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Electronic Gadget Ideas for a New House?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the going-beyond-wiring dept.

Hardware Hacking 413

pmadden asks: "I'll be building a house this summer (standard straw bale construction, earth plaster, the whole low-tech gig). Naturally, I'll be putting gobs of ethernet in the walls, with drops to the rooms, on the roof, and so on. I'll add wireless too, once it's secure enough to keep all of you out. What gadgets should I plan for, so that I don't have to do a major retrofit? I'll have cables for TPZ cameras, for when they get super-cheap. We'll leave niches for putting in routers and stuff like that. What else? What cool thing will be cheap in a couple of years, leading my wife to ask, 'why didn't you plan for that'? Any recommendations for good Christmas light control systems, and so on?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

first Post! (-1, Offtopic)

nrlightfoot (607666) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725116)

I have no Idea.

placeholder (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725117)

This is a placeholder, i will be referencing this when the dupe is posted.

Re:placeholder (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725238)

This is a placeholder, i will be referencing this when the dupe is posted.


This is a placeholder PERIOD NOT COMMA i will be referencing this when the dupe is posted.

PERIOD, PERIOD, PERIOD, you dumb shitfuck!

Re:placeholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725299)

A semicolon would also work; it can be used to link two related sentances.

Re:placeholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725303)

This is a placeholder PERIOD NOT COMMA i will be referencing this when the dupe is posted.

I disagree; a semicolon would be more appropriate than a period.

PERIOD, PERIOD, PERIOD, you dumb shitfuck!

Use a VERB, VERB, VERB, you anonymous troll!

Re:placeholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725331)

It can't be a period because he had a lower case i in "i will be referencing". If it was the start of a new sentance he would have had to make it upper case you retard. The only thing worst that a gramer troll is a stupid gramer troll you assmonkey.

PS. You're sisters a camgirl.

Re:placeholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725337)

P.S. It's "Your sister's a camgirl." Note the "your" and the apostrophe in sister's.

Re:placeholder (0, Flamebait)

erlenic (95003) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725349)

Whether he's beginning a sentance or not, he should have capitalized it.

Re:placeholder (1)

Piquan (49943) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725295)

When making a reference comment as an AC, you may want to include an MD5 sum of a phrase of your choosing. That way, when you refer back to it, you can demonstrate that it was really you.

Re:placeholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725321)

I thought he just meant that he wanted to make it easier to find the article when it happens. That way, when he sees the story again, he just has to google a known phrase, then post a quick link.

Re:placeholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725351)

I must admit that MD5 hashes are a gap in my knowledge. What software (for windows) would I use to hash phrases and verify MD5 sums included with binaries?

Re:placeholder (1)

erlenic (95003) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725360)

There's a GNU program for Windows (command line only) called md5sum.exe. I believe I got it from Debian's website, but it might have been from Knoppix's.

Motorola (2, Interesting)

MistabewM (17044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725119)

I was bombing around the motorola website the otherday and they now have home automation equipment that ties into your tv... could be worth looking at.

Re:Motorola (4, Informative)

noblethrasher (546363) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725250)

I think this is a relevent link [] to the parent's post.

Coffee Maker (2, Funny)

reassor (817660) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725121)

which is controlled by your Server and an Alarm is going off,when its empty. No,i am serious about that!

Build a brick/earthen oven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725122)

You can make pizza damn quick in one of those and throw parties and stuff! Plus you can impress your S.O. with your leet cooking skillz.

Dildo (-1, Troll)

Space_Soldier (628825) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725125)

Get her a dildo; she'll never ask again, "why didn't you plan for that?"

Re:Dildo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725146)

Better still, just tell her that you're happy for her to have fun with her friends... and you can watch!

straw? (4, Funny)

calebtucker (691882) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725126)

question: why are you building your house out of straw?

Re:straw? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725143)

Bricks you fool, bricks!

Re:straw? (1)

bluprint (557000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725175)

He likes being surrounded by mold?

