Whether you’re re-wiring your home or simply installing a home entertainment system or computer network, it’s important to hire a low voltage contractor who will get the job done properly. It is more often a good idea to hire a dedicated low voltage contractor rather than an electrician. These low voltage contractors will be up to date on all the latest changes in whole house and related technology. In many construction trades most people, including electricians, are unfamiliar with the new products and technologies that are available for a low voltage system or technologies outside their core expertise.
All wiring used behind walls, under floors or otherwise installed as a structural component of the building must be properly rated. Even speaker wires that go inside the walls have to be rated as either Class 2 or Class 3.
Next we need to decide on wire gauge and conductor count. How do we know what’s right for the job? Well let’s look at the speaker wire for instance. The distance from the audio amplifier to the speaker location is a major factor in deciding which wire is the right wire for the installation. Every foot of speaker wire adds more resistance, capacitance, and inudctance to the performance equation. Shorter runs of wire that are twisted and shielded a certain way yield better sound quality.
The trick in any structured wire system is to minimize the effects of the wiring, here are some tips for doing just that:
- For runs up to 100 feet to the speakers or volume control, 16AWG (gauge) works fine
- From 100 feet to 500 feet use 12AWG
Some additional good things to remember are:
- For a primary sound where dynamic range is at a premium, use more copper
- If you are wiring main speakers use heavier gauge
- Don’t underestimate the value of shielding for reducing noise