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Drilling Holes & Pulling Cable for Home Electronic Systems in New & Remodeled Homes

Get Yourself a Substantial Drill

You are going to need a fairly substantial drill to drill one inch holes through your 2 x 4 studs. Something like a heavy duty Milwaukee drill will be required. If you try to do this work with a small drill you will work yourself to death. Don’t worry about the investment as you will use it time and again on your installation and nothing short of a big drill like this one would be able to drill the 2. 5 inch holes for the piping of the central vacuum system.

Plan Out A Path

What you need to do is to plan out a path for your alarm cable runs from your windows, doors, motions, glass breaks, access control, wireless receivers, and photoelectric beams in through the walls and rafters back to the rear of the OmniPro II enclosure. You want to keep your cable far away from 110 Vac cables so that no attenuated currents are generated in your low-voltage wiring. In fact, get in a habit right from the beginning once you run your cables in the attic, to go back and use big 1” metal staples and a hammer to staple them as high as you can to stay out of harm’s way. If you must run you cable near high voltage wire, and you will have to from time to time, try to:

  • Run your cables at least 12 inches from them when running parallel
  • If you must cross them, cross at a 90 degree angle as much as possible

Pulling the Cable Bundle

A Word of Warning: Now is the time when I should point out that each bundled cable and each wire of any type that you pull needs to be clearly identified and marked. It needs to be marked on both ends and it needs to be logged on your wiring schedule (legend). Create a wiring legend. All you have to do is to print it out and log the wire runs on your legend. One further note, from the time you create your wiring legend to the time you use it will likely be months. Protect it in a safe place, make additional copies, do whatever you have to do to make sure you can find it when it comes time to trim out your wires and hook them up to your equipment. If it gets lost, it will take you a long time to identify them again.

Start Downstairs and Work Clockwise

Start in a given room downstairs on the first floor and move clockwise (left to right) around the room pulling the cable for your various windows & doors, motions, glass breaks, smokes, home automation triggers, etc. to the OmniPro II panel. Once you have installed every cable for every device in the room move in a clockwise direction to the next room.

Set Up Your Speedbags

Now you need to set up your speed bags on the floor so that the cables will uncoil easily without kinking as you pull them through the walls. It will take two people to pull the cable through the walls. One person pulls the cables from the speed bags and feeds it to the other person who is pulling it through the pre-drilled ¾” to 1” holes. Never make sharp 90 degree turns with the cable as it could cause damage to one or more of the wires in the bundle.

Once you arrive at the OmniPro II panel leave enough slack so that your wires almost touch the floor. The point is that you would rather them be a little long than take a chance you might cut them too short. Use these wire markers to label your wires on both ends identifying each window, door, motion, photoelectric beam, glass break, etc., so that in the months to come you’ll know where each wire originated.

A Really Professional Installer

A really professional installer will always pull an individual alarm wire to each window and door in the house. Now you may have talked to someone who has said to you, “No, all you have to do is to install one alarm wire for each bank of windows or one alarm wire per room. All you have to do is pull the alarm wire all the way to the furthest window, loop the wire leaving about a foot of slack at each window, and then you can daisy chain the windows together utilizing just one zone on the panel”.

That sounds good and in fact works a large percentage of the time, however when one of those wires gets cut or shorted out by accident during the construction process by other trades, you will lose that entire group of windows. Now the only choice would be to install wireless contacts.

Let me explain how you will do it with much better results. You only need a 2-conductor wire at each window or door, but you are going to install a 4-conductor wire. When you install the contact in each window you will wire it up to the green and white wires. If when you test the window and there is no conductivity between the green and white wires, you have another pair, the red and black wires, as backup. By running a 4-conductor you have doubled your chances of success for that security zone. That is good cheap insurance.

The second step you are taking is to pull an alarm wire to EACH WINDOW & DOOR. Later in this presentation I will show you how to test each zone and then join it with other alarm wires in daisy chain architecture at the OmniPro II location utilizing just one zone.

