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48 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Due to popular request, I'm posting (as time allows) the "PreWire your Home" eBook - (from my signature)...

Chapter 1: Seriously, Why bother?

Home systems and entertainment continues to evolve
20 years ago, a daisy-chained RG59, or worse yet a flat twin lead wire, was sufficient to carry the aerial antenna signal from your roof to every TV. Most homes had, at best, one or two phone lines run to central locations. Interestingly, we were all happy.

The World, however, has changed. High speed internet, on-demand movies, and a need for both hundreds of live channels of content and most recently, dynamic in-home media content to every TV is catching many a homeowner off guard and causing a lot of extra wire retrofits.

Make no mistake; trying to get wires to where you want them after walls are already finished can cost thousands of dollars and in some instances be nearly impossible. The best plan is to prepare during the building process, but even the up front process of thinking through every future option can be daunting. Luckily, there are a lot of great resources to help you through the whole process, and this guide is a good start.

The problem is that unless you are regularly keeping track of technology advancements, it would be difficult for you to predict and plan for what you will want or need 5 years from now. The people that seem like on-the-edge geeks are pioneering new technologies and methods and determining what will become mainstream. The truth is, you cannot possibly completely future-proof your home, but you can certainly plan the next 5 or 10 years, greatly increase the value of your home, and have a great time doing it.

Get more help online
When you are ready to jump into your own project, however, we highly recommend joining one of the online forums where literally thousands of talented folks are eager to help you through specific issues, such as right here at the Shack!

If you really get in a jam, there are lots of professionals that would be happy for you to hire them. In general, look for installers that are members of CEDIA (www.cedia.net has a nice way to locate dealers by zip code). Prices and skill-sets vary widely but wherever you live, there is always a backup.

A couple of tips if you want professional help:

• Some dealers are big home theater companies – meaning some specialize in $50K plus jobs, some dealers are closer to home handymen – make sure you match their skills to your particular job.
• Inquire about their specific experience with your specific system. You should not pay for them to learn.
• Make sure they are bonded, if they get hurt on your property you don’t want them coming after you or your insurance company.
• If you are having electrical work done (real wall outlets, switches etc) that is a specialty – have a licensed professional do that for you, the low voltage guy should not just “throw it in”

Hiring and directing a professional in this area is much like going to the Doctor – being informed and knowing what you want before you step through their door is your best way to get good results. All of us in this business definitely want happy customers, but it is a business and if we can talk you into the next better system or “just a few more upgrades” we will – lovingly. Professionals tend to be opinionated about systems and methods and a great source of detailed information but any one that tells you something is too hard to explain, or not willing to take your direction and input should be a contractor you walk away from immediately.

48 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Can I actually get away with this?

If you are actually building your own home or using a custom builder, you are all set because you are in charge, but if you are buying from a semi-custom or tract home builder you need to carefully plan your approach.

Some tips to keep in mind as you arrange your project:

• Builders are schedule driven and paid bonuses based on completion rates on a schedule – any project like this threatens their personal pocketbook.
• Everything is negotiable – but you have to find the right person to negotiate with and do it at the right time. The sales person is the place to start. They are incentivised with making the sale and are generally willing to work out a deal to give you access if you lay that out up front.
• Get your agreement in writing. Make sure that the limits of your actions are clearly spelled out, how long you need to do the work, your agreement to hold everyone involved harmless in the event of injury, your responsibility for damage, your agreement to follow and be held accountable to local and national codes.
• Be prepared to smooth the way with the builder as well – as cheesy as it sounds, a case of beer is usually a good choice (end of the day, not cold so they don’t consume while they are working on your home). A couple pizzas a the opportune moment is also a good gesture. What you want is for the builder and his crew not to resent you – they need to call you to tell you if there is anything that is getting in their way or will interfere with inspections. Clear communication is key.
• When you get the chance to actually do the work, speed is key. Take a couple days off work and get it done, don’t drag it out over multiple weekends. You are looking for the few days in between the framing inspection and when they come in to insulate.
• While there are no specific codes that hold low voltage wiring to the same stringent levels as electrical, you should follow a few basic principles so as not to draw attention to your work. It should look as if a professional installed it under the direction and supervision of the builder:
o All boxes should be standard height (match switch or outlet heights)
o All wires should be secured (stapled, tied or hung) within 6” of a box, supported horizontally every 2’ and vertically every 3’.
o All wires should be out of the way of drywall installers and with large bundles or close to the surface, metal plates installed.
o At the media cabinet, wires should be neatly gathered and coiled and secured like you did at the boxes.

