Saturday, 25 November 2017

Dumb Wiring Thwarts Smart Homes

Written by Posted On Monday, 22 August 2005 00:00

Many new homes are built with communications wiring that may be inadequate for computer, telecommunications, entertainment, security and other electronic systems.

The Federal Communications Commission, in 2000, last issued communication wiring rules for homes that require all telecommunications wiring in new residences be of the so called "Category 3" or better grade.

Cat 3 is a cable that includes 2 to 4 twisted pairs of copper wire enclosed in a plastic sheath and replaces the old 4-wire telephone cable.

"A few (builders) still build homes that don't even measure up to the basic FCC requirement," said John Cowie with the New York City-based Copper Development Association.

"Others barely meet the standard. Consequently, homeowners who want more than the bare minimum often have to rewire at a cost substantially higher than the cost of installing adequate wiring in the first place," he added.

The minimum FCC standard is based on 10-year-old technology and may not be adequate for today's more sophisticated telecommunications networks possible for residential use, says Cowie.

The trade group, including members who manufacture and sell telecommunications cable, say at only slightly additional cost to builders -- or the home owner should he or she want to foot the bill -- Category 5e should be the cable of choice.

Cat 5e is phone and data wiring designed for use in a structured network that allows up to four phone lines per location as well as telecommunications networking.

Beyond use of the Cat 5e standard, Cowie offers the following guide to "smarter" telecommunications wiring.

An "Excellent-A" system includes two Category 5e structured wiring ports -- one for telephone and one for data -- teamed with two RG-6 coaxial cable ports for two-way video signals. RG-6 cable is designed to amplify television signal strength and to transmit high quality digital satellite, cable, and DVD movie images and signals. Two telephone and two data ports should be available at two locations in virtually every room. A central distribution device (CDD) provides connectivity between rooms and with the outside world to bring in and distribute signals throughout the home. The system is also configured for security, energy-management and entertainment systems.

A "Good-B" configuration includes the same set up as an "Excellent" system with a CDD but only one telephone and data port in each room. Additional wiring has been installed behind walls for future use as needs may arise. Entertainment, security and energy-management features may also be present for future use.

The "Average-C" set up includes Cat 5e and RG-6 outlets in two or three key rooms using a CDD but can be limited or inflexible in terms of features beyond computer and telephone networks and in terms of expansion later.

The "Minimum Standard-D" meets FCC requirements in terms of using Cat 3 wiring but is useful primarily for telephone wiring and limited computer networks.

The "Failure-F" level of wiring does not meet minimum FCC standards. The building may use the FCC wiring standard but without a CDD the system is already obsolete.

"One of the biggest reasons for buying a brand new home is to benefit from the latest home technology. There is no reason to accept a new home that does not merit a grade of "B" or better when it comes to communications wiring," says Cowie.

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Broderick Perkins

A journalist for more than 35-years, Broderick Perkins parlayed an old-school, daily newspaper career into a digital news service - Silicon Valley, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com. DeadlineNews.Com offers editorial consulting services and editorial content covering real estate, personal finance and consumer news. You can find DeadlineNews.Com on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter  and Google+

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