I recently received a referral from a long time client. The call came in and the client said, "I have one of those Home Distribution systems with wires going everywhere."
Home Distribution panels are quickly becoming common place in all new construction. The premise being, with everything moving to IP, it only makes sense to have a central distribution point for all the communication in your home. Generally speaking, a home distribution panel consists of Cable, Telephone and Satellite services into the home, as well as Data, Telephone and Cable TV distribution to all room in the home. Many home distribution panels also have whole home audio distribution and security added to the system.
Home distribution panels are a wonderful concept in that they put everything to do with entertainment, communication and security in one location. This helps in reducing clutter (No more routers, modems and tangled wires under your computer desk.) As well, a properly installed Home Distribution panel also provides easy installation of a Home Automation and Multi room audio distribution systems. This may sound a little far fetched, however, Home Automation Systems have become increasingly popular with the introduction of the Ipad and other portable touch screen network devices. The thought of controlling your security, temperature, entertainment and lighting has almost become a mainstream necessity alongside high speed Internet and Satellite television.
With many telephone companies moving into the Television market, converting your home from standard Cable to an ADSL TV service is a simple matter of moving jumpers in a properly installed Home Distribution panel which includes Home Audio Distribution alongside Home Video Distribution and Data Distribution.
On the other side of the coin, an improperly or incomplete Home Distribution panel will provide you with nothing more than spaghetti wiring and headaches, like in the picture to the left. Along with a security system, this particular "Home Distribution panel" consists of telephone and cable in data, telephone cable out. Due to a lack of planning and a severely undersized Home Distribution Panel, this Home Distribution panel has become nothing more than a difficult to service mess of wires and electronics. Instead of being neatly tucked away in a can, the Modem, Router and Digital Phone Router (VOIP) are located outside the Home Distribution can. Forget about expanding this system to any sort of Home Automation / Home Audio Distribution system. There is barely enough room for the Security Alarm panel and battery. Well, that and there are no Audio Distribution wires to speak of. Sure, the home does have the typical centrally located theatre room, however there is no infrastructure for the installation of an Audio Distribution System (Aside from an IP based solution such as Colorado Vnet or Control4.)
I guess the long and short of it is, Not all Home Distribution Panels are created Equal. A properly installed Home Distribution system should provide enough space and wiring to accommodate future upgrades in technology. While a basic LAN will provide an avenue for many added feature, it is not the be all and end all. The infrastructure needs to be properly thought out and planned.
I have also included another picture of a different take-over. This particular "Home Distribution System" has enough wires for a small factory, however, the factory seems to be abandoned. We since cleaned up the system as much as possible and False Alarms have been eliminated.