Seriously, I wonder if the straw is treated for such first.

Re:straw? (5, Informative)

Ferretman (224859) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725232)

It's not quite like that. We almost used strawbale construction before going with a different product (Polysteel) instead. Straw construction is very strong, makes for very thick walls, provide excellent insulation, and is relatively cheap. The straw is bound together in their bales and the whole wall sealed in plaster/concrete/etc. This makes the area they're in dry with no moisture, and hence no mold.


Re:straw? (5, Funny)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725300)

This makes the area they're in dry with no moisture, and hence no mold.

Dry with no moisture, you say? Impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the rare dry with moisture :-)

Re:straw? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725348)

You forgot to add strawbale's other hella-cool qualities:

Can't build more than one floor.

Looks like shit.

Will fall over upon application of very little lateral force -- no matter how strong you say it is.

Looks like shit.

One word: "Malaria".

Looks like shit.

Dissolves in the rain.

Re:straw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725354)

Er, so why did you go with Polysteel?

Re:straw? (1)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725182)

apparantly he doesn't fear the big bad wolf.

Re:straw? (5, Funny)

quandrum (652868) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725183)

Shhhh! No one has told him yet, but he's the first little piggy.

I wouldn't use... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725185)

Firefox. It'll huff and puff until you're in a whole world of hurt.

Re:straw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725196)

because nobody told him about the three little pigs when he was younger

It gets worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725206)

The foundation is made of sand.

Re:straw? (1)

Nifrith (860526) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725252)

I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow all your WiFi devices up.

Re:straw? (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725281)

There are a whole bunch of reasons for choosing straw as a building material: it's cheap, enviornmentally friendly, an excellent insulator, breathable, and has great soundproofing qualities.

Re:straw? (1)

Nifrith (860526) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725361)

.. And flammable. "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll _burn_ your house down."

BBW sensors, definitely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725316)

They can detect huffing and puffing at 100 meters. Or you could wait for the next generation housing, which will be made of sticks.

Re:straw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725325)

Seriously, the R-value/cost is amazing.

talking toilet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725131)

that says "first post!" with a gurgle.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725134)

/.ers are faggots

Since the future is wireless... (4, Interesting)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725150)

Wouldn't straw bale walls block wireless signals worse than normal walls? They are thick and are stuffed with organic material wrapped with chicken wire. This sounds like a recipe for bad reception...

Re:Since the future is wireless... (5, Funny)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725179)

No, thats a good thing. If you want outside reception, you can buy an outside antenna. Otherwise it is good to keep the signal inside your house and safe from evil wardrivers (and your stupid neighbor trying to log into to your porno network share and deleting all your Asian...Yes, Bill, I know it was you!)

I will work just fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725192)

As soon as the mice has eaten enough holes in the walls, that is.

Re:Since the future is wireless... (1)

bluprint (557000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725193)

Straw is typically baled with baling twine, not chicken wire. The pictures on the linked site don't show chicken wire being used either.

Re:Since the future is wireless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725277)

If it is chicken wire, or some kind of metal, It'll form a handy faraday cage, which should be better than brick.

Home anti-burglary camera system (1)

buxton4 (849144) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725151)

Referecing back to this weeks post on the burglar caught on webcam, why ot put in support for that, after all UK police called it "better than an alarm"

Air ducts (4, Insightful)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725154)

Have two air ducts availiable where your comptuer will be. Then you can pipe the hot air from a rear fan and PSU outside. Even better, you could also attach ducts to the front for ice-cold computing during the night or winter.

Not really gadget-related, but: (5, Insightful)

koreaman (835838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725158)

Put TV jacks in every room except bathrooms. I mean it, every room. You never know when the location of your TV will change.

Re:Not really gadget-related, but: (5, Funny)

TomTraynor (82129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725184)

And a telephone jack in the bathroom. Hello.... you are with a telemarketing firm, please hold a second.... (sound effect of taking a massive dump and then a flush).

