Many of today’s appliances, communication lines, and internet-connected security devices run on low voltage wiring. It’s a high-demand market — but is it worth learning how to install it? And what should you keep in mind during installation? Don’t worry: this low voltage wiring guide is here to help.
In this post, we define what low voltage wiring is and explain which products use it. Then, we go over some tips that will help you install low voltage wiring and help you decide whether learning how to install it is worth it for your business.
This post covers:
- What is low voltage wiring?
- Which hardware products use low voltage?
- What should you keep in mind while installing low voltage wiring?
- Should you learn how to install low voltage wiring?
What is low voltage wiring?
Low voltage wiring is a type of wiring that is only designed to transmit smaller amounts of volts.
So how can you identify low-voltage wiring? Look for wires that transmit 50 volts of electricity or less. Low voltage products are typically 12V, 24V, or 48V.
In contrast to high-voltage wiring that supplies larger amounts of electricity, low voltage wiring has different installation requirements and use cases. When you consider all of the infrastructure that you need to make low voltage wiring work — like cabling sheaths and insulation — that entire system is called structured cabling.
And structured cabling can be found in every type of property. From a multifamily apartment complex to an office building, structured cabling serves tenants across industries. Low voltage setups are becoming more popular, especially now that efficiency and sustainability are bigger priorities for your clients.
The buildings you’re working on will have a standard wiring network that usually uses voltage at 120V or 140V. So, to properly and safely install structured cabling, you’ll need to build a separate low-voltage network on top of any existing wiring.
Types of low voltage cable include:
- Fiber optic cables that help computers connect to the internet
- Cat5 and Cat6 cables that handle ethernet connections
- RG-6 cables that handle internet connections in addition to cable and satellite TV
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Which hardware products use low voltage?
Typically, you’ll use low voltage for hardware products related to telecommunications, security, and building automation. These products all need low voltage to function properly. Otherwise, you risk products failing, or even physical danger during installation.
Telecommunications products that use low voltage include:
- Internet and Ethernet connections
- WiFi connections
Note: Because so many of today’s businesses depend on the internet, low voltage wiring in commercial buildings is increasingly important.
Building automation products that use low voltage include:
- Garage door openers
- Lighting controls
- Audiovisual equipment, like speakers
Security products that use low voltage include:
- Security cameras
- Motion sensors
What should you keep in mind while installing structured cabling?
Many products that tenants will use on a daily basis are powered by low voltage. Here’s what you should keep in mind when installing a structured cabling network.
Three things to consider while you’re installing a low voltage structured cabling network are:
1. Good design
As with any wiring installation, you should make sure that your clients won’t have to deal with the adverse effects of an improperly installed wiring network. Consider variables like airflow and temperature to maximize the lifespan of the wires you install.
Advances in wiring and communications technology happen all the time. Consider this innovation: This Japanese engineering team recently invented a way for fiber optic cables to also transmit power!
So, you should be sure that it’s easy to replace parts of your wired networks if another, more efficient method of power transmission comes along.
By building redundancy into your low voltage network, you guarantee that your clients will always be able to use the essential products that depend on low voltage.
Use redundancy in your low voltage network by making sure that each piece of equipment has more than one way to access a source of electricity. You might also choose to install a system of backup batteries, so that low-voltage products will function even in the case of a power outage.
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Should I learn how to install structured cabling?
If you want to attract more clients, you should learn how to install structured cabling. Because the specifics of low-voltage and high-voltage wiring are so different, clients often find that they have to hire two different installers. If you can handle both types of installation, your clients will be grateful — and you’ll be able to charge higher rates.
However, you should keep in mind that low voltage installation is an entirely new specialization that requires many hours of learning and its own certifications.
Low voltage wiring codes are strict. While these ensure the safety of both installers and clients, it may take a long time to install structured cabling compared to its conventional counterpart. If you master it, though, that’s one more skill in your portfolio that you can use to get clients and take your business to new heights.
To sum up, low voltage wiring is a fixture in every modern-day household that powers crucial aspects of everyday life. From intercoms to speakers to thermostats, structured cabling helps residents automate their homes and use telecommunications and security technology.
While learning how to properly install structured cabling is a long journey, it’s one you should strongly consider. You’ll be performing tasks that make life in the modern day possible, from wiring low-voltage lights to laying cable that allows a resident to connect to the internet.