Customer building a house - best automation wiring before drywall

I have new contract for the smart home installation and security of a brand new modern home that is about 5,000 square feet. The house is pre-drywall.

This customer wants the most modern smart home and wants me to wire in as much as possible.

  • The ethernet will be wired to every TV spot, the office and a central location (data room)
  • He wants a motion sensor in every room
  • He wants a good hub that will work without internet (Hubitat)
  • I am going to suggest Lutron RA2 Select and Caseta
  • I am going to suggest Lutron blinds - Hard wired
  • I am recommending additional Zigbee devices (Pool Pump, Water shutoff, Door Lock and other stuff)
  • I am going to suggest the Moen smart controls for the bath and showers
  • I am still trying to decide on a garage door suggestion

I am thinking about a DSC security panel with an Envisalink. I will use the wired motions as lighting motions and security monitor only the ones that are required. Are there any other suggestions before I commit? He really wants to future proof the home. I am also considering the ELK system but I have had issues with support because I am not an official installer or something like that. Also the Hubitat integration is not as clean.

Thoughts?

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Also every window and every door will be pre-wired for automation and security.

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Consider ethernet drops in the ceilings so you can use ceiling-mounted APs. Depending on the layout of the house I'd put at least 2-3 on each floor. I'd also put an ethernet drop in every room even if it doesn't have a TV. Even outbuildings, decks, porches, etc. Consider using cat6a instead of cat6 for risers- it's harder to work with and more expensive but will support faster speeds over greater distances. Not needed now but in 5-10 years you might be glad you have it. For horizontal cabling you can definitely use something lower grade like cat6. Use rack mounted commercial network gear instead of residential-grade stuff. Leave enough space in the data closet for a 19" rack. You can get a little 1U shelf and put your HEs on it too.

Oh... and Cat6 (no need to use 6a) anywhere you might conceivably now or in the future want a camera or a doorbell!

I use Envisalink (running on HE) to connect to a Vista panel. It works fine but it's piggy. I actually just moved mine to a separate hub.

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This! ^^^ Ceiling mount APs like the ones from Unifi are great, they disapper from view while providing great coverage.

Agree...you never know how you're going to end up using a room, what equipment you might want in it.

Figure out where you may need/want networking switches around the house and plan on where you want in-wall networking panels to house those switches, and ensure cable runs two/from are planned.

You may want to amend this to "several motion sensors" in every room - depending on room size, if it serves as a pathway in the house to other areas, where the motion sensors are mounted, how funiture is arranged, etc., you likely need more than one in each room.

Sounds like a fun project - good luck.

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I would just add. I would pull two cables (Cat6 or Cat6A) to every location and not just one. You never know what the future holds. Speaker wire pulls to locations for future speakers.
I would run conduit or interduct to the main tv location to you media hub location. That will get you to the future easy.
You could also leave pull string in future locations but that is very tough in most residential applications.

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You are my hero.

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That is the BiCSi technician in me. It slips out every now and again.

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Yes, any wall mounted TVs run a adequate sized smurf tube for multiple cables to wherever equipment might go. Especially if its above a fireplace!

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LOL...hadn't heard it called that! I had one installed for my TV in our new addition...now I'm concerned about Smurfs running about inside my walls!! :wink:

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Google knows. BTW I work at a fireplace company. Hate seeing cords running off mantels down to the side, so ugly.

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great suggestions - especially leaving a conduit for data/low voltage between floors and to wherever the MDF will be located. (stupid me had the option when my house was built 18 yrs ago and figured everything being wired up I wouldn't need it... so many times wish'd I had it...

Another thing I would do is add way more electrical circuits (not outsets per se - I have more damn outlets than I probably will ever need, but I sure wish every room was on its own breaker. As it is I have a few bedrooms that share 15A breakers. Doing over I would put each room on dedicated 20A. When we finished our basement about 5-6 yrs ago we did dedicated circuits for every room's outlets and a few separate for the overhead lighting by area and so glad I did. Oh and print nice labels for everything... compared to all the other expenses a Ptouch and few cartridges is nothing but always gets neglected.

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Great point!

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Stay away from metal in-wall boxes if code possible. Although I don't seem to have any issues attibutable to the shielding I am always wary of tiny antennae in these devices trying to talk to an RX through a grounded partial Faraday cage.
If you use HE get the antennae upgrade ( External Antenna) to mitigate any distance/pairing problems.
Don't use Z-Wave locks.

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This is a new home. Please for the love of God use cat 6a. I saw mentioned above about the possibility of needing 6a vs 6 in 5-10 years. Well what about in 30 years? 60 years? Granted that's a long way off and a bit ridiculous to suggest anything today would be sufficient till than but my point is valid.

Lutron is great and ask but they do not help with building up your ZigBee mesh. Some hardwire ZigBee devices wouldn't hurt.

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One thing that I really with I had in my house is a large pipe going from the basement to the ceiling. Would be useful when pulling cables to the upstairs rooms via the attic.

Might be useful to put USB plugs in the corners of every room. Can likely be used to power motion sensors, but also other devices as required.

Ceiling mounted motion sensors might be useful, like the Aeotec Multi-Sensor 7 which can be USB powered. This one could also be mounted in the corners.

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Great idea. I will run ethernet to the locations for APs. I will follow your advice.

Thank you

I did suggest speakers but he did not want it. I will push for that again.

Great idea

I will use Zigbee locks. I will not use Z-Wave in this installation. It needs to work without any attention.

I agree on cat 6 cable. I will have a some form of a Zigbee mesh but Lutron will be the primary lighting solution. Reliability is extremely important with this installation.

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