Wiring a Home Entertainment System

A how-to guide

Is the back of your television a mass of wires and a tangle of cables? Does it look more like a pigeon's nest than an organized electrical system? If the answer is yes, then you need help. Luckily, wiring an electrical system doesn't have to be a complicated thing for the beginner; it can be almost as easy as turning on a light switch.

Start by setting a budget and working with what you already own. It might seem tempting to focus on grandiose plans - setting the lights, stereo, television, and microwave onto a simple handheld remote. But if you start thinking like that, you'll be in over your head before you have time to think. Instead focus on the basics of your entertainment center: the television, DVD players, speakers, etc. Think about your needs, and figure out a plan to achieve them.

Most homes are equipped with only a basic two-hole electrical outlet, which isn't conducive to electrical wiring. One way to work around this is to turn your basic outlet into more outlets. Many home improvement and discount stores sell adaptors that easily slide inside the outlet to create six outlets instead of two. Some sit flush against the outlet, while others work on an angle for tight spaces.

Another option, and maybe a better option depending on the amount of electrical equipment, is a surge protector. Surge protectors are for more than just computer equipment, and can accommodate up to 12 appliances.

A problem many beginners run into is combining older systems with newer ones. Many of the new DVD players and video game systems require three holes on the back of the television - two for audio and one for video - but older televisions only have one or two. To work around this, invest in an audio adaptor; they are available from most electronic stores for $20 to $30, and are a lot cheaper than buying a new television.

To protect the wires, and keep them from becoming tangled, use small twist ties from garbage bags to bundle together matching wires for each system. It will make it easier when it comes time to move the system. If hiding the wires is your first thought, consider keeping them under the carpeting or covering them with a small throw rug.

Also, try labeling the different cords and wires with a small piece of masking tape. This can save you time and effort if you need to unplug one electronic device and you have multiple things plugged in.

The best tip for beginners when it comes to wiring an entertainment system is to check the manuals for help. Make sure to keep them in an easily accessible place just in case you have future problems. It can save you a lot of money and time in the future.

By Jennifer Eblin