Wiring infrastructures – avoiding the cart before the horse?
Traditionally when people talk about wiring infrastructures for buildings, they would often talk about the principles and standards for their particular industry.
So typically the electricians would be the main installer of cables and they would concentrate on power cabling, and maybe a little security, CCTV and access infrastructure with perhaps some simple network cabling too. Heating and lighting designers might talk about including some bus cabling for control circuits which would use a two or four wire data grade cabling.
For longer runs of data connection and/or with high throughput you might start to add some fibre optic cables as backbones to your cabling infrastructure with bridges and couplers between different data principles. On large cable installs you might have two contractors, perhaps a data cabling team to deal with the data cables and electricians to deal with the power.
Then along comes some newer principles that are emerging, like lighting over IP, this is using your structured data network to power and control lighting with POE (power over Ethernet) from the same connection. So no longer would you need to run vast lengths of heavy power cables you could power your lighting from Cat5 or Cat6 cables which are far easier to manage on site, but who wires and installs them?
Add to the mix the ever increasing demand for Wi-Fi and Ethernet connected user devices and you start to build a very complex mix of multiple cable infrastructure principles.
This begs the question at what point does the data network design stop and the electrical design start? This is where specialist expertise to marry up all the data and electrical infrastructure as a complete cabling design can be invaluable.
In my experience this is where good AV contractors play an important role. There are very few specialist contractors who understand more across all the typical cabling principles found on building work today than experienced AV contractors. The key point is that for an AV contractor to complete their work and successfully commission their system they will often need to integrate with most of the control and power systems in a building development.
Hence the AV contractor needs to know what every system’s hardware consists of, how it communicates to the user and other systems, plus each system’s purpose and how it works. Only then can an AV contractor truly build a comprehensive user control suite and then any weakness in the system due to poorly designed and/or badly installed cable infrastructure will show very quickly in the user’s control experience.
A final point is that if you think you are about to install a complex cabling infrastructure to meet the connection demands of more than a few thermostats, lights and sockets then check you have the expertise in your team to pull it all together as a whole and if in doubt maybe get the help of a highly experience AV contractor.
That way you won’t put the cart before the horse!