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x•s•v•toys (ex-es-iv-toyz or excessive toys): Exceeding a normal, usual, reasonable, or proper limit for the purchase of consumer electronics.

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The xsvtoys "RETRO" Retrofit Structured Wiring Story - INTRODUCTION

This is the story of my own research and implementation of a "structured wiring" system for the home (We will refer to "structured wiring" as "SW"). It isn't really intended to directly be a how-to or a tutorial reference, but maybe it will be interesting to others who want to do something similar. There won’t be any detailed discussion of all of the various ins and outs and technical aspects of structured wiring here, other than some brief summary to get things going, and then what you will see in the final details of this particular installation. This is because there already is a pretty good supply of information that can be drawn from.  Some internet searching on the term structured wiring should produce plenty of information, but if you want some help to get going, here are some sites that I found useful.

There are also a variety of web pages that have been posted by individuals who have done their own jobs. These are sometimes good references to see real-life experiences and to get ideas about what others have done. Swhowto is probably the number one of these sites. This is a very good and thorough description. But even this type of useful information might not be enough to take you all the way as far as the education you really need to do your own job. This is because many of these jobs were done during the original new construction of the home. This is no doubt the best way to go if you are lucky enough to be in that situation. Unfortunately for many of us, we want to do an installation in an existing home, often called a “retrofit” job, or “retro” for short.  A retro SW job presents its own set of challenges that must be dealt with. Retro SW jobs also have their own set of variables that make every job different.

What is "Structured Wiring"?

It would be best to understand what “structured wiring” means before starting your own project, whether you want to do it on your own or hire someone else to do the job for you. If you want to do your own work, there really isn’t much option – if you want to get the job done right and done the way you want it, you will definitely need to know what you are doing. If you are not inclined to deal with the work yourself  it is possible that you could just leave everything to your contractor – after all, why should you have to worry about the technical details? The problem is, SW isn’t any “one thing”, or put another way, there is no “one way” that it can be done. While there is some degree of standardization, there is still so much variability in what can be done that it is likely that your own particular needs will be different than almost anyone else’s. If you rely on someone to install some sort of standardized configuration, you might not get the results that you want. If you understand what can be done and can relate it to your needs, then you can explain exactly what you want to your contractor and your chances are improved to get the system that is right for you.

What exactly does this term mean anyway, and how does it impact what you want to do? SW can encompass a variety of different things, and not every person will necessarily need all of the potential options. You might even need only a few. It will be up to you to decide. Here is a list of end-use options that may not be comprehensive, but should give you an idea of how many options there can be. If you want to learn more about any or all of these, you will have to get busy on your own education phase of your project!

Before you even think about tackling a SW project, you will want to be aware of all of the possibilities so you can figure out what YOU want to do. You might want to do some of it, or maybe even all of it. These decisions are going to impact how you will plan and implement your project. Why not install a SW system that is universally compatible with all of the above options, to allow the choice now and later of what to do? In theory this is possible. For a new construction job, it is usually recommended to install a system that is comprehensive enough to address any and all needs, even with extra accommodation for future new options that may not even exist yet. This is a great idea when the major factor to deal with is the cost of the wiring itself. For a retro SW job, things are not so easy. Each wire bundle that is run and terminated will require extra work (and therefore money) compared to new construction where all of the walls are open.  While there are some possible solutions such as bundled wiring that can improve the situation, the success of a retro SW job may heavily depend on proper planning in relation to individual needs.

If you learn as much as you can about all of the possibilities, hopefully you will be able to decide what is best for you. On these pages is only one person’s experience which hopefully will at least offer you some ideas of how things might be approached.

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