Re:Not really gadget-related, but: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725201)

You never know when the location of your TV will change.

Just hope it doesn't happen halfway through your favorite show. I hate it when it does that.

Re:Not really gadget-related, but: (1)

iced_773 (857608) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725220)

No, put tv jacks in the bathrooms. You don't want to miss any big plays in case the nachos you ate a few hours before catch up with you.

Re:Not really gadget-related, but: (1)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725235)

why leave out the bathroom? I'm sure there are TVs out there that can stand 100% humidity (and above).

Re:Not really gadget-related, but: (1)

Hungry Student (799493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725273)

why leave out the bathroom? I'm sure there are TVs out there that can stand 100% humidity (and above).

Can you get over 100% humidity?

Re:Not really gadget-related, but: (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725248)

Don't forget having Cat-5 running in EVERY wall. It is important to be future friendly, especially with the new push for a "networked home".

Also leave space for things such as the next generation of TV-connections and even devices you can not yet think of.

Re:Not really gadget-related, but: (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725262)

Oops, forget the Cat-5 part. With the advent of gigabiut internet youw ill be wanting CAT-6 and even CAT-7 for when it comes into common use. Wiring costs dirt, so load up on any connector you cna think up. It will also be a big plus if/when you sell the house.

Related (3, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725260)

Your focus on gadgets is misplaced. You don't know what will come along. Instead focus on infrastructure. This means tv jacks in nearly every room, Gigabit ethernet in every room (maybe more than one per room), possibly fiber, and more. As for wireless, this can be added if and when you want if you already have the infrastructure in place. Also you may want to have a second set of infrastructure so you can use digital entertainment systems to send out digital content to any room in your house.

Re:Not really gadget-related, but: (1)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725266)

Okay, this is gonna start a "me too!" chain.. (unless I'm really weird).. but surely other people here have TVs in their bathrooms? What do you watch in the tub...

What do you want to do ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725160)

What is it you're looking for exactly ? A way to pretend you're a geek ?

not hight tech but.... (4, Insightful)

johnpaul191 (240105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725163)

my uncle was just in town recently and had the plans to the house he is building. they are putting sockets under the roof overhangs just for christmas lights and they will all go to one or two switches. on one hand it seems silly, but on another it makes a world of sense.

as for everythng else maybe you want to try to keep some conduit space open for the future. honestly who knows what we will be using for TV or internet in even just a few years. will everyone have fibre in the house? will coax be gone? will CAT5 cable be old? is today's CAT5 cable going to be good enough for tomorrow's speeds? i don't know how much it matters in a house setup, but cable is rated for speed.

you might as well plan for ethernet everywhere. wireless is easy, but ethernet is cheap to do from the start. if you put something along the lines of an Audrey [] in the kitchen, it would be nice to have the wires ready to go.

What to do (5, Interesting)

TomTraynor (82129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725164)

How about leaving an empty conduit so you can snake additional cabling (Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre, etc) for future expansion. Everything leads down to a central location in the basement so that you set that up as the location where the server, TV (cable or satellite), telephone are centrally located.

Re:What to do (3, Funny)

KingDaveRa (620784) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725178)

Well failing that, you could always try raised floors and suspended ceilings - maybe even some cubicle partitions...

Re:What to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725211)

Bingo. Use a 1" plastic conduit or larger. All you have to do to change wiring is use a fish tape.

Re:What to do (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725244)

Yeah, cheap PVC pipe is the way to go, but to make your life simpler, when you install it, make sure you run 2 strings (or better yet, fishing line so you don't break it while pulling) through each section and tape them down. This beats trying to run fishtape after the fact, nad when you inadvertantly pull a cable through with another string attached, you have a back-up.

Oh, and the beauty of PVC, all chemical bonds, with cheap and easily installed Tees and Elbows.

Re:What to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725251)

A few things NOT to forget about:
- Pull-boxes - great for wanking cable around
- Don't use a sharp 90 degree bend... kinda recks the cables

If I was you, I'd put in a few sub-boxes, having multiple 2" conduit's to your central location, with smaller conduit branching out from your sub-box.

