Low Voltage Wiring Options for Commercial Buildings

Low voltage wiring is essential for supporting technology, lighting, HVAC, security and other systems in modern commercial buildings. Selecting the right types of low voltage cabling and pathways allows building owners to future-proof their properties while meeting safety and performance standards. This article provides an in-depth look at the key factors in choosing low voltage wiring for commercial projects.

Categories of Low Voltage Wiring

There are several main categories of low voltage wiring used in commercial buildings:

Structured Cabling

This refers to the cabling infrastructure for telecommunications and data networks. It includes:

A properly designed structured cabling system allows for easy upgrades as technology evolves.

Access Control and Security Wiring

This includes cabling for:

The right security wiring prevents bottlenecks and limits while supporting expansion.

Lighting Control Wiring

Cables used to connect:

Low voltage lighting control wiring is an essential part of energy-efficient lighting designs.

HVAC Control Wiring

This includes cables for:

Proper HVAC control wiring helps maximize comfort while minimizing energy usage.

Audiovisual Wiring

Cabling infrastructure to connect:

AV wiring provides connectivity for systems that improve presentation capabilities, communication and accessibility.

Other Low Voltage Systems

Cabling may also be needed for building automation systems, nurse call systems, fire alarm systems and more. Each has particular wiring demands.

Cable Types

There are various cable constructions used for low voltage wiring:

Plenum vs. Non-Plenum

Plenum is generally preferred where allowed, for fire safety.

Twisted Pair

Twisted pairs of copper wiring, providing differential signaling. Used for systems like Ethernet networks.


A central conductor surrounded by insulation and a grounded shield, primarily used for older data networks, video surveillance, TV/satellite connections.

Fiber Optic

Hair-thin flexible glass/plastic fibers that transmit data via pulses of light. Used for high speed backbone connections.

Paired Cable

Two insulated copper wires bonded together, often used for lower voltage lighting control systems.

The right choice depends on the applications, distances and performance needed.

PoE - Power over Ethernet

Many modern low voltage devices can be powered directly through the Ethernet cabling.

PoE eliminates the need for separate power supplies. PoE switches inject low voltage DC power onto the Ethernet cables. Devices like WiFi access points, IP cameras and VOIP phones have PoE ports that extract the DC power while simultaneously transferring data.

PoE can greatly simplify wiring for powered devices. The two main standards are:

Higher power versions like PoE++ also exist.

Wireless Options

While most permanent low voltage wiring is hardwired, wireless options are also available:

However wireless has limitations for bandwidth, interference and connectivity. Hardwired options are generally preferred for reliability.

Wiring Pathways

There are several wiring pathway options during construction:


Metal or plastic conduit protects cables and provides room for expansion. Different types include:

Conduit is inflexible but offers high protection.

Cable Tray

Open trays provide an easy method for running multiple cables together. Must be installed properly to avoid interference issues.


J-shaped hooks fasten to ceilings and walls to support suspended cable runs. Provide flexibility for wiring changes.

Poke-Through Floor Devices

Allow cables to be neatly routed through openings in raised floors. Help keep pathways accessible.

Careful planning of pathways reduces implementation headaches down the road.

Codes and Best Practices

Low voltage wiring must comply with various regulations, codes and standards:

Other best practices:

Getting sign-off from the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) ensures compliant, trouble-free operation.

The Importance of a Proficient Installer

Low voltage wiring underpins practically all key building systems that impact occupant safety, productivity and quality of life. Hiring a registered cabling contractor (RCDD) or certified installer protects your investment by:

The incremental cost of a proven professional is insignificant compared to the benefits.


A properly designed low voltage wiring system provides the connectivity backbone in modern commercial buildings. Paying attention to factors like cabling types, pathways, PoE, codes and installer qualifications ensures optimal support for critical IT, AV, security, lighting and HVAC systems. Investing in quality low voltage infrastructure positions buildings for the demands and innovations ahead.