I cannot tell you how many clients neither consider where the structured wiring panel is going to be placed or understands its importance in making their home a more productive, convenient and better place to live. We review blueprints everyday and due to the fact that architects rarely plan for a panel, I always have to ask the architect, the builder or the homeowner where they intend to put it. The response is always similar; the infamous blank stare or those answers that make every true custom installer cringe, “How about in the garage?” or “We thought it would go in the laundry room.”
Just as the human heart serves as the primary organ in the body, the structured wiring panel too shares that role in a house and it needs to be regarded as such. It requires a small degree of care and a reasonable amount of placement consideration. As the hub of the home, it belongs inside the home. Architects, builders and homeowners all need to understand the importance of this so it will deliver the necessary data to the home’s drops just as the heart pulses and delivers oxygen and blood through the veins to the organs.
One must carefully consider a panel’s size and location. Architects, builders and homeowners all need to realize that the panel may only house a small sampling of equipment now but you may require additional functionality in the future. The closet needs to be temperature controlled and the environment should be free of dust, direct sunlight, moisture and any other temperature variances that cause damage to electrical equipment.
More often than not, we see panels that could never adequately serve the needs of the home. They were too small at the time of installation and certainly do not accommodate for any growth potential. We often get calls from disconcerted homeowners who want flexibility from their low-voltage solutions and their hands are tied because someone short-changed them with a panel that was too small from the beginning. Clients need panels that are not only appropriate for their current use, but for something that will grow with their needs. Here is an example of a panel that was too small the moment it was put into this home.
Here is that same house with a new panel being installed but not quite finished at the time of this picture. Additionally, the photo does not show the empty space below which will accommodate four more modules.
We replaced the 18′ panel with a 48″ panel in order to properly layout the cables, label them and make it easy to add modules or devices in the future.
Don’t skimp on your panel in either the quality or size. And while not true for everything, in the case of panels, bigger is better. One thing we can guarantee is that technology is advancing and with that new technology, the means to accommodate and incorporate it will come as well. So plan ahead.
Just remember, your structured wiring panel is an extremely important part of your home and its’ overall functionality now and in the future. Be smart about all aspects if this purchase and if you have any questions or doubts, locate a custom installer in your area to have them assist you through this process. In many cases, just as open-heart surgery should be left to the professionals; if you fear the mass of arteries and veins, professional panel installation should be considered too.