t want a cracker to do a denial of service on my home via the internet! Nothing is completely secure, and I question the convenience and need of having remote control.
Other things to consider:
* What kind of electircity bill will you run up with all these gadgets?
* What happens if there is a power cut? Will there be backup plans?
Also consider double glazed windows and insulation of the walls. Sound proofing is also a good expenditure. Remember to make your home comfy before you make it the latest techno-wonderland
In my house, we had a small wiring closet. It was big enough for an 6U rack chassis that ended up with a 19” 3Com 24port 10/100/1000 switch I got on Ebay for $90. I put this on the bottom, then used it as a shelf for my DSL modem and router/firewall/DHCP server.
I didn’t put AC/Data directly into my ceilings, but each room had a ceiling fan, so we put an AP in the middle of the house and a $50 AP extender onto each ceiling fan. Yes, the world is going wireless, *BUT* there are still many good reasons for using wired solutions. Consider that I can’t browse the web faster than my 2MB DSL, but with all tower systems wired, I can play games and copy files at 1Gb.
Related, be careful what your kids know about your wiring. When my 15 year old discovered we had 1Gb networking and data in every room, he mounted a webcam in his sister’s bathroom and bedroom and would watch her friends from his room when they had sleepovers. Definitely not appropriate and open for a potential lawsuit (he has no computer for 6 months, btw, and no more webcams til he turns 18 and moves out).
Back in early 90’s I attempted to get a custom home builder to follow my carefully prepared worksheet of parts and standards of data cabling specs to be used for each room in the house, only to find after the walls had been put up and the painters were finishing up that instead of running data cables, they had carefully installed extra electrical outlets, including making sure they were on their own seperate circuit. No data cables to be found anywhere….
A number of items on your list show how security conscious you are.
Which makes your inclusion of wireless rather contradictory.
I know its very fashionable at the moment amongst the chattering classes but do you really want outsiders probing all your little secrets? 😉
Wiring closets are so yesterday. Who needs them anymore when you can have one of these (http://www.smarthome.com/8741S.HTML) hidden behind a nice wooden motorized facade? 🙂
I think I saw a swivel version somewhere complete with facade, but I’ve lost the link.
So, “Big Brother” is real ! ))
Btw, I’d add an old pentium box in the garage with a vnc viewer so I can access everything else, and not risk damaging costly hardware.
Now, what about adding mics and experiment with voice recognition… “channel one”, “volume high”, and “who is ringing the bell ?” to display the main door’s camera picture on the living room’s TV
Wireless is fine if you can’t have a wire to it, or it’s not feasible. But other then that having a hardwire will always be better. Speed, security, reliablity. And upgradability to a point (wiring tends to adjust to new tech without change much. Wireless you tend to have to start over, and cost much more.
Once you got your setup going changes and addons are pretty easy, if you make ducts for wiring and give yourself a way to pull more through later, and add on to your break out panels. Also maybe alow to remove stuff as it’s not needed. The wiring is cheap, it’s the planning you have to get right though. Also you don’t have to hook it all up now or run all the wires, just make it so adding stuff on is simple. Save some money. Don’t put everything you can think of now in place even if you don’t needed and not give yourself easy upgrades. Install what you need and spend the money on making it easy to upgrade. Far better in the long run (no pun intended)
Many years ago at a Comdex event I met one of the first inventors/vendors of what is now called homepna technology. A Russian fellow with very broken english in a small corner booth. I told him then he was onto something. I should have invested…
We built an embarrasingly large home four years ago, with every room having CAT5, phone and video cables, plus a LiteTouch automated lighting system, video and audio server, etc. After we had moved in, we found we needed a few more wires…
However, disaster was avoided because I had specified that all rooms have 1″ rigid PVC conduits or flex-tubing which ended up in a “distribution closet”, so that any point in the house could be wired to any other. If I had to do it again, I would add more conduit. Someday I might want fiber…
Why are people so negative about wireless? I don’t remember reading that he was considering going completely wires, just including it in his list of desires. Maybe he’s thinking of having a laptop or two and wants to be able to surf without adaptors and cables…
Wireless is as secure as you make it. Use a system wich allows for encrytion and a MAC address white-list.
