AV & Media Room Design

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By all means make sure the equipment is mounted such that you can get to both the front and the back without a lot of hassle. This means an open back to the rack or one that 'moves'. Middle Atlantic makes racks that are designed to pivot out from the wall. These aren't cheap but they do the job. Or you can go with a rack on wheels and patch cables from wiring terminated on a nearby wall. As in, do not pull wire straight from inside the walls into a movable rack. Pull the in-wall wiring to a patch panel and then use pluggable cabling from there to the rack. This will save you from pulling a whole new wire again WHEN it gets frayed/broken due to movement of the rack. Even if it's a fixed rack you still want to consider a patch panel to avoid breakage. It's a little less of an issue with a fixed rack, just keep it in mind.
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Another consideration is lighting in the rack closet. Rather than a standard ceiling fixture I installed fluorescent lights. Since there are heavy items like amps and receivers going in there, use protected fixtures. I've used "under-cabinet" fixtures, mounted vertically on each side, to light my racks.
Some folks like gooseneck fixtures (a few rack makers offer 19" rack-mounted power supplies with goose neck lamps attached). I find fluorescents give more even lighting.
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Regards,
Robert L Bass
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Good idea. I saw some wear and tear on cables that I had plugged into a stack of equipment mounted on a turntable so I could access the back panels easily. If I use Lewis' closet idea, I'm not sure how I'd bring the cable in since almost all the vertical surfaces would be taken up by bi-fold doors. Since I expect the room to be in the basement, I could make an angled panel above the equipment that wouldn't be as hard to reach as a horizontal one and that would take up a little less space than a vertical one.
-- Bobby G.
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Are you building from scratch or buying an existing home?
If you are buying an existing home then the main concern will be location (and maybe not access) so that any wires do not have to be pulled so far. The home you get will make this decision in spite of what may be ideal for you. You can "pre-think" all you want, but you really wont know what to do until you get into the pre-existing house.
If you are building it yourself then you can do anything you want. In that case dont make the mistake of "pre-wiring" the house. You want to "pre-conduit" the house with minimum 1 inch (or 1.25 inch even better) plastic conduit to each room and 1.5 inch (or even 2 inch) for runs that you know will have to carry more wire, then install all your wires after you move in. I home-ran a conduit trunk line to a box near the floor in each room, then inside each room I ran .75 inch or 1 inch conduit to each phone jack or wall controller, and even ceiling speakers. As for the central connection room, I used the space under the stairway leading to the basement. In there I used plain 19 inch relay racks (with no box cage or cabinet behind them) available from network suppliers. The panels are all std 19 inch and punched out for multimedia jacks, some panels are dedicated cat6. I like these free- standing racks because you have full walk around access front and back and the 19 inch standard offers many shelf and cable management options. I stay clear of the made-for-home structured wiring setups like Leviton, etc only because you are stuck forever using their gear in them and they get drywalled over and they only allow a few pipes in, and are just too tight. My under stair media closet has all the conduit terminating directly over the center line of the racks which are lined up in the center of the area which is about 6 feet wide by 12 feet deep, this gives me almost 3 feet of walk around space on both sides of the rack row. With all wires dropping in from the ceiling, I can repull new wires any time I want from any room I want. In fact some of my rooms are not even wired up yet because we have not needed a tv there yet.
In our area electrical code requires conduit, my electrician installed all his conduit and no wires until the drywall was fully installed. I got the idea from him to do it this way and its the best decision I made. As it always seemed silly to me the way HA consultants tell you to "pre-wire", then the day you need to get new wire in the wall you're screwed because you didn't use conduit.
Just my .02 cents from a do it yourselfer.
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