On this page:
- Estimating Your Installation
- A Home Theater System Is More than a Luxury
- Factors that Affect Cost
- What’s Involved with Home Theater Installation?
- Preparing for Installation
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
A home theater allows you to recreate the experience of going to the movies without leaving your house, but it can be more than that. With the proper connectivity, a home theater system can also be your window to the world. Because of the many options available, installation prices vary widely -- from nothing if you do your own installation to several thousand dollars for a complex system.
Estimating Your Installation
Cables and Mounting Equipment
The main cost involved with a home theater system installation is often that of the equipment itself. Once you have the equipment, the installation may require subsidiary equipment, such as cables and mounting paraphernalia over and above that which comes with the equipment. For example, a single HDMI cable can add $70 to the estimate. If you have to buy a mounting bracket for a large TV, that adds $130.
It costs more to mount large, heavy equipment than it does to mount smaller equipment. For example, the typical cost to install a 21-inch TV is $100, whereas it costs $250 to mount a 65-inch or larger one. In addition, installation may require modifications, such as constructing additional cabinetry or wall alcoves.
Equipment Connections and Adjustment
Connecting audio and video equipment, adding speakers, and connecting to a cable service provider are important parts of the installation process. Adjusting the settings and tuning the equipment to ensure you get the best reception and reproduction are just as important, and the cost depends on the complexity of the equipment.
A Home Theater System Is More than a Luxury
Great Video and Audio
A home theater system makes watching television and movies -- as well as listening to your favorite pop artists -- that much more enjoyable because of enhanced video and sound quality.
Access to a World of Entertainment
With thousands of channels at your fingertips, you’re never wanting for engaging and informative content. Most systems allow you to record your favorite shows and skip the commercials during replay.
A home theater is more than an entertainment system. Use your internet connection to stay in touch with colleagues, coworkers and customers worldwide and to create your own virtual office. You can commute to work every day without leaving your living room.
Real Life Entertaining
A living room with a home theater system is a great place to invite your friends for an evening of movies and video streaming. Can’t make it to the big game? Have a tailgate party right in your living room, snacks and all.
Factors that Affect Cost
A large-scale, complex system needs more wires than a smaller one, and these wires all have to be properly hidden. The cost is commensurate with the number of cables and the length of each one. Complex systems with multiple components are also more difficult to set up and tune, and that requires expertise and hikes the installation costs.
There is a big price difference between installing a basic system in a box -- which is often a DIY project -- and a full-on media center or home cinema. Small systems cost a few hundred dollars or less, whereas installation of high-end home cinema systems, complete with seating, can cost upwards of $40,000, not including the price of components. Media center installations starts at $13,000.
Wall Jacks and Outlets
A home theater system needs power, and if you don’t have an accessible outlet or cable jack, you have to install one. You may also need a cable outlet. The typical cost for an electrician to install an electrical or cable jack is between $100 and $250, which includes the cost of running cables behind the walls.
If you plan to stream data, you’ll need to establish a contract with a service provider, and this ongoing fee should be factored into the cost of installing a system. If you already have internet or cable service, you may have to upgrade it to get the most from your home theater.
What’s Involved with Home Theater Installation?
Placing the Equipment
When the installers arrive at your house, their first job is to mount the TV screen, ten find suitable places for the receiver, Blu-Ray player, and other system components. It helps if you have a dedicated cabinet. If not, the equipment may have to be placed on shelves. If your system includes a satellite dish, it will have to be mounted in an appropriate location on the roof.
Once all the system components are in place, the installers will plug the components into wall outlets and connect everything with cables. To make the cables invisible, they may run them under carpets or behind baseboards.
Initializing the System
It usually takes a fair amount of expertise to get all the parts of a complex system coordinated so they work together. Sound and video systems must be calibrated, and the remotes that control everything must be properly programmed.
An important part of the installation process is to walk the homeowner through the various parts of the system. It’s beyond the scope of an installer’s job to prepare you for every eventuality, but when the installers leave, you should know how execute most basic operations.
Preparing for Installation
Book a Consultation
Installing a home theater system is a major project that can significantly impact the design of your house and the way you use it. A basic consultation that will help you determine what design modifications would work best -- as well as the extra wiring you will need and other details -- costs from $100 to $500.
Get All the Wiring Done
Before the installers arrive with the equipment, make sure that you have enough electrical outlets and cable jacks to handle it. If the wiring is in place, it’s easier for the installers to conceal the wires needed to connect the equipment, and you won’t need any messy extension cords.
Establish Cable Service
When you contact your service provider, you should schedule service to start on the day of the anticipated completion of the installation. That way, the installers can set up your system and you can use it right away.
|$100 - $2,000||$700 - $16,000||$13,000 - $40,000|
From a small system consisting of a flat-screen TV and Blu-Ray player to a large multimedia center, installation options accommodate every option and wish list.
Home Theater in a Box (HTIB): $100 - $2,000
- • Equipment Purchase: Pre-packaged home theater equipment, including everything you need, costs anywhere from $100 to $1,500.
- • Consultation: You generally don’t need a consultation to set up a HTIB.
- • System Support: You may need to install and outlet or cable jack if there isn’t one available. However, a pre-packed system is usually small enough to allow you to bring it to the outlet instead of the other way around.
- • Equipment Installation: Homeowners typically install HTIBs themselves. Professionals charge $150 to $400 for the service.
Home Theater and Media Center (HTMC): $700 - $16,000
- • Equipment Purchase: Flat-screen TVs, speakers, amplifiers and tuners all vary in price. You may spend anywhere from $250 to $13,000 for the equipment.
- • Consultation: A consultation is recommended before installation. It usually costs about $100.
- • System Support: Wires and cables can cost from $15 to $2,000. You may also need to install one or more electrical outlets or cable jacks. Cable service can costs from $30 to $240, depending on options.
- • Equipment Installation: Assuming no room modifications are needed, installation for an average system costs between $400 and $800.
High-End Home Cinema: $13,000-$40,000
- • Equipment Purchase: The equipment for a home cinema costs about the same as for a large-scale HTMC.
- • Consultation: Besides consulting a home theater expert, you should also consult with an interior designer or building contractor, depending on the scale of the cinema.
- • System Support: A home cinema is typically a dedicated room, complete with sound insulation and seating. Cables, wiring and service cost about the same as they do for a large HTMC.
- • Equipment Installation: High-end equipment requires special mounts and room modifications. Once the system is tuned and the video and audio calibrated, the installation bill can be from $400 to $3,000.
Level of Difficulty
Although a homeowner with an intermediate knowledge of electronics can install a HTIB and even an average HTMC, you should count on professionals to install complex and heavy equipment. It often takes specialized knowledge to get your system up and running in the shortest time possible without programming or connectivity glitches.
Home Theater Installation Services
If you’ve decided to get started on your home theater system, contact the pros to help you lay it out and choose your equipment. After you make all the necessary preparations, professional home theater installers can have your system up and running in no time.