Wired or Wireless for my new home?
When building a new home, you are never at a loss for questions to answer and decisions to make. One area that an integrator like AV Imagined can help is deciding if wired solutions or wireless solutions make the most sense.
Should I wire my televisions?
The TV landscape is changing fast. 10 years ago, most of us still used cable boxes and DVR’s. Streaming platforms like Netflix and YouTube had not yet become major content providers. Today, more and more people are watching TV using streaming services like these.
When deciding if you should wire your TV, you must answer two questions: What are my current viewing habits? And, what do I believe my future habits will be?
Generally, I will only recommend a wireless solution if the square footage of the home is smaller than 1000 square feet or if a wire simply can’t be run. The last thing you want when viewing your favorite program is a loss in quality or a drop out of picture all together. Currently, wired networks are more reliable and have less signal drop off than wireless. I recommend TV locations get CAT6 wiring for fast, reliable network connections. In some cases, I recommend fiber. If you still use Cable, I recommend that cable boxes be wired to TV locations so that all features from the (Xfinity) box, like voice and high-resolution video, are available. This requires an RG6 (coax) cable.
Should I wire my speakers?
Wireless speakers are great for flexibility. One downside with wireless speakers is that they must sit in your room on counters or other furniture and either run on batteries or need to be plugged into an outlet. If you are trying to have a clean and minimalistic design, wireless speakers can be an eye sore. This aesthetic is personal preference. My biggest concern with wireless speakers is balance. They tend to be great if you are sitting near them but not as great for covering a large space with clear balanced sound. Otherwise, they have decent performance and can be used inside or out. It seems, at this point, everyone is making a wireless speaker and AV Imagined has options from many vendors, including SONOS & HEOS, for these.
Wired speaker solutions require some planning and speaker cabling to go in before drywall. One great thing about wired speakers is that there are options for all applications indoor and outdoor. Wired speakers can be placed in optimal locations either in ceiling or walls and can be customized to blend into the finishes of a home. With wired sound systems you will get more output and better fidelity over-all. You can still control wired speaker systems with a phone or other connected device just like you would a wireless speaker. We have great options from Paradigm, James Loudspeaker, LEON, B&W and more for this type of application.
Should I wire my security system?
This question circles back to reliability and the convenience of changing or charging batteries. We recently installed Google Nest cameras in our office, and they work very well. The Nest cameras run on either battery or can be wired to power … however you lose some features when running on battery.
My general feeling with wireless security is that it needs to work when you have a problem. Being in Michigan, we have a lot of snowbird clients. With cold winters, I wouldn’t want to be out of town and have a camera go offline because the battery ran low. I highly recommend using wired solutions when possible. However, if you run into a case that you can’t get a cable run, then using wireless solutions can work.
Should I wire for window shades?
This question is more about aesthetics and accessibility. Battery powered shades have come a long way and the batteries last a long time. I would say that if a window is very large or hard to reach you should probably have it wired. If you can get to it relatively easily then going with a battery solution is great for simplicity. Screen Innovations uses lithium rechargeable batteries inside its cassette while Lutron uses D cell batteries in the tube. With all options, you can have a clean and elegant look.
The most important takeaways are that wires give you the most reliability and options, while wireless solutions can offer flexibility but not always high-end performance. Always consult an integrator when you are building a new home to talk through what solutions are best for your lifestyle, space, and desired aesthetics.