You should definatly go with the suggestions of using wired conections over wireless (and cat6 over cat5) but a wireless AP would still be great if you have a laptop and feel like working from outside or the loo or whatever!
The http://linuxdevices.com/news/NS4271891380.html“> made me think about VOIP PBX such as the http://www.lipz4.com/summary_MX250.htm“> .
Why are people so negative about wireless? I don’t remember reading that he was considering going completely wires, just including it in his list of desires. Maybe he’s thinking of having a laptop or two and wants to be able to surf without adaptors and cables…
Wireless is as secure as you make it. Use a system wich allows for encrytion and a MAC address white-list.
Current encryption schemes can be broken and MAC addresses can be spoofed. So by the time he decides, encryption might better. This is also isn’t theory, its a reality.
I like the idea of a wired home, sounds cool. I’d reccomend gigabit ethernet, or if really have cash, go with fiber connection.. although sort of a waste because of distance.
Also a suggestion would be to secure your network with a CISCO firewall, since you will have a lot of things connected… a PIX mid-range would be awesome.
a gigabit switch? you could even do vlans, virtual lans.. and seperate each room and have everything really secure..
The only thing you can be sure of is that you can’t be sure what future wiring will be like. If I were building a new house, in addition to stringing all the different kinds of cable I thought I’d need, I’d also put it in conduit so new wiring or fiber optic cable could be run without tearing things up. It’s fairly cheap, I think you could do a whole house for a few hundred dollars if you did it during construction.
he mounted a webcam in his sister’s bathroom
You even cabled up the bathrooms? 😮
I don’t think anyone is saying no wireless like i said it’s good for some things like a laptop. But you shouldn’t use it in places where a wire is just as good like a desktop.
And wireless takes effort to secure on levels wires don’t. If you say want to have a internal network only for some things thats much harder to get in to, unless you can pick locks.
Can someone please tell me the difference between cat5 and cat6e.
Though the article is interesting, no part of it seems of any relevance to ‘OSNews’ (if you know what I mean).
But someone at OSNews thought it was relevant and posted it.
We wanted cable in every room. But we wired every faceplate with 2 100V AC, 2 RJ45, 2 RJ11, and 1 cable outlet. So, yes, the bathrooms got wired too. Although the way my son actually went about it was to mount the camera and run a cable through the ceiling into a duct and into his bedroom. I only found it when my packet sniffer saw the bandwidth spike. Then we found his website… oh, did he get an @ss whooping!
Yea I knwo it is wrong on so many levels, but give the kids just this much credit, it toke forthought, ingenutiy, and creativity to set that up in the first place.
He defenitly desvered his @ss whopping.
If you get in early on the construction, get to know the builder/contractor. Visit the site once a week. Its not just the multimedia wiring to look out for, take care to customize any details that will increase house value but not necessarily the price as much such as avoiding regular cheapo options.
My twin did his house and got 95% of the improvements he wanted. Every room has cat5,cable,phone in most every room. Thats probably enough for me too, multiple outlets in some rooms is cherry on the cake. One thing I would add is uninteruptable AC wiring on a UPS, just to get rid of resetting clocks whenever the power goes. He even added a UK style 240V outlet in the kitchen.
As a Brit I would also include ceiling lighting & fan fixtures where ever, I find American homes with no ceiling lighting to be very annoying.
I expect to do a custom job on my next home too.
I also worked on powerline networking and I seem to see it is not taking off. I would also go with cat6 now if the walls are just framed.
A few points:
Wireless may sound more conveneient at first glance, but it has many downsides, security being the number one factor. This not only includes wireless lans, but wireless security systems as well. Since the wire is going to be built-in, I’d highly recommend going the wired route.
