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  The ABC’s of Structured Wiring

 
HOME   >   EDUCATION   >>   STRUCTURED WIRING
  >>>   WHAT IS IT?  |  THE BASICS  |  THE DETAILS


Homebuilders today are striving to differentiate themselves by delivering the highest quality homes possible. Today, delivering quality means addressing the digital age. To provide a digitally-enabled home, homebuilders are turning to a new wiring system call “Structured Wiring.” What exactly is “Structured Wiring” and why is it a “must-have?”

Structured Wiring – What is it?     [ TOP OF PAGE ]

If you are reading this, then your current house is already wired. You have telephone lines and, perhaps, cable or satellite television. The problem is that the wiring you have has a limited capacity to deliver the promise of the digitally-enabled home.

The purpose of the wiring system in the home is to distribute the electrical signals that make a telephone call or Internet connection possible. Today, new technologies are pushing the limits of the existing wiring systems and driving requirements for higher capacity, greater flexibility, and support for more signal types.

Structured wiring is a term that describes a new set of wiring products. These new products provide a greater capacity to deliver signals across your home and make it possible to:
  • Share your DVD player with any television in your home
  • Enjoy your stereo from any location in your home
  • Leverage a single internet connection with multiple computers
  • Network computers and devices such as printers and fax machines
  • Support multiple telephone lines
The Basics     [ TOP OF PAGE ]

A structured wiring system is analogous to your household plumbing system. The water is delivered to your home via a water main. Once the water reaches the interior of your home, the water is distributed to your hot water heater and through smaller and smaller pipes to the various sinks, tubs, toilets and appliances in your home. When you need water, you simply open the faucet.

A structured wiring system provides a function similar to your household plumbing by distributing incoming data signals to many locations within your home. Data signals, including cable, telephone, the Internet, etc., come into your home through a central location. The signals are then distributed through a central connection center. In the connection center, incoming data lines such as cable and telephone are connected to a device that allows the signal to be split across many other outgoing data lines. These devices also amplify the signal so that the split signal does not lose any quality often associated with ‘snowy’ TV or ‘crackly’ telephone. (The analogue of the amplifier is a water pump that helps maintain water pressure within the home.) One significant difference is that you can generate your own internal signals, such as a DVD player or video camera, and then distribute them throughout the household.

From the connection center, the split and amplified signals are distributed to the many rooms of your house using what is called a “star” or “home run” configuration. This approach to wiring provides a dedicated set of wires for each outlet in the home. This wiring technique is in contrast to a technique called “daisy chaining” which uses less wire and is less expensive, but does not provide high-quality distribution of the signal. In “daisy chaining,” one wire connects to multiple outlets in the home. The problem is that the signal will degrade as it travels from one outlet to another. The last outlet will have a significantly lower signal quality than the first.

The Details     [ TOP OF PAGE ]

Structured wiring starts with a bundle of wires that vary in type and in function. The basic structured wiring bundle should include, minimally, two coaxial cables and two twisted pair cables.

Coaxial cables are the cables you typically use to connect cable to your television or VCR. This type of cable has an exposed copper wire with a screw-on connection. The cable has shielding which helps keep the signal from being altered in transmission. There are various levels of quality in coaxial cables that are attributed to the type and amount of shielding. Quad shield RG-6 is a high-quality coaxial cable and is recommended for distributing video signals throughout the home.

Twisted pair is a type of cable that is typically used for wiring your household telephones. A twisted pair is exactly what is says: it is two wires twisted together. The twisting provides a level of shielding that prevents the distortion of the signal. Twisted pair are rated on signal quality. Category Three (CAT-3) is typically used for wiring phones and Category Five is typically used for data networks and phone. Higher bandwidth CAT-5e and CAT-6 can also be used. CAT-5e can support network speeds of up to 100 Mbps and CAT-6 (which has only recently been specified) can support speeds of up to 1000 Mbps.

Two twisted pair (CAT-5e) and coaxial cable (Quad RG-6) are recommended by Out-of-Sight as a standard service outlet for bedrooms and common areas. Additional wiring should be installed to support media centers, home theater and a home office - and audio wiring should be installed for distributed audio.

It is highly recommended that you work with an experienced designer to assist in the cable configuration and selection so that you can be sure that it will meet your needs, today and tomorrow.

[ TOP OF PAGE ]
  Out-of-Sight is dedicated to working with home builders and consumers to deploy technology in the household to improve quality of life, security and productivity.


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