Getting wireless throughout 3-storey house

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Windsor-tg

Occasional Visitor
My son has just bought a 3-storey house that has the lounge on the ground floor, a bedroom on the first floor and two further bedrooms on the second floor.

A telephone line comes into the front of the house on the ground floor. My son has not signed up to any internet provider yet. Since some work is going to be done on the house for routing pipe work and wiring etc, some floorboards are going to be lifted up on the first and second floor.

What is the best way to get things setup so that wireless can be picked up at a good speed throughout the 3-storey house?

In addition to having wireless throughout the house, may also want to have an Ethernet point in each of the bedrooms if that is possible.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
The best thing you could do is to run a CAT6 cable from the point where internet service will enter the house to each floor, preferably to a central point on each floor.

This way you will have a reliable "backhaul" connection that can be used to connect mesh points or access points in case you need them.

If you are already going to run Ethernet to bedrooms, you can use those connections.

The best location to give you the best coverage with one central router would be the middle floor. If the ISP modem must be located on the ground floor, run a second cable between ground and first floor. That way, you could locate the router on the first floor and have one cable from modem to router WAN port and the second cable from router LAN port to a switch on the ground floor.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
Since floors, ceilings and walls are being opened up, I would definitely take the opportunity to pull ethernet cable to all rooms, optionally inside of conduit or smurf tube (to provide easier re-pull of cable if/when needed). I would also skip the consumer stuff altogether and run small-business grade equipment from top to bottom; that will give your son a network that runs more like a utility or appliance, and less like a toy (a solid network is basically a necessity these days).

Wiring - I would pull at least two runs of Cat6 to a wall in each room, plus one or more runs to at least one ceiling location per floor for wireless access points ("APs"). You'd home-run all cables back to a network closet or cabinet, probably close to where the current telephone line (and future ISP line) enters the ground floor.

Equipment Setup - In the network closet/cabinet you'd place your wired network "core", comprised of the ISP modem, a wired router and a managed PoE switch (modem connected to router, router connected to switch, switch receiving all house runs of Cat6). For your wifi APs, you'd want a controller-based product (ie. one with a "brain") from the same model series and brand, to ensure seamless client roaming (among other items).

Product Selection - For something approachable that will just work, I would lean towards all Cisco small business gear (RV340 router, SG350-10MP switch, or if you need more ports, one of the silent, fanless 16 or 24-port PoE models from the new CBS series, plus a three-pack of CBW140AC wireless APs, one for each floor). You could certainly run other-brand firewalls or wifi, but the Cisco stack gives you arguably the easiest, most reliable, most well-supported solution, all from a single vendor.

Hope some of that helps. Happy to expand where needed.
 
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alba666

Occasional Visitor
thiggins and Trip beat me to the major points. :)
I would tell the electrician what you are trying to do and bundle as much of it into his work as makes sense.
I strongly advise to run drops to any room where the electrician is doing runs anyway.
Especially with older homes like mine, getting wireless to go through walls can be dicey. Plaster walls have a wire mesh that is very wireless unfriendly.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Building on all the above. :)

If staying with an AIO consumer router (and an RT-AC3100/RT-AC86U or better will be easily able to keep up with what you've described if there are a maximum of 32 wireless clients per radio in the router you select) then for that central location on the middle floor I would run up to 10 Ethernet cable runs (6 Ethernet runs minimum though with a 4 Port router).

One (or two) can be used for the WAN connections as needed, the others can be used to connect directly to the router's LAN Ports.

With an 8 Port or bigger switch on the other end of each of the LAN runs, the rest of the home devices can be effectively managed while giving the 'fairest' WAN accessibility for those clients too.

Unless you can also put the ISP's modem/ONT at that central location, seriously consider the above if wired clients will play a significant role in your home network.

