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I'm looking for ideas for low voltage wiring for new house/renovation.

My house is gutted due to a massive flood. Walls are open so now's the time to upgrade. I am already pulling cat6 around the the house. Nearly 20 years in IT taught me to always pull 2 runs even if you're only going to use 1 right now. Most everything is wireless now with mesh connected light bulbs, thermostats, speakers, etc. I don't see that changing. I'm not sure what else we would use.

closed as primarily opinion-based by isherwood, Tester101 Dec 27 '16 at 11:42

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    Put runs in for PoE Cameras. – Edwin Dec 25 '16 at 19:23
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    You might run optic cable, as well; it's use is becoming more common. BTW, I agree wholeheartedly with multiple runs... much easier than doing it afterwards! You might also run some braided nylon line to enable pulling a future cable through. – DrMoishe Pippik Dec 25 '16 at 19:35
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    I pulled 1 inch conduit (blue flex) into data only boxes. Can pull what works when needed. – spicetraders Dec 25 '16 at 21:09
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    Putting in optical now is bad, because by the time you want it, that standard will be obsolete. Instead, put in draw wires made of heavy fishing line or something else that will remain useable for decades. Document the draw wires too, and even run them in conduit. – Criggie Dec 26 '16 at 11:18
  • Here's an unorthodox idea: Don't put your wires inside a wall. I never understood why things that require regular maintenance like pipe/wires/sockets are always put in hidden places that require a lot of unnecessary work to get to, and then there's the clean up afterwards. Incorporate these things into the design of the rooms in which they are and save yourself a lot of hassle down the line. Things will break eventually. – I Love CSS Dec 26 '16 at 15:58
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I recently had the opportunity to do this on an out-room on the other side of the garage. It just had wood veneer and no insulation, so the gut was pretty pain free.

I'm a forward thinker, but dropping RG6 or Cat 5e/6 into the wall would have been too expensive (and I have no idea where to run it to). What I opted to do was add a low voltage gang and then drill through the top plate. Then I added a screw terminal to the box end (to hold the conduit in place) and pushed 3/4" PVC conduit out of the top. So I have 3/4" conduit in the wall, running into a box. If/when I need any low voltage wiring, I can easily put it into that box without any wall fishing.

A single 10' section of conduit, the screw terminal, the low voltage box, and a blank plate cover, was maybe $5-7. I had to buy a spade large enough to go through the top plate as well.

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Don't guess. Pull conduit and add whatever the future calls for.

The main thing to be thinking about in low-voltage is POWER. Solar panels continue to get cheaper, and batteries are getting cheaper too. It is very reachable to have a 12 volt system capable of powering chest freezer, auxiliary LED lighting, Internet modem and router and USB charge outlets. Some furnaces even work electricity-free. It's entirely possible, with careful energy budgeting and design choices, to have a home able to have key loads failover onto battery, so it remains habitable during power outages, with solar, generator or your automobile providing makeup power. Obviously you won't be running A/C or washing clothes, but your chest freezer (or your fridge with a bit of upsizing) will continue to stay cool if you don't open it a lot.

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What's the low voltage for? Your main concern is should it be a twisted pair (signal) or a straight pair (power). Ethernet is +-/2.5 volts but you will get massive voltage loss on a straight pair sending only 12 volts over 50 meters. See: https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/17928/why-is-there-a-voltage-drop-in-a-twisted-pair-wires-of-an-utp-cat-5-cable

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IMO conduit is the way to go for future proofing data connections in a home/small buiness environment.

Single mode fiber is pretty future proof in terms of data rates but termination costs and end equipment tend to be relatively expensive, a good choice for inter-cabinet connections in larger buisnesses but not appropriate for end device connections.

Multi-mode fiber is not much better than twisted pair in terms of future proofing.

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Data

Ethernet over copper will be "good enough" for the next decade minimum, and probably two decades.

Wireless still needs APs to plug in.

Put cat6 to places where you'd mount an access point, so center of ceiling. Run at least 4, maybe more to the back of your "tv area" and one to where ever you might put surround speakers.

Wire ALL your twisted pair back to one patching panel. For cost reasons this is often fairly central in the floor-plan. You might end up with one patch panel per floor, or details might make it impossible to have just one panel. Do put tie cables between patch panels, if you have more than one.

Internet

If your ISP is cable-based, they probably won't use any wiring you supply. Same goes for Fibre-based internet service. The best you can do there is make sure there's some way to install those services, which means conduit, large radius bends, and possibly draw wires.

ADSL/VDSL/ISDN based services are a bit different - they'll run quite happily over your ethernet wiring, but won't be Ethernet. Its not uncommon to use the center pair to carry phone-cable data over twisted pair to your router. As a bonus, you can relocate your router around the house by repatching. Neat AND tidy.

RF / aerials

Do you have a satellite dish or external FM radio antenna ? That's another thing that can't be carried over twisted pair copper.

Power

Power can be sent over ethernet, but you're limited to about 18 Watts. That's enough for a camera, or an AP, but you're not going to run a computer off 18 watts.

So put in enough power sockets that you could do away with multiboxes / multiboards totally.

In your desk area, consider the wall plates that contain USB charging sockets too - they're cheap and if they go out of flavour can be swapped for the next big thing in a decade.

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