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Newbie help with hardware needs - New installation of Control4


rennerke

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Hello everyone!

I've finally made the decision to go with the Control 4 system but need some help understanding what pieces/parts I will need to accomplish my design. Since we have alot of dealers/experts here I thought this would be the perfect place to ask for assistance.

The system is going into new construction so the walls are wide open to run the needed wires.

Here is a list of the items I want to handle with the system:

Home theater (will have ceiling mounted projector and surround sound)

Lighting - Starting with probably 15-20 dimmers

HVAC controls for 2 seperate zones

Whole house Audio (Estimate 4-5 zones plus the home theater which will be it's own)

Video - Besides the home theater it's likely I would want 2 other TV locations hooked into the system

My thoughts are to build a wiring closet in the basement where all the physical equipment will be and run cables from there to provide a centralized solution.

I think that covers the basics. I know there will be more questions on my wants/needs but can anyone help provide some guidance on what hardware pieces I should be looking at?

Thanks much!

Kelly

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Run as much wire as you can before the walls go up, conduit is also a good idea....I've heard the new rule is 5 cat5 or cat6 and 5 RG6 but this could even be outdated...But I would say, whatever you think, add a few more...some of the vets can probably add alot more input than I can...

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For any video location, we usually run 1 cable of 5 or 6 mini coax, 1 RG6 and 4 CAT5E/6. That will definitely cover you for years to come.

Phone/Data locations we run either CAT5E or 6, depending on what is wanted. I suggest CAT6 cause it will allow gigabit networks for future.

Cameras are 2 CAT5E/6 for IP POE

As far as what equipment, that really depends on what kind of system you want and your budget. Prices usually range from $5K on up.

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Kelly-

I wrote some long answers to a very similar question recently in this thread:

http://www.c4forums.com/viewtopic.php?pid=8013

I'll quote them here, but I'd also encourage you to check out the original thread. Post any follow-up questions here and I'd be happy to weigh in.

--Jason

There are certainly many more knowledgeable voices here who can weigh in on this, but having just moved into a house that we spent 3 years designing and building, I can tell you what we did. I was pretty paranoid about future-proofing the place, so tried to cover all my current and future needs.

We had our Control4 dealer run speaker wire to each room for in-ceiling speakers, and network cable (Cat6) to each place we wanted to have a Mini touchscreen. I believe they offer a wireless mini-touchscreen, but I strongly prefer the wired version for responsiveness/latency.

I also installed network jacks in every room, as well as in a couple of locations I thought would be good for wireless access points. For example, there are network jacks (and of course power outlets) near the top of a couple of built-in bookcases to conceal WAPs behind a row of books.

I ran 5-strand Component video cable to locations which would have televisions and all my video sources reside in an AV closet in the basement, with a video switcher sending the right signal to the right television.

I also ran conduit to a few key locations in order to allow some future expandability. It's pretty cheap and easy to run before the walls are closed in, and makes adding wires in the future a whole lot easier. One runs from the basement AV closet to the attic, then I have runs from the attic to the front and back door for cameras. I also have a run from the AV closet to the projector in the theatre so that if I ever want to upgrade from component to HDMI I can run it through there.

All the Control4 lightswitches and 6-button keypads are all wireless, so you just need line voltage running to them. I had initially toyed with the idea of putting all the light switches in closets and just using 6-button switches to control them, but in the end I decided on the less risky prospect of putting the switches in normal locations so that if I ever needed to abandon the lighting control I could revert to regular switches. While I now know that I could never go back to traditional switches, I'm still very glad I left the switches out. It turns out they are highly programmable and if you like to tinker you can really do all sorts of cool things with the standard C4 dimmers. For example, a lot of my switches have "extra functions" programmed in so that if you press "off" when the light is already off (an otherwise pointless gesture) it will do something else, like turn on all the lights in the room. Essentially each light switch can become another point of wider control.

I'm definitely a big fan of the idea of centralizing your equipment in one place and running everything from there. The video switching in particular is something I was not sold on until I actually tried it out. Now being able to start a movie in the gym and finish it that night in the theatre is just a pleasure.

Hope this helps, we're several months into our house and (knock wood) so far have not found anything we wished we'd put in wiring-wise but didn't.