Re:What to do (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725323)

This was going to be my suggestion (although I was going to suggest running it up to the attic). Some other ideas:

- use conduit to just to bridge potentially problematic doorways or plates.
- Put extra junctions behind blank plates in closets or other easily accessed concealed spaces.
- living rooms, in particular seem to be the worst for having interconnected equipment on all four walls. Bridging the problem gaps is one solution, running at least 8 coax pairs (SVGA+L+R) around the perimeter is another (but not as good).

Most useful:

Put a plug socket in each closet. Aside from providing a place to plug in the vaccuum that's not behind furniture, they're also good for battery chargers, dustbusters, hubs, routers and all that other clutter of modern life that is only lying on the counter/table/desk because it has to be plugged in somewhere.


Conceal cable duct behind removable trim through the entire house.

an x10 controlled house will be cool for years (2, Insightful)

bitflusher (853768) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725170)

what you need to get yourself is everything managable form everywhere. x10 will be nice to electronicly controll your house! lights, alarm system, tv, sterio the whole thing. your server should be able to turn on some lights whenever you accessed it remotely from the bahama's (or probebly from your mothers when your flat broke after building it)

Re:an x10 controlled house will be cool for years (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725200)

Real geeks build their own custom embedded Linux ceiling fan controllers.

Knock Knock (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725194)

"Secure enough to keep all of you out?"

Then I'll huff and I'll puff till.....

Best regards

  • The big bad wolf.

Dilbert (3, Informative)

Nifrith (860526) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725197)

Dilbert's Ultimate House [] might be a good place to start.

You mean PTZ cameras? (4, Informative)

HorsePunchKid (306850) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725199)

You'll have a lot more luck searching for a good camera with pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities if you look for "PTZ camera [] " (164,000 results) instead of TPZ camera [] " (2,330 results).

Better than stringing everything: (1)

theparanoidcynic (705438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725203)

Instead of worrying about stuffing in every kind of cable you can think of it might be better to work on conduits. If you have nice wide, easily strung conduit lines all over the place you don't need to worry about choosing things or the march of technology.

Also, the chicken wire in straw-bale construction screams "Faraday Cage." Forget wireless.

Consider Dilbert Ultimate House (4, Interesting)

JPriest (547211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725204)

The dilber author asked himself many of the same questions when building his house "Dilbert Ultimate house" [] or simply DUH. There is a portion of the site where he lists some poplular reader suggestions for the house and comments on some of the more practical and impractical ideas. This is not a complete answer to your question, but will help.

As far as my suggestion, I say you should account for the possibility of having a small server room in your house. Such a room would should be easy to keep cool (basement?), fire resistant, and have some type of shielding from electromagnetic radiation (like thin sheet metal).

Weather Sensors (1)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725213)

If you are at all interested in weather, think about putting in a wireless sensor package outside the house. I would look into the Davis Vantage Pro2 [] . The university that I work at has the original Pro and I am thinking about getting one myself. It works like a charm: current weather, trends, 48hr forecasts, and graphs all on the base station. Plus, there is great software available for free on Linux called meteo [] that will populate a MySQL table with live data. Good stuff to then display using PHP and a web server.

How about the Dilbert house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725215)

Although you're not looking for the house design, I think you could get some ideas from the Dilbert house: click here []

Extra Cabling (2, Informative)

Delta911Turbo (775275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725218)

I would suggest putting lots of extra cabling in the walls. Even if you are not using the cabling it is much easier have it already in the wall instead of trying to run it again after the walls are already up. That means putting extra speaker/telephone/ethernet cabling everywhere, you never know what or where you might want to put something.

If you are worried about using wireless within the house and are not concered with using it outside you could look into using this paint as your base coat to protect the signal from leaking outside. Then you don't have to worrry about someone cracking into your network.

