New Home Network advice

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Timde

New Around Here
I'll have a modem & wifi router in my living room (main floor ranch) as well as an ethernet line dropped in a basement. Thinking Wifi Router + Basement Access point, but not sure what is the easiest to set up, what systems would work good together, etc. I dont want anything technical to set up or manage.

Any suggestions on how you would do things or products you recommend?
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
<smile> you're not giving us much to go on. Is this a new build and nothing (network-wise) exists yet?

What are the Internet service speeds that you will be signing up for? How big is the house? Is the living room relatively center to the house? Is the house an open floor plan? Are the walls the typical plasterboard?

And ... I think it's great you're dropping an Ethernet line into the basement!

Modem: I'd go with what the ISP vendor supplies. Makes trouble shooting easier.

Router: Pick a number. If your ranch is less than, say, 1500 sq. ft. then a single all-in-one wireless home router might well do the job. If it doesn't quite cover the basement you can always add that basement AP later.
  • You could start with the ISP vendor supplied wireless router. Put the onus on them.
  • Or buy your own. I do have an admitted bias towards Asus.
    • I like their builtin Traffic Monitor. It's useful for troubleshooting or just learning. I can see how much bandwidth 4K streaming takes vs. HD. I was surprised at how little bandwidth Fortnite uses. I can even see what time my grandson goes to bed.
    • I like that I can set up "guest services" for guests such that they can't see "family stuff".
    • I had good luck with their QoS back when I had low bandwidth Internet. It kept everybody happy.
On the other hand if your ranch is, say, greater than 2500 sq. ft. you might want to start with a "mesh" system. Main node in the living room, a hard wired node in the basement, and a couple wireless nodes wherever.​

And that's me, always with more questions than answers.
 
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Timde

New Around Here
<smile> you're not giving us much to go on. Is this a new build and nothing (network-wise) exists yet?

What are the Internet service speeds that you will be signing up for? How big is the house? Is the living room relatively center to the house? Is the house an open floor plan? Are the walls the typical plasterboard?

And I think it's great you're dropping an Ethernet line into the basement!

Modem: I'd go with what the ISP vendor supplies. Makes trouble shooting easier.

Router: Pick a number. If your ranch is less than, say, 1500 sq. ft. then a single all-in-one wireless home router might well do the job. If it doesn't quite cover the basement you can always add that basement AP later.
  • You could start with the ISP vendor supplied wireless router. Put the onus on them.
  • Or buy your own. I do have an admitted bias towards Asus.
    • I like their builtin Traffic Monitor. It's useful for troubleshooting or just learning. I can see how much bandwidth 4K streaming takes vs. HD. I was surprised at how little bandwidth Fortnite uses. I can even see what time my grandson goes to bed.
    • I like that I can set up "guest services" for guests such that they can't see "family stuff".
    • I had good luck with their QoS back when I had low bandwidth Internet. It kept everybody happy.
On the other hand if your ranch is, say, greater than 2500 sq. ft. you might want to start with a "mesh" system. Main node in the living room, a hard wired node in the basement, and a couple wireless nodes wherever.​

And that's me, always with more questions than answers.


It is a new build with a fairly open plan. Wifi router will be centralized and it is over 2000sf including the rec room in the basement that will have tv, computer, etc.

My ISP is 200mpbs.

I know routers are rated to cover the size of the house, but with tv streaming in the basement I figured an access point would ensure solid connection.

Is there any advantage to using an Asus wireless router + Access Point vs. A mesh system with hardwired node in basement? Any recommendations on either set up?

Appreciate the thoughtful response!
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
It is a new build with a fairly open plan. Wifi router will be centralized and it is over 2000sf including the rec room in the basement that will have tv, computer, etc.

My ISP is 200mpbs.

I know routers are rated to cover the size of the house, but with tv streaming in the basement I figured an access point would ensure solid connection.

Is there any advantage to using an Asus wireless router + Access Point vs. A mesh system with hardwired node in basement? Any recommendations on either set up?

Appreciate the thoughtful response!
I assume 2000 sq. ft. is the total of the two levels.

Despite not wanting something technical, I assume you can install a wireless consumer router. If not, I assume you can follow my install notes to do same.

I assume you have an old router or a switch that you can wire at the basement media center as a switch only.

I would install an Asus RT-AC86U router on the main level, wired to the switch at the basement media center. If you need more WiFi in the basement, replace the switch with a second 86U as a wired AiMesh node (set its connection priority to wired/Ethernet, and lower its Tx power, if too much; optionally, leave it wireless).

If possible, maximize the distance between the two 86Us to reduce their WiFi overlap for more certain roaming. Place the main level router toward your outdoor living space to better deliver WiFi/guest WiFi. There is no guest WiFi on the remote node in the basement... yet.

You could buy a cheaper AiMesh node for the basement, but I would prefer to match the hardware and to have a backup router.

OE
 
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MichaelCG

Very Senior Member
If doing new build:
- centralize your Ethernet drops somewhere where you can have equipment that won't have to move
- run Ethernet drops to anywhere you will have equipment that has wired option
- run Ethernet drops to anywhere you will have a cluster of equipment that has WiFi demands
- run an Ethernet drop to a more optimal location near where your current router is to plan for a future AP (in the future, you may not use a combo router/AP)
- run more Ethernet drops than you think you will need...because you were probably wrong in thinking what your needs are
- think about runs to support outdoor APs if you have a patio/deck and want to have proper service there (not saying you need an outdoor AP today...but you might eventually)
- do NOT settle for wireless back-haul when you have the option for wired

I finished my basement a year or so ago and prior to that I ran Ethernet all over the place. Now that my walls and ceilings are closed up....I realized I missed a few runs and regret not doing them then. As WiFi speed requirements increase to support higher and higher resolution streaming, the need for APs to be closer and closer to the clients will get more and more critical. You can't beat physics....a wall is a wall...it will attenuate signal and performance will suffer. Getting APs closer to your devices will continue to be more and more critical over time.

