A small project doesn’t mean there is no planning or you should just wing it. When our client Doug came to me, we discussed that he just wanted help installing a TV above the fireplace but his challenge was in figuring out how to plan for the equipment being installed inside a small built-in a few feet away. Obviously he didn’t want to see any wiring from the TV and also wanted to be future proof.
Looking through his floor plan
We determined the size and space he would need for his equipment. He still wanted to use a traditional satellite PVR receiver and maybe some more current sources for Netflix and similar streaming services. He also wanted to add speakers in the ceiling or surround sound and music in the kitchen so the amps would need to go into this cabinet.
Doug also wanted to be able to spray foam the exterior wall so we decided we needed to use a small low voltage conduit. We like to use these for any TV installation as it gives us flexibility down the road.
Why the Conduit?
- Have you ever broken an HDMI cable? They can’t be repaired so you will have to pull a new one or spend the money on backups which is a waste.
- Have you ever installed a Frame TV or another similar version from Samsung’s QLED series? Did you know that you MUST use the One-Connect cable? We definitely wouldn’t leave that in the wall during rough-in so the conduit is such an easy option.
These are all the reasons we wanted to plan for options. Our rule of thumb is NEVER pre-wire with HDMI unless you can replace it after construction. (e.g., drop ceiling, empty wall cavity, etc)
With the conduit, we can pull any cable we need through it later
Here was the final design of his fireplace and cabinets
The equipment cabinet on the right was to house the source equipment, the Samsung One-Connect and 2 x SONOS Connect:Amps (for rear surround and for the kitchen)
The TV would also get a small SONOS Beam soundbar for the LCR speakers. Along with a white sonos subwoofer, this gave them a 5.1 surround sound in the living room.
The kitchen would get a pair of in-ceiling speakers and a dedicated amp. Even though you can clearly hear the music or TV in the kitchen coming from the living room, the ability to play soft music from the kitchen speakers and not have the living room system on was the reason for having 2 zones. It is also nice for dinner parties or entertaining to have speakers throughout so you can fine tune your volume to each area of the house.
The rough-in wiring was completed which was very simple. We wired for Internet and TV services to the living room cabinets and all the speaker wires and conduit would run to the cabinets as well.
We used rough-in brackets matched to our speakers so the drywall installers would have no problems cutting the perfect holes. I remember 15 years ago when we used to save $25 on the brackets and have to cut them out at the time of installation. It is such a simple investment and mistakes are almost eliminated. You don’t know how many times we found plumbing, HVAC or electrical right where we wanted to install the speakers and had run our wires. They were even marked using cardboard. That doesn’t help other trades understand the space requirements. Don’t cheap out and skip the rough-in brackets!!!!
After the spray foam was done, we waited for drywall and construction to be completed.
Final installation took about a day including programming of the universal remote.
Challenges of having equipment inside a closed cabinet
- This was overcome by using a mesh grille on the doors. Sometimes we recommend using a fan to vent the air out but this wasn’t required
- This is often a concern but if you budget between $500 to $1,500 for a quality remote control from companies like Control4, URC or Logitech you can hide the equipment inside cabinets and control it all with a single remote
Why Logitech for this project?
The Logitech Elite Pro was chosen because we were dealing with a single room and the remote was going to be close enough to the hub. The price point of only $500 was also attractive. There is a Logitech Companion for under $200 that also would have worked but the Elite’s touch screen adds ease-of-use and convenience.
Control4 or URC are often more reliable and user friendly when we are dealing with control for multiple rooms or having equipment located in another room.
The final setup was quick because we planned the installation from the DESIGN stage. This TV would have been impossible to mount above the fireplace if we hadn’t used the conduit simply because of the One-Connect. The client is waiting for their “white” coloured frame which should arrive in a few weeks. Otherwise they are loving their new system.
For your project, don’t wait until the contractor tells you it is rough-in time. Plan early and get the experts to help figure it all out.
Contact us for your free consultation.