Defend Air Radio Shield []

POWER! (2, Interesting)

MonGuSE (798397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725222)

I do not know the condition of the power system in your area. Are there alot of brownouts/blackouts spikes etc... Up untill recently I have had pretty bad luck with power so I would suggest look into putting in a central power conditioning system to protect all of those electronic goodies and if you are insane like I am and think your personal server needs five 9's for uptime you should look into a UPS system for your server(s) and possibly your network. Remember with Bush in the white house for another 3 years our environment is going to go to hell in a handbasket so even if your power situation is ok now it may not be if we start having frequent adverse weather.

Control4 Linux-based home automation (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725224)

Check out Control4 [] .

They came to our LUG this week to do a presentation. Really cool stuff they've got going. It all runs Linux, pretty hackable, etc. Control your lights, multiple audio feeds all over the house, and plenty more.

I was pretty impressed with it all.

Re:Control4 Linux-based home automation (1)

windowpain (211052) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725336)

Not only do they look good but you can automate your house WIHTOUT GIVING MONEY TO THOSE X-10 MONKEYS who virtually invented the *#&&$@$ pop-up ad.

Remember them?

hay? (1)

TheAdventurer (779556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725227)

Well, since you are apparently building your house out of hay (???) you might want to put some degree of anti-fire measures. Maybe install square tiles around the electrical outlets, and keep plastic underneath surge protectors.

It would be cool to buy a few tablet PC's and install them into the wall like control panels, and then hook a house wide sound system up to them, allowing you to listen to MP3's throughout your house, and change songs wherever you are. Plus, control panels are cool looking.

Re:hay? (1)

silux (28215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725362)

Hay would be drastically different than building a house from straw. Hay is still green and therefore wet and tasty to pests you dont want. Straw on the other hand is another beast altogether. Straw bale was actually a common practice no more than 100 years ago in the middle of the United States where there were less trees to be used for construction. Since fire requires oxygen for combustion there is little risk of lighting a straw bale on fire. It would be very similar to holding a match to the bottom of a yellow pages, sure it will light... eventually. By the way as an asside there is very little risk of pests in hay as well since there is low moisture in straw and little nutritional value to pests such as mice. It also has an R value of approximately R50, I'd love to see stick frame construction compete with that.

Lots and lots of fat conduit and... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725231)

Then whatever happens you can just pull the wires through the walls. :)

And you can paint the walls with that wireless blocking paint that will keep most of us "out".

There's a sale on tin foil hats to keep your brainwaves from leaking out too. :)

Some ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725242)

You could put in:

1. Motion sensor controlled lighting (keeps track of when people are in rooms, turn off when no one is)

2. Individually climate controlled rooms

3. Solar power panels or shingles to power your house

4. A "Roomba Room" (tm) in the center of your house. It has an access to each room that a roomba can fit through, and they just go in, clean their room, then retreat to the Roomba Room so they aren't noticeable)

5. Computer-controlled trap doors (to go with your cameras). You hide in your main computer room, and when the RIAA/MPAA bust down your door to take their files back and bust your a$$, you take them out with trap doors that drop them into rooms filled with tessla coils that make short work of them.

6. Oops, forgot the Heavily Fortified Central Computer Room (tm), complete with tinfoil hat shielding and RFID de-activator, teleporter, and personal harem. How can any geek live without this?

7. Built in plasma screens covering every inch of your walls, all controlled by various computers in your control room. You can change their displays or have them in tv mode, for the ultimate in mood lighting. Never paint again!

8. Teleporter bays (may as well be prepared for when they do come!)

I think that's enough, just use your imagination, buddy! The possibilities are endless.

Suggestions (3, Interesting)

axonal (732578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725246)

Some interesting ideas would be the following. Some of these products can be found at

Electric deadbolts. You could eventually link these puppies up to your computer and allow remote locking/unlocking of your house, possibly even remove the need of a key and use thumbprint identification instead.

Be sure to put some ethernet ports near your major appliances. Some future appliances are planning to have network integration to let you know when they need to be fixed or require attention. Best Buy already sells a fridge with a wireless internet tablet.

