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Special Report 29: How to pre-wire - Electronic Edition

Special Report 29: How to pre-wire - Electronic Edition
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Author: Mark A. Smith
[This is the Special Report 29 in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Our electronic products download immediately to your computer upon purchase.]

One of the easiest things an owner can do to future-proof a home is to pre-wire for sophisticated entertainment and computer needs. We show you how to add a lot of value to your house for very little. Eight pages, revised and updated with new reader tips, web links and comments.

Topics Include:

  • Smurf tubing
  • CAT-5 vs. wireless
  • Security, crosstalk, interference
  • Coaxial, fiber optic
  • Alarm, telephone, home theater
  • Whole-house audio
  • Integration/automation
  • CAT-6
  • DIY costs, supplies, sources

Excerpt from Report:

"...Our First Effort

Alarm

When we had framed and dried in the Riverbottoms House, we had a visitor one night, a friend named Kyle. He had a power drill in hand with a new 1/2 inch bit. 'I'm going to show you how to pre-wire your house,' he said.

We started with a 500 foot spool of 18 gauge alarm wire I had purchased on Kyle's advice. This alarm wire is a very thin strand of copper in a soft white insulated jacket that looks exactly like spaghetti on a spool. Kyle asked me, 'Where's your home run location?' 'What's that'? I said. 'That's a central place where you will pull all your wires to where a control panel or punch block will be installed.' 'Oh. I guess in the main floor utility closet.'

He then took a single gang electric box, a blue plastic item costing about 20 cents, and nailed it to the side of a stud high in the wall of what would become our family room. 'That's a motion detector,' he said. Through the front of the blue box he pulled the strand of spaghetti wire off the spool and passed it through to the back of the box. Then he used his cordless drill to put a nice 1/2 inch hole in the stud and pulled the wire through. He then drilled a hole in the next stud at around the same height and in the middle. He pulled more wire through it while the spool uncoiled itself by rolling crazily around the floor of the family room.

He continued to drill holes in succeeding studs, pulling wire through as he went, inexorably toward the utility closet on the main floor. When he got to the closet, he used my drill to put a one inch hole in the top plate of the framing and pulled the wire down to near the floor of the closet. 'We'll have a control box here for your alarm, about four feet from the floor. I want to leave plenty of extra wire hanging down.' Then he produced some gummed labels and a marker pen from his shirt pocket. He wrote on a label 'Motion detector, family room' and secured it around the strand of wire so it would stay and could be read easily. 'This is so you don't have to guess what each wire is for.' Then he went back to the spool of wire on the family room floor and rewound the loose wire until he was holding the spool a foot from the blue box it fed through. He snipped off the wire with a slick little pair of wire cutters and tied a knot in the end. 'This is so it won't slip though the blue box,' he said..."

Sample Reader Tip Excerpts:

"I got Smurf tubing, this blue tubing that I can run wires through and later if I want, I can thread new wires through without ripping up the wall. I got it at the electrical wholesale place. Another tip, don't run your Category 5 data wire or phone wire through the same holes in the framing as the electrical wires. You may get interference that can cut throughput or cause errors. Keep it as far away from the Romex as possible."
Cameron & Keri G.
Orem, UT

"If you need to pull an electrical wire through an underground pipe, like when you are installing lawn sprinkler controls, try this trick: Attach a couple of crumply plastic bags to a long string and tie the string to the wire. Use a shop vacuum at the other end of the pipe to suck the bags through to you. Use other plastic bags around your nozzle so you get an airtight fit on your end of the pipe. I've seen engineers pull cable through more than 100 feet of pipe this way."
Jeff & Judy L.
Provo, UT

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