What You Need To Know About Furniture for AV Storage and Wire Management
Technologies for today’s homes and offices are sleek, contemporary and elegant. Some elements, such as touch panels, custom-framed LED displays and speakers that look as incredible as they sound, are meant to be seen. But then there’s the behind-the-scenes components; the receivers, amplifiers, switchers…all the things with the blinking lights and shiny knobs that you may choose to either showcase or hide away. Either way, they all live somewhere and that somewhere has specific requirements.
Technology systems are comprised of various electronic components that require power which, inherently, produces heat. Just like your laptop or other electronic devices, they need proper ventilation for reliable, peak performance. Not all furniture is suitable to house electronics.
Choices for housing audio video gear are numerous and offer some rather ingenious solutions for providing air-flow, managing cables and allowing IR signal visibility as required. Regardless of whether your components are stored in an equipment rack in a remote storage closet or front-and-center in a media cabinet or credenza, purpose-built AV furniture will provide these essential features.
The AV Equipment Rack
AV equipment racks are available in various heights, measured in rack spaces or units, depending on the requirement of the components. They can be installed inside of a media cabinet, on a wall using a swing-out mount or placed on casters for ease of accessibility when servicing. Extensive whole-house or integrated commercial systems may require multiple racks. Racks can be placed in the room or located in an out-of-the-way space such as a centrally located, climate-controlled closet. Some installations will require forced ventilation through the use of thermostatic rack fans that will draw heat away from the gear. When gear is stored in an enclosed unit, it is imperative that air be allowed to flow so that the heat can adequately dissipate.
Wireless, Not Cordless
The beauty of integrated systems is, well, that they’re integrated; each of the systems “talk” to one another. Talking equals connectivity and that connectivity requires cabling and cords, including wireless solutions. While wireless gear and speakers offer elegant, wire-free signal, electronics still require power. AV furniture provides access to the components as well as rack “rails” or channels to attractively conceal or “manage” the wiring.
Once the cabling leaves the rack or unit, the best path for wire runs needs to be determined, along with factoring in the length of the run and calculating conduit specifications. This is where Automation Design + Entertainment shines. We’ve got the tools and know-how to get cables from Point A to Point B and beyond with minimal impact and while factoring in future demands and incorporating those unattractive wires into an aesthetically pleasing (or even invisible) design!
Depth also needs to be factored in when placing components. In addition to allowing space for proper airflow, connecters and cables add to the depth required for the back of the gear. Plan for a minimum of 20” in depth. Knobs and control access are also a factor for various reasons. First, units with doors need suitable clearance to properly close. Second, if the system is IR-controlled, a clear line-of-sight must be established otherwise an IR distribution system will be required.
Gaming consoles and media storage present a challenge. Game consoles, with all their processing power, give off considerably more heat than AV equipment and, while they are RF (radio frequency which does not require sightline) allowing for entertainment unit doors to remain closed, gamers still need convenient access to the unit to charge their controllers. As for Media storage, even though it seems the logical thing to do, Media should be stored separately from electronic equipment so the heat does not affect the digital content.
Customization and Communication
While audio video racks and entertainment units are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, custom units are often desired. Some people embrace the high-tech electronics and incorporate the sophisticated gear into the room’s design through custom-framed and installed racks that face the room’s interior. We love this approach but advise that they be installed at the back of room so as not to distract the viewer from the action on the LED display or projection screen. Another popular solution is the “floating” shelves or enclosed media unit. These units are bracketed to the wall without a base as if they are hovering above the floor.
For any of your custom work, Automation Design + Entertainment can provide you or your interior design team with detailed drawings and/or dimensions for millwork. We will also communicate with your electrician or other trade where power drops need to be located.
Form and Function Align!
Today’s purpose-built AV furniture – credenzas, entertainment centers and glass étagères -will offer proper ventilation, accessibility to components and elegant wire management. We’ll determine the space requirements and share with you and your designer a variety of elegant choices or, when a custom solution is desired, provide the details needed to create the perfect solution for your home or office technology.