HTH.
 

feelyat

Occasional Visitor
The best location to give you the best coverage with one central router would be the middle floor. If the ISP modem must be located on the ground floor, run a second cable between ground and first floor. That way, you could locate the router on the first floor and have one cable from modem to router WAN port and the second cable from router LAN port to a switch on the ground floor.
I used a setup like that in my house for years, before I eventually relented and went with a multi-AP approach. Both approaches worked, but I was surprised how much signal was absorbed by even a modest sized house, especially in the 5GHz band. I ran two cable runs up to a special location dead-center of my house; one for the WAN (cable modem), one for a LAN connection to my switch in the "wiring closet".

My current solution - 3 ceiling-mounted APs with wired backhaul to a POE switch - is much more reliable. Unlike some here, I have had success with lower-end consumer equipment (TP-Link/Ubiquiti), but I don't doubt that the Cisco small business line would probably work great.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
My current solution - 3 ceiling-mounted APs with wired backhaul to a POE switch - is much more reliable.
Echoes my original reply. Especially for a multi-floor residence, more properly-placed lower-power radios with more collective backhaul will out-perform and offer more redundancy than fewer higher-power radios with less collective backhaul, almost every time.
 

lodestone

New Around Here
Since floors, ceilings and walls are being opened up, I would definitely take the opportunity to pull ethernet cable to all rooms, optionally inside of conduit or smurf tube (to provide easier re-pull of cable if/when needed). I would also skip the consumer stuff altogether and run small-business grade equipment from top to bottom; that will give your son a network that runs more like a utility or appliance, and less like a toy (a solid network is basically a necessity these days).

Wiring - I would pull at least two runs of Cat6 to a wall in each room, plus one or more runs to at least one ceiling location per floor for wireless access points ("APs"). You'd home-run all cables back to a network closet or cabinet, probably close to where the current telephone line (and future ISP line) enters the ground floor.

Equipment Setup - In the network closet/cabinet you'd place your wired network "core", comprised of the ISP modem, a wired router and a managed PoE switch (modem connected to router, router connected to switch, switch receiving all house runs of Cat6). For your wifi APs, you'd want a controller-based product (ie. one with a "brain") from the same model series and brand, to ensure seamless client roaming (among other items).

Product Selection - For something approachable that will just work, I would lean towards all Cisco small business gear (RV340 router, SG350-10MP switch, or if you need more ports, one of the silent, fanless 16 or 24-port PoE models from the new CBS series, plus a three-pack of CBW140AC wireless APs, one for each floor). You could certainly run other-brand firewalls or wifi, but the Cisco stack gives you arguably the easiest, most reliable, most well-supported solution, all from a single vendor.

Hope some of that helps. Happy to expand where needed.
Hi @Trip,
I've been scouring the forums for advice on rebuilding our network and noticed that you recommended a different stack in another thread that seems similar. That question involved a 3400 SF, 2-story home that was completely CAT6 wired. Ethernet backhaul is possible in both cases. I'll not describe my home for now to avoid derailing because I'm more interested in understanding than in a specific recommendation for myself.

In this use case, you've recommended a Cisco stack. In the other thread, you recommended a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter 4, Netgear GS116LP (unmanaged), then either three Omada EAP225v3's + OC200 controller OR three Ruckus R500's with latest Unleashed firmware.

For learning purposes, can you comment on what was different in the two use cases that drove the different recommendations?

Thank you!
Jason
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
It really depends on the user 1) existing knowledge and understanding, 2) how much time they are willing to spend to learn and support the initial install, and 3) ongoing support.

CISCO SMB gear has been well supported and reliable in my experience. It has wizards that can accomplish many straightforward setups without a lot of specialized knowledge. i set my network (RV325, AP371 with VLANs, managed switches) starting from scratch without detailed understanding. It has been rock solid without reboots except for firmware updates. i was familiar with basic consumer gear (linksys, netgear) but frustrated with what i could not do and the hardware/firmware reliability.

Quoting Trip - "the Cisco stack gives you arguably the easiest, most reliable, most well-supported solution, all from a single vendor the Cisco stack gives you arguably the easiest, most reliable, most well-supported solution, all from a single vendor " says it all. That being said, it helps to understand basic networking and if used, VLANs (see setup guide on the SNB site).