Chances of Total Success Have Gone Up Tremendously

Now your chances of total success have gone up tremendously. If in the years to come that zone of multiple windows has a problem and does not work anymore, you can retest each window individually to see which one has gone bad. Replace the contact; reconnect all the wires and you are back in business. The bottom line here is that there is nothing more frustrating than to lose a bank of windows plus expend countless hours troubleshooting the problem.

Well, you have one zone completed now pull security wires to each location for every window and door in the house.

The window and door contacts are the only devices that are 100% completely installed and tested in the rough-in phase prior to the drywall being installed. You can see just by looking at it that later you are going to drill a 3/8” hole in each window seal and door upper threshold and mount the part of the contact with the wires attached to it. Once you pull your cable to a particular zone, strip and connect your wires, you will connect them with these wire connectors more commonly referred to as “Bennies”. The other part of the magnetic contact will be installed in the top or side of a window or door. When they are lined up and the magnetic contact is made it will cause the security controller to see a closed zone. If the window or door is opened and the magnetic contact is broken, the controller will see the zone as “not ready”.

In this article I have given you a good overview of the process of installing a security and/or home automation system. To go the rest of the way you are going to need an installation eBook that takes you step by step with photos, wiring diagrams, and detailed instruction. I have written such a guide which is available on my main website @:

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Which is Best: “Hardwired” or “Electrical Grid” Lighting Control for New & Remodeled Homes?

Of course it is hard to answer the question as to which lighting control technology, hardwired or electrical grid is best. There are many capabilities and features of each system to take into consideration when trying to assess the better technology. So when everything is added up there are surely features of each system which will cause this or that person to gravitate in either direction.

Hardwired System

Before any decision can be made we should take the time to understand the underlying technology of each system. For example, a hardwired system at its core is one that transmits and receives lighting commands over real wires installed with the walls. On the walls scattered throughout a given home are low-voltage switches. There are low-voltage wires running through the walls connecting those switches to a switch consolidator electronic component.

Low-voltage generally means that a scant 12Vdc power is utilized as power at the switches. Lighting control commands are generated when one presses one of the buttons of the switch on the wall. That command is carried on low-voltage wire and identified in the switch consolidator component. It is a lot like a telephone switch board that links one caller with another. It does not execute the commands it simply identifies which button has been pressed and conveys the information to the proprietary computer.

When the information reaches the computer an action is taken. The action taken depends on the programming downloaded previously into the computer. For example, button “A” may be programmed to turn on the kitchen light whereas button “B” may be programmed to turn on a scene where multiple lights are turned on. Every aspect of each light load can be programmed individually. The illumination level, ramp up rate and fade down rate is programmed. In addition, specific lighting control scenes wherein multiple lights receive commands simultaneously are possible.

Electrical Grid System

The primary difference between a hardwired system and an electrical grid system is that there is no specific low-voltage control wire installed for command entry at the switch in the latter. In fact, the electrical grid system has no control wire at all. The wiring of the lights within the home by the electrician is performed in the normal way. That is to say that the electrician will install a J-box for each light then wire in a power, neutral, and ground to power the switch and ultimately the connected light load.

What happens when one presses a switch to the “on” position when an electrical grid light switch has been installed? With no programming at all, right out of the box the switch will allow electricity to flow to the light load which will then illuminate. So far there is no difference between this switch and a standard switch from Home Depot®. However, right out of the box with no programming whatsoever the switch provides interesting and useful capabilities. If one presses the top of the switch once the light load will ramp up to 80% illumination over a two second interval thus avoiding the shock of the light coming on full steam immediately. If one taps the top of the switch twice the light will snap on to 100% immediately.

When it relates to the electrical grid system we are only getting started. The reason is that once all the dimmers and controllers have been installed the programming begins. Every aspect of each light load can be programmed individually. The illumination level, ramp up rate and fade down rate is programmed. In addition, specific lighting control scenes wherein multiple lights receive commands simultaneously are possible.

