Run lots of wire!!! Like way more than you think you’ll ever need… because someday you’ll wish you had it!
For Quadomated that meant over 8000 feet of home automation wiring… and I still wish we had pulled some more! Probably sounds like crazy overkill, but think of it this way, wire is cheap and with the walls open you can do in minutes what would take several hours when the walls are closed in. So, that extra run you’ll probably never use might cost $5.00 in wire and take about 20 minutes, but if you try to do it after the fact will be countless hours of sheet rock repairs, climbing through insulation, snaking through who knows what… overall just not a fun job!
A little extra detail of what I ordered:
- (1000 feet) 14/2 CL2 Rated In-wall Stranded Loudspeaker Cable, color white
- (250 feet) 16/2 CL2 Rated In-wall Twisted Pair Interconnect Wire, color black
- (500 feet) 16/4 CL2 Rated In-wall Stranded Low-Voltage Control Cable, color white
- (500 feet) 18/2 CL2 Rated In-wall Stranded Low-Voltage Control Cable, color white
- (2000 feet) 22/4 CL2 Rated In-wall Stranded Security Cable, color gray
- (2000 feet) CAT5E UTP Solid Ethernet Cable, color blue
- (1000 feet) CAT5E UTP Solid Ethernet Cable, color white
- (250 feet) Shielded Microphone Cable w/ drain wire, color black
- (200 feet) 22 AWG Shielded Twisted Pair with polypropylene insulation
- An assortment of 25-75 foot CL2 Rated In-wall HDMI cable
The breakdown of how this wire was used is as follows:
- Access Control: CAT5E ethernet cable and 18/2 wire was run to the access control device at the front door.
- Door, Window, Motion Sensors: 22/4 wire was home run to the 23 operating windows, 5 exterior doors, 2 garage doors, 8 interior doors, and 8 motion sensors. You might ask why I bothered placing sensors on the interior doors… again, think of future possibilities. By knowing the door state of interior rooms I can do all sorts of fancy automation based on whether the door is open/closed or if the room is occupied. Motion sensors need all 4 wires, while window and door sensors actually only need 2, but it is more or less industry-standard to run 22/4 everywhere. The price difference is minimal, and it’s always great to have those extra two wires in case one gets pinched or you need to expand in the future.
- Door Strikes: 18/2 wire was home run to the 3 exterior door strike locations
- Door Operators: 16/4 wire was home run to the 3 exterior door operator locations. This wire is currently unconnected and completely hidden underneath the trim for when I get around to either designing my own automatic door operators or paying up the butt for commercial ones.
- Keypads: CAT5E ethernet cable and 22/2 shielded twisted pair microphone/speaker wire is run to the 2 keypads.
- Media Outlets: Each of the 8 locations where there could someday be a TV utilized these neat Leviton recessed boxes that provided two 120 V AC outlets, and 6 keystones. I home ran an HDMI cable, RG59QS Coax, and 4 CAT5E ethernet wires. Again, probably sounds like serious overkill, but the ethernet wires are so versatile and can be used for just about anything… HDMI distribution, IR distribution, Internet. At each TV location I’m already using up the HDMI connection, one ethernet port for Internet connectivity, and two wires of a second ethernet port to send infrared.
- Electric shades: Ran a CAT5E ring (not home run, but a ring) around the room and then used RJ 11 telephone cable to route the control signal to each shade. 120 V AC was also junctioned to each shade within the wall.
- Speakers: 14/2 speaker wire is home run to a 7 speakers in my home theater, 5 in the living room, 2 in the ceiling of the porch, and 2 exterior speakers outside on the patio.
- Subwoofers: 16/2 balanced XLR wiring is run to 3 subwoofer locations in my home theater and 1 in the living room.
- Telephone Outlets: CAT5E ethernet cable, granted 4 conductor CAT3 would suffice, but I decided to run the CAT5E and just terminate 4 wires with a CAT3 Keystone. Again, gives more than one use for this port in the future.
- Thermostats: CAT5E is home run back to my main controller, and 18/5 back to the boiler is run to my 5 thermostats. Currently only 3 of the thermostats can be automated, but I can always upgrade the others in the future.
- Window Operators: 16/4 wire was home run to the 9 casement windows I’d like to control. Currently, only one of the windows has a 24 V DC motor that I used as a test case to see how and if this would work. All the other windows have this wiring hid beneath their white vinyl trim.
There’s lots more I could write about each of these specific installations, and I will as we dial up the detail over the coming weeks/months. Till then, the best way to get more details and see some build in progress pictures is to head on over to my home automation page.
One final thing
Through all this I planned ahead and did a lot of things right, but there are definitely a few things I could’ve done better. Some of this was just trial by error (i.e. firing something up only to find it didn’t work), some of these changes/suggestions come from advancements in technology, and some just plain oversight. So…
If I could do it over again I’d:
- Use different color wire for door sensors, door strikes, door operators, window sensors, window operators… pretty much everything. Would make it a lot easier to know what you’re dealing with at a glance.
- Not use HDMI wires over long-distance. If you push much past 25-30 feet they just suck, handshaking issues, dropped pictures, crazy static stuff… technology just doesn’t work well at long-distance. I would much rather use 2 CAT6 lines and an HDMI matrix switch that uses these instead.
- I forgot to wire a microphone to my bedroom. Definitely the absolute most, super important thing of all of Quadomated and I freaking forgot it! Will be remedying this soon by thrashing drywall and crawling through insulation.
- Send a 20+ multi conductor cable from my main controller to the expansion enclosure located in the closet. Never know when these extra lines could be useful?
- Run 12V relay control to some underground drip irrigation lines in our flowerbeds. Would be far easier to automate this stuff than horse around with the hose all the time.