mobile navigation
close buttonClose Menu
close buttonClose Menu



How to Wire a Media Center

by Hickerson Brothers on June 30, 2016

Wiring a Structured Media CenterMonday is July 4th, the day we celebrate American Freedom and Independence with food, friends, family, and fireworks!  We hope you plan to have a great Independence Day celebration, but over the long weekend you may need some time to relax as well and for those of you who’ve been planning to upgrade your entertainment system, or have yet to set it up, this is a great opportunity (how else are you going to enjoy the wonders of 1996’s blockbuster Independence Day film?)  So break out the speakers, cable, and your new TV and let’s get that media center hooked up!

The Structured Media Center

Planning your media center is an important first step.  A structured media center (SMC) will have a central box to handle all incoming signals and where those signals are being delivered.  These boxes can seem very confusing to the uninitiated.  Even when they contain clean runs of cables they look like complex mazes of wiring.

First off, what are you attempting to connect within your SMC?  Typical connections you’ll find controlled within an SMC are:

  • Networking
  • Cable TV
  • Antenna (HD or Radio)
  • Digital Media (Using Ethernet)
  • Video Security
  • Whole-Home Audio

These boxes are usually hidden away in an electrical closet, but can also be hidden away in a main room behind a clever wall hanging.  To set up an SMC correctly you need: cables, terminals, and the box itself.  This sounds simple at first, but don’t forget that each individual type of media has an associated cable.  For the majority, networking cables and a patch panel are used (for relaying media information at high speeds in high quality).  TV signals are typically transferred over coaxial cables.  So make sure you purchase the correct cables and terminals for your media.

For a simple setup, computer, antenna, audio, and networking connections are all you’ll need.  Measure out the distances between sources (computer room, antenna, media centers) to the SMC and plan for how you’ll protect the cables.  Running them through walls or through conduit are most common.  Inside the box, source cables (from media) should connect to distribution modules that will allow cables to be sent elsewhere.  Splitters and distribution modules are the key use for SMCs.

Your distribution modules should be planned out in advance.  Where are you sending signals too?  Is a network switch required to connect network ports in your home?  Once you’ve marked out the cable runs it’s a simple task to wire up the inside of your SMC.

The Alternative

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by trying to run cable and solve which cable types connect to which media, you can always use a simple media streaming device.  Connecting a computer to your entertainment system is relatively simple and, with the ease of installing a wireless router to create a network, makes plugging everything in a breeze.  Of course, if you’d still like to have a fully-wired home, you can always call Hickerson Brothers.  Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy a great media center, have a happy weekend everyone!

Hickerson Electrical is your source for all home electrical services.  We’re ready and willing to deliver top-quality service to your home at a moment’s notice.  So call today at (703) 594-3913.

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for updates, guides, and helpful information each week!