Location of network equipment whole home coverage. need reco's for wiring and finishes

Im new to ST and recently moved into a house thats ~2900sq ft with a 3 car attached garage. My network setup:

ST v2 hub in basement under stairs plugged into a Linksys E2500 running Tomato firmware (acting as a wifi repeater on the 5ghz band, and AP on the 2.4 band. I may switch this around), 1TB NAS wired to E2500 along with 2 Servers. This is on the far right of the house.

On the main floor, my Echo sitting on my kitchen desk area(semi central to an open area, close to a wall) Chromecast in the family room, and where most of the wireless activity for; my phone, macbook air, wifes phone and iPad. Kids have wireless devices but I dont care about their connection…go outside and play!

On the second floor, centrally located in the loft/family room is where my TP-Link AC1750 sits. Plugged into that is my WD TV live box, Apple TV, XBOX. Wirelessly, the PEDs connect on the 2.4 band to the TP-Link.

There are some weak spots on the 5ghz band but overall coverage is decent, and if I stand in front of my E2500 router in the basement, connected wifi to its AP (2.4 band), I get decent speeds (on my S6Edge +). follow the network connection setup?

Ive considered relocating everything (wired) together, and buying actual wifi range extenders, but that would require a LOT of work to span 3 floors (for wired connections). I have a strong networking background (military job for the past 16 years), but this is the first time Ive had to cover so much living space.

The caveat; I want the routers and wired devices to NOT be an eyesore but I want the best coverage for my network in every area of the house.

This ties into ST by way of hub coverage. Currently I only have 3 Iris contact sensors, all on the main floor and have been strategically planning its expansion. The farthest device from the hub is located on the opposite side of the house in the laundry room (behind kitchen, egress from garage) It connects fine, but what will happen if I start adding things on the second floor? I understand that wired devices act as repeaters. This topic is mainly looking for recommendations on device location for WIFI coverage/pretty-ing up device installs.


We’ve just been discussing these issues on another project, so you should find the following thread interesting. That project faces different challenges from years, but the basic issues in a big multifloor house are the same.

One of the main caveats is that if you boost the Wi-Fi signal in the 2.4 band, you create interference for your zigbee devices. And many boosters automatically boost the 2.4 when they boost the five even if you’re not using the 2.4. (Plus I think echo only uses a 2.4, doesn’t it?)

I have one room in my house where if I put the Wi-Fi booster on the west wall, we lose all the Zigbee devices past it on that side of the house. But if I just move it to the opposite wall, everything runs fine.

It’s all about the local architecture.

I initially started to respond to that topic, but decided against it as it is more concerned with coverage for the hub itself.

My topic is more aligned with network gear location recommendations based on my scenario and its current (spread out)location.

Right, I understand. I agree your project is different and will hopefully get different responses. Definitely needs its own thread here.

It’s just the basics of Hops and repeaters and getting around corners all applies so I didn’t want to make everyone read through that again. :sunglasses: Also the fact that it boosting your Wi-Fi does create issues you can consider making one smartthings “location” per floor which is sometimes the easiest way to deal with the Wi-Fi/Zigbee interference issues.

I understand the hops and repeaters and that is why my “heavy” network traffic is passed over the 5ghz band. In hope of mitigating any interference of an already congested 2.4ghz subdivision.

Ideally I could relocate the ST hub upstairs to locate it central to the house as well, but my initial plans were to have as much stuff as I could, in the basement and not visible on a daily basis. Packing things away in a closet degrades the wifi signal traversing the floor(s) so putting the “ugly” wired devices in a unseen location is prime.

Maybe Ill buy some plenum rated cat6 and run it through the return air vent from the second floor to the basement, and drop a switch in the basement, for everything to connect hardwired to instead of connecting the the Tomato router/bridge. I dont like this method, but theres really no other way to wire the basement to the 3rd floor. Then theres the lack of solid wifi coverage in the basement that Id have to deal with.

I considered preordering one of these, but thats just adding to the congestion and is pricey :

These are the kind of ideas Im looking for.

EDIT: ~2900 sq ft does not include the ~1400sq ft unfinished in the basement.

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How do you feel about the onhub? Too pricey?

Looks aside, the directional antennas are really interesting for situations like yours. Basically devices in different parts of the house automatically get signal from different antennas.

That was a contender to the TP-Link C7 I bought. Its lack of wired ports was the only killer and it still doesnt mitigate the coverage issue for the basement to 2nd floor(or have a bridging mode while still being an AP), and it would add another device that could interfere with zigbee.

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Hopefully some of the people who’ve done big wiring projects will chime in. A lot of the people with whole house sound systems have addressed finishing issues.

@pstuart might have some ideas.

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Non Ethernet connected extenders may cause even more issues as you are trying to extend the already weak signal. I use two airport extremes in bridge mode to cover the three floors in a modest sixties 1750 sq. ft. house and garage. I didn’t have the luxury to run Ethernet to the second router so I went with linksys plek500 powerline kit.

Wi-Fi extenders catch a wireless signal and then rebroadcast it, helping to strengthen the signal from a router on a different floor of a house or on the opposite side of a building. It should be noted that they can also drag down your network’s performance.

A repeater uses half its internal antennae to receive a wireless signal and the other half to transmit a new signal – effectively halving the potential speed of the device’s network connection. This shouldn’t be that noticeable for light web browsing, email, etc, but can be felt when streaming video or moving files around the network. That’s why Powerline work for the more demanding tasks.

