I'm building a house and would like to prewire, or at least provide adequate conduit for running cable later with regards to routing audio and video to most rooms in the house. HD will be a factor at some point in time, but wiring for that now wont accomodate current equipment. So I'm wondering what is recommended as far as pre-wiring a house in construction. Do I run one conduit with RG6 for current equipment (as far as video), and then have an empty conduit for the future, and if so, what size?
I know this doesn't even address audio, which I also plan on piping to the rooms.
All of this will be homed to one room where I'll also have network equipment and at least one server. I'll be running network to most rooms too, but I'm pretty sure I know how to take care of that. I just want to make sure that I cover audio/video needs (current and future).
I'm also looking at matrix switches, although I know that up front, because they're expensive, I probably can't afford one, but I'd like to be able to use one later.
I'm planning on using some kind of structured cabling panel as well and looking to hear what some other people are using and are happy with.
Actually, you can wire for HDTV but use the same cables for standard definition until you're ready to upgrade your gear. The sameRG6 that the cable and satellite companies use to carry HDTV will do just as well carrying regular channels.
You should also pull three "RCA" cables for component video to distribute media from common sources such as a DVD player, PC, etc., to various rooms. Any one of the component cables will carry composite video (standard TV) around the house so that won't be wasted or redundant.
For audio distribution you need several types of cables. CAT5 goes to each room for remote control station (touch screens, etc.). 14/2 or 14/4 goes to a volume control at the same location as the touchpad and grom there to the speakers.
Those few cables are pretty much all you'll need for current and future technology. You could get fancy and run fiberoptic cables but there's no real nead for tham now or in the near future.
Empty conduit is handy for runs that you will be unable to access later. However, if the home is wood frame and there's a basement, you should be able to access most places for retrofit if needed. Run conduit where you know it will be a PITA running cable later.
At most I would run cables through the walls and run a single, 2" conduit as well. If you have an attic or basement do run at least two 3" conduits between them and the wiring closet, wherever that will be.
See comments above but the formula is simple. This is what I instruct my DIY customers to do. From the entertainment rack or wherever your gear is, run video, speaker level audio and CAT5 to a volume control location in each room. At the V/C location make an 18" loop of extra video cable and continue the wire over to wherever you might someday want to put a TV set, projector or whatever.
Do the same thing with the speaker cable. Make an 18" loop at the V/C and continue across the ceiling and over to the planned speaker locations.
Once again with the CAT5, make an 18" service loop and continue over to one of the speakers. It makes no difference if it's the left or right speaker but be consistent from room to room. CAT5 can be used for a remote station to run a multi-zone system such as Russound, an A-BUS type system or a simple IR repeating system such as Xantech. The CAT5 at the speaker can be connected to an IR receiver hidden behind the grill. This makes it easy to control your gear with a remote, by touchpad or whatever your heart desires and budget (or wife) will permit.
Standard LAN cabling, CAT5e or CAT6, will be fine for PC-based media distribution. This is in addition to the cables already described.
No problem. If you would like to discuss this stuff at greater length, feel free to give me a call. I'm usually around.
But, analog component video may not be around for HDTV in the future if the DRM folks get their way. Or, equipment may be required to fuzz the analog component output in order to block the "analog hole". I don't know what length restrictions there are on HDMI cables, but that seems to be the currently preferred interconnect mechanism, since it allows the content to be encrypted over the cable.
Of course, consumers may (hopefully) balk at the DRM vision of the future...
No. Don't run video over CAT5 if you have the opportunity to run coax. While it is possible to run it through UTP cable, you'd need to add BALUNS at each end. That adds to the overall cost of the job with no added benefit.
I use the expression "RCA cables" only because it is in common use. Technically, they're just 75-Ohm shielded cables with RCA connectors on the ends. Any decent 22-gauge, shielded cable will carry video or audio hundreds of feet with no perceptible degradation. I've even used 2-conductor shielded in a pinch and it worked fine at over 300 feet.
Component video calls for the exact same thing -- 75-Ohm coaxial cable. Because it is high definition, you should use only 75-Ohm coax (rather than just any old shielded stuff).