Finally, be sure to plan the finish work. The media cabinet does not have to be completed prior to final inspection if it is not in a finished space, but all room boxes at least need a blank cover plate. If you are responsible for phone/TV outlets as part of your deal you need to terminate those using keystone plates prior to final inspection.

So, what can go wrong?
I’ve had plenty of folks say their builder (or home company) was not willing to work with them or insisted that they only allow work from a licensed professional. Low voltage wiring requires no license or certification from the government so the excuse is hollow. The best advice I can give is that you MUST be prepared to walk away from the deal. I’ve never had anyone tell me they could not come to some arrangement although there are a lot of painful stories.

A good negotiating technique is to volunteer to take on the network, phone and cable labor and materials if they let you do the rest of the low-voltage pre-wire. That can be worth $1000 or more to them as they have to pay a low voltage company to come in and do the basics.

My own experience with my last home was particularly distressing. I ended up paying extra for basic structured wiring (2 RG6, 2cat5) to each room through the builder, but clearly I couldn’t stop there. So I went in one night with the “general knowledge” of the builder and installed just a little extra wire. 3 1000’ spools of Cat5 and 4 500’ spools of RG6 later I was done. Unfortunately I had to go off on a business trip for the next week, intending to finish, secure, and tidy up my work the following weekend. I returned to find all my wire neatly coiled in the middle of my living room floor along with a note from the builder that they had to do an inspection while I was gone and they failed because the city electrical guy objected to all the loose hanging wires in the basement. The builder had left me a message (which I missed) and ended up having to get his electrician in to clean it up. The cleanup was catastrophic to my plans. As insulation was the very next day, I had no time to renegotiate and get back in there. The best I could do was to get permission to put in a couple of conduit chases so I could get wires to the different sections of my home from the basement. What did I learn? Communication, smooth the waters with the builder, do not get in their way, and always keep in mind what incentivises them.

But, in the end, it is your home, they all work for you. Do not back down.

48 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Chapter 3: The Absolute Minimum – and Why…

Even if you are a minimalist, every home needs phone, TV, doorbell, and at least support for internet. Forget about you having sworn off TV, you have to put in at least the basic services for resell value. I hear from realtors all the time that the lack of phone and cable outlets in each room is frequently a turnoff in older homes.

This section attempts to provide the future homeowner with the tradeoffs between keeping costs low and providing as much functionality and planning for future needs. We highly suggest that you read through the other chapters that go through other home systems and options before you complete your home plan, but please – at least put in what is in this chapter for the sake of the next owner of your home.

Key philosophy: If you are going to do it, do it right!

Bottom line – the list first:
4 RG6 Sat: To the central media cabinet, run 4 RG6 outside to the south facing side of your home.
2 RG6, 1 Cat5e: 2 RG6 and 1 CAT5e to your cable TV demarc point.
2 Cat5e: 2 Cat5e to the phone demarc point.
Media Cabinet to Rooms:
2 RG6, 3 Cat5e: Homerun 2 RG6, 3 Cat5e to every room (kitchen, playroom, garage, den included).
16-2 for surround: Pre-wire for surround sound (2 rear, 2 side, 2 front, center, subwoofer) in the main TV location and at any home theater locations using at least 16-2 lamp cord.
Be sure to wire for doorbell and at least a couple of motion sensor locations for a future security system.

Where to get supplies:
While everything you will need should be available at your local Home Depot or Lowes, if you are doing any project that requires more than 1000’ of wire, you can usually save some money by ordering online. www.monoprice.com has a nice selection of wires, terminations, and media cabinets to choose from. If you plan ahead, you can even get different color wires so you can more easily keep things organized.

Details Outside-In:

4RG6 for Satellite – These should all be RG6 Quad Shield coax. While any kind will work, if you have a choice get exterior grade, and if possible get coax screened to 3GHz.

Dish network requires one wire from the dish (or from a switch) for every two tuners (that is two boxes or one DVR). Even if you run 8 tuners in your home, you will need at least two wires from the dish to feed the switch(es) in your media cabinet.

has three predominant systems currently in use:

With a “Legacy” setup (More than one wire comes down from the Satellite dish)
If you have only Standard Definition boxes, you need TWO wires in from the dish to a switch that will reside in your media cabinet.
If you have ANY High Definition boxes you will need FOUR wires in from the dish to a switch.

