What Wire To Put In When Building A House

by Jeff Fisher

We recommend a specific wire topology that works well for most homes. If you have waded through our website and are still not sure what to do, the following list takes the technologies out of the picture and just focuses on wire.

The following list is a quick down and dirty whole house wire instruction sheet.

Determine Some Locations

  • A location for your main Distribution Panel (Head-end). This is where your low-voltage panel and security system will go.
  • The location of each Display Device. (Flat Screen TV, projector, etc.)
  • A location for the associated Home Theater Equipment to drive each Display Device.

If planning on whole-house audio, a location for your Audio Distribution. This could be the same location as your Distribution Panel, but is more often located with your Home Theater Equipment, since that is where all the audio sources reside.

Run Structured Wire or the equivalent (Two RG6 quad shielded coax & two CAT5E/CAT6) cables from the headend to every major room in the house. In home offices or rooms that it isn't obvious were a computer or entertainment goes, you can run two bundles of structured cable. Home Theaters often get two bundles of wire to accommodate TiVos, DVRs and other dual tuner or Hi-Def devices. Most entertainment devices in the future will need networking inputs or outputs. Run a single CAT5E or CAT6 to anyplace where you need a network device, printer or telephone jack. For single wall mounted displays that have built in tuners (small kitchen or exercise rooms) run one RG6 and one CAT5E/CAT6.

speakerwiring.gif Run Whole House Audio as follows: Run 4 conductor speaker wire from the Audio Distribution location to every room which will have speakers. Minimum of 16 gauge, 14 gauge is recommended. Use 12 gauge for very high power speakers. You should include a loop through a single gang low voltage box were a volume control or keypad would be located. This is typically next to the light switch in the next stud cavity. A single CAT5E (for IR or keypad) should run along side the speaker wire to the keypad or volume location. Run this wire even if you don't plan on using it now. It's cheap and easy when the walls are open. A minimum of a one foot service loop is recommended for both cables at the keypad/volume location. The speaker wire should go from the keypad/volume location to the nearest speaker location in the room, leave another loop, then to the furthest speaker location. (See diagram.) See our full audio tutorial for information on installing the speakers.

Pre-Wire For Security Cameras

Pre-wire for security cameras (whether conventional, IP, or Cat5 type) by running an RG59 or RG6 and a CAT5E from the headend to every corner of the house. Camera's work best mounted 10 to 20 ft away from the location to be monitored or recorder. The RG6 would be for video & the CAT5E would be used to carry 12v power for the cameras. A 1/2" hole through wood siding or under an eve is recommended for terminating. A small rigid 3/4" conduit or PVC pipe is recommended if running through stucco. Fasten this sleeve of conduit so it would be flush with the stucco upon completion. This would give the capability of pushing excess cable back into the attic or crawl space.

Pre-Wire For Automation

Pre-Wire for automation Automation Prewire would be a combination of the previous recommendations and wiring for a standard alarm system. Run a 4 conductor alarm wire from the headend to all reed switches, keypad locations and smoke detectors. Run a Cat5E to the doorbell location to accommodate a telephone entry system. The CAT5E used in the audio pre-wire can be used for Infrared Distribution to control any audio components from remote locations.

Wire For Lighting Control

Lighting Control choices are plentiful in the market place however Power Line Carrier products are still the predominant technology for automating lighting & HVAC throughout homes. You can find X-10, Universal Power-line Bus (UPB) and Z-Wave compatible equipment from manufacturers like Leviton, Simply Automated and PCS. Depending on which technology you settle on, you may want your electrician to install the suggested coupler/amplifier in your electrical panel(s).

Wire For Flat-Screen TVs

Plasma, LED, and LCD TV's that hang on a wall are usually acting as monitors for devices located remotely or in a cabinet below. We feel that by running 5 RG6Q coax cables & two CAT5E cables from the Display Device to the Home Theater Equipment area would get you all forms of signals to and from the TV. For info about how the 5 coax cables can be used, see this article. These days, many people are putting an HDMI cable in the wall before the sheet rock goes up. You can future-proof by installing 1.5" flexible conduit.

Wire For Satellite

Run 4 RG6 cables from the attic, roof line or under eve location to the headend. Satellite dishes need to have and unobstructed view of the constellation of satellites they receive. To determine the direction and elevation of the satellites from your area, use this calculator. Dish Network & Direct TV dishes can require up to 4 coax cables going to your headend. Run two coax cables for satellite from the headend to each TV location. (This can be the two in the Combination Cable.) See this article for more info.

Off-The-Air Antenna

Run one RG6 Quad Shield coax from the roof location where you would mount an Off-The-Air (OTA/Over-The-Air) Antenna to the headend location.


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