"Thinking Outside The Box" 


In this first year of the 21st century, 30% of American households are already online, and Internet use doubles every 100 days. 70% of American homes have cable TV. 30% of the American workforce now works out of the house either part-time or full-time. Thousands of people telecommute from some kind of home-based office. So the need for access to electronic information in the home is undeniable.

The wiring systems typically installed in homes today were designed to meet standards set in the 1950s. Old-fashioned wires cannot adequately handle the electronic needs of the modern household. "Structured wiring" is a concept that anticipates the electronic needs of every room in your house, today and into the future.

 Think of a structured wiring system as an electronic foundation for your house. This foundation will support your telephone, fax, modem, cable TV, satellite TV, and high-speed Internet needs. You can link your TVs so everyone in the house can watch the same show from a single DVD player. The computers in your house can share files, or share a common printer. You can access the Internet in every room of your house. You can easily build a home office with separate phone lines for voice, fax, modem and computer networking, with additional lines for cable and satellite reception.

The concept of a structured approach to wiring has been used for years in office settings, but it's quickly becoming an essential component of the modern home. You can build a structured home wiring system gradually and incrementally, as your needs and budget allow, but you have to plan ahead. You have to start work on that electronic foundation early. The wiring itself should be installed before you fill your wall cavities with insulation and cover them with drywall. Once the wiring is in place, you can develop your system at whatever pace suits your needs.

Three main components in a structured wiring system

Component #1 -
The Central Hub Structured wiring professionals will build a service center inside your house to receive all the outside services that will enter your house (cable TV, telephone, DSS Satellite, Internet, etc.). The central hub will resemble the breaker box in your garage that receives electrical power from your utility company. Our segment shows a central hub located inside a closet in the master bedroom. Think of the central hub as the on-ramp from the Information Superhighway to your house. The central hub will distribute various electronic services to locations around your house just like your breaker box distributes electricity throughout your house - in various amounts, to various locations and for different uses.
Component #2 -
Wires The wires that carry these electronic services are a lot different than the electrical wires that feed electricity to outlets around your house. Think of these wires as the highways that allow information to travel within your house. Old-fashioned electrical wiring is daisy-chained - that means every electrical outlet shares wiring with each adjacent outlet in a daisy chain pattern. That's a poorly structured and inefficient system, because if one outlet experiences problems, it could affect all the outlets that share the same wire in the daisy chain.

Unlike old-fashioned electrical wiring, a structured wiring system runs wires directly from the central hub to each individual service outlet. This is called "star wiring" or a "home run" system. Every wire "runs" from a home base (the central hub) directly to each outlet. The overall wiring scheme resembles a star-shaped pattern because all wires leave the central hub and run outward. Bandwidth  professionals  have helped us understand the concept of bandwidth. A wire carries information like a pipe carries water. Just as a bigger pipe can carry more water, a wire with a broad bandwidth can carry more information into your house than old-fashioned wiring. Old-fashioned phone wires (known as "Category 3") were designed to only carry voice conversations. A phone line consists of two thin strands of insulated copper that are twisted around one another to form a single line. Phone lines are prone to interference, while modern-day wires are better shielded to avoid interference.

Structured wiring systems utilize two types of broadband wire, called Category 5 and RG6 Quad Shield.

Category 5 Wire Cat 5 wires carry all telecommunications information - phone, fax, modem and computer networking. There are actually eight individual strands of copper inside a Cat 5 wire, twisted into four pairs that are then wrapped around one another to form Cat 5 cable. This design gives you four separate phone lines within the Cat 5 cable. Each individual phone line in the Cat 5 wire has a high resistance to interference from the other lines. This happens because each phone line (made of two twisted strands of copper) has a "twist rate" different from the other three lines. One of the four pairs will have a high number of twists per inch, one will have a low number of twists per inch, and the other two will have twist rates somewhere in between. That difference in twist rates prevents signals from bleeding across phone lines. Cat 5 wires have more than twice the bandwidth of old-fashioned Category 3 copper phone lines.