Do NOT believe any of the hype from Monster or any of the other cable rip-offs. As long as it has a good shield and the connections are secure, there is zero difference between cable that costs $0.20 a foot and that which costs $50+ / foot.
Good questions. Everything is susceptible to noise. The real issue is how much so. I've run component video over 30 meters with no visible loss. DVI/HDMI cables start to show sparkles (pixel drop-outs) beyond ~15 meters. S-Video is *supposed* to max out at 12 feet but it works fine in HT systems up to around 25 feet. It might go farther but I haven't tried. Composite (plain old TV) can run 100m easily.
Try to keep your HD runs under 100 feet and you should be fine. If the home is too large for that, you could limit HDTV to the home theater room and run composite everywhere else. When you think about it though, how much difference will it make to you if the 13" set on the kitchen counter is HD? TVs used for gaming get their signals locally so that's not an issue.
Here's my personal solution. YMMV. The 50" Mitsubishi in the family room is HDTV. The 32" sets in the guest room and the lanai are normal TV. I don't care about HD in those rooms.
OTOH, I do care about stereo audio in *every* room. That means I'm willing to spend more on the multi-room system than on the TV sets. Again, YMMV.
No. However, another poster's comments give pause for thought. Just for the sake of future changes though you may want to consider adding one fiber or an extra UTP. Fiber itself is cheap. Connectors and the (current) tools to hook them up are not. However, inexpensive DIY fiber connector kits are starting to appear at reasonable prices. This is just something to consider -- far from a mandate.
I was looking at the price of HDMI extenders, splitters, amps, etc. and there are devices that will go 200' on CAT5, but they were many hundreds of dollars.
It's already here and no one's really made a peep that's made a difference, as far as I can tell. People won't tolerate Sony putting rootkits on their PCs but they seem to have swallowed all the other DRM BS. Hollywood has succeeded in changing the model of copyright law to say that *any* copying is illegal, not just taking someone else's work and selling it as your own. There's a world of difference between copying a movie or song for a friend who would never have bought the packaged version and setting up a website to hawk pirate DVDs by the busload.
I rarely buy CDs anymore. Not because I DL music but because I'm unwilling to listen to announcers on FM radio and the endless patter of commercials to hear songs I might want to buy. Perhaps 50 years from now the RIAA will realize that Napster was as good for them in the long run as VCRs were. Now, the only way new music finds its way to me is if I hear something in a TV or movie soundtrack. When I was searching through Napster, I'd sample stuff (without all the commercials), listen, then buy a legit CD so I could hear it without artifacts from bad MP3 compression. In my case Napster helped the music industry, not hurt it. I know from others that my story is not a unique case.
As I've been finishing off my basement I've just been pulling what I need now, using 3/4" flexible plastic conduit "blue pipe" to go into finished areas. Too hard to anticipate what you might want in the future, and a cable you might want five years from now might not exist today. If you have conduit you can easily change stuff as needed. I wonder how many people prewired houses with 10 meg ethernet cables a while ago and are wishing it was gigabit now?
Cat3 had a very short life as the preferred wire for computer networking. Cat5 was specified for the first twisted-pair network I installed almost 15 years ago. Before that coax ethernet and token ring networks were all the rage.
BTW, you have to be very careful with flexible plastic conduit (smurf tube) since wiring tends to jamb in it. I have gone to installations where it was used and been unable to remove the existing wires to replace them. The rule with rigid conduit is no more than 360 degrees of bend with out a pull box. I venture to say most flexible plastic conduit installations have more bends than that. Anyway 1" is a decent minimum size for HA conduit. You can barely get 3 RG6 and 2 cat5 through a installed 3/4" conduit, not to mention getting them out in the future. Since smurf tube is not very sturdy there a limit to how much force you can apply to the old wiring before the tubing pulls out of box connectors, support fasteners or is otherwise damaged.
While it is true the future will bring all sorts of wonderful new wiring technologies the installed base of cat5 will create a market for ways to run new technologies over existing cat5 for quite some time to come.