A useful starting point for understanding the concept of structured media and how to install it yourself.
It's been several months now since I started installing a structured wiring configuration in our bungalow. There's been a lull for a while as we've worked on other things, but I thought I'd take a minute to write up a review of an instructional video I used early on to get started.
Structured wiring is a specific approach to installing communication , media and data networks in a home, organized around a centeral distribution point. It's similar to the way your electrical panel is a centeral point for distributing power throughout your home.
In the video "Wiring Your Home for Voice, Data and Broadband RF Networks," you'll get a thorough summary of how to plan and install a network yourself. Grayson Evans and Dan Gregory are your host, using "Dan's new home" as a case study throughout the 97 minute presentation.
I'll point out up front that this video is partially funded by Leviton, a manufacturer of structured media equipment. This introduces an obvious bias, but in my case this was actually a benefit because I'd already determined that Leviton was the best choice for our needs. (For more info on Leviton and a list of other manufacturers check out our equipment review.) If you don't choose Leviton the video will still be fairly relevant, as the concepts presented apply regardless of manufacturer. That said, the specific how-to info won't be as relevant.
The DVD is organized well, and information is presented in 11 chapters:
I was especially pleased with how thoroughly the video addressed basic concepts of wiring and the planning phase. This is initially where I'd gotten hung up. Even after reading helpful websites like SW How-To, there's a lot to be said to a video walk-through to help with the basics as well as with with fundamental concepts of wiring.
The video is also good at displaying best practices. For example, I'd initially done my planning without developing a 'cable schedule' spreadsheet. The video spends time addressing the value of good planning and shows how a cable schedule is used throughout the installation process. I left convinced and drew up my own (check it out here).
Unfortunately, the video didn't meet my expectations regarding media panels. The media panel (or media center) is the central hub of the system, housing equipment that splits and routes data throughout the home. While this DVD does show how to install each component of a common set-up, they don't really address component selection. This was disappointing because of the vast array of configurations available. Perhaps this complexity is exactly why they chose to focus on one common approach, but I would have appreciated more information. This would have seemed to be a great use of the "extras" that many DVDs commonly include. If you're interested in this topic, our own module selections are documented here.
Overall, I'd recommend this video to anyone doing this yourself with little prior wiring experience. It's a minor investment in the scope of this type of project and could easily pay for itself by preventing wiring mistakes that could easily add up to far more than the cost of the video itself.