Modern homes with integrated video and audio systems require the correct cables installing to make present and possible future systems easy to setup and use.
When renovating a property and planning your cabling installation as a minimum we recommend a speaker cable and a CAT5 to each zone from a central point where your equipment will be permanently setup, such as an AV rack or cupboard. Some people house these areas in their garage or centrally in an inside cupboard, we have even seen them under the stairs. Choose an accessible area where all your AV cabling can run back to.
A great place to start is by deciding what zones who will have within a property. A zone is a defined area that will have one source operating at one time, for example a kitchen or a bathroom. A zone can also incorporate two areas of a house into a single zone if required, for example a bedroom and an ensuite bathroom could be a single zone or two zones depending on your design preference.
For speaker cable 4 cores are required for stereo sound in a listening zone. This can be achieved with a single 4 core speaker cable or two lengths of 2 core cable. See our range of install speaker cables here.
CAT data cables in AV custom installations
A CAT cable can serve many functions in the world of custom install AV. Due to its versatility with 8 single conductors. A cat5 cable can feed a Wall Touch Panel, distributed HDMI or a wired Data connection. In some situations we recommend installing at least 2 x CAT5e cables to each zone even if only one cable is required. A second cable serves as a back up to the first but can also be used for any future equipment that may be installed. As an example a zone with an iPad wall panel, a screen with distributed hdmi input, a local source requiring data and stereo ceiling speakers would have 3 x CAT5e cables and 2 x 2core speaker cables, or a single 4core speaker cable.
CAT5 / CAT5e & CAT6?
These three different cable types show the evolution of the CAT type cable. CAT5 was the first cable to be introduced in teh early 90s. Each cable has 4 twisted pairs of conductors, 8 individual conductors, CAT6 has an outer sheath that is also a conductor. As a minimum we recommend using CAT5e cable as its much better quality than standard CAT5. This better quality cable means less interference and better transmission of information (data) especially over long distances. CAT6 is recommended when cable lengths are over 70m.
CAT cable as speaker cable?
We often are asked about the possibility of using CAT5 cable as a speaker cable in a property. We do not recommend this an believe that install speaker cable is the best option. Given to high gauge of cat5 cable, normally 26AWG, not a lot of cable is available for conducting the speaker current. If multiple cat5 cables are used to a zone with adequate cross section of conductor per channel then it could be possible, but a dedicated install speaker cable is the best choice.