Home networking tips


(Mike Maxwell) #1

Here’s a few items that I’ve included in my home networking bag-o-tricks over the years.
This thread is about awareness, not instruction. In other words I’ll cover some points to be aware of and consider in setting up a stable and optimized infrastructure in your house.

This also isn’t about why vendor yxz did or didn’t implement such and such.

I’ve seen quite a few posts here recently with folks having issues, and given we all rely on the same endpoint, and I’m not having infrastructure issues like those being described…
I also understand that not everyone’s been in IT for 20 years like I have, but once you have a few clues, finding the instructions to accomplish the goal isn’t that hard anymore.
Anyway here we go.

–get some WiFi scan software for your phone/laptop, scan the channels see what’s out there, and what’s going on in your house.

–Manually set the channel for your WiFi router, leaving it on auto is just a mess, when the neighborhood reboots, the AP’s all start jockeying around, taking forever to settle on channels. Your router will come up first with it’s static channel, so others are more likely to stay away from you.

–At a minimum set static DHCP reservations for all your infrastructure equipment, hubs/servers/TV’s/media servers/DVR’s, remotes, anything that’s screwed/connected to a wall or celling should have a static IP address. That way when you disconnect/loose power, whatever, that device will have the same IP when powered on, making it easier and faster for the other devices on your network to continue using it’s resources.

–Set a long lease period for the DHCP addresses, the longer the better.

–Only use WIFI for the above types of devices as a last resort, if the device has an Ethernet port, you should be using it vs WiFi. Consider using MOCA (Ethernet over coax) adapters in locations already served by coax where you would like Ethernet.

–zigBee and WIFI use the same radio spectrum, understand and adjust your static channel settings so they’re not stomping over each other.
http://www.fosiao.com/content/zigbee-and-wifi-rf-channels

–Mount your WiFi router as high as possible, if it’s in a metal media cabinet, you need to relocate it. Higher efficiency antennas can also be installed.

–use 5G over 2.4 where ever possible, it’s gets less distance, but there’s also way fewer users and devices using it.

That’s my 5 minute tip list, and wouldn’t it be nice is we didn’t have to go through this nonsense. That however is not the nature of the current beast…


(David Creed) #2

@Mike_Maxwell.

Those are great points. As an IT security manager, I’d add a few more.

-make sure that you have changed the default admin password for your router and network.

-don’t name your network with either an address or your last name

-add security to your network, WEP2 is best, along with AES or TKIP encryption

These are the minimum requirements I recomend that will help you to avoid trouble.

Any questions, feel free to PM me.

Regards,
David


(Darryl) #3

Another good one:

If you have the opportunity to run conduit in your attic, or underground–take it. I had to tear up my driveway, and decided to run conduit between my garage and my living room. Just ran new networking cable so that I can eliminate a wireless repeater to the garage (connection point for my POE cameras, my irrigation controller).


(Michel Labelle) #4

Finally a topic I feel qualified to add my $0.02…

If you are going to take the time to add structured wiring (i.e. a real network), don’t worry about going to Cat 6 unless this is a brand new install (i.e. new home). That Cat3 (telephone) or Cat 5 (anything in the last 20 years) wiring is more than adequate for 10/100 home networking. Cat 6 is for Gig (1000), and realistically not necessary in the home networking world.

If you are in a situation where you are pulling new wireadd more… I.e. pull a spare and leave an extra 50’ if possible. Trust me, it’s the cheapest insurance you can ever buy.

Do use a structured wiring patch panel. I recommend these as being cheap and easy to work with. http://www.amazon.com/Intellinet-12-Port-Wall-mount-Patch-560269/dp/B000BSJJ1M/

Do use a proper network punch and pair test kit to validate the pairs and connectors are all installed correctly.

Punch kit w Twisted Pair Tester: http://www.dx.com/p/wlxy-wl-1101-repairing-network-tester-screwdrivers-wire-strippers-set-green-black-white-313677#.VI9y7saFHaI

Twisted Pair Tester : http://www.dx.com/p/rj45-rj11-2-in-1-network-and-phone-cable-tester-1261#.VI9yNsaFHaI

Don’t try and make your own patch cords unless you have no-other choice!

Many of the kits come with Mod plug ends and a crimper… avoid at all costs, just buy the right length of patch cord… you’ll thank me later.

Do try and keep your patch cords as SHORT AS POSSIBLE. Buy them in bulk and keep 1.5’, 3’ 5’ 8’ and 10’ cords around. Don’t use anything over 25’ unless you have no other choice.

Don’t be afraid to use either Power-over-Ethernet to power remote devices from your cabling closet/distribution point. This is the easiest and cleanest way to deliver power to remote devices (i.e. cameras, access points etc) and in that way you can install them where needed, not where there’s power. http://www.amazon.com/TP-LINK-TL-SF1008P-100Mbps-8-Port-802-3af/dp/B003CFATT2/ or http://www.amazon.com/TRENDnet-Gigabit-Ethernet-Injector-TPE-113GI/dp/B007Q87KP2/

On that subject, pick devices that can be POE powered if you get the choice. USB is nice, but why need two wires when one will do.

