Structured Wiring
& The Owner Builder

One of the most important things you need to consider when you build your own home is structured wiring. What is structured wiring you ask? Great Question! It is a systems approach to any cabling or wiring that is used for communication in your home. All communication wiring is treated as one system. This includes telephones, computer networking, video (cable, satellite, or closed circuit), audio, alarm, home automation etc….

   
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With all the technology that is available today it is a very broad subject. I want to help point you in the right direction so you can make the correct decisions prior to building your new home.

First we need to discuss what is new and different about modern home communications, and why we need to approach wiring differently than we did several years ago.

The old way of wiring for telephone and video signal was like this. You started at one end of the house (the telephone or cable box) and then looped, or daisy chained the wire throughout the whole house.

Everything was fine as long as you had good connections and the wire or cable did not get to long. When the signal got weak you just put a booster at the source.

It was not uncommon for connectors and splices to be everywhere. In the walls, attic, outside the house, or wherever we wanted to get a dial tone or video signal.

What changed? Signal Quality became the king! Ok, what am I talking about here? Now we have to have everything high speed, high quality, give it to me yesterday, anywhere, fast and cheap.

Right now, I am writing on my computer that is connected to the Internet via a satellite connection using a dish on my roof. My wife is watching TV that is getting its signal from a different satellite dish on my roof. What do these systems need? Good connections from the source (the dish) to the modem or satellite TV de-scrambler box.

Ok, you are getting the picture, now we need to talk about planning your Structured Wiring. Planning my friend is the most important thing that you can do to save yourself untold pain in the future.

In the old days if you wanted to put cable in another room you just put in a connector and ran the cable any way that you could. You can still do this if you are on standard cable but if you are in a Rural setting that has no cable you have a choice antenna or satellite (if you are close enough to get a signal for a antenna).

We are all spoiled now, we want what we want, when we want it. With this said we need to make plans for what we may want in the future, now, before we build or new home. Once the walls a sealed up in the house it is much more difficult to run the wiring you need to have the signal where you want it.



How do we plan our Structured Wiring?

Sit down with your family and discuss what you want, and where you want it. Do you want an office with high speed Internet? Do you want a multi-line phone system? Do you want a home computer network? Ask the what if questions. Like, what if I work from home? What will I need in the future? Remember, once you finish the house it is going to cost much more to run the wiring you need. Do it now and save!

How is Structured Wiring different? One important difference is the wiring scheme is setup utilizing home runs.

No, not like Babe Ruth. Home runs are un-spliced wires that run from the source to the Structured Wiring Panel and then, from the Panel to the end user. I like to think of the Structured Wiring Panel as home. Everything comes and goes from there.

Everything is wired to home (the Structured Wiring Panel). Each device (TV, phone, computer etc…) or supplier (satellite dish, DSL modem, cable TV, telephone company etc…) has it own dedicated cable run. Everything meets at the Structured Wiring Panel, (home) and can be interconnected to go where it needs to go.

Why do we do this? Good question! We drastically reduce signal loss. Remember there are no splices. This is paramount when you are dealing with Satellite Signals. We can network anything to anywhere (if we plan our wiring, more on this later) with just a change, of what, is connected to what, in the Structured Wiring Panel.

Another reason for using the Structured Wiring method is in the event of a wire or cable failure identification is easier. No more loops and daisy chains. In the old days it was very hard to find problems. Now when we have a problem with a source, or an end user we just open the panel and test the applicable wire run. This takes much of the mystery out of the process of isolating problems. A little more on planning, and how I did it.

I did the exercise that I listed above. After we decided what we thought we needed, I then planned for the future. I knew I needed home runs for cable (RG6) for TV in every room that I might want a TV in the future. I knew I needed a home run of Cat 5 communication cable for telephone and/or computer network for each room respectively.

Now, a little about cable. You need to run RG6 for your satellite feeds from your dish to your devices. I ran it in the whole house because RG59 has a higher signal loss and will not work properly with satellite. The RG59 is cheaper but you should run a good quality cable even if you are just hooking up to standard cable or Antenna. You don’t know what the future holds.

Cat5 is used for telephone and network communications. It is far superior to the old four conductor telephone wire of the past. Again, use good cable for less signal loss. Cat 5 is the minimum for use in networking computers.

I do not even pretend to be a wire selection expert. I made the selection of the wire type above for my applications. If you want to use Fiber Optics, or other methods, do some research on your specific application? Remember once the walls are sealed up it is tough to run the cables.

For more information on wire applications go to the Structured Wiring Knowledge Center.

OK, where was I? That’s right, planning. I planned my structured wiring room by room. Let’s look at the room I am in now, my study.

I knew I needed satellite feed for my satellite Internet. Most of the Satellite Internet modems and dishes require an uplink and a down link cable from the Dish to the Modem. That was easy I planned on having two RG6 home runs to the Structured Wiring Panel. I also ran a spare if one went bad.

I also might want a TV in the room in the future. So I planned another RG6 on the wall for a TV.

What else did I need in this room? I needed a phone connection and a network cable for my computer. That meant a minimum of 2 Cat5 Home runs. I ran 4 to the study just in case.

Are you getting the process? I hope so! It takes some time to plan out each room. I couldn’t possibly guess what you will need in your house. You may want to have a cutting edge smart home and need far more than I did.

I cannot stress the importance of planning. Take some time study and think through your plans for your whole house. Of course you will have to decide how much technology you need in your home. A good place to see what is available is at the Home Technology Store .


This brings us to another consideration. Wireless networking, and telephone systems. Wireless has become easy to set up and use. The biggest draw back is security. Your network is never really totally secure if it utilizes radio frequencies to transmit and receive bandwidth.

The effective range of the standard home wireless network is about 300 feet. Anyone with a good antenna and the know how can break in your system from a much greater distance.

In my opinion it is better to hardwire your network. If you install the cable while building your house you have the option to do either.

OK, now that you have an idea of what is going where, you are going to need some ideas on the equipment to get it done. Your system will be different than any other to fill your needs, so I suggest you take some time to review what is available at The Home Technology Store. They have everything you need to set your house up properly and free technical support. 

My Structured Wiring setup is very simple compared to many that I have seen, but it is what we decide we needed prior to building our home. All my incoming and outgoing cable and Telephone wire come in and go out of one Panel. I have four satellite cables coming in from the roof and all the outgoing cables to connect them to in one easy spot. This is very convenient for those that use satellite TV or Internet. I only have two Feeds from my Satellite dish for TV (two LNB's). With this setup I can switch those feeds to any room in the house from this Panel by simply changing the connectors.

Take the time to research what is best for you and your family. Review the resources at the Structured Wiring Knowledge Center for more information.





For more Information on Building Your Own Home Go to Our Building Knowledge Center.




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