I'd also suggest putting fiber in at your important locations of data transfer. Your main office workstation, media center, etc. Also run wire for a 7.1 surround sound system, and if you want to add even more convience consider possibly installing a house wide audio system so you can pump music into each of your rooms.

Also, you should possibly consider investing in VoIP. Rather than having to put in another jack for telephone, you could run everything through your ethernet.

Consider your house's surroundings. You could install automated irrigation systems, lighting control, and as well as proximity gate/garage openers.

Be sure to invest into a good security system to make sure no one steals everything you just put your money into. A good low-tech solution would be owning a dog.

Keep in mind though, if you do plan to make an entirely large technologically saavy house, you should also install some house wide precautions. You should invest in a serious housewide surge protector/power conditioners. Perhaps even consider getting some sort of backup power supply incase of emergencies. In which case, you should also isolate your power outlets for critical systems that should run off the backup as well so you won't be wasting backup power on non-critical devices during power outages. Also take into account power saving devices, efficiency is good. Consider flourscent and low wattage lighting. Well setup HVAC systems will monitor your house's environment well and know how to properly adjust.

Flamethrower perimeter security (5, Funny)

freelunch (258011) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725247)

Supply your in-ground sprinkler system with liquid propane and wire it to motion detectors.

And please put it on a webcam so we can watch.

DMX for lighting control. (2, Interesting)

lighting (745606) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725267)

Might I reccomend running DMX cabling for indoor/outdoor light control? It's easy enough to get switchbox sized controllers that'll allow you to switch between light presets, plus, you could always install dimmers. ~Nick

Hinged Baseboard (1)

anphilip (737117) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725269)

You should put in hinged baseboards along your room to allow the changing up of cables for whatever comes down the pipe. It'd also making plumbing, electrical work super easy..

alternate power grid (2, Interesting)

Cynikal (513328) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725271)

The first thing i would be designing for a new house for myself would be a second power grid, either as a 12 volt grid running from a battery backup in the attic/basement, or simply alternate outlets in each room that run from a generator or power inverter from the car. either way my main concern would be to have a wiring scheme in place in the event of power failure where i can still run a few lights and essentials in any room without having to power the entire house and appliances off the main grid.

The second little piggy has a message for you (1)

Analagous Covered (784015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725274)

I can tell you are going to regret the straw. Standard construction (sheetrock, brick)has less R Value, but you are putting yourself in a risky position using straw. There is just no way to anticipate what you are going to need 20 years from now - or even 10. I would at least listen to those who are suggesting lots of empty conduits. You make someday be facing a big bad wolf. Let the huffing and puffing analogies begin.

hold up a second (1)

raarky (653241) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725275)

"What cool thing will be cheap in a couple of years, leading my wife to ask, 'why didn't you plan for that'? "

woah woah woah.. hold the horse.
You have a wife that ACTUALLY wants you spend money on gadgets??!?!

where do i find one of those?

Solar DHW & Electric (4, Interesting)

silicon dad (778893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725282)

Consider Solar Hot water and Radiant heat.

If your utility charges US$.17/KWH or
more (PG&E customers with 2 * baseline
in Silicon Valley) consider solar electric
right away, otherwise put in the 600V
DC wires from the roof to the electric
meter for when the costs come down
enough to make it attractive.

Fiber (1)

Goose3254 (304355) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725283)

Pull in fiber during construction, even if it stays dark for a couple years. You never know when fiber could become a viable option for the home. Double up on your CAT5, even if you don't terminate it. You can always terminate it later, into whatever configuration you need at the time.

Like another poster said, every room, and I _would_ include the master bath plus plan for CAT5 for external surveillance and entertaining. Plan for speakers in the bathroom. News or music while you're getting ready for work...nice. Plan for more than one wall per room to be wired, it's a lot nicer NOT to have cables strung out around the room. Pull into a wiring closet to patch everything. Plan for speaker arrangment in the living/media room!!