Getting pvc conduit from a backbone closet into every room is a great idea I would highly recommend. Having easy to access cable pathways is much more important than a bunch of extra wire you may not ever use.
My personal preference is to not have power outlets and data/cable/audio jacks shared in the same plate. I like to keep them separated a few inches as utility power is AC and can put alot of noise that can bleed into the data/comm wires.
Ceiling fixtures for lights should be a must, and I’d even go so far as to make sure the boxes installed are rated to hold a ceiling fan, even if it’s just going to be a light at first.
Two of my rooms that I’ve added ceiling fans in, I put in two switches in the wall plate, one to turn on and off the light, the other to turn the fan on. Works great, no need to pull a chain unless I need to change the fan speed.
I have a third fan that uses a wireless remote, which is a convenience but a pain when the thing gets lost.
Make sure that everything gets labelled, including your circuit breaker panel. Make sure the breaker panel lists all rooms that are on a particular circuit.
Just some random thoughts from my personal experience…
Good luck and have fun with it
yeah, back in the day – my dad added on and did coax throughout the whole house (this was back when coax was still being used in some networking) – anyway, i’d strongly suggest going with the cat6, phone, and power to every room, heck – you might as well add a cable line of some sort – antennae, satellite, or regular cable.
as far as the wireless route goes – let’s be realistic – having a completely wired house is a dream come true. but, if you could add wireless on top of that? – WOW! – yes, i would personally suggest adding the wireless option – just for the sole convenience of being able to sit in the jacuzzi and surf the web 😉
as far as the webcams (for the guy’s son who did) go – creative yes – but gravely misdirected creativity. you might want to look into finding other techno projects to get your son into – such as a full-in house security system. granted many people might look at you and ask why you were running a packet sniffer (but, who doesn’t check out their own networks?)
right now, i’ve got a simple auto-duplexing 10/100 Mbps switch, a wireless internet service provider (beaming me from 5 miles away with high speeds), and about 7 or 8 live nodes all the time – internet server/firewall, kids machine, video editing machine, my machine, my xbox, and my dad’s office – plus the occassional nightly fix it project.
after running the correct wires a second time around – i would seriuosly suggest that you run and terminate properly everything you can think of. i’ve got a house full of coax that’s never been terminated and i had to run my own networking cables for the small lan i’ve got put together. wireless? – the security is there for the most part. if they’re going to take the time to hack your encrypted signal that is mac address dependent – then chances are that they’re going to plant a rogue machine on your lan when you’re not looking.
just one question for the webcam guy – what sort of tech specs was your kid running? – multiple webcams? you said website – did he have live feeds online? – if so, please explain – i’ve toyed around a bit but haven’t found the best software yet.
the lamp thing is weird to me, i don’t get it. Why people light their houses this way. I never thought this was common, only been in a few houses this way. But then the other day this came up with my roommates, Architecual (SP) engineers, some of which are lighting and they were bitching about having lights in the ceiling and saying it’s weird. I don’t get it, maybe it’s just regional thing in places. I think I would kill myself living in a lamp only place.
Can someone explain why you would want to light your house with lamps. Is there some strange liking to having poor lighting, lighting in the wrong spots, clutter, hard time arranging furniture, cords across floors etc…
I think the author of the article can do whatever he likes, it’s his site. On top of that it’s better than the silly install reviews that are all the rage.
Plus connectivity is something that I’m sure I as well as others find fascinating. Anytime there are more than two devices to provide connectivity to, although the scale may be different, the solution is pretty much the same. (er wait don’t do round robin bnc, but I think we all knew that) I have 6 devices that need connectivity in my home, I would assume many folks also have more than one computer, this is osnews it’s just os agnostic.
It’s pretty awesome that he gets to do it right the ‘first time’. I have wired much of the house, needless to say I learned more about drywall than I did about networking. I think some one else already mentioned having a ups at the junction box, I’d vote for having a line conditioner there as well, so then it’s possible to buy cheap power strips instead of expensive surge protectors.