With a SWM (Pronounced Swim) system (Only one coax comes down from the Satellite dish), that one wire comes down to your media cabinet, goes to a power inserter then into a splitter (looks much like a cable TV splitter) to feed all your TVs. The standard system, however, only will feed 5 tuners (again a standard box is 1 tuner and a DVR is two).

A Hybrid system combines the two and gives extra benefits but you usually have to prearrange this kind of installation as the pieces are not always on the installer’s truck. This kind of system uses a “legacy dish” a 5LNB dish, 4 wires out, and a stand alone SWM-8 switch in your media cabinet. This more easily allows expansion to more tuners and allows you to insert a locally generated set of channels that all the TVs in the home can see. This is particularly good for in-home A/V distribution, or adding security cameras to your home’s TV system. If you already have a “legacy” system, the stand alone SWM-8 switches are readily available on the internet for around $120 including the needed power supply from sites like www.weaknees.com. Be sure to check that all your receivers are SWM capable – most will be marked with SWM near the satellite connection on the box, or check with the folks at weaknees for more information.

If you live in a particularly cold/snowy climate, consider wiring for a dish heater.

2RG6, 1Cat5e to the Cable TV Demarc point – These should be RG6 Quad shield and exterior grade Cat5e if possible. The absolute minimum here is one RG6 coax, but the extra coax and cat5e are good safety precautions in case you need to add:
• an amplifier at the demarc point, the extra coax can carry power to the amp.
• a legacy voip system – older units have the voip modem on the outside of the home and/or at the demarc point
• a cellular repeater
• Satellite Radio, FM antenna etc.

2 Cat5e to the phone demarc point – A single Cat5e can carry up to 4 individual phone lines so one is usually enough, but as wires corrode and have trouble over time exposed to the elements, it is recommended installing a second just as a backup.

Details Inside the Home:

2-RG6, 3-Cat5e: From the media cabinet to each room in the home forms the core of the communications and entertainment system in your home. Let’s run through them one at a time, and point out the versatility this setup gives you.

Dedicated line to Cable Modem: Be sure to run a dedicated line directly from the demarc point to the location where you plan to put your cable modem. The cable company will install a tap off the main line that runs to the modem.

2 RG6: Video. Whether cable or satellite using a SWM or legacy system, having 2 RG6s to each room will allow you to have a DVR in any room. If you only end up using one of the two coax wires, the other can be used for a security camera backfeed, as an extra audio or video distribution point, or even running spdif audio as part of an audio distribution system.

3 Cat5e:
One is for phone lines – a single cat5e can supply up to 4 individual phone lines to each room.
One is for Ethernet. Yes, wireless is a great thing, but wired will always be faster and more secure. Keep in mind that in the future your whole-home entertainment system might very well be IP delivered over Ethernet.

Two are for Audio/Video. By adding a low cost balun (a device that lets you connect audio and video wires to an Ethernet cable) you can transfer high definition component as well as full digital Spdif audio from your media cabinet to any room. For more details, see the Home Distribution Systems chapter.
NOTE: Keep in mind this is an “absolute minimum so you can sleep at night” chapter. If you think you might want whole-home HDMI upgrade this to TWO Cat6 wires.

Surround Sound at your main TV watching location.

You will need to make a few decisions – where you’re A/V receiver will be located, whether you will use standing, hanging, or in-wall speakers, and how many speakers. Regarding the last, the most common today is a 5.1 system, which means 2 “front” Left and Right main speakers, two “rear” Left and Right speakers, one “center” speaker usually located just above or below the main TV, and one subwoofer. If standing or hanging speakers, you will terminate the wire using low voltage boxes (basically just orange “frames” readily available at your local home improvement store, if in-wall, you can coil the end of the wire around a nail so that the hole can be cut later for speaker installation.

While there are plenty of specialized wires available, the absolute minimum would be to use 16-2 zip cord. For a more professional installation, a two conductor red/white speaker wire in a common grey outer wrap is a nice upgrade 16 or 14 Ga wire can be used (CL-2 or CL-3 normally). 16Ga is usually good up to about 50’. That would allow you to make sure you get the polarity right on each speaker so you do not get strange phasing effects.

Note that the subwoofer commonly takes a different wire. A COAX makes a good choice for that connection instead of the lamp cord, and keep in mind that the subwoofer will need power so make sure it is located near an outlet.

