HOW TO WIRE YOUR HOME
|Building a new home or remodeling? One of the most common questions our tech support department receives is how to cable a home for automation. Since the popular X10 and INSTEON protocols send your commands over standard electrical wiring, adding various additional cable runs isn't necessary, but automated lighting and appliances aren't the only convenience to keep in mind when planning your cabling. There are a number of different theories on how automation wiring should be done and what type of cables should be used. The following is probably the most widely accepted and most practical method based on the Smarthome team's experience and industry knowledge.|
|Wiring for Powerline Control Protocols|| |
|By design, equipment controlled over powerlines does not need much in the way of special wiring. However, for maximum reliability, it's a good idea to install the following in homes with INSTEON, X10, or UPB installations: |
Neutral Wire at Each Wall Switch
Ask your builder/electrician to run the neutral wire to each wall switch location (the neutral cable is optional in many light switch wiring schemes and unless you specify it explicitly, it may get omitted). INSTEON switches, dimmers, and keypads and most enhanced X10 wall switches require a 3-wire (hot, neutral and load) connection.
You are likely to want a number of In-Wall Remote Control Panels throughout the house.
These In-Wall transmitters can control groups of lights or execute complex lighting macros. With one touch, you can quickly adjust all the lights in a room to match the occasion or mood.
Plan these locations and have a hot and neutral wire run to a J-box at these locations.
Use Deep Junction Boxes
INSTEON switches and keypads feature a slim design, making installation easy even in small junction boxes, but if you're not yet decided on an automation protocol, it's a good idea to specify the installation of deep junction boxes to accommodate any switch size. The deep models have extra working space and make the installation a little easier. Deep boxes only cost a few cents more than normal depth models. Look for single-gang boxes that are 22cu (cubic inches) or higher and double-gang boxes that are 36cu or higher.
Whole-House Surge Protection
Install a Whole-House Surge Suppressor to protect your electrical appliances and home entertainment products. If you are going to be using a significant number of powerline automation components in your home, adding just one whole-house surge protector will give you a good insurance policy against costly damage to both your X10 or INSTEON system as well as other delicate electrical equipment in your house.
|Isolate Non-Automation Loads|
Work with your electrician to isolate non-automation loads. Having the kitchen and laundry appliances plus the heating systems on one phase of your electrical system will help keep potential noise off the X10- or INSTEON-carrying lines.
|Wiring for Data|| |
|Data cabling will include more than the cat. 5 or cat. 5e you'll use to use for your Ethernet network. This section provides the information you'll need to install your A/V, telephone, HVAC, and security systems, as well. The first stage in planning is to select the location of a central wiring hub location. This is where all the cables from all the different rooms come in and where all the external cabling (cable TV, phone, antenna, satellite, etc.) feeds into the house. Ideally this should be located next to your audio/video equipment since the speaker cable and video cable will feed to the other rooms from here.|
|The equipment housed in this location usually includes:|
|Video Distribution Panel|
|Intelligent Home Automation Controller|
|Multi-Zone HVAC Controller|
|Security Panel and any other home automation-related central controllers/hubs|
| Homeowners who want to have their audio/video equipment on display will usually locate this hub in or next to their home theater or music listening room. The Equipment Rack will usually house not only your home theater equipment but all the amplifiers, CD jukeboxes, DVD players and DSS receivers for the entire house. This can make for quite an impressive display and conversation piece, and a wide variety of video distribution systems are available to deliver content to every room in the house easily and reliably.|
|If you don't want to leave stacks of equipment exposed, a popular design is to have the hub located in a small room next to the home theater. The A/V equipment is mounted through the wall separating the home theater and hub room. The front of the A/V equipment is flush with the wall in the home theater room but fully visible and accessible. Easy access to the rear of the A/V equipment is available through the hub room. Rack-mount systems are ideal for mounting A/V equipment in this type of installation. If you don't have a spare room to allocate, another option popular in a remodeling situation is to build a false wall in your home theater room. Building a custom drywall partition that will allow you to flush mount your big screen TV and A/V equipment as well as house your wiring hub may be more affordable than you may think. Get some quotes from your local building contractor or drywall specialist. When planning this false wall, make sure that you have enough depth for the largest TV you are planning on buying and for the A/V mounting systems. Equipment access is usually a problem in this situation so Slide-Out Racks are a good mounting choice. Make sure you purchase and plan for a mounting system that has room for future equipment additions. There is nothing worse than wanting to add that hot new DVD player or 200 CD jukebox and finding that you are out of rack space and have to cut a new hole in the wall. Some homeowners prefer to have everything hidden away. In these installations, a spare closet or the basement may be a suitable location for the hub and A/V equipment. Distribution isn't difficult: List all the locations that you expect to want either telephone/modem, TV/video, speakers, intercom, equipment control or security sensors. This typically will be at least every bedroom and major living area (living room, kitchen, dining room, etc.). In addition to these locations, you may want to add bathrooms, hallways and outdoor areas. Remember that there is no reason that whole-house audio/video should not extend to the garden or pool area. Even if you don't plan on installing equipment at every location right away, make sure the cable is run. It is far more costly and sometimes almost impossible to retrofit cable later.|
|How to Wire Your Home for Automation - Part 2|