It doesn’t take very long to spoof mac address.. a couple of minutes. wep can take awhile..
Don’t know if you heard of kismet and other utilities for linux.
IT is a big security issue to run wireless. I don’t know about you, but I like my system to be secure.
I work for a home builder. When it was time to do my house, I was priviliged enought to do it myself – since I worked for them. I did Cat6 and RG-6 in every room, plus a whole bunch of other stuff. Go nuts with the cable because, wireless etc aside, you will be kicking yourself in the ass if you don’t do it and later you try to retrofit – and – it is far cheaper to do it at the time of build PUT IT IN YOUR BUDGET because it is F/A compared to your mortgage. Run Cat3 to every window, every door, and in odd locations, that way you can do sensors in all sorts of locations. Run three RG-6 to the peak of the roof, and from there down to the living room, master bedroom & kitchen, then you can run your sattelite recievers anywhere you want (make sure your are under 100m). Run Cat6 into the attic – you may never use it, but what if you want to put a WAP up there, or a weather station on the roof? Ask the builder to nail a dozen sheets of plywood to the rafters in the attic, then after they put in the insulation in the attic, rip them down and drop them on top of the ceiling joists – instant floor and storage space (384 square feet!). Run Cat 6 to the garage (sounds stupid? i have a pc in the garage i look up car repair / service diagrams online). Oh, and the speaker wire!!! run speaker wire from your living room / family room to everywhere you can think of. A pair of in wall speakers is $50 and so easy to install it’s stupid. Then you buy a speaker switch box, and you can pipe in tunes anywehere you want. Use X-10 for your control protocol, it works great and it’s cheap. Don’t get the builder to put it in, too expensive. Buy it later and get your electrician friend to put them in. Don’t get them from x10.com get it from http://www.x10pro.com, it’s a different product made better. Buy an X-10 phase coupler http://www.x10pro.com/pro/catalog/x10tools.html and have the builder put it in, so your X-10 stuff will run on both sides of the phase (read:more reliable). For physical interface to PC, get the $60 plug-in interface, don;t get the Firecracker, it is crap. For control software, do not use Home Director or X-10 software, it is crap. I use MisterHouse http://www.misterhouse.net, the interface is brutal but it is easy to customize, platform independent, and open source so if you don’t like it, fix it. Mine looks purty now and I can control the house at the office, or wherever. With voice recognition interface, you can use a FRS radio to control the house while you are at the grocery store. Don’t forget electrical, put it in your budget. Stick a 220 in the garage, it’s only $100 and you may never use it, but it will add to the value of your home, and you can run a welder or a 220 heater. Double up on your AC outlets where your PC and stereo is going to be. Get weatherproof GFI receptacles put in the soffits, it’s only $150 per plug and rip them out later & get your electrician friend to put in an X-10 outlet – turn your Christmas lights on from inside! Make sure you get X-10 switching modules in the furnace room inline with your thermostat and your garage door opener – these are low voltage contact switches that allow you to open your garage door or furnace fan remotely. Budget $200 for one of those keyless entry deadbolts, it will pay for itself the first time your dumbass wife forgets her keys somewhere. Good luck, and if you have questions email me email@example.com.
PS: if you liked this post, move to Alberta and buy one of our houses. See my URL.
My son was caught red-handed (no pun intended) with a D-Link D2000-something-or-other. Apparently its fairly good and fairly pricey (he still won’t admit where he got it… so either the little shit is a thief or he’s protecting a friend). The camera is IP based and MAC controlled. And it comes “internet ready” with software. Apparently the webcam had been up for some time (when I perused his hard drive, I found about 400 hours of video… all edited for ‘just the good stuff’ so he’d had it for some time). When I busted him, it was cause my sniffer (which I always run to make sure neighbors aren’t on my wireless) saw an some outbound traffic spikes, but even the sustained traffic was higher than it should’ve been. So I got the DHCP list from my firewall/router and had MRTG watch it for a while til I found it. Apparently he had just started streaming. I killed the camera, but parts of his site are still up and running… though its all old. He doesn’t have access to a CC, so he must be paying for his hosting via a monthly invoice and cash or money order. We’re waiting on the next bill so we can find out who his host is and shut the site down. Or maybe I’ll buy SonMikeRoweSoft.com and put it there. I know this is way off-topic, but I wanted to answer the questions. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Needles to say:
1. Empty pipes for future cables
2. Empty pipes for future cables
3. Empty pipes for future cables
The futute is hard to predict,
but if there is empty pipes in the walls to every room.