Good general rules for speaker locations:

Center channel: right above or below the main screen. Main front: Left and right of the main screen at the midpoint screen height or slightly above. Optimal placement is in a box or rectangle around the main seating location (usually 8 to 20’ from the main screen directly in front of it). Imagine that seat in the center of a box/rectangle, the two front and two back speakers should be at the corners of that box. It is ok if the rear speakers are closer to you than the front as their volume can be adjusted to “virtually center” you in the box by the receiver. Ideally rear speakers are at about head height when seated, but as that is not always possible, mounting standing head height on a wall is also common. Your receiver should come with good instructions for balancing your system, and some, using a microphone, will do it themselves.

Doorbell and Basic Security System Planning:
Your builder should take care of the doorbell, but you can always double check and upgrade just a little. For the doorbell, the common wire is an 18-2 solid “bell wire”. Somewhere there needs to be a transformer – it is usually mounted on a metal electrical box and fastened to a stud or ceiling joist either in the attic or the basement. From that location you need one run to the front door (and any other doors you want bells), and one run to each place you want the actual bell. If you are running more than one door and/or more than one bell, you should bump the wire guage up one (up means to a 16 guage).

A simple upgrade would be to add a CAT5e cable to the front door as well. One of the most common security additions people want is a front door camera. The Cat5 wire should go to your media cabinet.

For the Security system, the absolute minimum would be to run from the media cabinet (or right next to it for a future security cabinet) to at least one motion sensor location near each main open area, entrance, or location of valuables. Keep in mind you don’t have to cover every square foot of a home, just places that an intruder would have to walk through to get to your stuff. There is specialized security wire available both for sensors and for motion sensor locations, but a Cat5e to that motion sensor location will also work just fine.

Future Proof – at least a little. See the section on future proofing. Consider putting conduit in some places to let you expand later.

The Official Standard TIA-570
The latest version released in 2004 states that at a minimum, one RG6 and one data (they actually say cat 3) should be taken to each of the following rooms and placed every 25 feet on a wall:
• Each bedroom
• Kitchen
• Living Room
• Den/Office
Obviously the “minimum” stated in the document is significantly more.

Wire Types, Uses and Substitutions:
A later chapter will go through wires types by systems used in detail, but by way of general overview the following wires are preferred:

RG6QS: RG6 Quad Shield should be used anywhere coax is needed.

It is generally good up to and including satellite frequencies. Most places sell RG59 but it generally only is good up to 700MHz or so and will not carry the higher cable channels or satellite frequencies. Coax generally can be had in red, blue, black and white; color coding is a huge help for identifying wires for trim out work. If you have a LOT of camera runs, then RG59 can be used, but if you are buying 1000’ rolls anyway, just stick with RG6QS everywhere. What about RG6 (no quad shield)? Yes it is cheaper, but will be more susceptible to interference and noise – you get what you pay for.

Ethernet, Phone, Keypads: For almost every residential application, Cat5e is sufficient and will work up to 1GB/s. Cat6 is better, but unless you terminate it properly, use the right ends and techniques, and have equipment capable of using the advanced wiring, you might as well stick with Cat5e.

Solid or Stranded? It Depends:

Cat5e and Cat6 comes in both solid and stranded formats. Solid means for each individual conductor (8 in a Cat5/6 cable) there is only one solid round conductor. Stranded means that for each conductor there are actually multiple wires wrapped around each other – typically 7.

Solid Conductor Cable: Turns out that solid wire theoretically has better conduction characteristics although the difference is negligible and most likely unnoticeable in a typical installation. Solid conductor wire works much better for punch down blocks and keystone jacks since it tends to hold its shape better when punched between the knives of a terminal. Solid wire, however, kinks and breaks easier than stranded wire so extra care must be taken when pulling to insure that it comes off the roll smoothly and does not kink. If it gets kinked it should be replaced. Solid conductor wire also does not work as well with typical RJ45 connectors – although most will accept either stranded or solid. The little teeth that get pressed into the wire can break solid wire. Special triple tooth connectors work best for solid cable if you need to go that way.

Stranded Conductor Cable: Is more flexible and much better for patch cords. It is better for crimp style connections, and much easier to roll.

Bottom line, use solid for in-wall and connections to patch/punch panels and use stranded for patch cords. The best advice, however, is to buy all solid bulk wire and buy pre-made patch cords. They will be better performance and last longer than anything you create yourself due to the molded ends.

