This article is intended to present general wiring methodologies that ITS follows for building or remodeling a house or area and plan on installing low voltage wiring for audio, video, home automation, phone, and data communications. Note some systems require special wiring and may be more detailed, in addition this is what we generally recommend to balance budget, functionality and futureproofing.
Audio wire should be a decent brand however it may be tempting to buy the cheaper brands. Avoid the imported no name stuff which usually has a high impurity rate and does not meet spec. In that sense also there is no need to go buy top end wire unless the systems warrants it. Audio wire should be 100% copper this is what the speaker manufactures intended during design, anything different will color the sound which can be a good or bad thing. To be consistent stick with copper, it should be 99.999% o2 free. This reduces corrosion and the degradation of the actual copper itself, which reduces sound quality over time. It should also be in wall rated and fire rated if installed in the walls of a house or building. 14 Gauge is what we prefer to use but depending on the length of run, quality of speaker, power of amplifier, equipment and budget 16 Gauge thickness may be adequate.
An HDMI cable if under 50’ is ok to use on most projects, if over 50’ you will have to use a very special cable or video Baluns* to transmit UHD TV over CAT5e network cable. It is also recommended you run a couple extra CAT5e or CAT6 network cables for the following reasons;
- Network feed to TV – Every modern TV has a network jack built in. The TV should be hard wired to the network, trying to stream over Wifi will load down your wireless network and is just naturally slower.
- Be Prepared – Extra network cable for when the HDMI goes bad or becomes outdated. Yes, HDMI standards have now changed several times in the past and will again. Plan ahead.
- Compatibility – Network cables can be used as control wiring for a universal remote or IR (Infrared Receiver) system.
Every house should have a phone line on each floor; we no longer use phone line wire but instead use CAT5e network cable which is more versatile and has better properties. We run everything to one centralized location, usually in the basement. If you ever needed that jack to be used for something else like an internet jack, the CAT5e would probably support it.
Coaxial Cable (rg6-rg6u-rg6u Quad)
Coax needs to be run everywhere you are going to have a cable box. NEC (National Electric Code) recommends one in each bedroom and common areas. You want to home run these and make sure they are perfect the first time, not daisy chain them. We also use a solid copper conductor which is recommended by most cable companies.
Network lines should be run to any devices that use internet connectivity or network access. This includes but not limited to; Computers, Printers, TV’s Wireless Access Points, Audio/Video gear, and CCTV systems. Keep as much off the wireless waves as possible. If there is an issue with network cable not meeting specification, some of the important data will not transmit to the speeds according to specification because of not enough twists in the wire (Google Twisted Pair UTP & STP) or not using solid copper (Google article by Fluke Copper Clad Cable). This is becoming a much more prevalent issue that is occurring. A sample of the wire should be qualified to make sure it will meet performance specs and should also be checked once installed to make sure it meets all standards expected of it.
Most camera systems today are now going to IP and full POE. You should run CAT5e or CAT6 network cables depending on the camera and the locations. An older RG59 cable end can be used for analog systems but prohibits upgrade in the future, so we prefer to just run CAT5e or CAT6 network cable out of the gate and convert to analog if necessary; this allows for future upgrades.
Balun – is an electrical device that converts between a balanced signal (two signals working against each other where ground is irrelevant) and an unbalanced signal (a single signal working against ground or pseudo-ground).
CAT5e & CAT6 – Both are categories of networking cables used today that use an RJ45 connector. This is what you see on everyday things for internet connectivity. Depending on the project determines the category of cable you will need. Most projects can be done using CAT5e, however CAT6 may be necessary for larger projects.
Coaxial Cable – This is your everyday cable that is used by your TV provider. It is a solid copper line that is heavily shielded and provides you with both TV and Internet.
RG59 – RG-59/U is a specific type of coaxial cable, often used for low-power video and RF signal connections.
RJ45 – (Registered Jack 45) may refer to: RJ45 (telecommunications), a connector standardized and often used with CAT5 and CAT6 cables.
IP – (Internet Protocol) An Internet Protocol is a set of rules that govern Internet activity and facilitate completion of a variety of actions on the World Wide Web
POE- (Power Over Ethernet) instead of running both a data cable and power cable for CCTV, POE allows you to supply power and transmit data from one CAT5 or CAT6 cable.