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Guide to Cable Types

     If you are building a new home or doing extensive remodeling, it is critical that you get the right kind of cable installed the first time. Rewiring later is far more difficult and costly. The 3 types of cable that should be installed are: speaker cable, video coaxial cable, and twisted pair communication cable. Speaker cable and video cable are the most important because there are no wireless alternatives that provide really good signal quality. The twisted pair cable is used for hardwired security sensors, HVAC system communication, audio/video system control communication, computer networking and telephones. The number of conductors of twisted pair cable you need to run will depend on how many of these systems you intend to install. Below is a rough guideline to the types of cable and how many you should run. You may need to modify these suggestions for your own application.
Speaker Cable

     You should install the best quality speaker cable you can afford. Even though you many not be installing the best quality speakers, and/or audio equipment right away, there may be a time in the future when you want to upgrade and poor speaker cable can seriously affect the quality of sound produced. Remember that you are running far longer lengths of cable than normal and apart from resistance losses, long cables act as antennas and are susceptible to interference. Installing an instantly recognizable quality brand name like Monster Cable can also add to the value of your home. If you are using in-wall speakers, run the cable directly to the speakers. The Monster 4 Conductor Cable has a rip cord that makes it easy to strip the 4 conductors into pairs. If you do not know what speakers you are going to use, terminate the cables at a pair of banana jacks. This will allow you to easily plug in external speakers, and you can pull cable from the jacks to in-wall speakers later if necessary.
Video Cable

     Always use RG-6 or better coaxial cable. RG-59 which is commonly used in most current residential construction does not have the required bandwidth for proposed future home automation standards. Besides, the cost difference is small and you will get better picture quality with RG-6. For new construction, make a twin coaxial run: One is the cable that distributes video signals from outside eg. cable company. The second set which is independent from the 1st and is an interior distribution run. With the second cable you can send a signal from a VCR in one room to a TV in another room, distribute video camera signals, and transmit home automation communication. Both cables should be home run back to the distribution panel for maximum flexibility. On the interior distribution cable, make sure that you use good quality, full range splitter/combiners. Splitters only allow the signal to travel in one direction, and cheap splitters usually do not have a full frequency range.
Computer Networking Cable

     Computers can be linked into a network using either 4 pair unshielded twisted pair cable called 10 Base T, or using thin coaxial cable. When you use 10 Base T, the cables are home run from each computer back to the server where a hub is required to connect all the cables together. Inexpensive hubs for up to 8 computers can be purchased for about $150. With coaxial cable a hub is not required; however, the cable has to be daisychained from the computer to computer and if there is a weak link anywhere in the cable, the whole system goes down. The type of cable you use for 10 Base T is critical.
Category 3 cable (not to be confused with UL Class 3) or better is required. Category 3 cable is rated for up to 10Mbps data transfer speed which is the data transfer speed of Ethernet network cards. Category 5 cable is rated for 100Mbps data transfer rate which is the new fast Ethernet speed. If you want to be completely prepared for the future standards use Category 5 cable, if you think you can live with current technology use Category 3 cable. Wire you cables well away from AC wire and fluorescent lights.
Telephone Cable

     Telephone cable should be home run from each room back to a central location. This will enable you to easily reconfigure incoming service to desired rooms. It also allows you to easily add a phone system like the Panasonic Hybrid system featured in the On-line catalog, if you so wish. We recommend that you run 24 guage 4 pair wire to each room. This gives you up to 4 separate incoming lines or 2 separate phone system extensions.
Other Twisted Pair Cable

Security Applications (22 gauge unshielded): 2 conductor cable for magnetic contacts, 4 conductor for motion sensors, 4 conductor for security keypads.
HVAC Applications (18-22 gauge): 4 - 8 conductor (shielded) cable for thermostat communication, 2 conductor unshielded cable for damper control.
Audio/Video Control (22 gauge): 3 - conductor (shielded) cable for infrared communication.
*Please note that the information given above are only rough guidelines, requirements may vary depending on the specific brand and model of devices installed. Check with the vendor of equipment you are planning to use.
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