RG6 Quad Shield RG6 Quad Shield coaxial cables handle all video traffic, including cable TV, digital satellite, whole-house video distribution and cable modem service - that's a new form of ultrahigh speed Internet access provided by local cable companies over coaxial cable lines. RG6 works as a super-video cable that can support hundreds of channels of cable TV, digital satellite signals, cable modem and high-speed interactive video services. RG6 will give you a much clearer TV signal than standard coax cable, because the jacket that surrounds the cable utilizes the best available shielding technology.br />
 For Audio Professional installers run wires in bundles from the central hub to each room in your house. They use color-coded wires to keep track of the variety of services they'll run to each room. Onyx uses thick black RG6 wires to bring satellite and cable TV signals into the house from the outside. Then they run wires from the central hub to all the rooms in the house. They use blue RG6 wires to carry video; blue Cat5 wires for low-voltage lighting control; green Cat5 wires for phone lines and yellow Cat5 wires for data transmission and computer networking within the house.

 Once they've run wiring bundles to each location, they put a tag on each bundle as it leaves the central hub to identify the room it runs to. This helps assure they make no mistakes when they finish the structured wiring system installation in a few months. It also helps you keep track of existing wiring that you may utilize for future service upgrades.

Component #3 > - Outlets Outlets work as the off-ramps that let information exit the electronic highways in your house (the wires) and arrive at your computers, TVs and telephones. If you're lucky, the house you're in now may have a single coaxial outlet in each room for a cable TV hookup. Structured wiring professionals offer multi-port outlets that can provide access to services in any combination (phone lines, data, video and audio) to meet the specific needs of every room in your house. Benefits of a structured wiring system At the very least, your home will be wired with superior TV and phone lines to ensure crystal-clear signal reception. From this basic starting point, you can add outlets and services around the house whenever you're ready.

 Home Security You can run wire to a closed circuit video camera at your front door (or in an infant's room) and watch that picture on a dedicated channel on any TV in your house. Structured wiring also provides a seamless interface with standard home security systems.

 Distributed Video and Audio You can send a video signal from any source (VCR, DVD, cable TV, satellite, Baby-Cam or front door security camera) to any TV in the house. You can program a CD player or audio system from one central location (a home theater or den) and distribute that audio signal throughout the house. You can also listen to different audio sources in different rooms in any combination.

Home Office You can create the same kind of network configurations at home that you utilize on the job in your office. You can simultaneously hook up multiple phone lines, a fax line, a modem line and your home computers. You can build an in-house LAN (Local Area Network) so all the computers in your house can talk to one another (share files, printers, modems, etc.). You can also enjoy high-speed Internet access from your local cable company, transmitted over the broad-band RG6 wires we described earlier.

 Automated Heating and Cooling You can program thermostats to vary temperature settings based on time of day, occupancy patterns, or the specific desires of the people in each room You can zone your house for maximum energy efficiency. You can even change thermostat settings over the phone.

Lighting Control Structured wiring systems let you create and control lighting patterns around your house. You can set lighting levels for ambiance, or you can program lights to change automatically while you're gone so your house looks occupied. You can also connect your lights to your alarm system, so your lights will flash wildly if someone enters your house to alert your neighbors and scare off intruders.

Preparation for the future A generation ago, some people may have considered a dishwasher or a central HVAC system a luxury in a new house. Now we can't live without them. We may soon feel that way about access to information in the home. A structured wiring system will prepare your new house for whatever the future holds. Most new houses will probably be wired for telecom, data and video in the not-too-distant future. Plan Ahead It's simple and economical to install the wiring for a structured system if you do it at the right time.

 Ideally, you should install Cat 5 and RG6 wiring just after your electricians have installed your high-voltage electrical wiring. This timetable ensures that their work will not interfere with the installation of Cat 5 and RG6. Make sure your wiring goes in just before you install insulation and drywall.

A standard house (about 2500 square feet) takes half a day at most to wire, and the wiring should cost about $1000.

The services we've described are offered in modules, so you can utilize as much or as little structured wiring as your budget and lifestyle permit. You should certainly pre-wire your house before your drywall goes up. You should run as much wiring as you think you'll ever need, but that will not obligate you to buy all of your structured wiring services immediately. You can start with a basic service system for enhanced TV and phone reception. Then you can upgrade services in the future whenever you're ready. Professionals at Onyx offer specific add-on packages for home entertainment, home office, lighting and security configurations.

Whatever the future holds, you'll be wired to cruise the information highways from the comfort of your new house.
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