The type of in-wall wiring and cables you choose for your home will largely depend on what kind of signal you need to carry, where you’re going to route the wire, and how far the signal will have to travel between your various peripherals. Whatever type of wiring you choose to go with, you want to be sure you get one that’s rated for in-wall use by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL). This is usually going to be indicated with a CL2 or CL3 rating when it comes to speaker wire and audio/video cables. A good number of Ethernet cables are rated for in-wall use as well, usually indicated with a CM, CMR, or CMP rating. When choosing the right rating for each specific type of wiring, the UL looks at a range of different factors, including the heat being generated from current flowing through the wire, how quickly the cable will catch and spread fire when exposed to flame, and the wire’s vulnerability to damage from external stresses.
It is also important to look for a cable that’s rated for your specific needs. For instance, you are going to want cable that is rated as CL2P or CL3P if you are planning to run it in your heating ducts, or if you are looking to run your cable underground to connect to your outdoor speakers, you will want to make sure your cable is rated for direct burial. It should also be noted that when you are making the decision of what custom wiring you will need for your home, you need to be aware of your local fire codes and make your selections accordingly.
When you are looking for the right type of speaker wire for your home, there are two things you need to factor into your decision: the gauge and number of conductors. The gauge of wiring you choose should depend on how far the wire is going to have to travel from the receiver to the speaker. Significant power loss can occur over long runs of wiring, reducing your system’s performance. This might not be a significant issue in a single-room setup, but it is something to keep in mind if you are looking at a multi-room system. In terms of conductors, speaker cable comes with two or four. Two should be all you need for wiring a single speaker, but if you are looking at doing a multi-room setup, or a system with volume controls, you will mostly likely want four.
No home wiring setup would be complete without a solid Ethernet setup, but knowing which type of wiring to use can be a little confusing. When you are looking to create a wired computer network in your home, or carrying audio/video and control signals all across the home, CAT-5 cables have been the standard for a long time, but a better option these days might be to look at CAT-5e or CAT-6 cables. These newer cables are able to pass more data along the wire at a much faster rate than the older wires. The CAT-5e and CAT-6 wiring options are also backwards compatible with devices that were designed to work with the older CAT-5 wiring, meaning you won’t have to buy all new equipment. Ethernet cabling actually stands up to interference better than almost all audio/visual cables, which is a large reason it has become so popular in recent years for whole-house audio/video systems. It can also be a more cost-effective option to run long lengths of Ethernet cabling than it can be to run the same length in audio/video cable.
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