Like others here have said Zigbee overlaps (so does bluetooth) so minimizing those devices helps. So more Zwave the better. Didn’t see a roku on the list but if you have a 3 this sucker will just kill your wifi. Also pushing device to ac/n 5GHz also can help way more non overlapping channels. I honestly run from wifi extenders as much as possible . They take up a lot of airtime which can cause issues and impact speeds. To be honest when you start to get to this size deployment a hub and spoke hardwired controller/AP based architecture is best (like a cisco or meraki…I am sure there are much cheaper options than that). That ensures you will get optimal coverage…the APs will adjust their signal strength not to overlap and you will also get better handoffs between APs if your on a FaceTime call for example. Remember wifi is best effort. May be a bit overkill but will give you the best experience and will scale as the devices grow…

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When connecting to the router on the second floor, from the first floor on the 5ghz band, speedtest app on my s6 edge + is pegging out at 140mbps. Hardly a weak signal. Thanks for the link though. Ive seen these for a while and wished they were available about 10 years ago!

recommendations Priority list:

  1. “hiding in plain sight” without impeding signal

  2. Recommendations (for/against) on whether or not I should drop a cable in the air return to hard wire anything in the basement, to the 2nd floor for getting rid of the E2500 Tomato router/bridge

2.5 Adding a dedicated range extender after performing the above, for total and complete coverage on all floors.

I dont want to have all these things visible but want to have all areas covered AND dont want to affect future plans for HA. That in mind, the basement wont have a lot of HA items as it isnt a walkout or finished (yet). I will be building a theater in the future(with a few automated dimmable lights, Harmony and Sonos setup, and maybe a popcorn machine, automated of course)…man cave style :wink:

@afewremarks, ultimately Id love to stick with strictly Z Wave, but as I look deeper into the HA items, its really a mixup for complete functionality, right? Ill be installing the GE switches (Z Wave) to control LED lights, instead of using smart lights, a Kwikset 916 door lock (z wave), eventually smart vents of some sort (these are Z Wave as well, correct?), indoor and outdoor motion sensors as needed (not sure on protocols available)…cant really think of many more items I would want. Am I missing “Key/gotta have” items that I dont know about? Garage door via presence over wifi using tasker and geofencing…maybe.

So at this point I can say that most of the items I “plan” to install are Z wave, meaning there “should” be little concern for wifi interference…right?

My unfinished basement has the maximum number of zwave/zigbee devices. :wink: For the Dehumidifier, Washer, Dryer, Irrigation System Controller, Water Softener, Sump pump, leak sensors, motion sensors, contact sensors for three windows etc. etc. The basement in fact has the highest concentration of devices.

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I recommend https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ap-ac-lite/

these things can be put anywhere you can get an ethernet cable, POE support (passive 24v on the lites, full POE on the PROs)

I have 3 covering my house, hidden under things. Rock solid, simple, easy and full featured WAP.

Dump the cheap wifi stuff. All consumer wifi products are junk.

Frankly, my house is a bit larger then when you are discribing, and I could get away with one, but went with the 3 pack and love the redundancy across floors and areas of the house.

I wouldn’t worry about Z-wave or zigbee coverage, the mesh design usually is self healing. Just add enough hard wired devices to act as repeaters.


Nope Zwave 900Mhz.

I would add some moisture sensors in there as a must for you basement people (us californias are just jealous). :smile:

I would hardwire anything you can (especially the range extender if possible). I use DD-WRT running on a netgear box as my gateway/managed switched and I have a white meraki AP ceiling mounted (no one ever notices it). One thing to pay attention is antenna types as well if you are having wifi issues. My AP has a min directional antenna which lends its self well to ceiling mounting.

+1 on the consumer stuff is junk. Just look at a spectrum analyzer and see how all your neighbors are sitting on the same channel :smile:

So where is your hub and how is the interference issue with your range extenders?

My issue is I have a lot of on network “static” devices for whole home entertainment (streaming to several TVs, gaming systems,) spanning several floors.

Right now, the only floor that is “presentable” when it comes to my network gear, is the main floor because Ive stashed the wired devices either downstairs (under the stairs in a media/network closet with so-so connectivity), or upstairs in the family room. That area is very congested because of the wired devices (Wii, xBox, WD TV live, Apple TV, cable modem, and router).

@pstuart Thanks for the link! Those are interesting and have my interest piqued. Ill be researching those. Can you describe your network topology (logical and physical)? PM if you want. I may just use those on all floors, putting the modem and router in the basement for the hardwired devices, and dropping a small switch in the second floor family room for the required wired connections.

@afewremarks, yeah I forgot to mention those. Theyll be going under every sink and behind the washer. Probably throw one by the sump pump and water heater too. These are zigbee, arent they?

My hub is in the mid level. Lowest level is the basement. Top level is where bedrooms are. Mid level is where the family, living, dining room, kitchen etc. are. I have zero interference issues for zigbee/zwaves. As far as wifi is concerrned… running 4 dropcams/nest cameras, 2 kuna kights (outdoors with no issues), 3 Sonos, Ecobee3, Echo, Rachio Iro, Apple TV, Roku, iphones, ipads, streaming music, movies etc… and all that stuff with no slowness… The 66$ powerline worked fine for me.

PS: I have near 100 devices and tons of those are zigbee/zwave repeaters so i don’t face zigbee/zwave related issues.

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POE is a great feature, but thats a requirement for these, isnt it? Which would mean wiring the house wherever they would be needed. That puts me in the same boat as my previous statements.

Moisture sensors are typically Zigbee, yes. But there are several Zwave models also.

There are some good multisensors that are Z Wave for temperature, Lux, and movement. Both Fibaro and the Aeotec are pretty popular in the community.

Zigbee sensors tend to be a little smaller and have better battery life than the comparable Zwave, but you can find zwave sensors for most uses. Zwave plus devices can be physically smaller than classic zwave, and have better battery life than the previous generation, but are also usually more expensive.

You can check the official Zwave alliance product site for all certified devices if you’re looking for a particular category.

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I use this moisture sensor. It is Zwave


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