Importance of High-Tech Wiring Stressed for Today's Homes
Flushing, NY While most of the industry's attention is focused on the impact of the technological revolution on the Internet and e-business, kitchen and bath designers should not fail to lose sight of other key high-tech issues when planning residential environments.
That's the advice of the Leviton Institute, the educational arm of the Flushing, NY-based Leviton Mfg. Co., which notes that high-speed telecommunications wiring, video cabling and low-voltage wiring are becoming increasingly important technological upgrades to specify in both new homes and remodeling projects.
"Pre-wiring a home in this way provides flexibility and affords countless immediate future benefits," says Joel Ostroff, a Leviton Institute spokesman. "These include turning any room into a home office, connecting any TV to a cable or satellite hookup, and controlling both inside and outside lighting from one central location, to name just a few of the benefits."
Adding high-tech wiring for today's advanced communications, entertainment and security systems is an upgrade that can involve a number of major wiring systems, the Leviton Institute points out.
What follows is a brief overview of them:
- Wiring for the Internet. Most homes use "quad" wiring so-called
because it contains four copper wires. This wiring is fine for
regular voice service, but it's less than ideal for connecting a
computer to the Internet, since it contains very little "bandwidth"
(or information-carrying capacity). Since the Internet enables
users to download photos, graphics and music and similar
transmissions, however, it requires fast speed and high bandwidth
the more the better.
To give homeowners speedy access to the Internet, high-speed wiring called "Category 5" is now available. Category 5 wiring has four twisted wire pairs, or eight conductors. "Yet even Category 5 wiring may not be sufficient to support advanced technologies, so newer wiring called "Category 5e" and "Category 6" is already under development," says Ostroff.
In addition to the Internet, the latest development in TV broadcasting high-definition TV requires high-bandwidth wiring to transmit crystal-clear signals into a home, whether it has cable service or a satellite dish.
"The best choice for TV signals is coaxial cable," Ostroff advises, noting that specifiers "may want to consider installing two coaxial cables for greater flexibility in the future."
- Low-voltage wiring for home automation. Low-voltage
wiring is the "backbone" of today's home automation and security
systems, according to the Leviton Institute.
Low-voltage wiring is used for whole-house lighting control, for control of heating and air conditioning systems, and for integrating security and property protection systems into the other low-voltage systems in a home, such as lighting and HVAC equipment.
"Having all of these low-voltage systems communicate with one another creates a unified network, making it possible to control the systems in a home whether a person is sitting in the living room or is miles away in a car, sending commands to a home automation system over a cellular telephone," Ostroff observes.
Remodelers and builders should talk to homeowners about running speaker wiring from the main entertainment center to other rooms in a home. "By pre-wiring, you'll be able to direct both video and audio signals to outlets in every room, giving your clients maximum freedom and flexibility," Ostroff advises.
The Leviton Institute advises homeowners to ask for "home run wiring" meaning that every wire or cable starts from one central distribution box inside a home, and then radiates out to each room.
"Home run wiring has several advantages," Ostroff notes. "First, each outlet or jack has its own wire or cable, independent of any other connection, so it's easier to make changes in the future. Second, it's easier to diagnose problems with home run wiring, and when problems do occur, they're isolated to that one wire or cable.
"Finally, home run wiring provides the best signal quality, and this is of critical importance for getting the best performance from the Internet and high-definition TV signals," Ostroff says.