We’re asked all the time if we recommend prewiring a home still with all the advances in wireless technology. ABSOLUTELY. The advances in wireless technology are awesome, you can see our ideas on maximizing the latest and greatest wireless technology on our Smart Home Project page.
Wireless Home Network
Sure in the home networking department you are going to do some things wirelessly. You’ll use your laptop, mobile devices wirelessly to connect to the web. But just because you can go wireless doesn’t mean you should go wireless.
You would actually be better off hardwiring everything that you possibly can that isn’t mobile. For the nitty-gritty on wireless vs hardwired networks, check out Gomer’s recent post. He goes into the nuts and bolts on why hardwired is so much better than wireless.
But lets look at a practical example. I recently purchased a new Apple TV, and was excited to try out the new streaming services while I waited for our satellite service to get installed. Being the Golden State Basketball fan that I am, I wanted to watch the Oklahoma game. The one where Steph Curry nails a game winner from 35 feet out. The Apple TV was connected to the network wirelessly. And that experience went about like this. I’m watching the game. The screen freezes. I get the spinning wheel of death icon. The Apple TV eventually flashes me a message that it can’t connect to the Internet, and that’s that. I follow the last few minutes of the game, by updating my EPSN app. AWESOME! Ughhh.
So wireless is great when it’s great, but when it’s bad, it’s really bad. And it’s never bad at a convenient time. By the way, if you missed the game winning shot like I did, here’s a 30 second link to recap.
The Apple TV like many network devices in the home can and should be hardwired into your network. You want reliability, and there’s no better way to get that than by hardwiring into your network. The same is true with TV’s, Printers, Stationary computers, etc. Again just because you can go wireless doesn’t mean that you should go wireless.
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Smart Home Devices
Prewire, Prewire, Prewire. Seriously. Prewire everything you possibly can, and if you think you might need a wire for something, but are not sure, prewire.
Here’s the thing. What all Smart Home customers want, more than anything else is reliability. When they press a button on their Smart Home App, they want it to execute the same way every time, and without any hiccups.
The second you introduce a wireless technology like Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth into the mix, you’re opening the door for wireless drop out. These technologies are much more reliable than the home network, but they still have their challenges.
A lot of people look at a ‘Smart TV’ and say well its Smart so we can just use it wirelessly. Kind of, but not really. Yes you can connect to the Internet wirelessly, but we’ve already mentioned above why we don’t recommend that. As for the Smart Home system, it will perform best if it’s hardwired in.
Check out this article on how devices in a Smart Home connect. When we wire a home, we want a minimum of (2) Cat5e or Cat6 behind the TV. One of those wires is used to send content from the Video Sources in the Media rack out to the TV. The other wire is used to send commands out to the TV, and for the TV to send status updates back.
Believe it or not, it’s anticipated that TV’s will start including an ‘HDBT’ port on the back standard for hardwiring. This looks like an Ethernet cable, but it’s actually for Video Distribution and sending Video content over a wire to the TV.
If you’re convinced that wireless technology is going to do away with wire, fantastic. Do your self a favor, and prewire the home anyway. You’ll be glad you did.
Matt is a co-founder and lead systems designer for TYM LLC. His smart home and audio/visual designs have won three “Home of the Year Awards” from Electronic House & CE Pro magazine, and two awards from the Consumer Technology Association, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year".
Matt is a golden State fan.