Underlying Technology

How do the command signals get from each switch to other light loads if the switches are wired like traditional switches? Well first of all it must be understood that the electrical grid switches are not normal switches as you have likely surmised. They are actually very sophisticated electronic components that are able to transmit and receive coded commands over the electrical grid in the home. The technology permits command signals to be broken down into binary information which is transmitted in the milivolt range at or very close to the “0” volt position of the 60 Hz electrical sine wave.

What’s The Bottom Line?

A hardwired system requires the expense of low-voltage wiring and the expense of having it installed. In addition, the low-voltage switches must then be installed and “wired up”. The electrical grid system does not require running of control wires and the switches are installed by the electrician in his normal contract to wire the house for AC. Generally the hardwired system cost in the range of triple what an electrical grid system cost. As far as programming is concerned the two technologies are pretty much equal.

My Opinion

I have installed hardwired, wireless, and electrical grid systems. For the last five years I only install the electrical grid technology known as Universal Power Bus®. There is no comparison with other systems in terms of ease of installation and cost. In addition, it is very reliable.

Installing Numerous Systems

It has been my experience that when home owners are considering one system for their new or remodeled home, they are likely considering other technologies as well. It would be in your best interest to have installation guides on each system you would like to include in your project. Read them all then procure your components, special tools, and cable so that they are all on the job site ahead of your proposed start date.

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Several Golden Advantages of Pulling Bundled Cable in New and Remodeled Homes

I don’t know which manufacturer first invented bundled cable for residential and small commercial use, but it was a fine day for America and the rest of the industrialized world when they did. It is like the old proverbial phrase, “It’s better than sliced bread.”

Many of you are thinking privately to yourself now, “Wow this guy really likes his bundled cable!” But it’s true, this new way of wrapping multiple cable types in one tough outer coating made wiring houses and small businesses so much easier. It opened up many other possibilities in the sheer number of electronic technologies that could be installed due in large part to labor savings. However, it also reduced the overall cost of the cable as well.

Think About the Labor

Think about what it takes to pull a single cable through the walls from the most distant bedroom in a home all the way back to the electronics distribution panel. First you have to select a path in the framing studs of the home, then drill holes large enough to accommodate the particular wire you are pulling. When that is complete you set the cable up on a roller or pull it out of a box through the walls to the panel.

Yes, if you are going to pull three types of cable at once the trick is to just drill slightly larger holes in the framing then wrestle with each wire as you pull it through the walls. All the while special attention has to be given to the process to avoid kinking or tangling the cables. When you are all complete you have three different cables pulled for that bedroom.

Do It the Easy Way

Now picture yourself drilling a 5/8” hole in the center of the framing studs. Set up a 500 foot roll of bundled cable to be pulled off the roll. First of all when you pull the cable it is much thicker and comes off the roll without kinking or tangling. Those two problems are a thing of the past. You can be pretty rough while pulling it through the walls because the outer coating is thicker than smaller cable. Damaging the cable by bending it too much is not going to happen with bundled cable.

Now Look What You’ve Got

When you are finished you have successfully pulled two Cat 5e twisted pair cables, two quality RG-6 quad-shielded coax cables, and two multi-mode fiber optic cables. Into one room with one pull you have pulled enough cable for three telephone lines, one fax line, one computer terminal, video entertainment, a video camera, plus enough fiber optic cable to handle any technology that will come along in the next 25 years. Now you know why I am so excited about bundled cable.

Well if you have pulled one bundled cable to every room in your house, now you can install an electronics distribution cable in a centrally located room and choose the systems you want. What follows is a laundry list of systems people commonly incorporate in their homes.

  • Telephone system
  • Front door and whole-house Intercom
  • CCTV system for lifestyle and security cameras
  • Cable TV to each room
  • High-speed Internet access in each room
  • Access control
  • Whole-house stereo

Install Your Own System

Of course, what I have outlined here is the simple explanation of installing a structured wiring system. However, it is not rocket science, meaning you could install your own system saving yourself lots of money. This simple little explanation I have provided today is not going to be enough guidance on installing your own system.

