Updated: Nov 2, 2020
Bravo AV of New Jersey. Structured or Whole-House Wiring Approach
As you prepare to make a significant investment in audio, video, and network components, it is important that you use high-quality cables to avoid throwing high-definition signals down the drain. Audio and video cables must be engineered to transmit delicate signals over long distances without signal loss, impedance distortions, or noise interference. Everything about the construction of the cable makes a noticeable difference in performance. At Bravo AV, we believe you should put the best quality cable that fits your budget in the wall because once it is in the wall, it is not coming out, and running new wire later is very expensive.
We have documented everything about Smart Home Wiring and Speaker Wire here
Quality equipment and cabling do a much better job of delivering the audio and video signals from the source to its destination without the signal's degradation. Better sound and pictures are a direct result of adding less noise and distortion.
Cables can contribute a great deal of noise and distortion to both the sound and the image due to the way the cable is designed (the type of copper, gauge, lengths) and how well the cable is shielded (designed to reject noise from outside interference). Reducing the noise anywhere within the system will increase the overall performance of the system.
All phone, computer, TV, and fiber cable(s) are “home-run” from various rooms throughout the house to a designated cable “headend” location in the basement. All cables will be run as far away as possible from high-voltage wiring and fluorescent fixtures to reduce interference. Our technicians will also ensure that the cables are not bent too sharply or pulled with too much force to avoid damaging the cable. All cables will be labeled at the headend and professionally terminated to maintain the transmission chain's integrity. Improperly terminated cables can lead to signal loss and therefore compromise audio and video quality. Below is BRAVO’s approach to structured or whole-house wiring.
Bravo AV runs all these cables to one AV “headend” area. This is typically in the basement. Bravo AV will determine the basement “headend” location with input from the homeowner and builder. The builder should dry-lock (waterproof) the exterior walls and install ¾ inch plywood (painted black) to be used by BRAVO to mount equipment. Dry-locking walls and painting all other surfaces accomplishes two things: 1) prevents moisture transfer through the outer wall and 2) keeps concrete dust down, which could damage the electronics. This room should be well lit and adequately ventilated. Where possible, this room will be away from electrical panels. This design is to protect the gear and make future service easier. The headend will typically have at least two dedicated 20-amp outlets to power various equipment. Using Bravo AV two-step surge protection and power filtration methodology, these circuits are typically protected back at the electrical panel.
Conduits for the Future
BRAVO recommends that the builder install two or three strategically located, 2-inch PVC conduits from basement to attic to accommodate your future cabling needs. In addition to the basement to attic conduit runs, Bravo may elect to run conduit to the home theater, high-performance media room and/or the office.
Types of Cable
There are four main types of wire used in structured or whole-house wiring applications:
1) Coaxial cable for video transmission.
2) Category 6 or Category 7 cable for data transmission, i.e., computer networks and phones. For a discussion on the types of low-voltage category wire, please refer to our article Classification of Low-Voltage Wire.
3) Speaker wire. Please see Bravo AV’s article on Speaker Wire.
4) Fiber. Fiber optic cable for future transmission speed needs. Typically, in residential applications, we use Multimode OM3 Fiber.
Digital Video Distribution
There is another type of cable commonly used for video distribution, called HDMI. HDMI is the global standard for connecting high-definition consumer electronics and PC products. It is the uncompressed, all-digital interface that delivers both dazzling quality and unmatched ease of use. HDMI transmits all types of audio and video through a single digital link. HDMI is an all-digital interface that requires NO conversion or compression. HDMI's typical residential application is to connect source devices, like a cable box, to the TV.
With today’s multi-line, multi-function, intercom/speaker phones, we suggest running one CAT 6 phone line to each bedroom and multipurpose/high-use room to provide you with a wiring infrastructure capable of supporting an intelligent and reliable phone system. We generally do not run a phone line into formal dining rooms or other rooms used for formal entertaining. For large garages, we suggest one phone line. While almost everyone has a cell phone, the intercom feature and door station (door station allows you to talk to the person at the door from any phone in the house) of the phone system is invaluable in a big house. Using a regular phone system rather than your cell phone reduces your exposure to electromagnetic radiation from your cell phone.
We suggest one run to each room that may require a computer connection now or in the future. We run our basic computer network in CAT 6 with a minimum of 350 MHz bandwidth capacity. We can also install one or more runs for network printers and or other network devices. Using a networked printer, you can share a relatively expensive resource (e.g., a color laser printer) with everyone in the family. For an additional charge per run, we can install CAT 7 for even greater transmission capacity. With CAT 7 you will be better prepared for new technologies as they become available. With the amount of streaming content and the speed of today’s computers, we strongly recommend CAT 7 wiring. CAT 7 is different from CAT 5 and CAT 6 in that is has a shield around each of the four pairs along with a shield around all four pairs. This is very helpful in reducing the negative effect of EMF noise.