What Wiring Do I Need for a Home Automation System?

Most home automation systems require neutral wires to be installed at switch outlets. Even if your home doesn’t have proper wiring, though, you may be able to set up a smart system that runs on batteries.

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Here’s a more detailed look at what wiring adjustments you’ll want to make.

  1. Neutral Wires: Most new homes feature neutral wires—the wiring required for many smart gadgets—but older homes may need to have rewiring done. Even the older protocols like UPB need neutral wires to provide top reliability. Select Insteon devices need neutral wires, too.
  2. Deep Junction Boxes: In addition to neutral wiring, some homeowners add deep junction boxes. The larger boxes help with installing smart home devices because the boxes offer more working space for wires and cables.
  3. Cat 6 Cables: Homeowners may also install updated Ethernet cabling. Category 6 (Cat 6) lines are a great standard to go with. They can support speeds up to several gigabits, ensuring that you won’t experience issues no matter how many devices you add to your system.
  4. Wiring Closets: Finally, some homeowners build wiring closets. The closets essentially act like a breaker box but serve your home automation wiring and system needs. A wiring closet should be centrally located and contain patch panels and media servers. It may also house your router—though the rule about locating it centrally still applies.

Those pieces cover your home automation wiring needs but remember that many smart home devices operate on wireless frequencies.

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To meet your system’s need for speed, evaluate your internet service, modem, and router—whichever one runs the slowest determines the speed of them all. Every product must be running the latest and greatest feeds and speeds to deliver excellent performance.

Ready to purchase your first smart home product? Visit our resources page to decide where to begin your home automation project.

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help everyone find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. In her free time, she volunteers at the local botanical garden and writers for the community newspaper.

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