Everything becomes easy (think 20 years in the future!).
A good house lives 50-100 years!!!!
As a structural engineer, I can’t stress to you the importance of the structural integrity of your home. Most homes in the U.S. (and most of the world due to the general adoption of the International Building Code – formerly the UBC) are engineered for certain conditions using certain materials with known dimensions and characteristics. Many of you point out that it’s good to run more wires than you currently need, and from a networking point of view, more is certainly better. However, just a 1″ diameter hole cut laterally in a 2×4 framing member (be that column, joist, ledger, rimpet, etc.) lowers the effective cross sectional area by about 26% and the moment of intertia (the dimension that resists moment-buckling) is lowered by about 15%. This may not seem like much but many, many framing members must be compromised for the amount of wires many of you are talking about. A PVC conduit does very little to reinforce the member under compression, and does absolutely nothing in tension or bending, however the hole required for the PVC conduit (or just wires with no conduit) are very detrimental. Couple this weakening of the structural skeleton with the added dead load of the wires and you’re in for trouble. I’m not saying your house will fall down, but come a heavy storm with heavy winds (lateral loads), heavy snow, or an earthquake, and your house is statistically about 22% weaker than it would’ve been had you left the framing untouched, which means that next El Nino may topple only your home while leaving the rest of the neighborhood upright.
To the fellow who recommended asking the contractor to put plywood in the ceiling for a makeshift floor – this is a very bad idea! First off the plywood represents a HUGE load that the roof diaphragm wasn’t designed to carry (ie – that’s gonna fail with the right conditions). Second, this is a violation of many IBC codes.
Please go through a licensed structural engineer with an idea of how much cable you want to run so that changes and reinforcements can be made to your existing frame. It may seem cheap to give the contractor money to make your own modifications during construction, however in most places this is very illegal. Contractors mostly want money and are very negligent of the safety of the occupants of the home, and of construction laws in general. If a smart building inspector or code enforcement officer notices all of the jacks and doublechecks your plans and sees that they weren’t approved, then you’ll be forced to rip them all out and pay hefty fines.
Many of you “say no to wireless” because of security issues. I’m saying be wary of the SAFETY issues with putting holes in your frame. Many of you say spend extra money up front for good hardware and extra wire. I’m saying spend money up front to have your wiring checked for structural integrity and avoid paying fines, seeing your house collapse, or worse, seeing a loved one injured or hurt. I know I’m coming off as a bleeding heart and danger seems far away, but failures happen more than you think. Don’t trust contractors, electricians, etc. to know or to even care if the modifications to your house are safe.
Do things right from the networking point of view, but also from the structural point of view. Have fun but please don’t go ripping too many holes in your walls.
You can easily hook up your lights to your Parallel Port using a solid-state relay. That way you could control it software-based (hell, that’s how I do it).
Of course the parallel port is only an option for one room. When doing multiple rooms (or even an entire house) it’s probably cheaper and easier to you just look at some cheap domotica-systems.
“Can someone please tell me the difference between cat5 and cat6e.”
The higher the cat No. the tighter the twist in the cable allowing higher data rates to be transmitted without interference. This twist must be maintained into the connectors so you need the same cat all the way to maintain the speed. Also higher cat cables are less tolerant to damage, kinking etc.
