It's about PLANNING not SPENDING!!!
Learn how to design for a smart home without paying for equipment
Everyone can make smart home ready house.
In today’s construction market, home automation is becoming a key element in residential sector. On one hand, you can’t ignore it because of your competitions and buyer’s extensive knowledge in this era; on the other hand, if you want to satisfy all the automation needs of a homeowner, you will probably be spending more than dedicated budget; especially for lower end homes and communities. It might not be cost effective to purchase home automation equipment and pay for programming services to its max, but everyone can at least implement a correct wiring schematic, so that home owner has the option of automating the house after the fact.
Centralize your wires
One common mistake you should be avoiding is to run local cables for speakers, TVs and etc. Obviously it will be much easier for your low voltage trade to run speaker wires from ceiling to a side wall or cabinet in the same room. However by doing that, homeowner will find speakers useless as they won't be able to hook it up to their entertainment system. The same concept is true for smart TV distribution and etc. Therefore, rule of thumb is to home run all low voltage cables, but if you want to have an added value for buyers, you could have local runs for master bedroom and other location where they would be installing a TV.
In basic design you have two options for centralizing the cables.
Option 1: Centralize Wires in Control Room
In smaller custom homes, utility room (mechanical room) becomes the ideal location for control room. When we place home automation processor and other brains in utility room, programmers have direct access to devices such as security control panel, water heater, furnace and other essential home control equipment. Homeowners can purchase a
Advantage: Finished result will be cleaner and direct wires could be run to surrounding equipment after the fact. Of course on design perspective, having all equipment and bundled wires far away from line of sight, provides a clean and flat look on TV walls and entertainment areas.
Disadvantage: As soon as homeowner moves in, they have to at least get some basic home automation system to get even one TV or one home theatre set up. Home owners prefer this on long run, But this might not be preferred in staging phase for builders as it involves additional costs.
Option 2: Home run cables for family room
To avoid the initial setup and equipment cost in option 1, developers may choose to make main TV room (usually family room) the control room. This will allow for local set up of one main entertainment system and expandability to whole home automations. However you should be very careful to not limit homeowners by not running enough cables throughout the house. For example, if you choose to use family room’s wall unit for control room, minimum of two CAT5 wires have to be run to security control panel to allow future alarm integration. Same foreseeability is true for other components of a system.
Advantage: Homeowners or realtors at staging phase will have the option to start with a traditional setup of a local audio/video system and do not pay for video baluns, matrices and etc.
Disadvantage: The very first drawback to this method is risk of running wires without design. Often low voltage contractors miss critical cables that matter to homeowners for automation expansions. This includes the wires for security systems, wireless antennas, cell phone boosters, HVAC remote sensors, fireplace and other components. A builder could get away from this weakness by either choosing a home automation company to perform the rough in from first day or at least get consultation for design of their wiring schematics to avoid buyer’s disappointment. After all every homeowner can build or corrupt reputation of a development company.
Many clients do not find having so many electronic equipment and bunch wire in their sight. Using family room cabinets for control room might not really be in favor of many designers and owners.
Do not forget access point locations
To minimize construction cost, many builders use non-qualified traders. Due to their lack of knowledge and experience, these type trades do not have a vision over homeowners’ actual needs within the household and they just stick to a simple standard wiring. One of the items you, as a builder need to make sure of, is cable drop of secondary access point. Almost every project needs a second location other that control room for home automation antennas, boosters, wifi extenders and other analogous items. Note that elevators in homes extremely lower quality of wireless communications within a house. So depending on number of these obstacles and obviously size of the house quantity of the access point locations could increase.
An optimal location for a wireless access point is above cabinets that do not touch the ceiling or a similar location.
There is just so much to talk about when it gets to proper design for home entertainment and electronics. As home automation has now become a MUST in today’s construction market, no one can really neglect it as their home won't sell. But the question is what should we do to do a proper rough in for whole home system, have a minimal automation for presentation purpose without expanding the budget and letting homeowners create their own system as they move in? Well, we at ARSO we have worked really hard over years to give a definite answer to that. Our presentation packages show off a virtual interface for fully automated house without really paying for equipment and programming. It does not really matter who performs the act of running cables, it is the knowledge and experience in wiring schematic design that builds your reputation through homeowner's satisfaction.
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