is Structured Wiring?
A residential structured wiring system, essentially,
networks voice and data, audio and video, along with home security
and environmental control. A properly installed wiring system can
support home theater with surround sound, whole-house audio, lighting
automation, security requirements, appliance control, telephone,
fax and other home office requirements and remote-access zoned environmental
controls. Additional lifestyle options include driveway sensors,
motion detection flood lights, automated drapes, pet doors and feeders,
medical diagnostic monitoring, a wireless LAN, web cameras and voice
telephony over an Internet protocol. In certain cases, stand-by
power generators are also offered.
While some of these capabilities may seem like
luxury items, structured wiring is also fast becoming a very real
necessity for homes in the Austin area. To professionals who work
from their homes, for example, structured wiring is a necessity
for a sophisticated home office.
What are the components?
If you are familiar with commercial networks, you
are well on your way to understanding a home installation. The components,
including the distribution center, cables and wall outlets, are
virtually identical, however, smaller in scale. The distribution
center is a central panel or cabinet where services from outside
the home (cable tv, telephone, satellite, high- speed Internet access,
etc.) enter the house. The cabinets tend to be 14.5 inches wide
so they can be recessed between wall studs on 16-inch centers. Typical
cabinet heights range from 8 to 10 inches for condos, to 14 to 28
inches for standard homes and up to 40 inches for large homes. A
minimum requirement for each cabinet is a telephone-connecting block
for terminating the twisted pair, and a passive cable splitter for
the coax. Room should be left for upgrade components, including
patch panels for the voice and data lines, amplified splitters for
cable, lighting controls, audio distribution panel, security panel,
home automation components and data hubs and routers.
In larger homes, a stand-alone cabinet or rack
can be used if there is room for a dedicated telecommunications
facility. To meet the requirements of TIA-570A, every structured
cabling system needs to have a distribution device or cabinet. It
should be centrally located and be as close as possible to the entry
and demarcation points of the telephone and cable television service
providers. In no case can the furthest outlet be located more than
492 feet from the demarcation point. The cabinet should be properly
grounded and be within 5 feet from a duplex power outlet.
What about wiring? Although individual Cat 5e and
RG-6 cables will service the various outlet configurations, specifically
designed “multimedia” cables are being recognized as
better solutions. A dual cable, for example, consists of one Cat
5e and one RG-6 under a single jacket. Another “composite”
construction could include 2 Cat 5e 24/4 UTP cables for voice and
data and 2 RG6 Quad shielded satellite grade coax cables tested
to 2.4 GHz. These cables speed installation time because multiple
cables can be pulled at the same time. It also minimizes termination
times since all ends are readily identifiable. It is very important
that the installer test all cable runs from the cabinet to the information
outlets at the completion of the pre-wire. Once the drywall is installed,
it is very difficult and expensive to replace a marginal cable run.
A basic test consists of continuity and wire map to T-568A on all
four pairs of the Cat 5e, and continuity of the coax’s inner
and outer conductors.