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New House Build = Blank Canvas

Chunkylover

Established Member
I'm in the planning stages of a new selfbuild, this will be a five bed detached home with four beds on the first floor and a fifth bedroom on the second floor.

One of the things I have been thinking a lot about and trying to educate myself on using this forum is the newtworking and automation I should put into the new build. I'm looking at having a rack located in the garage and networking throughout the house from this to each room.

My initial questions are,

1. Should i be running cat5 or cat6 cable to each room and on average how many cables??

2. Should I be running any other cables i.e. coax, speaker cable ??

2. Should I look at having the sky box / freeview boxes etc located in the rack and then transmitting the signal via the cat5/6 to each tv ?? Or is it better have the boxes sited local to the tv??

3. If I draw something out for cable routes is there anyone on here could help check it and advise if it looks ok?? If there's a small fee invlolved I'll pay it as I'm stuck when it comes to AV / networking infastructure.

4. I really fancied putting in a lutron lighting control system, but after being quoted silly figures at an exibition we have now put this idea virtually to bed, unless anyone could suggest a sensibly priced smart lighting system I could install myself??

Any advise or tips from you guys no matter how simple you think it is will be very welcome.

Thanks in advance for any advice or help
 
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LightBrigade

Established Member
Don't write off Lutron based on exhibition conversations, get some real estimates from dealers that have spent a little time thinking about it. There are other benefits that may be less obvious, such as recently included support for control of thermostats, shade integration etc. (I'm thinking specifically of homeworks)

But if you are on a tight budget and can't necessarily afford things on day one, it is possible to wire for addition of a wired lighting control system such as Lutron at a later date.

There are some good systems out there (not just Lutron) and I'm sure other people will comment/advise accordingly.

At least you are thinking about everything early on, which is great, and I'm sure will stand you in good stead as your plans progress

Good luck!
 

shahedz

Distinguished Member
Have a look at my thread / blog as it covers a lot of what you are doing.

I have heard good things about Rako lighting which is cheaper and can also be retrofitted. I went with Lutron as I bought a 6 zone, 3 zone and 4 keypads for £370 from eBay.

Cables I am running speaker cable for ceiling speakers into each room. I am running 4 cat 5 and 2 co-axial into each room too.

I started a thread about using HDMI over cat 5 or long runs of HDMI and have opted to go for Long runs of HDMI and will have a central location for all sky boxes. (Thanks to SDI here for all his help in helping me decide).

I haven't run cat6 as the cable I bought was a run of of 2 cat5 and Coaxial in one strand and they didn't have cat 6.
 

Chunkylover

Established Member
So you are a builder and building the entire house yourself right?

Not a builder, quite the opposite. I served my time wiring and building control panels for the nuclear and automation industry, then moved on in my early twenties into servicing specialised equipment for medical research.

I have been a designing the equipment for the last 15 years and like to get involved and learn new technology, I can't stand not knowing how something works or is built.:D

I've drawn my own house plans and will then get individiual trades to build the house, I am hoping to complete the wiring infastructure and networking myself hence the thread.

Are you an AV installation guy ??
 

Chunkylover

Established Member
I have heard good things about Rako lighting which is cheaper and can also be retrofitted. I went with Lutron as I bought a 6 zone, 3 zone and 4 keypads for £370 .

Do they class each zone as a room?? Or an individual lighting circuit i.e. wall lights in a living room would be one zone and main lights would be a second zone??

Also are you only using the lutron system for a select number of rooms ?? Or the full house ??


I will have a look at you blog thanks.
 

S D I

Banned
'Are you an AV installation guy ??'
Hi chunky, I am a Custom Installer and if you have time to look at other other posts of mine you will see the type of work I do.

re I have been a designing the equipment for the last 15 years and like to get involved and learn new technology, I can't stand not knowing how something works or is built

My kind of guy, I was a bench engineer for twenty years and still keep my hand in.
I'll be delighted to help you achieve your aspirations any way I can.

re. intelligent lighting, a zone is a room or area and there are a number of circuits within each zone.
Good systems can also control other devices like curtains, garage doors, gates, blinds, motorised TV lifts/mounts and I like to take advantage of multifunction keypads by powering TV's on and off as you enter and exit a room.

