In a world where everyone is talking about wireless, wiring is often overlooked, yet it is still one of the most essential parts of any communication system, providing reliability and robustness that cannot be rivalled by our convenient wireless friend. In fact, the vast majority of communications and services we love today enjoy a wired backbone with good reason.

I’m sure we’re all sick of poor wireless signal preventing the bedtime check of Facebook, stopping you from uploading your latest #LiveInstall to Twitter or haphazardly streaming music to the garden for all two weeks of our British summer. Suffer no more friends, for the humble cable is here to save the day.

Before you rush off and buy a few miles of cable, let me help you understand how most British homes are currently wired and some core considerations when planning your house wiring, with solid and lasting communications in mind.

Ring Wiring

What is it?

Ring, or ring main wiring is exactly what the name suggests, a cable that runs around your home and comes back to where it started, i.e. forming a ring. This is the most commonly used wiring topology in the UK. The biggest advantage of Ring wiring is that it does not require huge quantities of cable.

Where and how is it used?

Ring wiring is commonly used for the “Ring Main”, i.e. to provide power to the sockets in your house. For networking and data applications Ring wiring has been discarded in favour of bus and, and more recently, star wiring.

Diagram of a possible configuration of ring final circuit. Consumer unit (fuse box) is at bottom left.
The conventional bus wiring

Bus Wiring

What is it?

Imagine a bus driving from one stop to the next and then on again. Bus wiring follows the same principle, the wire starts from one point and then goes from device to device forming one line. Bus wiring reduces the amount of cable needed to connect devices, but has limitations in its flexibility. Adding to or making changes to an existing Bus infrastructure is challenging, but not impossible.

Where and how is it used?

Bus wiring is used in some automation systems for communication between devices. A common example is KNX, formerly known as European Installation Bus (EIB). Bus is very convenient when wiring many devices with small amounts of cable. In networking, where speed and data rates are essential, this has largely fallen out of favour to star wiring.

Star Wiring

What is it?

In a star topology a dedicated cable is installed from one central point to each device, resulting in, you guessed it, a star. This will of course result in a large number of cables, but is still regarded as the most future ready form of wiring, as it allows each cable to be repurposed in the future.

Where and how is it used?

The most common application for Start Wiring is in networking. It is also used in many control and automation systems, as well as for high bandwidth video distribution such as HDBaseT.

Star wiring diagram

Free Form Wiring

What is it?

Free form is a hybrid evolution of the other topologies, allowing wiring with (almost) no rules. You can wire devices in a line, star or any combination or mutation of these. Generally, anything goes.

A free form topology can greatly reduce the amount of cable used to connect devices, benefiting from the least length in comparison to all other topologies, but with greater flexibility on cable routes.

Where and how is it used?

There aren’t many existing domestic applications of free form wiring, with Loxone Tree being a flagship of this topology. The best comparison would be to the sensory and diagnostic wiring within cars, where priorities are communication efficiency, reliability and flexibility in wiring.

Loxone Tree Verkabelung

So which is right for me?

The right choice largely depends on the priorities of your project.

If you want maximum flexibility and future ready infrastructure, then star wiring is the obvious choice, as it allows the point-to-point connections to be used for any communications in future. You may also want to consider CAT7 cable, if future-proofing is a key consideration for you.

If you want to reduce the amount of cabling infrastructure, installation time and thus cost, Free Form is for you. Bus topology, whilst reducing the amount of cabling and installation time is not as flexible and expandable as a free form topology, and thus should only be a consideration where Star or Free form are not an option.

 

Still confused about house wiring?

If you are planning a rewire for a smart home and want to discuss your requirements, then why not visit the our office and meet us in person? My fellow Partner Consultants and I are always keen to meet Partners and customers alike.