Why Structured Wiring is Essential for Smart Homes
These days, most homes are smart – at least to some extent. As more and more devices connect to the home’s internet network, the battle for bandwidth is getting more contentious. Think about a typical family home, where there are numerous smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs at a minimum, plus a host of other connected tech like smart lights, door cameras, and even smart appliances.
All of this connected tech is vying for bandwidth, and the crunch is an even bigger issue when you factor in the rise of bandwidth-heavy activities like 4K streaming, remote-work video conferencing, and online video gaming.
Under these circumstances, a home network can easily experience slowdowns and even dropped connections without a proper structured wiring infrastructure in place.
Building a solid structured wiring system
For homebuilders and home designers, structured wiring should already be firmly on your radar. In fact, it should already be a fixture in your plans for new residential builds. Structure wiring is no longer about future-proofing homes for the digital demands of tomorrow. It’s about making homes fully functional for the digital demands of today.
For clarity, when we talk about structured wiring, we’re referring to a series of cables – coaxial, Ethernet, or fiber optic – that are installed throughout a home as the result of a carefully considered and intentional plan. These cables physically connect different rooms and areas of the home back to the network’s modem.
These cables run neatly and out of sight within walls, and terminate via jacks and wall plates and connection points in various areas of the home.
When designing a new home, and planning a structured wiring system, it’s important to consider things such as:
- Which room is most likely to be used as an office? It might benefit from an Ethernet port, so that remote working and video conferencing is more viable.
- Which rooms or areas of the home are furthest from the modem? Or, which areas of the home are likely to have the poorest WiFi coverage, due to an abundance of walls and other obstacles. These areas may also benefit from Ethernet ports in the wall.
- Where in the living room, family room, or rec room will occupants be most likely to set up media devices, such as a smart TV and video gaming console? It would be wise to include a few Ethernet ports on this wall.
Benefits of a structured wiring system
When a thoughtfully designed structured wiring system is in place, occupants can plug stationary devices and tech – such as smart TVs, computers, and gaming consoles – to the network with hardwired Ethernet connections.
With these devices hardwired to the network, a lot of burden is taken off the home’s WiFi network, which opens up wireless bandwidth for things like smartphones, tablets, and other smart home tech.
Additionally, having Ethernet ports installed throughout the home allows occupants to take full advantage of equipment designed to boost WiFi coverage. For example, whole home mesh WiFi systems can greatly extend coverage in a home, but they work best when the wireless nodes they come with are plugged directly into an Ethernet port.
Planning for the here and now
It wasn’t long ago that something like structured wiring was seen as a future-proofing step in a new residential build. Something that insulated the home against the growing digital demands for the homes of tomorrow.
Those days are behind us, and tomorrow is here. The average American household now has 22 connected devices in it. But it’s not just the number of devices being connected that should raise eyebrows and reinforce the critical need for structured wiring in residential builds. The rate of data consumption in the average household is skyrocketing, from 9GB per month in 2010 to 268GB in 2018 to a whopping 514GB in 2022.
To handle all of that increasing digital strain, homes need robust structured wiring installations that can meet the rapidly growing demand. Ideally, that means installing Cat6 or Cat6A cabling and connectors throughout the home, and tying it all back to a convenient media panel installed in a central (but out of the way spot) such as a closet.
Cat6 and Cat6A cabling can provide theoretical speeds of up to 10Gbps, far eclipsing Cat5e’s theoretical max speed of 1Gbps. Additionally, Cat6 and 6a cable offers far higher bandwidth capabilities than Cat5 or Cat5e.
When combined with a centralized media panel – which more easily allows for a homeowner or service professional to organize, optimize, and upgrade network equipment over time – this high speed structured wiring infrastructure means a home is not only ready for the digital demands of today, but tomorrow as well.