Wiring for most low voltage projects can be accomplished using 16/2 or 18/2. The first number refers to the Wire Gauge and the second number refers to the number of conductors. 16/2 for example is a 2 conductor wire and is heavier than 18 Gauge. A good “Rule of Thumb” is to use 18/2 for wire runs under 50Ft and 16/2 for wire runs up to 150Ft. These parameters should cover most residential situations encountered. Do not skimp or use cheap wire and DO not use lamp cord ever! Use good quality wire that is CL2 rated or higher. The “CL2” is a wire rating that allows the wire to be run inside a wall and will pass most low voltage residential inspection. In commercial installations, you will need to verify and use what the electrical specifications call for. For residential applications, we typically use 16/2 “CMP” rated and shielded with drain. The “shield” is a foil wrap around the wire that helps prevent interference from other electrical sources that may disrupt the power and communication to the motor. The “Drain” is a small wire wrapped in the wire bundle that can be run to Earth Ground and drain any harmful interference in the wire run. If you want to run the wire yourself and save some money, check with your local Electrical Inspector to find out what types of wire will pass an electrical inspection. Using 16/2 or 18/2 will allow us to use motors and systems that will integrate easily with many popular and well know home automation systems including: Vera, Crestron, Control 4, HAI, SmartHome, Lutron HomeWorks, RadioRa2 and many others!!! Many automation companies have embedded software drivers that allow control of almost any type motor that will be used. Some automation companies, however, have proprietary communication protocols that only allow use of their motors.
If you are planning on installing skylights, just pre-wire for them now!!! You will thank yourself down the road when you are sitting there on a Sunday afternoon watching the football game on your brand new 63″ plasma with the sun obscuring half the screen.