I am in the process of building a new house and want to make sure that I do everything that I can to make it technology friendly for the future. What should I be aware of?
This question was answered on May 19, 2005. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
"Future proofing" is a term that seems to be a popular marketing message in the home technology world The idea is to build certain things into the home so that down the road you have the ability to adopt new technologies.
Some of this is possible, but knowing what you will need today for things that aren’t even invented yet, is impossible.
Even simple decisions like which side of the room to put a phone, data or video jack can alter your ability to setup an office or home entertainment system they way you want.
You can, however, hedge your bets with some simple, but potentially expensive options.
The biggest issue is structured wiring; the various types of wiring necessary to accommodate all of today’s known technologies.
The primary types of wiring include video, data/phone and audio You can also install various control cables, which could allow you to centrally control your HVAC system or have a camera display an image on your big screen whenever someone rings the doorbell for example.
The level of security that you want to install will also have a big impact on what you will need.
If you are building a custom home, your ability to control this process is much easier than if you are buying a standard tract home Many homebuilders will limit or even deny outside contractors from installing anything, because of home warranty issues and what they always claim as "insurance problems".
Here are the bare minimums as far as I am concerned for today’s home:
RG-6 coaxial cable (sometimes referred to as "quad shielded" coax) is used for carrying video signals for satellite and cable systems Make sure that the cheaper and less shielded RG-59 is not used or you could run into picture quality issues.
Category 6 data cable, which will carry all of your data and voice needs should be run to every possible location that could have a telephone, computer, Digital Video Recorder (like Tivo), satellite receiver, webcam, digital picture frame or anything that could connect to the Internet (like a refrigerator with Internet access!) Using different colored cables for voice and data will help you keep things straight over the years
Heavy gauge audio cables are a must for virtually every room in the house, whether you intend to put speakers in initially or not The lower the gauge number, the better it is for carrying sound
The reality for the average homeowner is that this is a complicated process and hiring a professional is usually worth every penny.
There are so many details that you will likely not think about that will be expensive to overcome once the home is finished.
The good news is that most technology platforms are experimenting with the open wireless standards and the electrical wiring that is common in every home, so if you miss something, there will likely be a "retrofit" option for the must-have devices.
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on May 19, 2005