UPDATED: April, 2020
Are you building a new home? Wondering what to prewire? And what about all the new wireless technology? Should you prewire at all, or just go wireless?
I love the analogy Steve Jobs used when asked about PCs, Laptops and Tablets. He said as good as cars are, we will always need trucks for heavy lifting.
The same is true when you build a home. There will always be heavy lifting to do in the home. Prewire your home for those items.
Here are the categories I like to prewire (rough) in new construction and remodels:
A Quick Word About Wireless Technology
I’ve heard some incredible wireless audio demos, I’ve seen wireless video demos, I’ve experienced wireless charging, and other incredible advances in wireless tech that wowed me!
I’m a fan of emerging wireless tech. It offers phenomenal solutions to both new and existing homes.
But given the option, I prefer to prewire the following items.
- TVs – In addition to the RG6 for cable/satellite, TVs need wire for 3 things: Video (if you’re doing 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 go bad or obsolete overtime, and conduit allows you to change HDMI as needed.
- Video Distribution – I wrote about prewiring for Video Distribution in detail here. What I’ll say here, is that even with all the cord cutting, I still believe you should wire for Video Distribution.
A Quick word on FIBER and Conduit. I don’t believe every home needs fiber, but we’re at a point where you should seriously consider Fiber.
2. Surround Sound – Primary & Secondary
Most people consider prewiring surround in their main media room or theater. You should also consider prewiring for Secondary Surrounds.
The goal here is simply to provide more volume in larger rooms where flatscreen TVs won’t have the speaker power to fill the room.
The applications are endless: Master, Covered Deck, Pool, Great Room, etc. If there’s a room where you could enjoy more sound, consider a soundbar or full surround.
3. Home Audio
When I personally wire a home, this is where I will be the most aggressive.
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; landscape speakers, etc.
If you are going to spend any time at all in a room, consider wiring it for Audio. We even have clients prewire hallways and walkways for parties.
Don’t forget your Landscape Speakers
Landscape speakers are designed so that you can hear the volume as loudly as you want, but without disturbing the neighbors.
If you’re thinking about landscape speakers, you need to decide how many zones you may want and prewire accordingly.
We typically pull wire to a junction box at the side of the home. Later when the landscaping is finished, we use that as a connection point and run the rest of the wire outside.
4. Service Providers: 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. Network & WiFi
- Hardwired Network – WiFi is great, but you still want to hardwire into the network where you can. Electronics that are semi permanent like a TV, Blu-Ray, Apple TV, Printer, etc are best to hardwire into the Network.
- Wifi Hotspots – I’ve learned that it’s best to leave yourself options for Wifi Hotspots. I usually prewire more locations than I actually believe I need. This gives me the option to move Hot Spots around later, and find the optimal coverage.
For a long time I promoted wireless shades. Honestly, its because we hadn’t actually installed a lot of shades.
With more experience behind us, I prefer now to wire shades. Requirements vary a lot vender to vender, but many shades need a wire.
A shade can be too large, or in certain lines if you want a dual roller, and you’ll need a wire.
It’s best with shades to choose your shade vender in advance, so you can wire to their specifications.
9. Low Voltage Lighting
Low voltage lighting is relatively new in the Residential space, but with the emphasis on Biophilia and wellness rooms, and the perceived impact of light on our overall wellness, low voltage lighting is definitely here to stay.
Outside of the Ultra Luxury homes, you don’t see it deployed in an entire home, but it is becoming increasingly common to see it deployed in select rooms.
Similar to shades, vender requirements and wire schematics vary, so you are best to select your Low Voltage Lighting solutions in advance, so you’re sure you’re wired to that venders specs.
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.
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.