I can do literally whatever I want. What should I do?

I am planning an off-grid earthbag dome house in an unrestricted county with no codes for plumbing, electric, sewage, etc. I can design the home however I’d like. I already have construction, plumbing, sewage, windows, and layout settled. Now I am planning wiring/lights and automation.

In an earthbag dome the wires can be run wherever, lights can be built into the walls, extra power closets added anywhere, etc. I could put laser beams or disco lights. Whatever.

I am literally building from the ground up, including my own power source, so I can do 12v, 24v, 48v, 120v, and beyond. What would you do given no restrictions? Should I do two separate power feeds (220 service for conventional electronics, 12v for the lights/home automation component?)

Should I put speakers in each room, Star Trek style, so a central computer voice can say “there’s a fire” or “Someone is walking down the path” or “don’t forget to plant the turnips today?”

What should I look for incorporating into the wiring design? I currently have a couple thousand feet of 12-2 residential wiring to wire up 3 prong outlets. This wire typically runs from a junction box to wall outlets, two-way switches, maybe overhead light fixtures. Should I be thinking differently? Say, running ethernet cable everywhere and plugging that into a server in a server closet? Or, say, having wireless switches adhered to the wall that I replace batteries in and have no wires? Magnets? Microwave/radio dishes?

To give you an idea of how I’m approaching this project, here’s what I’m doing for windows:

My basic needs are for:
Led strip wiring which will be embedded into the wall to light the dome from the bottom up
Wall sconces and accent lights
Floor-mounted outlets in the middle of the dome area
tablet/speakers in the kitchen
A small home theater
exterior flood lights in case of bear, panther, errant hunters shooting a hole through my wall, or methadone addicts looking to rob me (all of which are threats I have actually encountered, no hyperbole here)
a fan in the kitchen to draw out smoke
an attached greenhouse with aquaponics pumps/fans

So if you could do it all with no restrictions, what would you be sure to bake into the construction? Thank you for your ideas!

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Yes. They make in ceiling speakers that also have bluetooth, so you can connect your phone or other device to listen to music on a single pair, or pipe in from wires for full home audio on all speakers, or to notify of alerts and events.

The one thing that I hated about every house I lived is there are never enough outlets, and they never have 20A anywhere. In this house, I hate that circuit breakers to rooms control both outlets and lights, usually in a different room or hallway! If you do the smart lighting thing, all lighting wiring should be completely isolated from the outlets.

What I would do is run an 18-4 and CAT6 ethernet for all wall switch locations, and have it run to a central location for lighting relay control, the 18ga would be a 12V/24V power network, and the ethernet for actual button presses or switch contacts at the location. Then you run the 12ga from the control relays to provide power to the lights, I would use a 10V PWM lighting system for new construction

The 12V network can also provide power for a wired security system, door/window contacts, motion sensors, smoke detection, etc, in addition to providing power to low voltage networked equipment, emergency lighting, etc.

Ethernet cable has a current limit to small to be used as a trunk for power, even with a high output POE switch. With 12V the current needed for lighting is even higher, so 12ga is what you want for your lights. I would not use POE lighting, but other things are great, like sensors, powered computers and network equipment, automation controllers,

Make sure those are GFCI and water/tamper resistant. I am super against floor outlets for safety reasons, I would have something protruding from the floor at least a foot then side mount them. For example, if you are “panning” the floor and having it be lower than exterior ground level, the outlets can be on the interior side of a walkway that spans part of the interior outer circumference, which would put them in proximity to the middle, but still protected from spills.

In fact given the construction type, I would make sure all breakers are GFCI, then use WRTR outlets at all locations. I assume you will be getting most of your power from a solar array?

Check this video out a programmer built an off grid house. Some different ideas just not the best implementations though. He uses an air compressor to throw the locks on all the doors for example.

Thank you Richie, this is great information and you’ve given me a lot of things to factor in. For example, I’ve always figured the problem with floor outlets was tripping hazard. I never thought about water. And that makes great sense. So I’ll be sure any outlet is elevated.

Can you tell me more about why you wish there were 20A outlets in more places?

I got my first 1000ft of 12-2 at the junkyard because a brand new roll is 50% of retail cost. $3/lb. Wire costs are surging right now. I can’t tell if it is a horrible time to buy wire because of this surge, or if I should grab it up while I can. I went with a middle ground and bought another 1000ft plus 1000ft of 14-2 wire. Just as he was erasing the $3/lb and writing $3.50/lb. Got in under the wire. I’ll look for 18-4 and CAT6.

I will do solar as a last resort but I really want to do micro hydroelectric. 5KW is the norm for those, with no service interruptions or babysitting.

Mikefila, great link! There are strong similarities between this and what I want to do. I fully expect to be living in a hut for a couple years while I get the main home established. I hope it is a nice hut but I’ll take what I can get.

I’m considering a rocket mass heater/stove combo for the kitchen and having that heat the home. But then I worry about summertime, where I don’t really want to light a fire in the middle of my house. So maybe I can rig up a heat diverter that vents straight outside.

These are the considerations I’m working through so when it’s just me and the dirt, I have a very clear plan in place.

As for doorlocks, I’m strongly considering hacking these to have a direct 3.7V line: