To cable or not to cable? That is the question.

thewordsman

Standard Member
We’re about to start rewiring our house, including creating a central tech hub. I like the idea of full home automation but don’t have the cash right now. So, I'm thinking about installing cabling for future use. Here’s what I’m thinking of cabling for:

- Audio - 8 rooms (including current Linn Majik DSi and Arcam Solo)
- Home cinema - 2 rooms (to equip later)
- CAT5 networking+WiFi - whole house
- Access control - two doors, video and auto-release
- Heating control

I’ve spoken to four installers - two recommend Control4, two RTI (one with Linn, one with Simple Audio). I also bought two Sonos Play 1s to experiment with. I love Sonos’ simplicity and being able to equip each room as I can afford it. They're not ideal for classical though, which I listen to a lot.

My contractor’s electrician has estimated around £4,000 for the AV cabling for future. It’s a tiny portion of the house refurb cost, but almost enough to equip 8 rooms with Sonos. And the same electrician suggests Sonos, having taken all his ceiling speakers out when Sonos came along - he loves the simplicity (and he’s a sound engineer and DJ).

I’m adverse to proprietary, locked-in systems and really interested in open, wifi-based systems like - Smart Things, Revolv, Tado, The Hive, Doorbot, Lockitron etc - not all there, or in the UK, but developing fast.

The dilemma

I’m really torn about installing cabling for the future, or saving the cash and going wireless. The installers inevitably recommend the cabling, after all, they sell systems. I’m wondering what real people have enjoyed. What worked out and what didn’t? What would you have done differently?
 

shortyav

Active Member
Hi there,
Cabling for me is a no brainer, there is so much you can do with the correct cabling infrastructure (this obviously needs to be done correctly). Professional integrators do specify alternative systems to the 'mainstream' sonos product for good reason, while sonos is a good viable system, it has its limitations both in scalability and sound quality. Control 4 should really be on anybodys shortlist whose looking for some sort of home system, it can very competitively feature an audio and remote control, or scale to a whole home automation system. Once you start to deploy a lot of sonos it can become quite expensive in comparison. If your not clear on all the virtues of one system or another talk to a good installer who can make things a bit clearer. Theres so much more you can do with a system than just a few rooms of audio. For me wirings the way forward. C4, rti, elan, urc are all good systems. C4 as i say merits much thought. Simple audio sounds great compared to sonos but is also limited in regards to control options. HTH shorty
 

cmclean

Active Member
If I had £1 for every new build or renovation I've been to where people looked back and retrospectively wished they had run all the relevant cables I'd be a very rich man. Agree with shortyav run cables. Also couldn't agree more there's many many systems on the market that look like they're doing the same things but C4 should be on your shortlist for sure
 

thewordsman

Standard Member
Thanks for your responses guys. So would you run all cables I can think of, just in case? Eg my electrician has quoted to run cable back to the hub for lighting control. But our lighting designer recons if we get the design right, we shouldn't need control. I'm less fussed about lighting control because we're at home most of the time, and getting up to reach a switch is good exercise. Would you cable for that just in case?
 

cmclean

Active Member
I'm a major fan of lighting control. You could go for panelised lighting by wiring all back to your 'hub' and having the lighting control elements all in the hub or you could have intelligent lighting modules in the rooms in the back boxes which control the lights and work on traditional electric wiring.
Plus I'd encourage you to consider modular lighting keypads especially in your home cinema rooms.

I've just installed Control4 modular keypads into a project where the client has full lighting control TV interface, iPad, iphone with lighting scenes, etc from the intelligent dimmer in the modular keypad plus the keypad has up a 'volume' 'projector screen+lift' button with up/down buttons where the up/down 'follow' the last pressed button so control the dimming of lights, projector screen+lift and audio in the room which they clients loves.

Plus this then allowed me to program the project remote control to check if lights were on when movie is selected to play and if so fade the lights off to 0%, if he presses pause on remote - to answer phone/door, etc - lights come on to 40% and fade off when resumed, then when press stop on remote lights come back on to their original level before movie was started. So you can get really creative with your project
 
Another thumbs up for cabling as many cat6s as possible to each room.

Have a look at Loxone as well for Home Automation and possibly for music serving as well.
 

DLoop

Active Member
our lighting designer recons if we get the design right, we shouldn't need control.
Really intrigued by this comment.

Surely a good lighting design allows the lighting to be altered as the use of the room changes. E.g TV watching, entertaining, reading etc.

How is this easily achieved without simple lighting control? How do you recall the differing light levels for each circuit if you have to do it manually each time?
 

shortyav

Active Member
Yea I'm nonplussed by that too. How can lighting design not be enhanced if you can change scenes and profiles at the touch of a button? All I can really say is if your not sure take some advice from an installer/integrator whom as best you can be sure is reputable. What your lighting designer has said seems really odd especially if the budget is available for lighting control. Certainly wiring and installing a mid range control system won't be cheap, however it can change the way you use everyday things in your home. Any system starts with the pre wire. If you get this wrong the system will most likely not perform as you expect.
 

thewordsman

Standard Member
The lighting's been designed in layers so we can adjust for different activities - the scenes are built into the design. Those'll be switched at the wall, so the only difference is not having remote control. That doesn't matter so much to me because I work from home, so we're around all the time, and getting up to flick a switch is a bit of exercise ;o) If I had the cash, I'd automate, but we're at the point of making tough choices and I'd rather put more speaker cable in than automate the lighting.
 

shortyav

Active Member
It's very common for customers to make specification choices for one reason or another. Still not really sure how seamless implementation of lighting scenes is achieved without some form of control, that said your the customer and it needs to meet your needs and only your needs. Lighting control done well does cost a fair bit of money too. We've been doing an excercise lately trying to get the best value from a lighting system in C4 inviroment. Keep coming back to the fact it's not cheap and C4's panelised lighting system is really quite nice. Good luck with how it turns out.
 

hornydragon

Distinguished Member
IMHO Cabling for home run and conventional lighting is not really workable

It is but getting a sparky to do it can be tricky only done it once and to be honest you can probably put a v basic system in for similar money.


I love the lighting designers spin so with no control system you have scenes? are these "dimmed" scenes? DOes it involve alot of lamps? Are you buying the fittings through the "designer"?

TBH sounds like the designer is clueless every hotel, bar, restaurant, (wetherspoons!) has a control system, why would they pay for one if they didn't need it?

One of my pet hates is the 7pm 30% drop in 5 seconds its just bad and lazy programming.
 

neilball

Well-known Member
Yea it is possible, but as you say the aggravation and cost of dual wiring a system is prohibitive.

It does depend on which lighting control system you use. A system based on DALI (which can use T&E cable as the bus cable) can be pre-wired without much more additional cable although it does require a bit of planning and a decision on how the cabling will be dealt with at the future dimmer locations. You can go low cost by using a din rail enclosure as a wiring centre but this requires some knowledge from the electrician and a wiring diagram to show him what to do. You can get pre-wire chassis from some manufacturers which properly terminate the circuit cables and switch cables for mains use, so only require the switch cables to be re-terminated and dimmer modules to be fitted if/when the system is upgraded to full control. Makes the job of the electrician much easier at the extra costs for the much more convenient chassis units.
 

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