--Jason

I am also building a new home as we speak and hae been losing sleep over how I will wire it all up. I also planned to do some conduit. What size did you use? The flexible stuff? Where did you buy your stuff? Sounds like you have somebucks into the system with that many zones:D. What kind of speakers are you using? Did you run conduit to your outside camera locations or did you install just conduit? Did you integrate aintercom system? you mention 5 strand component...What exactly. I had planned on just doing 3 RG6 Quad shield for component' date=' 21 cat6 for future/data/voice, and then another coax in the casejust wanted to have a local sat reciever or antenna- all this to each tv location from central point in basement. Also leave a pullstring in your conduit. What did you do for security. I like wired rather than wireless but man I have a lot of windows. Was thingin of just doors with wire then glass break, motion, fire..any thoughts?[/quote']

Whew, lots of good questions, let's see if I can get to them all. First of all, I share your sleeplessness :-) The day our drywall went up was bittersweet. Sweet because it looked GREAT and was a huge sign of progress, bitter because I realized that anything I forgot would now be a lot more difficult if not impossible. But, so far so good, I have not found anything lacking.

I used a combination of 3/4" and 1" conduit, flexible plastic variety. I bought it from an EXCELLENT site called Mcmaster-Carr. They are an industrial supply company with a website at mcmaster.com, and I suspect half the people on these boards will love them just as much as I do. You search their site for conduit (or anything else for that matter) and they come back with dozens or hundreds of options, neatly organized in a hierarchy. You select next by material, size, length, or whatever, and it constantly narrows down your options till you find exactly what you need.

Flexible is much easier to install than rigid, and I think it's easier to fish through later.

We used a variety of speakers from Tru-Audio. I'm the first to admit I'm neither an audio- nor video-phile, I enjoy music and movies, but I listen from 128 kbps MP3 files and am delighted by the sound, so others will have much better advice I'm sure on true fidelity. That said, the guy who speced the system is an audiophile and likes TruAudio speakers, and I've been delighted with them.

Cameras are the area I most expect to see technology change over time, so I did run conduit to all camera locations. For now I'm using some inexpensive cameras which run over phone cable, and I like knowing that in a couple of years when IP cameras come down in cost I can pull out the phone cable, pull through Cat6 and have the latest technology in place.

We use our cordless phone for an intercom, and I expect that at some point Control4 will integrate a solution or I can rig something up to allow announcements over the speakers (i.e. kids come to dinner or I'll shut off the network). Again, having the infrastructure in place (speakers, network cable and C4) makes me reasonably confident I can address the future need.

The video cable which was run throughout the house is RBGVH, which can be used either for Red Blue Green, plus Vertical and Horizontal, or for Red Blue Green with an extra stereo audio pathway. I'll again defer to others as to whether this is a video-phile grade solution, but so far everything looks great to me. I suspect if money (and distance) were no object one would run HDMI, but that would have required an HDMI switcher and very very expensive cabling. To my two main televisions I have conduit available so that in the future I can run HDMI, but for now the whole house gets video from the AV closet via this 5-strand component cable.

My installer convinced me to put in RG6, but I have to say it's probably the least useful thing they did. Because we have FIOS (which has no unencrypted channels and therefore nothing to tune in over a plain coax), and because we have all our video sources centrally located and being distributed over the component cable, I expect we'll never use the coax for anything. If I had it to do over, I might still run the coax, but not terminate it at each drop, just leave it in the wall. The threaded jacks at each point sort of stick out (no pun intended) against the otherwise flush screwless faceplates.

I intended to leave pullstring in the conduit but the electrician accidentally cut most of it when he was installing it. If you can't push a fishtape through, the other thing that worked very well for me on a couple of particularly long, twisted conduit pathways was to put a shopvac on one end which I attached to a remote control power outlet. I then climbed up to the other end of the conduit in the attic and fed through a small twist of paper towel with a thin nylon string attached to it. This sucked the string all the way through in a matter of seconds. I then pulled a stronger line through with the string and my cables through with the stronger twine. Oh, and I attached another piece of the stronger line to the cables so I can still pull more through if I need to. The vacuum trick seems to work quite well, as long as you're using an airtight conduit such as the continuous plastic ones I used.

The decision about what to arm depends entirely on the layout of your house and how you use it. Keep in mind that motion detectors can be very effective when the house in unoccupied, but many installers will leave them out of the home armed setting to avoid false alarms. In that case you're relying on glassbreak alone, which means an accidentally unlocked door or window can render your system useless. Most important I'd say is to find an alarm installer you trust and who seems to know what they're doing, and rely on their insight.

Good luck!

--Jason

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