I recommend Lutron Homeworks which is expensive but the best.
If you do care to look at other posts of mine you will see me harping on about me personally never plastering over cables, creating routes and voids for all wiring, linking them together with flexible ducting and worrying about choice of cables and designing your AV infrastructure until very late in the project.

FYI. most other CI's think my unconventional and a lot of hard work approach is crazy!

Good luck with it all however you proceed.

Steve
 

shahedz

Distinguished Member
Do they class each zone as a room?? Or an individual lighting circuit i.e. wall lights in a living room would be one zone and main lights would be a second zone??

Also are you only using the lutron system for a select number of rooms ?? Or the full house ??


I will have a look at you blog thanks.

I am using Lutron in a select number of rooms. Just the bedroom and downstairs open plan lounge/kitchen/diner.

Sorry I have described it wrong, It's circuits. So I have a 6 circuit and 3 circuit.
Each circuit being a group of lights.
 

Chunkylover

Established Member
Thanks for the info guys, I'll be doing a lot more reading and then I might be picking your brains a bit more if that's ok??

As a ballpark figure what would the homeworks be costing me ??

Also is this system something I could install myself and get a third party in to commission or full install needs to be done by approved installers ??
 

S D I

Banned
Homeworks and Grafik eye are installed in a very similar way to each other.
A competent electrician for the 240v side in the interests of safety and certification and a custom installer for the keypads, interfacing, low level side and programming.
Price wise Homeworks is relatively expensive but can be easier on your pocket if it is phased in over time.

My strategy is always the same on whole house projects irrespective of if it's AV, automation, intelligent lighting or a control system.
Based on your lifestyle, design a fully comprehensive system incorporating all the advanced features you ultimately want and will definitely use then phase everything in as budgets permit.
This requires intelligent design from the bottom up leaving every option open as technology changes.

Hence my ducting approach.

I have been involved in projects where they stood still for a couple of years after the initial installation then they were exponentially upgraded once the client realises there is no need to chase walls out all over the house again.

I have also visited projects where they were advised to duct everything but ploughed on regardless plastering over cables etc. leaving no scope for even the simplest modification and not having the stomach to start cutting and thrusting their property all over again.

Steve
 
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Chunkylover

Established Member
What do you call expensive SDI?? Just ballpark figure ??

When you say put in ducting during the build how do you do that exactly, I'm thinking the outer skin is 100mm thick plus a solid cavity fill of insulation again 100mm thick, inner brickwork again 100mm thick plus approx 12.5mm thick cement / undercoat plaster plus skim coat to finish.

Do you chisel the inner brickwork and then fix the ductwork in and plaster over ??

I've tried doing a search on your previous post so I can have a good read, not having much success at the moment but will continue to find them.

I actual found one post in which you've done the tv surrounds from Steel with an MDF lining and all the connections directly behind, gotta say they are absolutely amazing, very inspiring, top designing.
 

royal79

Standard Member
If you want an idea of what i run to each room for an install i can email you a copy of one of my jobs Cable schedules if that would help pm you your email. Happy to help :)
 

S D I

Banned
Homeweworks is around £500 per circuit but there are ways to reduce this.
Seems a lot for a lighting system but I have to stress what I said before, I rarely install Homeworks and it is dedicated to and only controls lights, I make it work for it's money and the free app is simple and very useful.

Lot's of different ways to duct an entire house.
You have seen the steel solution for solid outside walls, IE cutting the inner skin and using the cavities for routes.

I have a million other tips and suggestions for particular scenarios a lot of which have been covered somewhere in my other posts.

Talk it over with your other trades.
In most cases they will shake their heads and say you can't do this and you can't do that so let's see the plans and I'll suggest some solutions if your up for it.
Lot of work but if you do it properly you will see the sense in it 5 years down the road.

Steve
 

royal79

Standard Member
If you want my advice i would go for control4, That way you can have your lighting, AV, Security and even integrate your heating no need to have an expensive heating system installed. Have a look on control4 website.
 

Chunkylover

Established Member
Hi Steve,

Thanks for the tips, would you put 50mm dia cable ducts in ?? if so is it just a case of chiseling the inner concrete blockwork to sink the ducting ??

Also, have you much experience with the lutron grafik eyes ??

