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Future-Proof Your Home for Smart Technology

Plan the Low-Voltage Wiring Early in Your Next Project

A new build or remodel project has many details that must be well thought out and planned. It’s easy for architects, designers, builders, and the homeowners to get wrapped up in many decisions that must be made to balance requirements, desires, budget, and time constraints. Often there are many design revisions to floor plans, lighting plans, materials, and much more. Something like low-voltage wiring might not be the thing that most of the parties involved are worried about – yet it is critical infrastructure for enabling many smart home functions. Low-voltage wiring is easier and less expensive to do before drywall is installed, and even if changes are required in that stage where the framing is still uncovered, it is still relatively simple to do.

What kind of things depend on low-voltage wiring? Quite a few with today’s smart home features. LED lighting is one excellent example. A home with LED lighting and smart lighting control might have more low-voltage wiring requirements than regular electrical wiring. Other features like smart security sensors, alarms, and cameras all depend on low-voltage. If the owners want a whole house audio system, planning for that early makes it considerably less expensive than adding it later. How about a media room or home theater? Planning the low-voltage infrastructure makes it easy to install all these features when construction is completed.

Refined Systems is expert in residential AV systems and smart home technology. Read on to learn more about the benefits of bringing in a low-voltage contractor like us early in your next Houston residential project.


SEE ALSO: Do Smart Homes and Good Design Mix?


Consider the Requirements

If your clients are remodeling their current property or looking to build new, they likely have a long list of security, automation, and AV features that they envision. While perhaps not all of them will be included initially, but rest assured they will want the flexibility to add these without having to go to great expense later.  Consider items like the following:

  • Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Water intrusion sensors
  • Security cameras inside and out
  • Wired network connections for high-performance computers and video distribution
  • Multiple access points for seamless Wi-Fi networking
  • Uncompromised placement for speakers for high-quality audio everywhere
  • Home theater or media room with in-wall and ceiling speakers, projector, and equipment room or closet
  • Lighting control systems
  • Smart appliances

An electrical plan is standard with builders and designers, but they don’t always consider all the details of planning for these systems. Conduits may need to be considered for proper routing of all this wiring, particularly if working through a slab foundation. While wireless networking technology continues to advance rapidly, depending on structural design and construction choices some wireless technology may be compromised. These issues can be addressed with low-voltage wiring in the right places – even if redundant, having it there to remedy a potential connection issue saves money later


Estimate Costs Better

The cost of low-voltage wiring to enable smart home technology and custom AV systems is rarely considered in construction bids. Even if it is, it may be some low standard number that doesn’t take into account the kinds of features that the client may want. Usually, that cost becomes clear when a contractor like us assesses the client’s desires and comes up with a detailed estimate that includes the low-voltage infrastructure.

Why not give your client a more comprehensive building estimate? Bring us in early, where we can present the options for smart technology and audio-video installation and provide a realistic assessment of the costs, avoiding surprises later. This can also include power requirements for devices – like a projector screen that drops from a ceiling – which can be incorporated into the electrical plan, avoiding expensive rework when construction is complete.   


Put the Right Wiring in the Right Places

Some technology choices may affect interior design. The placement of power outlets, architectural speakers, control keypads, and thermostats can all impact the decor, and vice-versa.

Homeowners are going to be particular care about the placement of entertainment equipment – like a large flat screen or a projector – in a room. A screen can affect the entire orientation of a room, and that in turn influences where low-voltage and power connections are terminated. Furniture and décor will also affect where wiring is added for items like in-wall speakers, temperature and security sensors, and surveillance cameras.    

Here is one example of the kind of detail we work through which impacts low-voltage planning: where is the optimal placement – including height – for built-in speakers and subwoofers in a media room? Does the in-wall subwoofer the homeowner wants need power or is it a passive design? When these details are considered early on, it avoids the need for both homeowners and integrators to make compromises later or incur extra costs for rework.

Bring in Refined Systems as the low-voltage contractor for all the technology and AV features your clients want in your next Houston project. Reach out to our team today; we’ll be happy to dive into the details with you. Or just click below to connect with us immediately.