Spotlight: Homeowners Could Use a Little Structure
Like many Americans, I live in wire hell, although perhaps in a deeper circle of wire hell than most. My old Craftsman home has DirecTV satellite feeding three entertainment systems, a home office with a fax machine, two computers hooked into high-speed internet, business and VoIP phone lines and a dedicated home theater in my converted garage. Each application requires a tangle of wires that run up my walls and across my floors, where they lay together in dusty clumps.
Still, even my issues are amateur compared to what custom integrators and builders need to address: security, lighting, HVAC, whole-house audio, intercoms. I shudder to think of what many of you go through every day.
Structured wiring, of course, is a compelling answer to these messy problems. A structured wiring system—which consists of a distribution panel, the actual cable and wiring, and various access points throughout the house—facilitates the delivery of information and services throughout the home. It can serve as the foundation on which a home-automation network is built and allows efficient hook-up of various home systems while providing for easy future upgrades and additions. According to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association, demand for structured wiring systems has continued to grow despite the increasing adoption of wireless systems. In fact, American Lives, a market research group in Carmel Valley, Calif., found that 77 percent of homeowners surveyed were interested in a structured wiring solution for their homes.
In general, however, structured wiring isn’t something homeowners know they need. They might know they want high-speed internet in several rooms of their homes, or would like to have the same music playing in every room during parties. But to them, how that happens is irrelevant. “People aren’t going to knock on your door and say, ‘I am looking for a house with structured wiring.’ For the most part, homeowners don’t really get it,” says Tim Trautman, senior product manager at Honeywell.