NZ New Build and Home Renovation: The ideal time to setup cabling and security

Think about your home's data and security needs during any prewiring planning for home new builds or major renovations.

Think about your home’s data and security needs during any prewiring planning for home new builds or major renovations.

If you are planning or building a new home, or starting on a major renovation, then there a few things around networking and home security that you can think about now that will save you some headaches further down the track. This is especially true if you can plan for any required data cables while your electrician is on-site and before your wall linings (i.e. GIB board) and wall finishes are complete.

Plan your data hub

Think about a location and space in your house to put all the central data and communications gear. This might include your modem/router, WiFi gear shared hard drives and any other hardware that needs to be wired to your network. Ideally it should also be the place where the internet connection comes into your home.

Consider WiFi network coverage

Where you put your data hub is best determined by your WiFi requirements. If your home is going to be fairly small or a compact shape, than you might get away with one, centrally located WiFi unit to provide usable connections to the whole house. In this case you can put the data hub, including the WiFi router, in a central place. Make sure that the space you choose has a good number of power points in it, as well as enough room for a few different devices and cables etc. While you can put all this stuff out of sight in a cupboard, keep in mind that the more walls between the WiFi router and your devices, the weaker the signal will be.

Planning the location of home wifi router is an important step to designing your house for how you want to use it in the future.

Planning the location of home wifi routers is an important step to designing your house for how you want to use it in the future, especially if you want connectivity throughout the house. For smaller houses, a centrally located router can provide better signal coverage.

If you home is larger, or say a long thin, or ‘L’ shape, you may need 2 or more WiFi units to get adequate coverage in all the rooms where you want to use your devices. If so, try and divide you home up into several areas, and plan to have a WiFi access point (a unit that does nothing except generate a wireless network) centrally located in in each area. One of these can be your data hub, but you should get your electrician to run network cable (Cat 5e or Cat 6) from the hub to where you want each access point to be. Cable connecting the access points to the hub gives them best possible signal strength and speed.

Access point are usually fairly inconspicuous, so can be located on the wall in a room or hallway, or in a cupboard or wardrobe if you want it hidden. Remember that the more walls there are between the access point and where you will be using the WiFi connection, the weaker the signal will be. Also, don’t forget that any large metal or very solid objects are going to block your WiFi signal a lot too. Watch out for large stereo speakers, filing cabinets, etc. that may cause dead spots in your WiFi coverage.

Plan for your security needs.

Once you have a data hub planned, if you think you might want security cameras on your finished home, now is the time to think about camera locations.

Outdoor cameras

We suggest you look at spots where outdoor cameras can cover obvious approaches and entry points to your home. For these cameras it makes good sense to get network cables run from your data hub to where you may want to put cameras. When the time comes to buy a security system and install cameras (we obviously suggest a CleverLoop security camera system), the network cables give you both a solid data connection to the cameras and a way to power them as well (using power-over-ethernet or PoE, via a PoE switch). You can run up to 90m of network cable between your router and a camera. 

Doing some early planning for the location of outdoor security cameras will allow you to easily hard wire them for data and power using Power-over-Ethernet (PoE)

Doing some early planning for the location of outdoor security cameras will allow you to easily hard wire them for data and power using Power-over-Ethernet (PoE)

WiFi signals tend to lose a fair bit of strength going through external walls, and cameras need much stronger and more stable WiFi connections than most other devices, so cable connecting all your outdoor cameras makes your security system a lot more reliable. Here’s a link to some info on using PoE.

Indoor cameras

Indoor cameras are a lot easier to find spots for, both because inside your house your WiFi signal is usually strong enough to give cameras a  good data connection, and because power points are easier to find.

If you have specific locations inside where you want cameras, then just to keep everything neat it might be worth getting your electrician to install power points specifically for the cameras. These could even be in the ceiling space, with just the power cable hanging down through the ceiling to where you want to mount the camera.

The other option for indoor cameras is to also run these using power-over-ethernet. Again, this will provide for a data that doesn’t rely on WiFi and means you won’t need a power point at the camera location. Plus, you have the option to plug other devices into this cabled port if you want to.

As for good locations for indoor security cameras, we suggest you think about circulation spaces, such as hallways, the bottom of stairs, or where there are several doors to different rooms. These are all places that anyone moving around inside your house has to pass regularly, and so gives the cameras plenty of opportunities to record them.

Do you need any other wired network connection points?

More and more devices in modern homes need data connections, and many of these are going to work best if connected up with a network cable rather than over WiFi.

If there are spots in your planned home or renovation where you know some of these devices are going to be located (think home theatre setups etc), it makes sense to run network cable to them, from your data hub, while it is still easy to do so.

 

by Peter
July 21, 2017