In short, given the fact that wireless will never be as secure as wired, give yourself plenty of options when it comes to configuration. IMHO, wireless is to retrofit situations that the cable plants doesn't support.

Passive solar heating, digital thermostat (4, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725284)

I'd spend more time concentrating in efficiently heating and or cooling your house.

If you live someplace with cold winters...

Lots of well insulated south facing windows with eaves that overhang just the right amount so the windows are mostly in the shade from the eaves in the summer when the Sun is overheard but catch tons of sun in the winter when the Sun is lower on the horizon.

Then put remote controlled motors on the curtains so that they automaticly open and close for optimal heat in the winter(all closed at night and open to the east in the morning to the south midday and to the west in the afternoon) and for optimal light and minimal heat in the summer(close the curtains on the east windows in the morning and the west windows in the afternoon when the sun is shining in them, and then open them for light when the Sun isn't shining on them.

If the house is well insulated and you don't open the front door(or have a small entryway with two doors, to much you wont need much heat during the day in the winter. If you want to sink more money in to it you could probably bank some heat in water tanks or such and use them to keep the house warmer at night too.

Passive solar aside, do plenty of research and find a very good digital thermostat and efficient heating, air conditioning system. You also want to be able to program it so it automaticly minimizes energy consumption during times you are always out of the house(at work or school), or in bed, and warms up the house just before you get up or cools it down just before you get home from work in the summer.

Stove Home Phone (1)

[cx] (181186) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725292)

A stove that calls your house when you are cooking something for a certain amount of time, I'm always in a completely different part of the house and sometimes I forget. Give me a call, my loyal oven!


Cylon attack... (1)

Burning Plastic (153446) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725296)

Don't network your house like this - you're just making it more vulnerable to an attack by the Cylons!

Time-Out Corner (4, Interesting)

Takuryu (759826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725312)

When planning your house for the future, you need to have one corner in one room of the house designed to have _no_ electronic hookups at all. If possible, you should also make it into a wireless dead-spot. That way, when your future child (heck, even those might be electronic gadgets by then) needs some discipline, you can send them to the corner for an experience of life in the 20th century (also known as "back when I was your age"). On second thought, you should have as many as you plan on having children...

On a serious note, though... have you given thought to having one room without any hookups other than electric outlets? I have one room at my house that is my "escape" room. I don't have anything other than the room lights and a desk light in the room. I don't carry my cell-phone into the room. It is where I go to think, read books, practice playing music, etc... all free from the distractions of my gaming consoles by the TV, the new mail indicator flashing on the computer, etc.

Your mileage may vary, of course... but when your mother-in-law/father-in-law/mother/father/etc come for a visit, you would also have a room that would be somewhat "safe" to put them in... "safe" meaning that your house doesn't burn down when they try to figure out how to turn down the radio.


PS: You could help out the economy here and buy one of our fine, high-tech toilets [] .

Computer Room (1)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725313)

The most important thing to have is a really big computer room with lots of air-conditioning vents and outlets everywhere. Maybe a squareish room with low counters along all the walls, with appropriately-placed power and CAT-5 access. If you have this, its okay for the rest of the house to be Stone Age-style :-)

Go for solar power (4, Interesting)

grqb (410789) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725322)

Design your house so that you can add a solar power array. Dollars to doughnuts there will be some incentives for doing stuff like this in the future and it might even save you money in the long run. You can add a 2.6kW solar array for $23,000 as was done in Rochester NY recently [] , it works quite well. You can sell any excess power back to your utility and also check the status of your solar arrays online.

