New Home Best Practices!

This comes up time and time again on the Home Automation subreddit.  How do I lay out wiring and all to make automation as simple as possible in the future?  This post will try to address these items and give suggestions for easy, inexpensive things you can do while building for maximum flexibility!

Couple quick housekeeping items before we dive in.  This list cannot possible be exhaustive of EVERYTHING you may want to consider, it is simply a starting point.  YMMV when it comes to cost and quality of work.  In general don’t let an electrician handle low voltage!

Now that we have that out-of-the-way, let’s discuss infrastructure for current or future automation!  I’ll also add security, networking, etc into this post.

The biggest thing to consider is wiring, specifically network cable (CAT6).  But placement can be an unknown so here is a list of locations where you should drop cables:

  • Ceilings for wireless access points
  • Corners of home (outside) for cameras
  • Doors/windows for wired sensors
  • ALL rooms for wired devices (PC, gaming consoles, etc)
  • Outbuilding (shed, barn, garage, etc).  Fiber is better if possible
  • Anywhere else you may even THINK you want a wired connection

Keep in mind cable/labor is cheap when the walls are open.  Run more than you need – seriously.  And if possible, have it run in conduit!  This allows you to replace it in the event of a break or if newer cable tech comes along.

That covers networking, so what about electrical?  There are really only 2 “rules” here for maximum flexibility:

  • Neutrals everywhere!  Specifically at the switches.  Depending on your various codes this may or may not be required.  Push your builder for it!
  • Extra deep boxes.  You may pay an extra $1.00 per box, but you will thank me later as you try to cram large smart switches into them.

Now you know what you need, but what should be done with the wiring?  Electrical is easy, my points above change nothing.  The networking piece is a bit harder.

You need to decide where you want all the cables to terminate.  Usually a small closet, or in the basement/utility room/whatever.  This will be the core of your networking and where your router will end up so the more centrally located the better.

Once you have a location, have a patch panel mounted (wall mount is fine) and all the cables terminated into it.  From there you can drop your router, a switch, really anything and have connectivity throughout your home!

Happy automating!


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