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At Home With Cabling

There are several alarm, home security and home audio cabling requirements to consider when building a new home.

May 1, 2002  

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Now is the time to talk about the new Addenda to the residential cabling standard for alarm, security and whole home audio systems. For these Addenda were approved for publication at the last TIA standards meeting in February 2002 and should be available through Global Engineering Documents by the time this reaches your desk.

With the publication of Addendum No. 1 and Addendum No. 3 to TIA/EIA-570-A, designers and end-users of residential telecommunications systems now have a more complete standard that includes voice, data, alarm, security and whole home audio systems.


The requirements for security and alarm cabling for residences are provided in Addendum No. 1 to ANSI/TIA/EIA-570-A. The following are some of the planning provisions for these systems:

The location of sensors and cabling devices shall comply with applicable codes such as the National Fire Protection Association (NAPA) 70 and the National Fire Alarm Code NAPA 72, which specifies smoke detector locations for fire alarm systems and provides cabling recommendations.

A smoke detector should be installed outside of each sleeping area and on each additional floor of a multi-floor family unit, including basements. Heat detectors are a better choice for kitchens, attics or garages.

The security/alarm system should take into account building design and the anticipated traffic patterns of the occupants. Proper location of sensors and devices is critical to assure best response and to minimize false alarms.

Cabling shall terminate in an alarm or security panel, which shall be properly grounded to the earth.

All security cabling should be home run (i.e., in a star topology) to each individual detector or sensor from the security panel. Except for smoke detectors, daisy-chaining of devices is not recommended, as this decreases system reliability and makes trouble-shooting more difficult.

Other requirements in the standard include the type and gauge of cabling to be used for passive and active sensors, the type of cabling for video surveillance, the powering requirements for the security panels, and the dial-up telephone line connection requirements.


Many of us have dreamed of having a home that’s wired for sound and has the ability to play our favourite music from different audio sources. Addendum No. 3 of TIA/EIA-570-A provides information on the planning and cabling requirements for whole home audio systems. If you are looking for guidance on home audio systems, this is the document that establishes the topology, the system components and the cabling requirements for home audio systems.

The major elements of a home audio system include the audio source, amplifier, distribution system, volume controls and speakers. These systems are segmented by rooms or spaces, commonly known as “zones”. Each zone is independently and locally volume-controlled and may be capable of other controlling features such as changing an audio source. Audio sources may include, but are not limited to, satellite receivers, radio, multi-disc CD players and computers.

The amplifier increases the signal strength of the audio source to the speakers and is typically integrated with an audio source such as an AM/FM stereo receiver with additional inputs for devices like CD players. The distribution system includes the cabling and any bridging or impedance matching equipment.

Each zone has a means of adjusting the volume independently from other zones in the home. As a minimum, paired speakers are installed in each zone as determined by the homeowner and/or the builder. Proper location of speakers and volume control devices is critical to assure the best performance.

The home audio standard provides additional information on aesthetics, speaker location, sensitivity and room size, device location and enclosures, cabling type and gauge size. A requirement of the standard is to install a Category 5e cable, along with the appropriate speaker wire, to each device and speaker location. The gauge size of the speaker wire and the number of conductors are specified in the standard and depend on the power loss and distance. Typically, 16 AWG or 14 AWG wire is used to minimize power losses.


The above is a brief overview of the two new Addenda to the TIA/EIA-570-A Residential Cabling Standard.

Another Addendum No. 2 for Control Cabling is still under development in the TR 42.2 Subcommittee. The publication of these Addenda is a significant step to meet end-user needs for a more comfortable and secure home environment.

Paul Kish is Director of IBDN Systems & Standards at NORDX/CDT in Pointe Claire, PQ. He is also Vice-Chair of the TR-42 engineering committee.

Disclaimer: The information presented is the author’s view and is not official TIA correspondence.

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