First, do you even need to wire?
I’ve heard and seen wireless demos for audio and video that wowed me! I’m a fan of emerging wireless tech for both new and existing homes.
So with all the wireless advances, do you still need to wire for the tech in our home?
I love the analogy Steve Jobs used when asked if tablets will kill the PC. Paraphrasing, he said cars are great at moving us from point A to B, but we still need trucks for the heavy lifting.
The same is true when you build a home. You’re going to use wireless technology, but for the heavy lifting you want to run wire.
Here are the top 8 things we recommend wiring in homes:
- TVs – In addition to the RG6 for cable/satellite, TVs need wire for 3 things: Video (if you’re using video distribution), network, and control. I share specifics in the ‘How To Prewire A Smart Home‘ post.
- Projectors – I run flexible conduit to projectors wherever possible. When it’s not possible to run conduit, I run Cat6 and fiber to the projector. HDMI will go bad or obsolete overtime. Conduit allows you to change HDMI as needed.
- Conduit – I thin it’s overkill to run conduit to every TV, but we usually run Conduit to the primary TVs (if it has a surround sound it’s a primary TV).
- Fiber – If budget allows, we like to run Fiber to TVs, especially those without conduit.
2. Surround Sound
When you’re wiring for surround sound, remember to consider ‘Secondary Surround’ locations.
- Primary Surround – Your theater, media room, or pimary viewing room.
- Secondary Surround – Areas like your master bedroom, covered patio, game room, bonus room, or anywhere else you might enjoy a surround experience.
These don’t have to be elaborate, or expensive setups. It could be a simple powered soundbar and sub, or a simple 5.1 surround.
3. Home Audio
When you experience Home Audio, you want more, not less.
If you think you might want music in a room, at least prewire for audio: Showers; bathrooms; covered decks; front porch; pool speakers, etc.
They have speakers for just about any application you can imagine, the shower, the pool, the cold… they even have hidden speakers. So wire up where you think you’ll want music.
Don’t forget your Landscape Speakers! So the pool, fire pit, sport court, putting green. If you’re going to spend time outside, or entertain, wire for landscape speakers.
Remember Audio is for anything you might listen to on your phone, Audio Books, Podcast, Ted Talks, you name it, it’s not just for music.
4. Cable, Satellite, & Internet
- Point of Demarcation (also called the Demarc) – This is a location on the exterior of the home where Cable, Phone and Internet Service providers connect their services.
- Satellite Prewire – A satellite prewire prevents the home from being ‘wrapped’ where the Satellite company staples wire around the side of your home. Sat Prewires, are usually run to a location in the soffit nearest the Satellite location.
- Satellite Internet – Similar to the Satellite Prewire for TV, you can run wire to the attic or soffit if you plan to use Satellite Internet
- Satellite Heaters – If you live in a colder climate, you can run a low voltage wire to power a heater that can melt snow off the satellite.
- Cell Booster – A cell booster is almost a no brainer in a new build, especially if it’s a larger build. You’ll thank yourself when your cell phone actually has service in your brand new dream home.
Service Providers can be very particular about the wire used for these applications. Some will even provide their own cable for you to pull, and some even have approved lists of cable.
If you’re planning to prewire yourself, I highly recommend contacting your local service providers to verify their cable requirements for these applications.
5. Surveillance Cameras
Surveillance Cameras should be prewired. A lot of clients ask about wireless cameras, but with few exceptions wireless cameras still need power.
If you’re going to run a cable for power anyway, it makes sense to run a Cat6. You can hardline it into the network, and send it power over the same wire.
6. Home Security
With Home Security we like to prewire the keypads for power. This keeps the keypad installs clean and void of power adapters.
Beyond the keypads you can reliably cover smaller homes with wireless sensors. Larger homes struggle with the wireless range, and benefit from hardwired sensors.
Likewise, if you’re using iron or metal doors and windows, those can cause interference with the wireless signals. We take the security prewire on a case by case basis.
7. Home Network & WiFi
- Hardwired Network – If a device has a permanent location, hardwire it to the network. This would include the TV, Roku, Surround Receiver, Printer, Desktop Computer, etc.
- Wireless Access Points (Hotspots or WAPs) – We wire hotspots, and we usually wire up more locations than we think we’ll need to be safe. You may end up using something like Eero beacons that plug into the wall, but we want to keep options open.
Motorized shades may not be standard in every home, but these days we wire for shades more often than not.
Motorized shades do not have universal wiring standards. There are similarities, but manufacturers all have different requirements.
If you’re thinking about motorized shades, it’s best to select the brand before you wire.
The first 8 categories we wire in nearly every home. The items here are more optional, and vary home-to-home. So I group them in miscellaneous, but it doesn’t make them any less important.
- iPad Mounts – Charging stations for your iPads are very popular.
- Touchscreens – Systems like Control4, Savant and Crestron have tablets that wall mount. We wire standard for these in common areas, and theaters, but you can wire them anywhere.
- Intercom – Believe it or not intercoms are making a comeback, especially with Video Doorbells, and Touchscreens.
- Voice Control – There are options for all the voice control solutions, Alexa, Josh.ai, Google, that allow you to mount a node to the wall, or ceiling for easy voice control. If you’re thinking about Voice Control, this may be worth considering for your home.
- Video Doorbells – Have the electrician wire the doorbell the same way it’s always done. Then add a Cat6, and a 22/4 wire for good measure.
- Fireplace – If you have a switched fireplace, you can run a 22/4 wire from the fireplace switch to your Smart Home Controller. This will allow you to control the Fireplace later.
If you’re thinking about prewiring your own home, or if you just want to understand it better we can help. We’ve put together 3 resources to help you feel like a Pro.
HOW TO PREWIRE A SMART HOME
Co-Founder of Tym
Named one of Technology Integrator’s Top Talent Under 40, Matt has designed systems for 12 national award-winning projects, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year" from CTA™ (Consumer Technology Association). His ebook “How To Wire Your Smart Home” is a best seller among professionals and DIY-ers alike. You can watch Matt share the secrets of his craft on YouTube!
Matt is a Golden State fan.