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How to Wire a Recreation Room in Your Basement – Part 2: Installing the Cables

March 27, 2008

In today’s article we are going to discuss the installation of the power, audio, phone and video cables to make everything work in your basement recreation room. For anyone that missed the first part of this series How to Wire a Recreation Room in Your Basement – Part 1, we discussed a materials list and the layout of the boxes, recessed cans, exhaust fan, low voltage boxes and speaker brackets for this project.

Before we get started, I want to make a few points and offer some tips for installing your cables. Ensure that all of your holes that you drill are 1 1/4 inches in from the the outside edges. In a 2 x 4 stud, you need to drill the hole in the center of the stud and in your floor joists, measure up 1 1/4 inches minimum to the bottom of the hole. This will prevent the sheetrock screws from penetrating any cables. Drill separate holes for the power and low voltage (audio, phone and TV) cables.

Install all of your cables parallel and perpendicular to the framing (wall studs and floor joists). When installing your low voltage cables maintain a 12 inch separation from all power cables when running parallel to the power cables and maintain as much separation as possible whenever running the low voltage cables perpendicular to the power cables. The 12 inch separation is particularly important with your audio (speaker) cables. If you do not maintain the separation with your audio cables, you will get the “60 Hz hum” on your speakers. When installing your cables, ensure there is 6 – 8 inches minimum sticking out of the boxes.

So let’s get started installing the NM cable (romex) for the receptacles. Before we get too far, I want to point out that I did not have you install 1 receptacle on either side of the fireplace in part 1 of this series. This is a National Electrical Code® (NEC®) requirement and it will add 2 single gang boxes to your materials list. However, I did include these in this diagram.

I do not know what the “Golden Tee” is or the power requirements for this unit. In my diagram, I placed this receptacle on the same circuit as the general receptacles. If this unit requires a dedicated circuit, then take it off of the general receptacles circuit and supply a dedicated circuit.

I also noticed that I was having you install a 2 gang box for receptacles on the right side of the TV equipment room. However, after looking at your drawing a little closer, I noticed that you are installing 1 receptacle inside of the TV room and 1 receptacle outside of the TV room. So, you may eliminate 1 – 2 gang box from your materials list and add 2 more single gang boxes; one for the receptacle inside of the room and one for the receptacle outside of the room.

Diagram of receptacle circuits
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Now that all of the receptacle circuits are installed, let’s start installing the lighting circuit. When installing these cables, ensure that you keep them all together and try to stay away from the routes that your low voltage cables will follow. Planning out your cable runs now will ensure that you maintain the 12 inches of separation between your power cables and low voltage cables.

Be sure to mark all cables at the switch boxes (power, cans #1, etc…). This is very important and a timesaver when it’s time to make up these wires.

Diagram of a lighting circuit
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With the lighting circuit complete, let’s install the bathroom circuit. In this scenario, I elected to place the entire bathroom on a dedicated circuit. You may also place the bathroom lights on the lighting circuit and install a dedicated circuit for the bathroom receptacles if you choose. Either way is permitted by the NEC®. Regardless of which option you choose, the bathroom receptacles cannot be tied into any of the other receptacles circuits.

The shower area is pretty busy and I’m not sure if you called for a light in there or not. If you want a light in the shower, I recommend a recessed can and switch it independently.

When installing the cable to the GFCI receptacle, ensure that you mark the power cable coming from the switch box as “Line” and the power cable going to the other receptacle as “Load”. This is also important and a timesaver when installing your GFCI receptacle.

Diagram of a bathroom circuit
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Now that all of the power is installed, let’s install the phone and TV cables. For the phone cable, I recommend Category 5e (CAT5e) cable. This is the most commonly used cable and works for either phone or data networks. At the phone location, I recommend installing 2 CAT5e cables. One cable will allow for up to 4 phone lines and the second cable will provide an internet connection. If you do not need an internet connection now, I still recommend installing the additional cable for future use. Installing the additional cable will cost you approximately $3.00 – $5.00 in material.

For each TV location, I recommend installing 2 – RG-6 quad shield coaxial cables and 1 – CAT5e cable. For CATV you only need 1 – RG-6 quad shield coaxial cable and 1 – CAT5e cable. However, the additional coaxial cable will allow for many other options. Such as satellite TV, watching a single PPV event on multiple TVs, etc…

Run all of your phone and data cables for each location back to the network interface box or back to an existing point in your home where all of the phone and data cables terminate. The network interface box is the telephone box on the outside of your house. Run all of your TV cables for each location back to the CATV box or back to an existing point in your home where all of the TV cables terminate. Ensure that all cables maintain 12 inches of separation minimum from the power cables when installed parallel to the power cables and as much separation as possible when installing perpendicular to the power cables. Label each cable on the central location end.

Diagram of phone and TV circuits
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The final step is to install all of the speaker cables. Install 1 cable from each speaker location back to the TV room and label each cable on the TV room end. You need to run each cable back to your audio equipment location. For higher quality sound ensure that all cable runs are separated from the power cables as much as possible.

Diagram of speaker circuits
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Please note that all of the diagrams that I created are general guidelines and may not work in your situation. I have not seen your basement so I’m uncertain of the framing, duct work, return air, plumbing, steel beams or anything else that may prevent you from installing the cables as I’ve laid out in the diagrams. Try to plan the routes for your power cables to keep everything together and maintain separation from the low voltage cable runs.

In part 3 of this series, we will discuss terminating all of the wires and cables to get everything ready for an inspection.

 

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Comments

One Response to “How to Wire a Recreation Room in Your Basement – Part 2: Installing the Cables”

  1. Jun on June 25th, 2008 8:32 am

    This is a great resource for someone who is trying to do planning and wiring themselves. Thanks you!

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