Whomever brought up the X10 phase coupler suggestion was right on the money. Home automation stuff can have difficulty working properly if you’ve don’t have one, especially since you’re trying to control it all from one controller.
That said, X10 does work pretty well in general. We’ve used their stuff for a number of years to control our lights, and they’ve been quite reliable.
So you wire your house with cat6e..great so when something better comes out in 3-5 years you are stuck with old wireing built into the house. I think the best this to do is run conduit behind the wall to boxes. That what you can yank all the old stuff out and replace it with whatever the future holds maybe tera-bit fiber.
this really is taking it to far
now all you need is a roof mounted minigun
According to code, low voltage ( lan, Cable TV, etc. ) and high voltage should never be mixed in a cable, conduit, or junction/outlet/switch box. That is highly illegal. Additionally, the code also states ( or HIGHLY recommends ) that low voltage wiring be in a separate stud bay than the high voltage stuff. Having all of them together in one jack plate sounds like a bad idea. If you have a short/overload that melts the outlet ( which I have done with power tools – oops ), you now have the possibility of dumping mains voltage onto your cable TV, lan, audio distribution systems, etc. You WILL encounter serious damage in this case at the very least. Check your local electrical codes.
Another thing that you did not mention is the audio distribution. Are you going to have a central amplifier for all of this? For best sound quality, I would recommend that you keep the speaker wires away from all of your other wires as well. This would mean separate speaker jacks ( or in-wall speakers ) in stud/rafter bays away from your signal or power lines. This is probably also a good idea from a safety standpoint as well since speaker wiring can carry a large amount of current, especially if you start thinking about home theater. Bundling all that together would probably also cause havoc with your signal wires from all the EMI/RFI.
You might also get away with smaller individual amplifiers throughout the house. Some of the newer units include Net Tune, which will allow you to stream audio off your computer to your audio system. Some very cool stuff with that. The newer amps also allow a large degree of video switching and conversion. You might want to look into metal conduit for that so you can ground it and use it as additional shielding.
You might also consider the x10 stuff for simple home automation. Something as simple as pressing the power button on your TV would also send a signal to dim the lights and draw the curtains as well as turning on all of your DVD player and Amplifier. This is readily available stuff and requires very little in the way of wiring since it uses the existing power wiring in your home for this.
Hope this was helpful to somebody….
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This is a bit too much. I agree about the minigun.
BTW, why not go ‘minimalistic’? Just dump it away – I’m sure you either get caught in this “matrix” and become a madman, or get very very bored. I think this technology overkill is really not something human mind really needs these days. There’s enough stuff forced upon you through all the channels now you make it broadband.
This is very interesting. I shall be keeping up with your progress.
one description of architecture is that it’s a box onto which the user projects their desires and fantasies.
this house is becoming one huge gadget.
buildings last a long time. all these features will become silly and useless over time. (like the intercoms of the 60’s). the thing that lasts is the form and experience of the house. you might try reading about architecture or at least talking to a builder or architect with some cultural awareness or design ideas if you are interested in creating something of long-term value.
maybe i’m not in sync with the diy/homedepot approach to building. i think good architecture is more than a big pile of features and amenities. but whatever makes you happy..
right on. Many things come down to how you go about building your house. I’m all about steel and concrete, maybe cause i’m a engineer. I just like things to last and 1000 years is what i intend to shoot for with my house some day. I personaly like the idea of having double walls with passages built into the house, then I can access anything any time. Plus secret passages are fun.
Along with what your saying. I don’t think people think much at all when hacking stuff in their houses. The just see it as it is and start adding stuff and doing what not, they don’t think about how much weight a wall or floor can handle. To many houses have skimpy designs to, sure it meets code but didn’t try hard to go the extra mile. Roof joist on far centers, thin plywood.
People need to learn to spend more on the shell of their house that is forever and not crazy amounts on things like applances and carpet and such that they will replace in 15 years anyways.
