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73 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 80720 3-Apr-2011 11:33
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Hi all,

We're thinking about building and so I've started to think about what makes a "smart home". For me, I'm not particularly interested in home automation as such (like lighting schedules, automatic blinds etc), but am interested in making sure that the correct cabling is in place for home networking, television and security.

I'd be interested to hear about experiences from anyone who has been down this track already.

Some specific questions that spring immediately to mind would be...

- Did you use a specialist vendor for the design and/or implementation, if so who and how well did this work?
- In terms of structured cabling, did you use the same cable specification (i.e. Cat 6) for security, network and telephony cabling? If so, are there any pitfalls to be aware of (i.e. problems powering security sensors over Cat 6 for example)?
- How many cables did you run, was that enough, or would you have run more or less if you had the chance to do it again?

I'm sure theres no one right answer to most of the questions, but like I say, I'd be interested in hearing about peoples experiences - especially things that worked well, and things that worked not so well :)


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1084 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 454769 3-Apr-2011 11:50
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I take it your going to be wiring your house yourself?
Do NOT use data cabling for alarms/sensors etc, this will only lead to problems later on. Use at least 4 core .22 security cable.

Now a few questions I ask my clients...
Are you in to technology? Do you know how to tune a tv or set up a home theatre stereo?
Do you want to reticulate MySky (HDMI) around your house? Do you want to control a sky box (or 2) from all around your house? Do you want a DVD/Blueray player distributed around all tv's in your house?

Will 1 wireless access point (wireless internet) cover your entire footprint of your house? Or do you need 2?
Are you wanting through the home audio system with control pads at each major location ie: kitchen/dining, lounge, ensuite/master bedroom?
Are you wanting any outdoor cameras? If so, High Definition IP cameras maybe?
Are you wanting any computers controllable at any tv?
Do you need an intercom system to control a front door/gate?
Are you wanting to be able to turn off your alarm and unlock the front door (for contractors) while your at work? (from your iPhone?)

Are you able to do this yourself, or will you have to pay someone to do it?
Doing all of the above with an alarm system can easily hit $10k+.

In order not to waste money installing cables you will never use, you need to create a list of the things you would like in your new home, and then work out from there what cables you would need.
Wiring for a smart home is very broad. You can very easily waste lots of money on things never used.

73 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 5

  Reply # 454823 3-Apr-2011 15:56
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jjnz1: I take it your going to be wiring your house yourself?


I'm undecided at this stage. Its not my area of expertise, but on the other hand, I reckon I could do it just as well as anyone else who's expertise it also isnt (if that makes sense) ;-) I'm not against using someone to do this stuff, but I would have to be confident that they were competent in it. I guess in some ways I see the running of the cabling as the easy part, with the tricky part being putting in the right patch panels, switching equipment and integration points (specifically thinking about TV, LAN, and Security).



Do NOT use data cabling for alarms/sensors etc, this will only lead to problems later on. Use at least 4 core .22 security cable.


Thanks for the tip - out of interest, what kind of issues would using data cabling tend to cause?


jjnz1Now a few questions I ask my clients...


Those are some really good questions to think about. I'm reasonably tech savvy (but not an expert) and currently run a multiseat Mediaportal setup which I would look to use in any new build. Given that,  I think I'd be looking to run 2 LAN connections and 1 Coax to each TV location. Currently I dont have sky (and dont see me getting it any time soon, but dont want to preclude its use in any future build) and use freeview HD. My mediaportal server would be somewhere central, with set top boxes at each TV location. I figure that a single coax will hopefully give me flexibility to provide either terrestrial or sat TV signals to the end point (depending on what I attach to the cables at the distribution point) for use by whatever device sits there. I'm not into the home audio thing as such, but can see having a couple of outside speakers in the patio area. From a security point of view, I would like a fairly standard alarm system (typical sensor types, and outputs), but would like it to be IP enabled so I can query/program it from a desktop computer (and potentially receive alerts this way). I'm also interested in RFID door locks but am not sure how mature this technology is for home use. I would like some cameras, one in the front door (because I'm lazy) and maybe another one on the driveway - these I would like to somehow feed to my MediaPortal setup for easy viewing from the couch. One thing I'm not really clear on at the moment is how to deliver power to security cameras. I see that typically power over ethernet cant be used for outdoor cameras, so I assume you have to run coax/UTP for the video signal and a separate power feed.


I suppose I'm not looking for the full service option, but for what I do want, I just want to make sure I get it right. The things I'm not too confident about at the moment are what cabling I should be using for what and how distribution should work. At the moment I'm thinking...


- CAT 6 for LAN/Home networking (depending on cameras used, this may also go to cameras)

- CAT 6 patch panel and switch at central distribution point

- Incoming Telephone terminated at distribution point and patched to CAT 6 outlet with dongle for phone connection at outlet

- TV Aerial and Sat Dish connections terminated in central distribution point with splitter to patch to RG6 outlets

- RG6 for Coax with F-type connectors at outlets (depending on cameras used, this may also go to cameras)

- 4 Core .22 security cable for security sensors / panels / keypads




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  Reply # 454830 3-Apr-2011 16:19
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- 4 Core .22 security cable for security sensors / panels / keypads

keypads generally require 6core cable as do some other components in security systems depending on the make.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 454922 3-Apr-2011 21:57
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You can get away with 4 core on all major alarm systems, be that Paradox, Bosch, DSC, etc. The only time you may need a 6 core is for the satellite (outdoor siren), but only if some one can tamper with it. Ie under 6m.

Ip Alarm:
All major alarm systems have not yet matured in terms of an 'Apple' style user interface. most are bulky and need lots of practice to use. They are definitely not enjoyable to use. An IP module (add on) generally costs upwards of $700 alone. I would stay way, and use a voice module instead. This is where the alarm panel rings you (or you ring in) and an american accented lady speaks to you asking what you would like, or advises you of the system status etc. This add sn heaps cheaper and a lot more user friendly.

RFID for domestic front doors.
User interface for these are as above, not for the home owner unless you opt for the commerical option which is mega bucks, ie a Concept System. (Designed for security guards to use/set key cards for doors etc in big high rises). The easiest way is hide a key, or install a pin pad. That way you can have 'contractor' pin codes.

Mediaportal for cameras etc:
Mediaportal is great, but not for its plugins I have found. Try explore XBMC for (Windows)/Linux.
One solution is to use XBMC and view IP cameras. This also works over most smart phones with internet access.

Powering security cameras:
IP cameras, use cat5e. Normal cameras, use either cat5e and baluns (if no outdoor heater is needed), or composite cable. This composite cable is made of coax (RG59) and 2x .75mm copper power cores.

Cat6 is very over rated! Speed difference is negligible. For money and installation effort use cat5e. Cat6 has its benefits only when you reach the theoretical maximum of ethernet network cabling (@100m), BUT you should have a system designed so that you should never have any cabling in a house that comes close to 100m in length. USE CAT 5e!.

As I said in the previous post, a site visit(or plan looky) by an expert (etc) is really needed to understand what you expect/want in order to provide you with a good cabling layout.

Good luck. 

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