What Wiring Do I Need for a Home Automation System?

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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.

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

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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 home automation protocols like UPB need neutral wires to provide top reliability. Select Insteon devices need neutral wires, too.

2. Cat 6 cables or Ethernet 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.

3. Door chime wires

Hardwired video doorbells connect to your home's existing door chime wires. Without them, you'll need to choose a battery-powered doorbell camera.

4. Deep junction boxes or wiring closets

Some homeowners add deep junction boxes to create more working space for wires and cables. Others 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.

Plenty of battery-powered options exist

Even if your home's current wiring isn't up to snuff in terms of smart home readiness, remember that many smart home devices operate on wireless frequencies and battery power.

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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.

Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over eight years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She is a certified Safe Sleep Ambassador and has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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