Cat5e, Cat6, Cat7/ClassF??? Help
It is actually more complex than choosing a speed and putting in the right cable.

Cat5e is the most common installed cable at the moment and with good install techniques will support 1Gb/s speeds and will even support 10Gb/s speeds up to 15 or 20 meters. Since that is not long enough for many installations and existing installations are almost certainly longer than that, cat5e was written out of the 10Gb standard. So the standard now includes cat6 up to 55 meters, augmented cat6 as well as cat7/ClassF supporting up to 100 meters at 10Gb/s. Generally a cat6 installation will run 30% more than a cat5e installation, and a full classF installation will run triple.
* Cat5 – some installations capable of supporting Gigabit Ethernet – see TIA/EIA-568-B-2 annex D for more information
* Cat5e is good to 100MHz – upgrades NEXT loss, return loss, and ELFEXT loss, 1Gb-T
* Cat6 is good to 250MHz – doubles S/N ratio – 1Gb-TX, some can support 10Gb
* Cat7 is good to 600MHz
Gigabit Ethernet uses full bi-directional and 4 pair schemes.

That said, it is absolutely as critical to install your chosen cable properly. The system is only as good as its weakest link. If you choose Cat6, install Cat6 keystones, patch panels and patch cords. Keep the twist tight all the way up to the punch. Cut ends very close. Use gradual bends in the cable, support it properly, and stay away from electrical lines.

Station wire:
Generally, 22-2 or 22-4 works for about any security application. Things needing power need 4 wires, otherwise 2 is sufficient, but check on pricing. The price difference may be small enough to just run 4 wires everywhere. Note that Cat5e can be easily substituted.

16Ga speaker wire home wide is preferred – to walls and ceilings, with Cat5e run to keypad locations for future upgrading. The easiest is usually to run 4 wire cable to each room for stereo, then run the two wire variety to each individual speaker. If you cheap out and use zip cord, give it a twist – at least one twist per foot, preferably two. Long story short, twisted wires reject noise better than long runs of parallel wire. Theoretically, noise picked up on one is nullified by noise picked up on the other. Either way, it can’t hurt.

- Plenum wire can be used in “air duct spaces” , specifically it is used in commercial applications in suspended ceilings where air returns are common. It helps keep burning insulation, in the event of a fire, from contaminating the air system.
- Riser wire is preferred when making vertical runs between floors (it supports itself better
- U/V wire should be used where exposed to sunlight
- Booger wire should be used for direct burial

48 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Chapter 4: Future Proofing

Aren’t we doing this already by installing wires in the walls before we even need them?
The hardest part of picking what to pre-wire is making the tradeoffs betwee n what you need the day you move in, what you likely will need over the first 5 or 10 years in the home (technology you are aware of but not installing yet due to budget, time restrictions, etc), and planning for long term upgrades with technology that might not even be invented yet.

What about wireless? The most common question – isn’t everything going to be wireless in the future? Anything can be done wirelessly, but with few exceptions, wired is always cheaper, more reliable, more efficient, and easier to get set up and running.

Key recommendations from experts:
1) Start with the minimum that every home needs both to serve daily basic needs and stay competitive on the housing market (See Chapter 3, The absolute Minimum, and why). Get that all in the wall up front.
2) Carefully think through every possible system that you may want to install or have installed in the next 5-10 years and go ahead and pull those wires in-wall prior to drywall (See Chapter 6 Home systems to consider). Pulling raw wire is easier and therefore less expensive and time consuming now.
3) At a minimum, pre-place conduit to key entertainment areas and key home control locations for future expansion. If you use conduit, do not put any wires in it as part of your pre-wire. Why fill it up now, it is insurance for later.

Conduit, Tell me More:
Since we are talking low voltage cables, there are not the same requirements as for electrical regarding wire types, insulation, cooling factors etc. Basically we just want a simple way to get a wire from the wiring closet up to a location where a piece of equipment or entertainment control is located. Functional not fancy is the plan.

How Big, what kind?: Within reason, size matters as you can get more wires, they are easier to pull, and you will spend much less time doing so with larger conduits. The key governors tend to be cost, ease of installation, and conformance to codes. Larger is more expensive, and the bigger it is the more awkward it is to get in the right place but the critical factor in most homes is conformance to code so we will focus there next, but at least 1.25” is advised. As for type, you are not looking for “protection” or shielding so something that is easy to pull wires through and is cheap is your goal. Most home improvement stores have a lot to choose from. It generally runs about $1 a foot and you need to purchase the right clamps with it as well.

