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Is Your Home Ready for the Future?

Structured Wiring – What Is It and Why Do I Need It?

Michael Tangora, President, HTI+, Tangora Technologies, Inc. Lisa DeGroff, Executive Assistant, Tangora Technologies, Inc.

New homes are being built at an astonishing rate these days and structured wiring should be standard in all homes. Many perceived luxuries of the past are regular features today, including electricity, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and dishwashers. New homebuyers don’t want their primary investment to be technologically obsolete from day one and should select a certified home technology integrator to install a structured wiring system.

​More than 50% of US households have a least two or more computers while one in every three people in the US use the Internet. Over 80% of new homebuyers want home office space. Today’s consumers are demanding more services: digital satellite, HDTV, digital cable, Internet TV and Movies on Demand. Homeowners are using their Internet for communication, shopping, research, managing financial portfolios and news. Households with cable TV service equal 70%. These numbers substantiate the need for a structured wiring system as a standard feature.

A Structured Wiring System consists of three main components; a central hub, wire and wall plates. The Central Hub, also called Service Center or Network Connection Center is the point that accepts incoming services and distributes them throughout the home. This Central Hub is housed in a panel box and should be clearly labeled. The structured wiring system consists of star wiring, which means instead of wall plate to wall plate or “daisy chaining”, all cables are “home-run” to the central hub. High quality wall plates – also called terminations – ensure a high performance end-to-end system. With cable management, services can easily be redirected as the homeowner’s family grows and their needs change. By using high quality copper phone wire and high quality coaxial cable homeowners are ready for several options: Digital Cable, Satellite, HDTV signal, an Integrated Services Digital Network – ISDN, a Digital Subscriber Line Service – DSL or Cable Modem Technology (Roadrunner) which will transmit high speed data anywhere from 50 to 270 times faster than today’s standard phone lines.

In the past, home telephone wiring was designed for voice only and second lines were a luxury. Since 1910, telephone outlets have been “daisy chained” together with low-grade Bell wire. Poor quality wire and bad connections are subject to noise interference and “cross talk” – hearing other conversations. A single problem can corrupt the entire system. The technology solution of today and the future is Category 5 (CAT5) wire consisting of 4 twisted pairs of high quality copper wire enclosed in an outer jacket as opposed to Bell Wire with only two pairs of copper wires only capable of voice communication. A structured wiring system uses a wider bandwidth wiring system – typically CAT5. More bandwidth means more information can pass through the wire. The amount of bandwidth is critical for current and future information services. CAT5 wire is used for phone, fax and high-speed digital computer transmissions and IR control. The CAT5 wire is capable of up to 4 separate incoming lines at a single phone jack and eliminates noise interference. CAT5 wire installed and connected at a central location can be configured to enable every computer location to share files and printers. It can also allow for simultaneous Internet usage.

The previously installed rooftop antenna broadcasts had poor television reception and were very susceptible to interference from weather. The introduction of cable TV around 1975 improved the picture quality and added more channels, but still had low picture quality. Today, certified installers use RG6 Quad Shield for cable TV, digital satellite, cable modem and high-speed interactive video services. This cable enables a high degree of immunity to interference and can support hundreds of channels and digital data. RG6 is a coaxial cable with an insulated center wire and four layers of shielding. Installed and connected to a central hub this type of cabling can be enabled to distribute a video signal from a single DVD player to any cable outlet in the house. Cameras located at the front door, in the nursery or on the backyard pool can distribute their signal to any television.

With these features in mind many new homeowners are opting to install a “Structured Wiring System.” It is no longer acceptable or up to today’s standard for the electrician to just run Cat 5 and RG6 cable to the basement and connect them with splitters. Homeowners should seek out certified installers. These installers should be specially trained to install such systems and should have a significant amount of experience doing so. While most states still do not require a “license” to install these systems, there is a non-brand specific, nationally recognized industry standard by which systems should be installed. CompTIA administers such an evaluation for structured wiring installers and those who pass are HTI+ certified. (Home Technology Integrator). Installers are evaluated on all phases of installation, troubleshooting, problem solving and reconfiguration of wiring systems including structured wiring, security, networking, multi-room audio systems, home theaters and electronics. A good installer will evaluate each homeowners needs and recommend a system best for them, keeping in mind current and future needs. Furthermore, a qualified installer should work with the homeowner and builder every step of the way, from design, rough in and trim out to customer orientation. Additionally, structured wiring installers should be readily available to the homeowner for upgrades and changes later.

The installation of a structured wiring system in a home will allow a family to be future compatible. This technology will also allow for the sharing of high-speed Internet connections, computer files and printers. It eliminates having costly high speed data lines to every computer. Consumers can set up a whole house video system, allowing them to view a single video source, a nursery and a front door camera on specific channels on every TV in the home. Today’s homeowners can enjoy a separate phone for business and home as well as a dedicated fax line at each phone location. Such systems, installed by certified home technology integrators are a cost-effective solution to upgrade current phone and TV wiring. A standards – based, advanced technology system ensures modifiable configurations and future readiness. A structured wiring panel installed in any new or existing home will prevent technical obsolescence and is essential in today’s ever-changing world of technology.