Faraday cage - it's a must (3, Interesting)

dindi (78034) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725329)

i am planning a house too, and i will put my bedroom in a faraday cage.
cellphone signals, computer radiation, high/low voltage cabling radiation goes byebye...

if you plan it nicely you can still have your tv stuff there, just use a projector with mirrored image (back projection)

why? just think of your office, the phone in your pocket... the phones next to you ...

now you sleep 6-8 hours, at least have all the bad stuff shielded from you and your family - especially small kids ....

on the other hand i always wanted a sensor like in johnny mnemonic that tells me the water temperature when i open the tap :) or be able to tell the tap if i want drinking cold or showering hot .....

hmmm .. well a motion detector that places a nice red dot on anyone entering the area would be cool too ...

more seriously: i really like the ideo of the house to be in different states depending on time and the number of people being home to automate lights (dicro filter is a nice touch for colour)/..
also temperature control depending on users ...
maybe have r2d2 bring my coffe or protein shake after my excercise

Use conduit to future proof your house (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725335)

Use conduit everywhere. I used 1.5" Innerduct in 500 foot spools which is very inexpensive $150. IFRCC. You can get 2" but I found that stiff and hard to bend. Some of my 1.5" runs are double. You do _not_ want to burrow thru the straw just to add another wire.

It's hard to pull a new wire in a nearly full conduit so in my house I pulled wires _alongside_ the conduit while the walls were open and left the conduit for future use. This may not be feasible in straw - so run _more_ conduit.

Lots of conduit - everywhere! More then you think you can ever use. Even then you will eventually want a wire to go where there is no conduit but you can at least cover most bases now.

Conduit with Pull Strings (4, Interesting)

mbrinkm (699240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725340)

Whatever amounts or locations that you decide for any wiring (electrical, coax, cat3/5/6, speaker, fiber) install it in conduit. This gives you the ability to "upgrade" the wire in the future using the old as a pull wire for the new. Then in specific locations that you feel may need future capabilities (entertainment areas, computer areas, etc) add a second spare conduit with a pull string installed for potential expansion. One note, this can get VERY expensive so planning it to meet your budget while maximizing your flexibility is important. But, if you have the money, putting everything into conduit and have some spares in the walls can give you some peace of mind.

Hmmm... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725342)

I don't think gadgets are really the way to go here. What you want is to make sure that you account for maximum bandwidth from each room to a centralized location. Cat 5 enhanced or Cat 6 would be currently good choices. As time progresses it appears that having every room wired allows you to do a multitude of things sine Ethernet seems like it will virtuall carry EVERYTHING (Multimedia, Internet, Phone, what have you). Probably a minimum of two drops per room with at least on drop up close to the ceiling for mounting a wireless access point in any location or a wired camera if you want something before those wireless TPZ come down in price.

Next, I would suggest that you really don't need gadgets as much as you need a really good powerful centralized home server. Dual (or more if you can afford it) CPUs is a great way to go. Think about it as your central app/file server first and get a few laptops to be used as thin clients. Then add to that box the hardware to become a VoIP "call manager" and the laptops can double as phone stations in addition to some 802.11 Cisco SIP Phones for more practical use. Also add TV functionality to that server so that it can be a PVR with your laptops again working as viewing stations. (If you're Linux based, this is all very easy to do) You can then set up another dedicated machine wherever you have your real TV to act as another head for the PVR on your server. That's why the wiring is important... with Gigabit over copper you can watch live TV from your MythTV PVR. :)

It' not (and never has been) about the gadgets, it's all about the hardware and what you do with it. Best of luck!

A system for wiring (1)

Beebos (564067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11725350)

I have been imaging a system for running wires in a house, that was intended to facilitate future types of wiring.

I imagine pvc pipes running through most walls in the house. They would all lead to a closet in the basement where all of the networking, a/v, security, home control equipment would be.

Regardless of the type of wiring, you could just knock a new hole in the wall where you knew the pvc pipe was and install what ever kind of outlet you wanted.

heres a cool tip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11725358)

put in a big vibrating orb and a magic bucket.

put in a big massive orafice in the wall and then construct an enormous erection in the basement and sit on that.
Invest wisely in networking. PUt USB hub in the toilet. but Make sure there is enough of a hole in the floor for allow for massive movements

don't smoke pot in your hippy house ok ?

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