Some examples include:
Carlon Raceway - http://cableorganizer.com/carlon/carlon-flexible-raceway.html
Smarthome selection – www.smarthome.com search on conduit
Cinemabuilder - http://www.cinemabuilder.com/products/construction/wiring-conduit.asp
Be sure to get clamps and terminal adapters as well so you can connect to mud rings.

How much wood can I cut?
You should most definitely check local codes, verify with your local inspector, and specifically seek council and permission of your builder before cutting or modifying and wood members of your home. And most definitely read and obey the previous sentence! That said, common practice and most codes abide by the following ratios for holes and chunks that can be cut from studs, plates, and members in your home.

Load Bearing members (if the member carries the weight of the structure above it):
A hole can be up to 40% of the width of the member if it is centered.
A notch (a cut out from the side) can be up to 25% of the width of the member.
NON-load bearing members
A hole can be up to 60% of the width of the member
A notch can be up to 40% of the width of the member

Most of the time, what you are cutting through to install conduit is the top plate. If there is any confusion, ask the builder or inspector what is load bearing and what is not – many plates are not. A good rule of thumb is if the wall can be removed without effecting the rest of the structure then it is not load bearing. If your basement has concrete walls (on which the floor above sits) then the added interior walls are non load bearing. Even if ceiling joists or roof jacks pass over a wall it could still be non load bearing especially if the joists do not end on top of the wall in question.

If your walls are 2x4 walls (actually 3.5” wide):
If it is load bearing your hole can be 40% diameter 3.5”X.4= 1.4” or a 1 3/8” hole through which 1 ¼” OD conduit will slide.
If it is non-load bearing your hole can be 60% diameter 3.5”X.6=2.1” or a 2” hole
If your walls are 2X6 walls (5.5” wide) the same math applies
Load bearing up to a 2.2” hole
Non-Load bearing up to a 3.3” hole

DO NOT drill through structured wood joists (They look like pressed or laminated wood) without permission and an engineer’s signoff. These are specifically designed for load bearing and you could cause huge rework issues.
DO NOT drill new holes in T-lam or wood I beam/floor joists without permission and either and engineer’s signoff or strict compliance to the documentation that comes with these joists and approval of the builder. Note that most of these have pre-started holes that can simply be knocked out with a hammer saving all the extra math and nervousness. At a minimum keep holes, cut or hammered out, 12” from ends, load bearing points and beams.

Installing Conduit:
Generally, you need to follow the same rules as when installing wires both for good common practice and to meet some local codes.
• Get an “Auger Bit” – Much easier than a hole saw and they pull themselves through the wood – multiple layers of it – easily.

• Attach ends securely to something – most mud rings have an attachment point
• Fasten to members within 12” of a box and every 4.5’ vertically, within 12” of where it passes through a member, and support horizontally every 4 to 6 feet.
• The pull string. A lot of conduit comes with a pull string already inside, if not you can insert one during installation or run one later. Masons twine works well and is incredibly strong. For running through an empty pipe, a cotton ball can usually be sucked through the pipe with a vacuum.
• Seal around the conduit where it passes through fire structures – expanding foam works well.

• If it comes within 1 ¼” of the surface, put on a plate to prevent nails/screws from penetrating it.
• Some conduit connectors are directional – you can usually pull wire either way but be consistent in installation so you know what is in your walls.

Where should I put it?
Depending on the home construction – if you have an accessible attic, unfinished basement, or crawl spaces and your budget, you can forego it altogether or do full runs back to the media cabinet.

As a minimum, 8 to 10 foot runs from each TV/media/entertainment location up into the attic is a good start. Consider also putting mud rings with blank plates and conduit up to the attic near key switch/entry locations, to the kitchen, near the thermostat, to the front door/doorbell location, near the door in the master bedroom and each bedroom, and outside near the backdoor. These will allow later installation of new A/V cables (HDMI will have to be replaced eventually), home automation and control, and multi-room audio/video systems.

If you live in a multistory home, make sure you have a chase or a large conduit from the attic to the basement (where most media cabinets are located) at least 2” and preferably 3” in size and a conduit from where that comes down to the media cabinet itself.

For the Home Theater, a separate run to each speaker, TV, projector, control panel, and source location to the associated media cabinet is highly recommended. Standards change. Be sure to leave conduits empty for the future.
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