UPDATED: June 27, 2019
Are you building a new home? Wondering what to prewire? And what about all the new wireless technology? Do you worry if it’s worth it to prewire?
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. For these applications, you want to use wire.
As a general rule, I like to prewire (rough) the following items in new construction and remodels:
A Quick Word About Wireless Technology
I’ve heard some incredible wireless demos for sound, I’ve seen wireless HDMI demos that wowed me, I’ve experienced wireless charging, and many more exciting wireless trends.
I want to be clear, I’m a huge fan of emerging wireless technology, and believe it offers phenomenal solutions to both new and existing homes.
But given the option, I prefer to prewire the following items.
- TVs – Traditionally you run a RG6/Coaxial cable to each TV for Satellite/Cable services. Smart TV’s should be hardlined into the home network, and preferably with a Cat6.
- 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. There’s a case to be made for running Fiber and/or conduit. I don’t believe it’s necessary for every home yet, but if you’re building your dream home, or a home you plan to live in for the next 3-5 years, it’s time to seriously consider fiber.
2. Primary & Secondary Surround Sounds
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.
You need to make a decision about where to locate your receiver. You can ‘localize’ the receiver in the room where it will be used, but if you’re doing Video Distribution you’ll want it in the Media Rack.
3. Home Audio
When I personally wire a home, this is where I will be the most aggressive. I’ve been known to wire in multiple rooms of free audio.
Most the time, when you experience Home Audio, you want more of it. Showers, bathrooms, Covered Decks, Front Porch, Landscape Speakers, etc.
If you are going to spend any time at all in a room of the house, 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.
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. It’s best to hardwire TVs, and Video sources into the network. Likewise Ethernet ports anywhere you may want a hardwired connection.
- 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 maximum coverage.
The first 7 items we wire standard 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.
- Shades – Shades wire up differently manufacturer to manufacturer, but I highly recommend wiring for shades, especially if you have large windows in a 2-story great room.
So What’s The Next Step?
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.