I recently read that "smart wiring" is being used in home additions and renovations. Is copper the wiring most people use when installing new wiring? I've also heard that you should consider surge protectors in rooms and additions where there's new wiring. I'd really like to know what smart wiring entails and a reasonable range in costs.
Stan T. ~ Denver, Colorado
Copper is the most common type of wiring used in homes. You will also find aluminum wiring, but it is much less common, it is mostly found in manufactured homes or in large service or sub panel feed lines. I am not familiar with any reason that may justify the use of a surge protector in one room versus another. I do think that the use of a surge protector/battery backup device for a computer is a good idea. An electrical surge does not discriminate between the rooms in a home. All rooms, new and old, have the same exposure to an electrical surge.
Smart wiring, structured wiring, wiring smart all mean basically the same thing. They mean wiring with a detailed plan for an entire home and providing for any possible future wiring needs. Wiring a home this way has many different levels or degrees of complexity. One level could simply be making sure that you have the right wires in the wall to provide your TV with a High Definition picture. Another level would be wiring with Low voltage, data, coaxial, 120volt, phone, and speaker wire throughout your home, so that you can control every system in your home, from multiple locations or even controlling your homes systems remotely. Smart wiring requires a very detailed plan of what you want to do and where you want to do it, even if you plan on using wireless systems. This type of comprehensive wiring can be very complex and very costly. Installation can range from the thousands to the tens of thousands dollars and can be very difficult to retrofit in an existing home. Unfortunately there is no ballpark cost number for this type of wiring because there are so many options that go along with it. The best way to get a feeling for the cost of what you want is to meet with a couple of electricians and get some bids. You literally have hundreds of options here. Once you start figuring out what you want, you should be able to start getting some ballpark cost figures.