A good place to start would be to look at how they built Victorian houses. MASSIVE beams and uprights. In one that I know of, 1 inch oak planks for subflooring. These were laid diagonally, with another layer perpendicular to that. THEN you added the hardwood flooring. There wasn’t a whole lot of settling or sqeaking in that house…
If you’re strapped for cash, consider using 2×6 or 2×8 construction for your uprights. Even on 24″ centers, you will have far better strength than the usual 2×4 construction. A side benefit is that you can stuff a LOT more insulation in there and make the home more energy efficient and sound proof. Also consider engineered wood. In many cases you can use it to span the entire house without any internal support beams. Steel has some great strengths, but realize that should you ever have a fire it will quickly lose that strength.
SERIOUSLY consider installing sprinklers in your wired home. It won’t do your electronics any good, but it may save your home and possibly your life.
I always thought Echelon was a dept. of the US army which objective was to spy the whole world… maybe I was wrong
I Wire Houses for a living. I work for A Security company and we do million dollar houses with ON-Q Systems. and full automation.
Let me tell you Having a wired house is very nice. Before I started working for this company I Thought IT was pointless. but I have changed my mind after I seen the house finnished.
IT’s very nice to have a Data port in a kitchen right near your counter top. or having 2 tv, phone and data runs on both sides of the room so you can put a bed TV stand or your computer anywhere you feel like.
I am a firm believer in wired houses.
Anyway talk about Big Brother. This one house my company is working on has 8 Camera Runs going to a DVR Unit with auto night vision. (Put in by the owners request)
automation is all good and fine if you have a nice house to begin with. those million dollar homes are probably _designed_ by an architect (or designer) and not a wiring contractor. otoh, a regular sheetrock shithole bristling with wires and automation is not my idea of happiness. i’m not an architect, but i do advocate good design over features. i believe that the quality of the space will have a bigger impact on your life. it’s almost like a mac vs pc thing if you want to see it that way. except that here, design is even more important because you can’t shut off your physical environment the way you can a pc.
Being somewhat new to the industry of Structured Wiring – 8 months – I have come to the decision that I would never build a home without structured wiring. As a graphic designer of 10+ years, I grew to love technology at the infancy of desktop publishing. A wired home is really just the logical extension of existing technology.
Wireless? I love it too, and as the person responsible for my company’s literature I have struggled with the idea that one day it could replace the very technology responsible for my current livelihood. The usual response to the question of “why wired and not wireless?” has been speed, security and reliability. All of which are dificult to understand for the average VCR-challenged American. Brad’s statement about cost really is true – and far more than most are aware of – as new wireless products come out, all hardware in the wireless network will need to be replaced. In a wired home, the investment is one time, and close to the cost of a single wireless system. Also, in the very near future technology will be available that can stream HD video over Cat5 or Cat5e without latency, and up to 4 streams at once over the same cable. I’d like to see wireless do that. Truth is today very little of the actual avialable bandwidth on a pair of Cat5e and Coax cables is being utilized. Sure, other cables like Cat6 and fiber are around the corner, but Cat5e and Coax have years, maybe even decades worth of life in them yet (if they properly installed of course – a note here, do make sure you have a qualified installer putting in quality cable – simply having the name Cat5e does not guarantee its quality or speed).
As for the reader who installed Cat6e, please email me – seems you have next years technology available today
Sorry, couldn’t resist – Cat6 was just standardized late last year (11/03), but as of yet does not have a good RJ45 connector yet available. It can be run, but would need to terminate in punch-down modules. My guess is you meant to say you had Cat5e run and got it confused with RG6 (the coax side).
Lastly, I look forward to seeing what choices the Author makes. You can probably guess what my vote is, but like you I am just along for the ride…
You are definitely on the right track! As a tech rep for one of the companies you listed from the show you attended, I would advise you that wireless is a very effective enhancement to a hard wired network infrastructure. I would also highly recommend seeking the help of a low voltage systems integration company to help you get what you want from your new home. In my experience, there are very few electricians with the ability to provide you with the level of integration you are looking for.