Many dedicated home automation enthusiasts create wiring closets to centrally house the brains of their systems.
What Is Kept in a Wiring Closet?
Advanced home automation households typically include home computer networking, a security system, scene lighting, a home theater system, and whole-house sound. Creating a central location to keep track of wires and store hardware devices, like routers and digital video recorders, makes changing your system easier and keeps the rest of the house free of unnecessary and unsightly clutter. A typical wiring closet contains: computer CAT5 and CAT6 patch panels to manage your computer network, telephone distribution blocks for splitting phone lines, video splitters, audio splitters, Ethernet switches and/or wired/wireless network routers, video and sound recorder and storage devices, and enclosures and racks to keep it all organized.
Planning Your Wiring Closet
No two wiring closets are the same and typically your closet will develop as your system grows. Having a little foresight can save you headaches in the future.Realize that one day you will probably need a wiring closet. Plan on your home automation system growing to the point you'll want a central location to store everything.As you add new equipment or wires to your closet keep accessibility in mind. Whatever you put in your closet isn't going to be installed once and forgotten; you will eventually want to change or move wires around.
The biggest mistake people make when planning a wiring closet is putting equipment control panel fronts within easy reach and hiding wires away from where they can't get to them. Try to position everything so that it's easily reachable. If necessary, mount panels on the walls. Always allow for adequate ventilation of electronic devices and install additional fans if necessary. A well-designed wiring closet provides both front and rear access to all equipment. Keeping everything organized and accessible will make the difference between a wiring closet you enjoy working in and one you dread.
Hardware for the Backbone of Your Wiring Closet
Essential equipment for the internal layout of wiring closets has been developed over the years to support home automation enthusiasts. Several manufacturers, including Middle Atlantic and Avrak, produce different types of rack and shelf systems for storing hardware devices. For wiring, both Leviton and Elk manufacture reputable structured wiring and patch panel assemblies.