The other vendor equipment he and others have mentioned requires more work and understanding of networking to set up. So it just depends on how much time and effort one wants to and can spend IMO.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
in another thread [...] you recommended a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter 4, Netgear GS116LP (unmanaged), then either three Omada EAP225v3's + OC200 controller OR three Ruckus R500's with latest Unleashed firmware. [...] For learning purposes, can you comment on what was different in the two use cases that drove the different recommendations?
Sure thing, although @degrub summarized it quite well.

In that other thread, we has a $400-500 budget for 3400 square feet of wifi, 10+ switch ports and solid routing. The cheapest all-Cisco small-biz setup would have been around $900+ (RV260, SG110-16HP, three WAP371 or 571's). The APs were the easiest to deviate on, since it's just Qualcomm underneath at the link layer (the same for nearly all the top purpose-built APs). Omada was/is arguably the best bang-for-the-buck new, and used R500s would provide even better link-layer quality and interference mitigation (although, being EOL, a year+ outdated on security updates). Since neither Cisco nor UniFi were in consideration as a complete solution at that point, multiple control planes would have to be managed regardless of whatever else I chose, so I went with an ER-4 over a Cisco RV, mainly because of additional cost savings (~$75-100 at the time) and SQM-based QoS on the ER, versus CBWFQ (class-based weighted fair queuing) on the RV, the former being better at de-bloating -- still a distinct possibility/probability with 20Mb of upload. So that was my thought process there...

In this case, though, without a hard budget and the gear going in elsewhere (out of your hands), I thought the value of a single-vendor solution and vendor-direct support for the entire stack would outweigh any supposed advantages of mixing brands and/or other routes, such as an all Ubiquiti UniFi stack, which, while very capable in its own right, is still much more buggy in certain areas and lacks support quality (and IMHO, UniFi Elite support is a bolt-on at best, not a from-the-ground-up wing that stands above all the products like Cisco has). So that's why I went with the suggestion I did here.

Hope that helps!
 

ddaenen1

Senior Member
On top of all the other great recommendations, i only have one piece of advice: Take your time to think on where you want to position your network cabinet. I have a similar setup with a central network cabinet which includes switch, router and some servers and i have moved it several times in the past years as the network grew which basically meant rerouting conduit and UTP cables. Due to the layout of my house, this wasn't a major issue as the cabinet is in the basment and all conduit is open against the ceiling so it was just some drilling and cable pulling work but in other cases, once you have done the piping and cabling work, you are stuck with it.
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
Cisco will support their product for years regardless of the security hacks. Cisco's techology is the best and is designed for long term use. Cisco does have an enterprise line so there are going to be limits on what you get in the small business line of networking gear. But Cisco is well aware of what the small business market is and what other vendors have available.

I think Ubiquiti will also but Ubiquiti is standing on some pretty old techology with the newer stuff riddled with bugs. At some point I think they will get a handle on it.

Consumer networking gear is designed for now and get through for a couple of years and if I get more than great.
 

lodestone

New Around Here
Thank you gentlemen. Well thought out posts, as usual, and very helpful to me. I'm seeing the trade-offs that went into each recommendation. I'd considered Ubiquiti's offerings and multiple mixed vendor solutions, but I'm just going to assemble the Cisco stack over the next few months.
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
Here are a couple of Cisco options. You can buy a Cisco RV345P router, switch and POE+ power for wireless units. This is the most compact solution. Then add wireless like the Cisco WAP581 APs, WAP571 APs, and WAP371 APs. The Cisco WAP581 are end of sale but are available on eBay used. The other option is to use a Cisco RV340 router and Cisco SG350-10P L3 switch with the wireless APs listed above.

I am currently running a Cisco RV340 router, SG350-10P, and 2 Cisco WAP581 wireless APs. I am testing the little SG350-10P and it works well. I am running the SG350-10P in layer 3 mode. If you are going more than 3 wireless APs then you will need the SG350-10MP which has more POE+ power.

Cisco has a new switch line out this month that I have not used but looks fun. The new Cisco switches start with CBS instead of SG.
 
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