In home construction or renovation, most electrical wiring consists of standard 110 volt feeds for typical electrical needs, as well as 220 volt feeds for major appliances such as range, dryer, air conditioner, etc.
In addition to this standard wiring, almost all homes contain at least a few low voltage systems. An example of these would be the good old fashioned doorbell and telephone land line wiring.
Homes often have a number of other low voltage systems such as Security Systems and burglar alarms, surveillance cameras, Intercoms, home audio and video, home automation, lighting, and networking data lines, which include Data, TV and wireless access points and Wifi Boosters.
We should note that Central Vacuum cleaners and garage door openers are not usually thought of as low voltage systems, but they do have low voltage components, and need to be roughed in around the same time as other low voltage systems.
Low voltage systems, like any other built in system, will be done in two stages, which are Rough-in and Installation. Rough-in is the necessary pre-wiring, piping, conduits, boxes, fixtures and vapor barriers – basically all things that need to be completed before insulation and drywall are installed. Installation is the final stage of placing and connecting the components and devices, set up, networking and programming. This is best done after the completion of painting, usually before completion of the flooring
When is the best time to rough-in a low voltage system?
The order and timing of rough-in is critically important as it impacts project deadlines and costs. The first low voltage system that should be installed is the Central Vacuum system which should be roughed in after mechanical-HVAC and plumbing, but BEFORE electrical. The reason for this timing is that it is relatively simple to work electrical lines around Central Vac components, but it can be difficult or next to impossible to route Central Vac piping and outlets around existing electrical.
Systems such as Security Systems, Audio/Video, Automation, Lighting and Networking should be done after the electrical wiring. Pulling electrical wires over the more fragile low-voltage wiring could damage the wiring. For Audio/Video, proximity to AC wring can cause interference problems and signal degradation (resulting in audible hiss, for example), and special care needs to be taken to ensure that these wires are properly installed.
When is the best time to install a low voltage system?
The best time to install a low voltage system is typically right after completion of the painting and preferably prior to completion of the floors. Many of the external components of low voltage systems are mounted on walls, so it is important that the walls be painted and finished before components are installed in order to provide a professional look, and ensure that components such as intercoms, for example, do not end up with paint on them. Preferably, low voltage installation components should be done before the floors are in, firstly to ensure that the final floor is in pristine condition, and secondly, to avoid the extra time and cost involved in working on finished floors.
How can we help?
Alarvac has been installing low voltage systems in the GTA for over 28 years. We work extensively with custom home builders for new homes as well as renovations in existing homes. If you are building a new home or planning a renovation, you would probably want to involve us in the planning stages, so we can best advise on placement and installation of your low voltage systems.