Starting from scratch: New Home Construction

I’m building a new home this year and would like to know what considerations would you have made had you been able to install better HW, wiring, sensor and switch locations

No wrong answers, I’m just interested in problems you could have solved if you’re walls were open and you were wiring everything from the start and not having to retrofit your home. Any particular brand of HW would you have chosen had you had more flexibility in placement and connectivity?

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If it were me, I would run alarm system wiring to every door and window, homed to a good location for the alarm panel, and also Cat 5 wiring to distant points of the house, homed to a good location for an Ethernet switch. I would probably have the alarm panel and switch near each other, and power them both with a high-amp-hour 12V sealed lead acid battery on constant charge maintenance. I would also choose which smoke/CO detectors I intended to use, mains-power them with backup batteries, and possibly link them via cable if they worked that way.

As much as possible for all remaining sensors, thermostats, switches, etc., I would use Z-Wave hardware, which won’t impose any new inside-the-wall requirements.

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I would make sure you have ethernet to most points where you would like a camera, they are not very reliable over wifi. You can get PoE cameras and avoid putting a power outlet on those locations. You could probably avoid a lot of switch wiring as you could control lamps wirelessly.

  • Amen to the ethernet wiring. Wireless is just second class to wired. Same with alarm system, fully agree with earlier posts. Avoid wireless whenever possible.
  • pick a central location for a wiring closet, and try to home-run as much as you can there. I have mine in the garage. Allow plenty of space so you can add equipment if you later want. Devices produce heat, so either large room (garage) or climate controlled.
  • if you ever want automated shades, run 4 conductor gauge 16 low voltage wiring to central location, Very hard to put in cleanly afterwards. Make it come out at top of frame, then push back and plug it if you don’t want to pay the significant $$$ right now for automated shades
  • this is the most important: PLAN FOR CABLE RUNS! From your central location, you need to have a cable channel with PLENTY of capacity so you can later run more cables if you want. For every room, every corner ask yourself: how can I later get a wire there? Building inspectors don’t like riser pipes (fire hazard, chimney effect), you may have to plug them with intumescent putty, but don’t let them dissuade you, it’s possible to do safely. Empty pipes into attic and crawlspace are a must!
  • I run on Insteon and it works satisfactorily

Thanks for the replies, guys. I was certainly working out main cat5 legs throughout the house as I’ve always disliked the finicky nature of WiFi or proprietary wireless systems.

So, you would go basic 2/3 wire on the alarm legs? or cat5 to keep it available for more advanced sensors later?

The conduit chase idea I like too, but we they are pretty strict on fire codes in CA. Any idea on damper/box construction tecniques that pass most fire codes?

+1 with everything said. I would keep the alarm system standard and use
2/3. I’m also in CA and like that my alarm and fire system can be serviced
if need be by a standard alarm tech (since rire and c02 is part of it). I
did not have a say in the alarm system as the house was partially already
built. If I did i would have had more individual zone contacts, my board
only has eight so doors and windows are grouped into zones (front house,
back house, casita, ect…). My last house had 30+ zones so I knew exactly
what window or door was open. While I had plenty of cat6 runs throughout
the house, they did not meet my poe camera needs and I ended up running
additional legs to places on the exterior of the house, would have been so
much easier with the wall open :wink: I also find the wiring closet never
seems to be big enough with all the additional runs, modems, firewalls,
routers, ect…

On Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 12:06 PM Bryan Samson wrote:

LQQKalive Bryan Samson
January 6

Thanks for the replies, guys. I was certainly working out main cat5 legs
throughout the house as I’ve always disliked the finicky nature of WiFi or
proprietary wireless systems.

So, you would go basic 2/3 wire on the alarm legs? or cat5 to keep it
available for more advanced sensors later?

The conduit chase idea I like too, but we they are pretty strict on fire
codes in CA. Any idea on damper/box construction tecniques that pass most
fire codes?

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I put an Ethernet drop above my cabinetry to put my WiFi router up there. I also have the power outlet there wired to a switch in my lan room so that I can reboot the power.

If you’re planning for water sensors, you might see if the plumber can put your water intake line on an “always on” switch that goes off if you turn on the power. Then you can use a zwave switch to shut it off in a flood. They also have zwave water valves, but they are $450.

Check out speakers from Amazing prices for good quality speakers – and I would love it if you wrote me a binding for them!

Get your fireplace wired to a zwave switch.

Put recessed power outlets anywhere you want to run tablets that run openHAB (and I can point you to an android app I’m developing that turns your tablet into an emergency light when the power goes out).

Get power and cable run to the attic for an HD antenna.

Make sure you have a power outlet for your roomba!

Plan for zwave locks and sensors ahead of time, and wire up a cat 5 line to your doorbell area if you want to take a picture everyone someone rings your doorbell.

I’d buy a few dimmers ahead of time to make sure you get what you want (I like the GE three way dimmers) and plan the electrical for those.

Make sure you get an old school garage door opener that doesn’t have a proprietary signal to the opener. The good ones all do, but they don’t work with the zwave sensors. You can fix that by wiring a simple switch on the inside opener.

Let me know what else you come up with. My drywall goes up tomorrow!

What about running +12 DC instead of 110/220 AC for lighting?

Very cool question and topic.

