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Smart Home Design: The Importance of a Structured Wiring Plan

Smart Home Design: The Importance of a Structured Wiring Plan

It is no secret that smart technology is becoming more and more popular every year. It’s intuitive, helpful, and makes daily life more productive and enjoyable for consumers, so it is no surprise its demand in smart home design and integration is on the rise.

In fact, 68 percent of Americans are confident that smart homes will be as commonplace as smartphones within 10 years.

Smart technology can include speakers, TVs, security cameras, game systems, home theaters, amplifiers, motorized shades, programed lighting, thermostats, computers and the list goes on and on – all being easily controlled using an automation app on the homeowner’s phone or tablet.

But guess what? All of this technology needs to talk to each other! This growth of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) – that is the huge amount of connected devices that send and receive data over the internet effortlessly – has suggested to many home builders that going wireless for all the gear in a home is the right direction. This is not the case at all! The truth is, that for maximum stability, functionality and flexibility, all the tech gear in a home should be connected to the house’s wiring backbone. Granted, having a robust WiFi network is critical to maintaining a reliable user interface for devices, but thinking you can buy a home that is completely wireless instead of having a wired design will create a constant battle of intermittent, frustrating and unsolvable issues for years to come. 16 percent of U.S. broadband households currently own a connected home

16 percent of U.S. broadband households currently own a connected home device, and nearly 40 percent plan to buy one this year. By 2022, the typical home could contain more than 500 smart devices. 

Smart Home wiring design plan

So what are home builders to do?

Ryan Sullivan, owner of Tulsa’s BlueSpeed AV, shared this wisdom on the importance of having a structured wiring system for your smart home design:

Q: Why is a structured wiring system so easily overlooked?

A: "Home builders must make a structured wiring plan a priority when building a client’s dream home. It’s hard for homeowners to assign value to the wiring because they aren’t thinking about what’s going to be connected to the house in six to nine months after it’s finished. They are swamped with other decisions that are having to be made, and it’s very easy to overlook the wiring needs. Wireless is for convenience not stability. TVs, audio systems, theater rooms, security cameras, and the network backbone as a whole should never be done wirelessly. You don’t want this to be an afterthought because once the sheetrock goes up, the client has no idea what’s behind the walls!"

Q: Will a home’s bandwidth be better with structured wiring?

A: "Today, a typical house uses 10 times more network traffic than most small businesses that just use Internet for sending emails and accessing online documents. A robust network infrastructure that can handle the traffic of multiple streams of music, Netflix playing in the game room, Pandora cranked up in the kitchen, kids playing Xbox online, mom or dad working from home, and other areas, will be exponentially better when supported by a strategically designed wiring plan."

Q: How does a wiring system impact network coverage inside and outside their home?

A: "Most homes above 2500 square feet need multiple access points to properly cover the areas where WiFi will be used. Before the big tech boom, having wireless in your home office was sufficient, and then the coverage needs grew to include the living room and kitchen area. Today, every room in the house including the backyard, patio and pool, needs good, strong coverage. We ensure this happens by hardwiring access points in strategic locations around the house, so the bandwidth capacity will be fully available regardless of the location in the house."

Q: How does a structured wiring plan save money?

A: "It’s usually our experience that it normally costs around 1 percent of the value of the home to design and put in a wiring infrastructure that will prepare your home for current and future needs. The cost to add a properly designed wiring system after your home’s construction is complete is much more costly than doing it right from the beginning. For example, we added proper wiring to a fireplace inside a two-story house after construction had ended. The process spanned two full days of cutting sheetrock, removing stone, strategically running cables, patching the work that was deconstructed, and involving other contractors to finish out the cosmetics and painting. Overall, adding in the wiring to handle the TV cost well over $3,000! If we had been brought on board during the pre-wire and construction stages of the home, it would cost less than $500! Generally, the cost is not usually as great as this example, but typically a homeowner will experience a five to seven times increase in price if it has to be done after the sheetrock goes up. We see these scenarios constantly with underwired brand new homes, but home builders and homeowners can avoid money and emotional distress by bringing in a professional integrator from the get-go."

QUOTE TO BUILD BY “Wireless is for convenience not stability. TVs, audio systems, theater rooms, security cameras, and the network backbone as a whole should never be done wirelessly.” - Ryan Sullivan