Can I make my own DIY home theater?

The short answer is yes, you can build your own DIY home theater! But it isn’t a small undertaking. You need to plan, plan and plan some more. And then it’s going to take some hard work.

Because it’s such a complex undertaking, we’ve come up with this list of hints and tips. And at the end, we’ve summed everything up with a little advice. Read on to find out everything you need to know about putting together your own DIY home theater!

DIY home theaterDIY home theater: don’t skimp on the planning

Planning your home theater is the most important step. It’s the step you should spend the longest on. So our first piece of advice is that you should never, ever skimp on the planning (either when putting together your DIY home theater, or doing any home improvements).

The first decision you’ll have to make is where to have your home theater. Next, you have to figure out where the wiring will run. Then you have to plan exactly what equipment you’re going to want, and where it’s going to go. That all sounds very simple, but it’s anything but; there are so many choices these days for surround sound systems, and of course furniture and style.  

The sheer magnitude of planning you’ll have to do is why most people go with a professional. As electrical engineers, we spend a lot of time and money installing home theater systems, so we like to think we know what we’re doing! If you’re going to go it alone, you have to allow for the fact that it’s more difficult than it looks.

DIY home theater: do a dress rehearsal

Before you start actually installing your home theater, do a dress rehearsal. If you’re not sure exactly how to do that, it’s simple: set out all of the furniture, all of the equipment and all of the lighting (if possible) to see realistically what your home theater will look like. You might surprise yourself and find out that you don’t actually have enough room. Or, that you would prefer to put out the surround sound speakers somewhere else.

There’s nothing wrong with changing your plans around at this stage- that’s why you should always do a dress rehearsal. In fact, it’s not just possible but probable that you’ll make adjustments to the wiring setup, the equipment and the layout of your room at this point. Just bear in mind that you might have to put aside yet more time for your project, both because of the additional planning, and potentially the additional orders you’ll have to put in.

DIY home theaterDIY home theater: don’t rush your job

The last thing you should do is rush the installation of your home theater. If it’s a weekend project, don’t set an arbitrary limit of time- say, eight weeks- because projects overrun. Maybe you need a part that you didn’t realise you did. Or maybe you cut a cable in half by accident, and have to send off for a replacement. Accidents are always inches away from happening on jobs like these!

The same applies if you’re taking time off work to work on your project. You might be tempted to work day and night to finish your work in a week’s paid holiday. But if you do that, do you really think you’re doing the best job you possibly could? And if you knew that a professional electrician was rushing through the job you were paying them to do, would you be happy?

Of course you wouldn’t be happy! So apply the same rules to yourself: give yourself enough time, as long as it takes, to complete your project.

DIY home theater: do pre-wire everything, and wire everything properly

If you give yourself enough time, wiring is likely to take up a large portion of it. You have two options for wiring: if you’re fully renovating the room, the best method is to hang the wiring inside the wall. That way, you’ll be left with the amazing aesthetic effect of hidden wiring! But if you’re not going that far, think about alternative methods like a cable tidy. If you hire a professional, we can completely renovate the room, install insulation to muffle the sounds escaping from the room, and hide the wiring almost completely. Like we said, it’s a bigger job than it seems!

When you’re wiring, keep to the hints and tips you can find for wiring anything. Mark every single wire, so you know exactly what it is when it’s tangle with the other wires. Make sure you pick cables that are too long for the job you need them for, so you never pull them too tight. This is something you have to address during your planning stage, and if your cables are too short when you go through your dry run then you’ll have to order more. But it’s worth doing right, and doing right first time, because once you’re done with your project it’s best if it stays done!

DIY home theaterDIY home theater: always remember why you’re building a home theater

Through all the long days, and maybe long nights, remember this: it isn’t easy now, but once you’re finished, it’ll all be worth it. You’re likely to stress out by working on a large scale project like this, and there are guaranteed to be unforeseeable hitches. You might feel that you take one step forward and two steps back as you encounter roadblocks to realising your dream. But don’t give up!

The good thing is that if you hit a hitch that you just can’t overcome, you can always bring in the expert. Electrical engineers pick up the pieces of abandoned projects all the time, so it’s nothing we’re uncomfortable with. All that matters in the end is that you’re happy with your home theater, so if it gets to the point where you’re dreading coming home to be confronted by your unfinished project, call in the experts.

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