Suggest having Gigabit Ethernet installed by each electrical outlet (use judgement: not bathrooms) and as others have said for cameras (garage, outdoors, by entrances). Also CAT5 for wifi in ceiling, projectors, TVs. Maybe HDMI wiring as well for projectors \ TVs.

Low voltage wiring for actuators (window / blinds / curtains / door locks)

Having lots of power outlets in kitchen and low voltage for LED kitchen lighting would be nice. Consider LEDs for floor lighting as needed. I’ve seen fiberobtic lighting in a shower wall at Paris hotel this summer that was very cool.

Best of luck and happiness in your new home. Consider posting photos! :slight_smile:

As I get further along (and it comes together as planned) pictures will be posted :smile:

@ Joe_F: Great idea for switching Router reboots… I’m now thinking about ATV and Cablebox reboots now, too. Fireplace is a must. What wall mounted tablets are you using for openHAB? Good luck with your plan!

@skylines: I’ve thought about a 12V home system for lighting, but I’m concerned with the voltage drop that will occur as a lot of writeups talk about smaller trailer or cabin size installations. In the end, I may not realize any savings with multiple transformers and heavy gauge wiring to handle the low volt runs. Have you done this on a 2000-3000 sqft house?

@gatorback: specifically what wire type do you use for the low volt actuator installs? Same as security system?

I’m using a galaxy tab because it was the cheapest tablet I could find with a nice wall mount (and the wall mounts are ridiculously expensive). The only thing I don’t like about it is that it lacks a proximity sensor, and you need that to wave your hand in front of it to turn it on.

Consider wiring to accomodate some of the Wi-Fi access points that look like smoke detectors, such as the Unifi line of access points. In addition to high WAF, placing your access point in the same spot that you would put a smoke detector gives good coverage.

It’s a good idea to flood the place with Cat5 or Cat6. Running different sheath colours makes life a little easier at hookup time.
Don’t discount the idea of wiring for switches ~ you know you’re likely to need switching by all internal doors, and the door positions don’t tend to move, so wire for them! In mine I’ve run a Cat5 and a 12-core alarm cable to each light switch position.
My system runs at the moment from Siemens S7-200 PLC’s - they’re cheap - and I’m able to knock up custom switch plates with a bit of veroboard, smoked persspex and tact switches.
I have to avoid wifi in my place thanks to granite walls…

I installed large PVC pipes from the roof cavity down the inside of the wall, right to where the inside wall plates are for all TV’s and entertainment points. This way I can slide in HDMI, optical or whatever the next cable is down these pipes with ease past insulation and nogings. I then went crazy with guide wires that correctly support the CAT6 wiring. Catenary or trolley Wire is another name for the guide wires. CAT6 only costs a slight amount more and is worth installing especially if you are doing POE as the copper is thicker. You need to correctly support it and do not bend it past it’s max bend radius.
All wire came back to a node zero location as others are writing and you should buy multiple rolls of cable so you can run 2-3 at a time to the same locations.

Devices that got cable are:
All windows and doors, both internal and external ones.
Wardobe doors.
Each room got a single cat6 for temp, movement, humidity etc…
POE security cameras.
Surround sound and outdoor speakers.
All TVs got 3+ cat6 and a quad shield cable. These were not run in PVC to leave that empty for future use.
Hot water service to remotely sense air temp and power unit on and off as it is a solar heat pump.
Hot air transfer system for fireplace heat movement.
All bathroom fans to speed control and turn on and off as needed.
Every light in the house got cat6 for a rs485 setup I’m almost finished designing. Colour temp and dimming is adjustable separately for every light in my house.
Most rooms got two cat6 cables for switches and a display screen like a wall mounted tablet. My lights will be controlled via cat6 not power switches as per normal.
Smoke alarms are all connected so will all sound at the same time. Single cat6 for this.
TV antenna wiring also all via a node zero with a mythtv Linux setup and kodi.
Wiring for remote control blasting and extending.
Rain water tank sensor.

I think thats about it :slight_smile: the only thing I did not bother with was water leak detectors as all rooms have floor drains that can handle a leak.

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I have my tablet detecting movement with the front camera, I use Tasker and Motion Detector apps so the tablet wakes whenever someone walks by.
I wall mounted mine using 3M Velcro-like strips, works great.

With regard to wiring, the current is the primary consideration (assuming under 48V). To prevent fires, install a fuse that is rated (will blow on the hot side) at a current less than the wiring’s current rating. This is really important because fire safety is a life and death safety matter. If this is not clear or your are not confident / inexperienced, then get help from someone that does this professionally (electrician).

That being said, I finally found an example where wiring would be useful at the door:

Kind of pricey, but installing the wiring is inexpensive and I expect that in time, you can pick up something like this on clearance or a much more reasonable price.

Looking forward to your posts \ pictures of wiring though the different stages of progress. :beers:

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If I would ever again build a new home I would not put (communications-)cabling directly into the walls but use empty cable pipes in a reasonable size (dont forget the pulling wire). Systems and topology change too frequently (compared to the lifespan of a building).
Just for the networking part we’ve seen 3 major changes within the last 40 years: Token Ring, Twisted Pair and Fiber.
But cable pipes do have an shorthand advantage too: Because of the networking topology you have to know how many devices you will probably use in a room or you have to put switches or hubs everywhere and that does not make things better. :wink:

Power outlet for a Roomba! Best tip someone can give. I had huge problems with my Roomba 650 and 690 because of this. I couldn’t use them as supposed for a very long time.