STRUCTURED WIRING COMPANY USTEC has a new approach to home technology that should resonate with builders. Bill Thompson, UStec's president and founder, says that in most cases, once home builders decide on a structured wiring panel, they are stuck with it.

“The cost-conscious builders go with the small panels, and the most they can [add on] to the panel is to put a router in,” Thompson says, adding that builders who want to hook up other features such as security or lighting are stuck.

UStec is now shipping ceLAN, an affordable, entry-level structured wiring kit that lets the home builder's installer easily add modules as the homeowner's requirements change. The ceLAN cabinet costs the builder approximately $100 installed, not including wiring, and will deliver telephone and cable TV capability in four rooms.

According to Thompson, first the Category 5 and RG6 wires go into the wall; then, before the drywall goes up, the builder installs a special bracket. The drywall is installed around the bracket. When the time comes to put in the home-technology gear, the installer pulls the wires from the wall and sets up the equipment in a metal cabinet that attaches to the bracket. Additional cabinets for features such as distributed audio and video, security, and lighting can be surface mounted on the wall by turning drywall screws into the walls.

“This just makes a lot of sense for the builder,” says Thompson. “Installing the bracket is just a slight modification to what they do anyway,” he says, adding that most builders install Cat-5 and RG6.

Thompson says the ceLAN infrastructure is the perfect lead into UStec's new tecStream product, a home automation device that distributes high-definition video throughout the house and offers integrated lighting control and security.