Home network installation help

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Reece

New Around Here
Hi everyone 1st time post here. New to this type of networking. Current set up is ASUS router, 1 AP 1 extender and home plugs. Want to ditch as much as that as I can so I’m networking my home with Cat6a structured cable via conduits/trunking in the walls and associated faceplates.
My plan is to have a central hub/rack in the attic with patch panel and switch. The ONT and router will be located separately in the bedroom below. Couple of questions in preparation.
Can I patch router>wallplate>patch panel>switch which will then serve or the ports connected to the switch either directly or through the patch panel or do I need to run a separate patch cable from router to the switch?
And, keeping my options open....
The ONT is a fixed point in the bedroom below and I may want at some point place the router in the attic. Can I patch ONT>wall-plate>router WAN>routerLAN>switch and still serve all the ports?
Everything will be Ethernet connections from ONT. The initial plan is 16 outlets via patch panel>switch and 2 x AP direct to the switch.
Thanks Reece
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
router or switch in the attic (unconditioned space typically) is a bad idea. If the attic is heated and cooled to keep it the same as your living space, then ok. Make sure you read the electrical specs on the equipment for operating temperature and humidity. Most devices are designed for conditioned space.
Using the wiring in the wall to get from the router to the switch is not an issue as long as the wire pulls and terminations are correctly done. It does give you theoretically more potential points of failure ( more connections). If you have CAT6 or 6a run, make sure the contract includes testing and validation of the maximum bandwidth, not just continuity testing. That way you catch wire damage from pulling, mechanical defects at the connectors, unterminated shielding, etc.

i have an ATT ONT that runs its ethernet port to GoCoax MOCA2.5 modems to make the home run to the ISP router over RG6.
 

Reece

New Around Here
Thanks for that degrub. Made me rethink as I went into the attic the other day and it was freezing. Outside temp was -4 and not much warmer in the attic. I’ll do all my cable runs through the attic for the various rooms. After getting clearance from her indoors I’ll place the rack in the bedroom which alleviates my initial queries as I can patch directly into the router and switch. I’m doing all the connections myself and will be extra careful when pulling. Btw the bedroom is being kitted out as an office.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
@Reece - Your presumptions were correct with either topology, but good that you've got permission to put the rack in a climate-controlled part of the house.

For your router, if you don't need to run any/many services on the box, then something like an EdgeRouter 4 or Cisco RV340 would suffice, or USG/UXG/UDMP if you want to run an all-UniFi stack. If you do want to run anything that's non-offloadable (VPN, QoS, reporting, IDS/DPI, etc.) at anywhere close to line-rate above a couple/few hundred Mb/s, then I would urge you go x86 (Celeron/Pentium/i-Series), either via a Qotom embedded box or 1U fanless/low-flow server chassis, running your favorite firewall distro (pf/OPNsense, IPFire, Untangle Home Pro, etc).

For your core managed switch, go UniFi only if you run their wifi. Otherwise, TP-Link/Netgear/Zyxel are OK, Cisco SG/CBS is better, especially their fanless CBS PoE models. Or refurb enterprise off eBay (HPE and Juniper are my faves), but be careful of the specs on noise and heat.

For wifi, you definitely want a controller-based product (UniFi, Omada, Aruba Instant On, Cisco CBW, etc.). I like Cisco CBW or used Ruckus (running Unleashed), as both have an embedded controller, so no single point of failure, plus you get multi-master fail-over. CBW is based on Mobility Express, so it's rock-solid. I'd only look at used Ruckus if you deal with a ton of interference or you just want the best link-layer experience for mobiles (their antenna tech and algorithms are their main differentiators).

Hope that helps!
 

Reece

New Around Here
Some food for thought there Trip. Was looking at UniFi pro APs for simplicity and excellent reviews with my existing ASUS Ac68u to start with and swap out install new equipment as and when. Haven’t picked a switch yet. So much choice. Definitely helps as I do want to get it right and not throw a load of money away making wrong decisions.
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
Thanks for that degrub. Made me rethink as I went into the attic the other day and it was freezing. Outside temp was -4 and not much warmer in the attic. I’ll do all my cable runs through the attic for the various rooms. After getting clearance from her indoors I’ll place the rack in the bedroom which alleviates my initial queries as I can patch directly into the router and switch. I’m doing all the connections myself and will be extra careful when pulling. Btw the bedroom is being kitted out as an office.
if you have that kind of temperature swing, then make sure the cable you lay is a little loose and not pinned tight so it can thermally "breathe". It won't need much slack.

unless you want to invest the time to learn managed switches, vlans, etc, for regular home use, you can get away with unmanaged switch and your existing router, and basic APs ( AC at least).

If you need to implement VLANs for isolation of devices or guests, then look for a router that will support as well as a switch and APs.
SMB level gear can give you easier setup and less trouble over time than using consumer gear. i have had good luck with the Cisco SMB gear, but there are others. My needs are simple - 2 work from home users, 2 uni students, and a few TVs and the usual Apple devices. An RV325 and and 4 RV371s running 5GHz only with wired connections to all PCs/Macs supports a 1 Gbit/s ISP connection.
 

Reece

New Around Here
Thanks degrub. Because of the unknown conditions in the attic I purchased shielded external cable. It will be laid loose. I’m aware of grounding and every connector at both the wall plates and patch panel are shielded. It’s gonna be fun terminating as the cable has little play. Think first things first is get the cable installed and decide on a switch. We don’t yet have fibre however it is being built all over my town with a completion date of 31st March. I expect a bit of delay so hoping by the end of June fibre will be installed. Current connection is 80/20 with a throughput of about 74mb on speedtests. When we eventually get fibre it’ll be 900/100 with users reporting about 930mb down. Going to definitely look at Cisco equipment. Similarly to you, simple needs. Home working, TVs, laptops, pcs, gaming etc etc. Thanks for all the advice from both you and trip. It has definitely focused my build and available options.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
@Reece - As much as you'd like to think traditional shielding and grounding is a good idea, I would heavily reconsider that in favor of just using better-quality regular UTP cabling and jacks. In order to properly shield and ground your infrastructure, you need to make sure every point along all cable paths, including all network devices in those paths, are properly grounded and shielded on all interconnects. In the mast majority of cases, yours likely included, this is typically not necessary, and often introduces more problems than it solves.

I would also say outdoor/burial/armored cabling is unnecessary. Temperature-wise, most commercial-grade indoor UTP riser or plenum cable is specified with operating temperatures between -20 and 75 degrees Celsius (-4 and 167 degrees Farenheit), and would likely run fine several degrees above and below that range. Regarding the elements, as long as your roof isn't excessively leaky and/or you don't have any rodents, then regular indoor UTP cabling should be fine again.
 

Reece

New Around Here
Hi Trip it was a considered decision to go with shielded cable. If I get to a point whereby it creates more problems than solutions then I’ll reconsider. Love a challenge so I will give it a good go.
 

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