I'm thinking these may be a cheaper alternative to the full system, do you know if you have to have the graffix eye panel on display ?? or can this be hidden away in a cupboard and just the standard lutron switches used on the walls ??

I would ideally like to have this kind of lighting in the lounge (3 circuits), the kitchen / family area (3 circuits), the hallway (2 circuits) and maybe the master bedroom (2 circuits), not sure if it's overkill in the bedroom though. Everywhere else I could use standard light switches.
 

royal79

Standard Member
Control4 is Perfect for what your doing it will control everything at 1/4 of the price of amx crestron etc and the best thing is you can add to it at any time so no need to break your budget, just buy what you need now and the rest you can add at any time.
 

S D I

Banned
Hello again, chiseling and chasing out walls is undesirable and unnecessary especially if you are building your house from scratch.

When I see the plans for your house and when you know you are serious about installing ducting I will be happy to discuss methods with you.
Its not all about fitting tubes from point to point but mainly about creating voids behind TV's and other convenient places then linking them by designing and building routes into your house.

Grafik Eye 'panels' as you call them are actually dimmer packs with control buttons on the front and can be installed centrally and controlled by remote keypads.
May I suggest that in the grand scheme of things the price difference between Homeworks with all it's advantages and Grafik Eye with remote keypads isn't a very significant cost when you are building an entire house from scratch.
10 circuits is not enough to warrant a lighting system like Lutron, even Grafik Eye but again you can expand into eg. 50 circuits plus or whole house control with minimum disruption in the years to come if you plan for it now.
By then there may be other options to consider but they will all need cables connecting them together irrespective whatever anybody tells you about the future of wireless.

End of the day though it's a little bit premature to be discussing fine details like lighting circuits when you don't have a house yet and I can't help thinking you don't understand the concept of ducting an entire house yet.

The idea is to put resources into what I am suggesting and if it's done right you can choose your lighting system, AV equipment, control systems etc. on final fix rather than spending time and effort now trying to anticipate what technology you will be using a year from now when the house is complete.

I have clients who built or extended houses with big plans for intelligent lighting, big AV systems etc. and ran out of money on completion.
I have literally fitted one TV, a Sky box and clunk click lighting initially for them to move in.
Months or years later some have 80 circuits of Lutron, 4 x Sky boxes, multiroom audio, TV's in every room etc. with minimal disruption and trauma to the fabric of the building.
Which is just as well, people sometimes decorate to a very high standard including imported wall paper @ up to £250 per roll and would never have entertained a single upgrade if we suggested chasing any walls out.

I retrofit ducting and conduits for cables in large houses including solid stone barns and it is a lot of work.
Although it is infinitely easier to build it all into your house from the bottom up I won't be surprised if, you find it too daunting, your trades will take a negative view and you plough on in a more conventional way without my crazy ideas!

Steve
 

S D I

Banned
Some ducting comes with a draw wire in but we usually remove that.
We use regular cable rods and pull a draw wire through when we are ready to cable it.
We then decide how many cables to pull through and do them together.

Don't make the mistake of making a wiring loom and wrapping all the cables together with tape or cable ties.
This makes it difficult to add new cables because they get caught on the wrapping in the ducting.
We can then add or subtract from the equation by pulling individual wires out or new ones through.

If you lose the draw wire it is easy to push a cable rod through again with the existing wires in.
In rare cases we pull the lot back and rewire.
 

royal79

Standard Member
Steve i might have this wrong but i assume you mean you would take out a 'lets say' twin back box break it out into the cavity and rod up the cavity to the loft?

Surly thats not what you do on a job if you are your superman lol
 

S D I

Banned
You do have it wrong, I only terminate into plastic boxes for AV connection faceplates and we always create a decent void behind them even in solid walls.
I have uploaded tons of photographs of in other threads which may clarify a few things.
For the most part we duct into big voids behind TV's (see MDF housings we make), attics, floor access hatches, AV hubs in garages, cupboards, under the stairs etc.
 

royal79

Standard Member
i get you now lol, I was miss reading something you wrote earlier. Surprised you use plastic boxes though even if its on a solid wall i suppose it gives you a bit to play with though not a bad idea having a knock out behind . :)
 

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