Tips and Tricks for Installing Your Home Theatre Electrical System

With cutting edge technology and the convenience of online movies and television home theaters are becoming more and more popular. Instead of spending your money going out to a movie, why not plan for and install the electrical system required to run a decent home theater right in your own family room? With a wide screen television, BluRay player, stereo receiver and a set of modest speakers your family can enjoy affordable, high quality entertainment any time they want.

Home Theater As An Industry

The home audio and video industry is booming. New technology and more affordable prices are making good quality components available to nearly anyone. And big box stores and online retailers are offering better service and a wider selection of products than ever before.

All of that being said, it’s important to understand a little bit about the home theater industry before jumping into this trend. Just as in many things – you will get what you pay for. The latest technologies are the most expensive. But remember that you are paying for the research and development aspect by buying the newest systems. Prices will almost always come down after a product or technology has been available for a year or two. Patience can net you a great deal.

Electrical Considerations

Planning is essential when wiring your home theater system. There are certain elements you will need to consider – such as how many speakers to include (3, 5, 7 or more), which type of cable to install, where the best view will be and whether dimmer switches should be included.

Make a drawing of your dream system, which may be much more extensive than what you have now. Home theater systems tend to be a permanent installation, with cable and wiring running behind the walls and ceilings. It isn’t a simple job to add a few speakers or change the wire, so be sure you are taking steps towards your goal instead of settling for something less than what you want.

Installing your home theater wiring project in stages is possible, but you will need to make a budget and plan ahead.

Home Theater Budgeting Tips

Installing the electrical components of your home theater can be an expensive job, but there are certain ways to shave that cost down and still look forward to a high quality experience.

Always buy speaker wire in bulk, if possible. That means you will need to measure the total amount of wire needed and add 25 percent for waste and errors. Spools are the cheapest way to go, but many stores will also sell cut pieces for a lower price than packaged speaker wire.

Installing speaker wire is easiest in an unfinished space. Otherwise you will need to spend a lot more time fishing wire through the walls and running it along baseboards or molding. This can push up the cost of professional installation as well, even though the pros are experienced in this type of job.

If you are finishing the basement or building an addition and a home theater is in the works, be sure to run the wiring before covering the walls. This will create the neatest installation as well, ensuring your wiring lasts longer and the connections are more stable.

Do You Need to Invest in Expensive Speaker Wire?

This is a commonly heard argument in the industry. Many claim that the more expensive the speaker wire is, the better quality sound you can expect. But in reality, your components and personal preferences will make the most difference.

If you are going to take the time to design and install a home theater system, avoid using the cheapest, lowest quality speaker wire. But you may be able to opt for a product that is priced in the midrange, as opposed to spending big dollars for the top brands. Again, it depends on the type and style of receiver and components you are working with and how tuned your ears are to the level of sound quality.

Wiring should be labeled as UL (or Underwriters Laboratory) compliant. Some experts say that opting for UL class 2 (CL2) or UL class 3 (CL3) is best. Most, if not all of the products available at your local electronics retailer will fall within these categories. This speaker wire has been tested and is safe and effective in a home theater application.

Tips for Quality Installation

Whether you are running the home theater electrical system yourself or hiring a professional, there are certain methods of installation that will ensure better sound and video quality.

In simple terms, the best path to quality is the straightest one. Splicing may be an easy way out, but it tends to deteriorate sound and video quality in the end. Splicing leads to interference, while a solid, straight piece of wire will deliver the best quality you can hope for in the set up.

When running your speaker wire through studs, be sure to drill a clean hole in the middle of the wood. This will ensure the structural stability of the framing. Steel studs often have wire slots, but you will need to invest in plugs or covers to protect the wire from wear and interference. Also, keep speaker wire away from electrical cable if possible. Never wrap the wiring together or leave it in an untidy mess.

Use conduit wherever possible. This is especially true when you are running home theater wiring on the top of your walls, trim or baseboard. It is also a necessity when your speaker wire travels through an attic, garage or crawlspace. Conduit will protect the wiring and keep the system safe and stable.

The home theater experience is something that people of all ages can enjoy. Installing the electrical systems involved in a home theater setup requires planning and some smart shopping techniques. Whether you are opting for the DIY route or hiring a professional, always make sure the wiring is neat and tidy with good quality products used throughout the system.

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