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Building a Home? Heres How To Prewire it to Be A Smart Home!

  • June 25, 2019 /

When it comes to making your home a smart home it starts with the prewire. Today some people wonder if prewiring your home is still important. The short answer is absolutely!

Wires will always be the fastest and most high bandwidth option for everything in your house. This post will outline the eight most important areas to prewire when building your home.

If you don’t have time to watch the video the quick list is:

  1. Video Distribution
  2. Audio Distribution
  3. Networking / Wifi
  4. Security Cameras
  5. Touch Screen
  6. Lighting
  7. Shades
  8. Demarcation

Below I will go into more depth about what each of these is and why they are important. In another post I will take a deep dive into each.

Video Distribution

This is wiring for TVs throughout your house. This is something every house has but 90% of people do it incorrectly. There are two main things to think about when doing video distribution.

  1. Design
  2. Future Proofing

When I talk about design, what I mean is what do you want your TV area to look like. If you want the wall clean without a cable box showing or a cabinet below the TV you need to think about this. The answer to this is to run your wires back to a centralized media closet. Many builders do this but they wrong the kind of wires.

What kind of wires do they need to run?

Good question you asked. The answer to this question is a little more detailed but at the bare minimum you need to run Cat6 wires to the TV. If you know exactly what you want to do in your home that may mean three Cat6 wires, it may mean four Cat6 wires or it could mean you need to run fiber. This is something I will dive into deeper in another post.

Audio Distribution

This is wiring for speakers. This could mean speakers in the ceiling for music, it could mean surround sound speakers for a media room or it could mean a sound bar. This is on of the more highly debated areas in terms of is wiring necessary.

The quick answer is no, It is not necessary. If you asked would I recommend it. the answer is 1000% yes!

I recommend wiring for audio because if you want music in your house this is

  1. The way to get the highest quality music
  2. The way to have the most design control
  3. The best way to future proof your home

What about Sonos?

I understand. Sonos is the biggest name in the industry. Its also a great product. My biggest problem with it is, the products the most people know about don’t meet any of the criteria listed above.

  1. They sound good but not great
  2. They can be a bit of an eye soar in a room and can take up necessary space.
  3. You become tied into the Sonos product for your music from now until the end of time.

Sonos does have a wired speaker product that I like. This enables you to avoid all of the above challenges with wireless speakers.

So, yes wire your house for audio where you would like it.

Networking & WiFi

Theres a strong argument that this is the most important prewire you should do. The internet is becoming more and more a staple in our daily lives the challenge is most homes are not built with that in mind. It is important for people to change that TODAY!

When it comes to internet two of the most important characteristics are range and bandwidth. The challenge is if all your house has is a router from your service provider (Verizon, Comcast, Spectrum, etc) you have a very limited amount of both.

Have you ever been in your house and not been able to connect to the internet from certain areas of the house? This is the reason why.

The answer is to run wires throughout your house for wireless access points (WAPs) and for ethernet jacks for certain devices. Every WAP is different in terms of the range they cover so how many you need in your house will depend. In terms of ethernet jacks we recommend running them to important places such as your office, behind TVs or any other place you may be using the internet for video purposes.

Smart Security Cameras

This is an area of the smart home that i growing very rapidly. According to Forbes by the year 2023 this will be a 9.7 billion dollar market. That said, many people question if they need to prewire for this. Again, when the question is need, the answer is almost always no. If the question is what is best, the answer is almost always yes.

The reason to wire for cameras is the same reason we run ethernet jacks to TVs. When it comes to video it is not ideal to rely on WiFi.

Ring, Wyze, Arlo and all many other camera companies shook the market when they began to offer WiFi cameras. They’re a great addition to what is out there. That said, if you have one or read reviews for them a lot of the challenges people have are due to the fact that they’re not hard wired.

They don’t record all of the time like a power over ethernet (POE) camera does. This causes them to often miss the crime or act they are set up to catch.

Another challenge is power. If a camera is WiFi it typically needs a plug to power it. This makes it less reliable for security reasons and a bit of a pain in the long term.

Over time Ring has began to see this flaw. I believe Ring is going to continue to make more POE cameras because of the challenges listed above. Ring is a great company and visionary for that reason. I would recommend wiring just to be sure your house is ready for when the market continues to shift.

Touch Screens

If you want to control your house from your phone its good to have centralized controls as well. This is where touch screens come into play. I recommend them in every house that we do. The way I look at it, your guests or your children may not have the apps for your house, this always does.

This isn’t something that necessarily needs to be wired. You can have a touch screen sit on your kitchen table or coffee table. The problem becomes the same problem we all have with remotes.

Where did it go?!?!

I recommend putting it on the wall for that reason.

Also, this will make sure it is always receiving power.

Lastly, stylistically I think its clean so it can fit into any design.

Lighting

Lighting is one area here that you really don’t need to wire. I would say 90% of the smart lighting jobs we do are not prewired. You can do smart lighting by just changing the light switches you currently have to smart light switches.

The reason to do a prewire for smart lighting is mostly for design reasons. If you have areas in your home that have a lot of lights you will have a lot of light switches. When the number of switches starts to increase past two they can be cumbersome. Prewiring for panelized smart lights can help avoid this.

Think about your kitchen, master bathroom and common areas. These are places that typically experience this kind of problem.

Also, panelized lighting typically comes with many different style options for switches. If you have a very particular style you are going for in your home this is worth looking at.

Shades

I love automated shades. Theres nothing like going to sleep in a pitch black room and waking up to the sun rise.

You can open and close your shades on your own but theres no way to experience that without automation. As circadian rhythm becomes a larger part of living healthy, I imagine this will become a larger part of peoples lives.

In order to set up dual shades (a sheer shade and a blackout shade) you need to prewire for them. If you only want a sheer shade you can make them battery powered but then you need to remember to change the batteries. I don’t recommend that.

Demarcation

This is the wire from where your service provider brings in your cable and internet to your media closet. If you do any of the above mentioned prewire steps DO NOT FORGET this one. I have seen this mistake made many times and it is a pain to fix.

Conclusion

I know this is a lot of information. To think it all started from the three minute video above is crazy. The main point is PREWIRE!

It’s a lot less expensive to run wires now while the walls are open in your house then it is to do it later. Anything is possible but when the walls are open put as many wires behind them as you can.

Think about today and how you want to design you home. Also think about tomorrow and how technology will change. You are going to live in this house for years to come.

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