What is Low Voltage Wiring?
Low voltage wiring is like the nervous system of a home. Low voltage wire carries information and data in and out of the home and distributes it throughout.
Low voltage wire carries signals that include:
- Phone Services
- Audio and Video
- Home Network
Telephone wire and outlets are low voltage. Surround sound wiring and speakers, Television cable, and security pre-wires are as well.
Low voltage wire also provides power and control to devices like automated shades, Wireless Access Points, and network switches.
Without wires, reliable wireless technology would not be possible in the home. Installing low voltage wire, in many ways, is more difficult to install than electrical and high voltage wires. They are very sensitive to kinking, susceptible to EMI (electro magnetic interference), won’t work if poorly terminated, often times are not shielded, and can suffer from grounding issues. That is why we always recommend that qualified technicians, like ourselves, install the various kinds of low voltage wire that every home requires.
We pre-wire for home audio, surround sound, home theater, outdoor music, intercom systems, cable tv, satellite, telephone, and computer networking. In addition to the wiring, we terminate and install jacks for phone, computer, satellite, audio/video, and cable.
The prewiring of an average size home entails the running of miles of cables and usually requires several days for two installers to complete. The cost of low voltage prewiring varies, depending in some measure upon the number and length of cable pulls, as well as the number of terminations.
The proper pre-wire approach is to utilize a centrally-located distribution cabinet with home run cables running from it to information outlets located in every room. Two information outlets are recommended for the family room, den and master bedroom, with the other rooms getting at least one. Thus, a small home may have 8 to 12 outlets, while a larger home may have several dozen.
An AV Rack is a large, self-contained and freestanding cabinet where all active and passive equipment for voice, video, data, audio, security and home automation are centrally located and interconnected.
As custom electronics designers and installers, we know how to design a home theater or a home office and provide a turnkey service. We can do the wiring, install the speakers, set up the audio/video equipment, program home automation cycles and integrate various standalone systems to work together. We can also provide long-term system maintenance and upgrades.
Some of the home systems that require prewiring are security; home theater and entertainment; phones, door-phones and intercoms; PC and internet networks; surveillance cameras; driveway vehicle detection; communicating thermostats; motorized window treatments; entry systems; and irrigation systems
Speaker wire gauge and conductors
In-wall speaker wire is identified in shorthand that indicates its gauge (thickness) and its number of strands (or conductors, as they’re known in the trade):
- 16/2 is 16-gauge wire with 2 conductors
- 14/4 is 14-gauge wire with 4 conductors
The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire. For runs of less than 50 feet, 16-gauge wire will suffice. For longer runs, use thicker 14 gauge wire.
Most audio and video patch cables are not suitable for in-wall installation. Some HDMI cables that are rated for in-wall use don’t support 4K or HDR video.
Fortunately there are some clever solutions, such as baluns, that use in-wall-rated network cable, coax cable (RG-6), or even fiber optic cable to pass audio and video signals over long distances.