As for what to install for now? I think a few good suggestions have already come out on that. Keep it simple for now, just cable for future growth while you can.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Depending on construction materials, a single RT-AC3100, RT-AC86U or RT-AX88U (and possibly, from what I've been reading, an RT-AX58U too, but with all suggestions, testing would confirm this or not) could easily cover a 2000SqFt home when placed optimally in the center of the main floor.

What I would do, with a 'bare' basement (and I'm assuming easy access to the main floor too). From the main floor modem/Router location (and if separate, to be run to the Router's location, instead).
  • If the modem/ONT and main router are not physically in the same room, I would run at least 10 LAN Ethernet cables between them.
  • Run at least 2 LAN Ethernet cables to each room/area of the home (ideally, they should all be located on the 'outside' wall).
    • Ideally, 4+ LAN Ethernet cables is ideal for the most flexibility in the future.
  • If running more than 4 LAN Ethernet cables to a single room/area, keep at least 4 LAN cables together (i.e. on the same wall). The rest can be placed as desired, but again, two LAN cables per run is (more) ideal than a single LAN cable on each wall.
  • For the entertainment/main areas of the home (upstairs or downstairs), 4 LAN Ethernet cables should be the minimum considered.
  • For any 'server' closets/areas such as a NAS, etc., again, 4 LAN Ethernet cables should be the minimum considered.
Remember, the wire is cheap and you can even run it yourself to save more. Once the walls are sealed/finished, the costs increase disproportionately.

On the main router, if you need to connect more Ethernet cables than the number of LAN ports it has, I suggest an 8 Port switch (or better) for each port on the router.

Make sure to test and label all LAN runs. Keep in mind that they don't all need to be connected right now (or ever). Cover/protect the connections on each end that are not used. No, the above isn't 'overkill'. :)

With the home wired up as above, and given a certain quality of cable (CAT6A), the coverage is now in your control.

Wired should be the preferred method for all your stationary clients.

Add (wired) AP's if and as needed (sparingly).

HTH.
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
It is a new build with a fairly open plan. Wifi router will be centralized and it is over 2000sf including the rec room in the basement that will have tv, computer, etc.
My ISP is 200mpbs.
I know routers are rated to cover the size of the house, but with tv streaming in the basement I figured an access point would ensure solid connection.
Is there any advantage to using an Asus wireless router + Access Point vs. A mesh system with hardwired node in basement? Any recommendations on either set up?
There are a lot of experts throughout this site (full disclosure, I am not one of them) and I learn something from them everyday. That said (and from the viewpoint of a novice);

Most ISPs will deliver a modem and a wireless router to go with their service. Some will deliver two separate boxes; one a modem and the other a wireless router. Others will deliver a combo unit, a single box with both functions built in. Ask your vendor up front; many will be happy to give you the two box solution (if you ask).

Try it. It may do everything you hoped for. Take a decent laptop and walk around your new home (congratulations by the way). Check signal levels. Download a WiFi analyzer and check signal levels. Run speed tests. If you're thrilled you're done.

If everything ... just ... totally ... sucks (not likely) then maybe you're looking at a mesh system (like we were talking about earlier).

If things suck just a little then consider swapping out the ISP router. The Asus AC86U and the Netgear R7800 seem to be very popular around here and will likely provide adequate coverage.

If the downstairs rec-room is weak, like you suspect it will be, then you might consider something simple like this
Set the rocker to AP, connect it to your Ethernet cable, plug it into an outlet and follow the instructions (actually, follow the directions first : -)

Mesh vs. APs? If I only need one I'd go AP. If I need multiple I'd consider mesh.

BTW: This link regarding placement is becoming rather popular.
 
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Timde

New Around Here
If doing new build:
- centralize your Ethernet drops somewhere where you can have equipment that won't have to move
- run Ethernet drops to anywhere you will have equipment that has wired option
- run Ethernet drops to anywhere you will have a cluster of equipment that has WiFi demands
- run an Ethernet drop to a more optimal location near where your current router is to plan for a future AP (in the future, you may not use a combo router/AP)
- run more Ethernet drops than you think you will need...because you were probably wrong in thinking what your needs are
- think about runs to support outdoor APs if you have a patio/deck and want to have proper service there (not saying you need an outdoor AP today...but you might eventually)
- do NOT settle for wireless back-haul when you have the option for wired

I finished my basement a year or so ago and prior to that I ran Ethernet all over the place. Now that my walls and ceilings are closed up....I realized I missed a few runs and regret not doing them then. As WiFi speed requirements increase to support higher and higher resolution streaming, the need for APs to be closer and closer to the clients will get more and more critical. You can't beat physics....a wall is a wall...it will attenuate signal and performance will suffer. Getting APs closer to your devices will continue to be more and more critical over time.

As for what to install for now? I think a few good suggestions have already come out on that. Keep it simple for now, just cable for future growth while you can.
They are dropping one line into the basement, but I assume I could run some extra lines myself as it will be unfinished for a year after we move in.

I guess I would just run them all in to a switch upstairs by the wifi router?

I'll try to youtube some videos on running ethernet, but if anyone has links that would be awesome.
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
If you have the time and energy, then yes. CAT5e terminations are straightforward these days. If you are using CAT6, you should consider having a pro install the wiring, terminate, and qualify all of the connections and runs. CAT6 is a little more sensitive to being mistreated.
And run two cables to each high value point or at least one to to multiple outlets in each room. Trim carpenters and others are proficient in damaging cables with nail guns.

wiring is almost free when the wall and ceiling is open compared to fishing through or tearing out walls later.
 

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