Instructional Guide

What you really need is a complete instruction manual that provides specific information on which system to install along with specific connector type and model information and specific guidance on standard and optional electronic hubs. With that degree of guidance you truly could purchase the necessary components, then install the system yourself and in the process save yourself a pile of money.

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Important Instruction Help In Your Preparation To Install A Security/Home Automation System

What follows is information on what you need to do in the preparation phase of installing a UL approved Security/Home Automation system. It is important that you purchase all your electronics and hand tools well in advance of your start date. All right you have your tools organized and on hand. The next thing you need to do is to get the cabling you will need specifically for your security/home automation system.

Choice of Cable

The type of cable you will need to have on hand is at least two boxes of CAT 5e twisted pair cable. There are four twisted pair (TP) in a Cat 5e cable. You will also need several “speed bags” of stranded 4-conductor security wire.

Pull From A Box?

Some installers pull security cable from a box however, I have found speed bags a God send in terms of saved time and labor. If you have a medium to large size house you will be pulling cable from several bags at a time. Perhaps you will pull from as many as eight speed bags at a time. Even though you are going to pull quite a bit of cabling through your walls related you security and home automation, you will get by with just these two types of cable. Structured wiring, home theater, central vacuum, and whole-house stereo require several more types of cable however, this article does not address those systems.

Prepare Yourself

It is very important you prepare yourself and any workers that may be helping you when the time has come to install your systems. It is important that you do not get ahead of yourself because problems can arise if you do.

Generally speaking you want to show up with all your cabling, tools, and helper(s) when the framing has been completed. The plumber will have already come and gone having completed his rough-in. You are now waiting for the electrician to complete his job. You absolutely cannot install your low-voltage wiring until the electrician has come and gone. The reason for this precaution is you want to install your cables as far away from his high-voltage wiring as possible. If your wires end up too close to high-voltage wires, you will pick up energy from attenuation which might manifest itself as interference in your electronic equipment.

Identify Your Components

To install this system you must be able to first identify the various electronic components and connectors required to complete the job. Once you have gotten all these together you must understand the overall design of a typical system so that you can begin to formulate your own plan. After you have formulated the plan view for your home the next step is to pull the appropriate cabling throughout the walls to each zone originating normally in an electronics closet.

Make Sure the Windows and Doors Have Been Installed

Another important consideration is to make sure all the windows and doors have been installed. You can’t install security contacts to windows and doors if they have not been installed. If you are like most people you will be doing the rough-in work for several systems at the same time. You will be pulling cable for structured wiring, security / home automation, whole-house stereo, whole-house intercom, video cameras, central vacuum, and the list goes on. It is important to have at least one and hopefully two helpers on the job helping you with the labor.

Install Your Security Devices

Once the cable installation is complete you will install your contacts and other security components. When all the connectors have been installed, in the Trim-Out Phase you will install the UL approved security panel and connect each individual security contact wires to the security zones on the panel.

Installing Numerous Systems

It has been my experience that when people are considering one technology for their new or remodeled home, they are probably considering other systems as well. It would be in your best interest to have installation guide on each system you would like to include in your home. Read them all then purchase your components, special tools, and cabling so that they are all on the job site in advance of your proposed start date.

Here Is Your List

On the main page of my website are eight How To Install Ebooks which cover all the primary low-voltage systems from security and home automation to lighting control and whole-house stereo. Click on this link: http://www.home-automation-online.com

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The Seven Golden Rewards for Installing Structured Wiring Systems in New and Remodeled Homes

Before I fill you in on the rewards for installing a structured wiring system in your home it is incumbent upon me to make sure you know what exactly is encompassed in the system. After all, many people have requested that their electricians pull a few cables to various locations within their homes thinking they would be installing the backbone for a structured wiring system. Sadly, a few random cables are not the basis for an adequate system.

A professional structured wiring system consists of bundled cable to each room in the house where one wants full electronic capability. When installed correctly a home owner will have multiple telephone lines, computer ports and video entertainment. And when additional cables are pulled to each zone, the home owner can easily add whole-house stereo, surveillance cameras, access control and intercom to their system. Now you’re talking about a complete, full service structured wiring system.

