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.
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.
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
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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