If you use a POE switch, verify which ports are POE. Most POE switches are only 1/2 POE (i.e. 4 out of 8, 12 out of 24 ports), or at least plan around having only a limited number of POE ports.

Don’t be afraid to use Ethernet-over-Powerline devices to get to the weird corners of the house, out to the shed, or to that garage area. http://www.amazon.com/TP-LINK-TL-PA4010KIT-Powerline-Adapter-Starter/dp/B00AWRUICG/ BUT stick with the same brand everywhere, and as mentioned in the security thread, ensure you change the default passwords!

Do consider using a USB power pack and a TP-Link WR702N wireless bridge ( http://www.amazon.com/TP-LINK-TL-WR702N-Wireless-Repeater-150Mpbs/dp/B007PTCFFW/ ) to be able to add remote Z-Wave devices to your network if needed. Just power the TP-Link setup in bridge mode and SmartThings hub from the same USB power pack and you now have a ROAMING hub to deal with those annoying remote z-wave switches that fall off the network or are in remote locations like the garage!


(Ron S) #5

Ok guys! My home is from late sixties and I don’t have the luxury of too many coaxial’s so will have to rule out MOCA adapters and I ordered this powerline instead to spread out my routers (2 AEBS 6th gen. and an idle AEBS 5th gen. One of the 6th gen is directly connected to cable modem and the second one in bridge mode via Ethernet. Wanted to use the 5th gen. too and spread then over rather in close vicinity. So the question is if this thing at Amazon that I ordered at Amazon actually works… Of course Ethernet and Gigabit.

It shows the wrong one as I ordered the PLEK500.


(Michel Labelle) #6

Ron you should be ok. And yes the EOP devices do work as long as you are connecting within the same electrical panel.

I had over 100 of them deployed in an industrial scenario to get to the top of various high masts to feed the access points up there, and currently have 4 in my home.

Watch out how your AEBS (routers I presume?) are setup so that they don’t isolate each wireless segment or you’ll be able to surf in each, but not access devices in other parts of the network. That is a common mistake. Check the forums for that device for insight on how to avoid that issue.


(Ron S) #7

The channels are far spread out and fixed. And yes, they are Apple extreme airport base station routers over cat7’s. Cat7’s only because they are individually shielded.


(Ron S) #8

I had followed @Mike_Maxwell’s suggestion to the fullest extent and believe me it has made a tremendous difference except for of course the Hue’s when operated thru ST which I do not believe is interference related in my case.

As an average user (although in IT but mostly dealing in finance/investment related s/w architecting, I am not an expert in networking).
But this is what I did with three AEBS routers (Two 6th gens and one 5th gen).

All the routers are on fixed channels for 2.4 GHz wifi which is 1, 6 and 11.
5 GHz is in auto mode (I should change this). They are all connected via Ethernet (Cat7 - because these are flat and shielded) and spread across the home on different floors (split level house) and is a roaming network. The entire Ethernet setup is cat7, the only reason being it is shielded.

Only the main base station provides the DHCP services and the rest are in bridge mode. All the hubs (ST, Harmony, Philips Hue, SONOS BOOST) MAC addresses are handed out reserved ip addresses by the primary base station/router to survive reboots of the router so as not to confuse ST and they get assigned the same ip. The lease period is set to 365 days.

The ST hub operates on Channel 14 and at a decent distance from any other hub or Sonos Play 1’s and BOOST. There are powered ST zigbee devices (motion sensors and smart outlets) spread all over the house.

The Philips Hue bridge operates on channel 25. The hues create their own mesh separate from ST zigbee mesh. So, do not count on the hues to make your overall zigbee mesh stronger. It won’t.

The Sonos BOOST is in the basement connected to one of the AEBS via Ethernet. This supposedly creates it own SonosNet network to which other Sonos devices connect. I don’t know how to check this as iOS does not expose this network. Android does. The basement mostly has all zwave devices mostly. The Sonos is kind of dicey to me as I am not sure about its impact.

Internet is always super fast for me in every corner of the house. All motion and contact sensors reacts instantly. Sonos responds 95% of the time using my own app when doors are opened or closed on a Sonos (Family Room or Bedroom) of my choice based on which mode I am in.

I have noticed that when I turn my Samsung Smart TV on, things get a little slower specially the notifications on the Sonos. So, there is definitely some interference there even though it is connected to the router via Ethernet. Same with Apple TV.

So, pretty much its the Philips Hues which I love the most works the worst with ST. It’s always the best performing when I use third party apps.


Is Philips Hue the neglected one and TCP the favored one