Structured Cabling

I install Speed Wrap® cable, which includes two CAT5e, two RG6 quad-shielded coax, and two multi-mode fiber optic cables. In the not too distant future many, if not all, of our data services will be delivered to the side of our homes via fiber optic cable. When that day comes you will be very happy that your home already has a fiber optic cable structure within your walls.

However, it is my opinion that there is no need to spend money terminating each of the fiber optic cables, as there has been no standard set by the industry as to which fiber optic connector will be utilized. There is no need doing it now, and then have whatever company delivering data and entertainment to your home in the future, decide the connectors you have installed are not the ones they prefer.

Service Input Hub

This unit is the gateway for connecting outside entertainment, telecommunicating and network services. It includes standard configuration of four RG-6 coax connectors for TV, VCR, cable or satellite signals and two CAT5e connectors for telephones, fax and Internet access. It also includes two multi mode fiber optic connections.

Coax Video Distribution Hub

The coax distribution hub distributes modulated signals from DVDs, VCRs, DBS Satellite receivers, security cameras and cable companies. All video sources can be individually selected and appear on any television in the home. The standard unit allows five source inputs and delivers video to eight zones. Of course, if you have a larger home and need video distributed to additional rooms, there are twelve and sixteen zone hubs available.

Telephone Hub

An eleven zone, four-line RJ-45 twisted pair style hub is used for connecting and distributing voice and data signals. The module also includes an Amphenol connector to interface with a telephone Key System Unit (KSU) or PBX. It also includes a surge protector, a standard security system RJ31X port, and a shorting block for compatibility with Plain Old Telephone (POTS) lines.

Cable/DSL Web Safe Router

This router connects to your cable or DSL modem and lets you share a high-speed Internet connection with up to four computers throughout your home or business. It also allows you to monitor usage and filter out offensive web content and connect your computers together to share data and access to home office equipment. Using proven technology, the web safe router safeguards your personal computer data by protecting your network from computer hacker network attacks. The cable/DSL web safe router is a must application for anyone with cable or DSL Internet service, and for anyone who for any reason wants to experience the speed and convenience of shared, always on blazing fast Internet access.

Triple Modulator Hub

The triple modulator hub is used for creating in-home television channels that can be viewed from any TV in the house. Signals from three different video sources such as TV’s, VCRs, DVDs, satellite, laser disk players and surveillance cameras can be identified and viewed on any TV in the house. Basically it takes a base-line video signal from three different sources, combines and modulates the signals then sends them out on one coax cable which serves as an input to the video distribution hub. Each video signal can be seen on their assigned television channel.

Front Door Station Hub

A front door station hub allows you the homeowner to speak to visitors at your front door on any telephone in your home. And if you have the triple modulator module for a camera in that location, you can view them on any television in your home while speaking to the front door visitors. This option comes in mighty handy when you are indisposed or all the way in the backside of your home. Other door stations can be added as desired. There is an optional module to unlock the front door or gate by touching a key on your telephone.

Whole-House Stereo

Install this option and you can use your structured wiring network to play music that suits your mood throughout your entire home. This option will distribute an audio signal to eight stereo or sixteen mono locations, or any combination of your choice. Individual on and off volume controls in each room allow for personalized sound control. Keep in mind the system described here is for a single audio source.

DBS Satellite Receiver Hub

This module provides distribution of a dual LNB DBS Digital satellite signal to four locations through a single coax cable without modulation. It is designed for a four-receiver system thus allowing each receiver to view all channels giving full channel reception and independent viewing control at each receiver. Each TV must be connected to a separate DBS receiver where desired.

Now that you have had seven of the primary technology hubs adequately described along with the benefits of each, perhaps you can now fully appreciate the opportunity a full service, professional structured wiring system can mean to you in your new or remodeled home. It means you will have ample connectivity within your home for telephone, data transfer, and entertainment.

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