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Building my new home - how to build large Wifi network from scratch?

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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August 25, 2013 2:35:07 AM

Hi all, new here but no doubt I'll be around for a while! ;) 

I'm a builder by trade and I'm fortunate enough to be building my new home in the next few months. The property will be quite large and over 4 floors including a basement and I'd like WiFi throughout the property.

I've had issues in the past trying to set-up large WiFi networks with range extenders etc or linking two routers on same network. I have virtually no network experience but I'm comfortable following instructions! :D 

I expect there to be approx 4 PCs on the wired network along with a printer, plus numerous portable devices such as laptops, tablets & smartphones etc. I will use all PC's as HTPC's. What is the best way to approach this? For example should I be wiring ethernet jacks to every room? What equipment should I invest in? NAS etc?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated...

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August 25, 2013 2:49:43 AM

Run ethernet (cat5e/6/6a) EVERYWHERE. I'm serious. It's useful for phones etc too, and can basically be used for any kind of data. Get a box or two.

Anywhere you expect to put a computer, phone, TV, or other potentially networked device.

Designate a cupboard somewhere (ideally central, but where you won't be worried about fan noise, and near where the phone line/fibre enters) as your data area. Bottom of an airing cupboard works well, because anything you put in there keeps the clothes warm. Good place to put any wireless phone base stations too.

Then run put your router/WAP in the top of that, and a couple of straight WAPs (could just be wireless routers with the DHCP/ADSL turned off) in other places. Depending on the construction of your house, you may want only a couple in extremities, or you might need lots. Brick/concrete/metal blocks radio well but plaster, studs, and batts do next to nothing.

You'll want a nice large gigabit switch.

A NAS is good for sharing data from, and using as a DLNA server. An old PC works fine for that, or you could get a dedicated box.
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August 25, 2013 3:04:39 AM

+1 to Someone Somewhere ! Best place for the patch panel, the switch, the NAS, the modem and router might be a 19" cabinet in the basement. You can make life easier, if you get a PoE Switch and Wireless access points (Router) with PoE. Power over Ethernet (PoE) means, you don't need a power supply for the WiFi acces point.
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August 25, 2013 3:06:28 AM

Someone Somewhere said:
Run ethernet (cat5e/6/6a)
Designate a cupboard somewhere (ideally central, but where you won't be worried about fan noise, and near where the phone line/fibre enters) as your data area.


Thanks for the reply.

That was my intention, pick somewhere relatively central to house a large PC or NAS along with router.

So basically how does the setup look? Would it be:

Incoming phone line --> Router --> PC --> Switch --> Numerous WAPs around the house

What are WAPs? Wireless Access Points I'm assuming? Can you buy designated WAP's? Are some faster than others or ideally which ones should I go for? If I use routers as WAPs can it cause issues if they are old or are routers from different manufacturers?

As I'm a noob to networking I'd want the setup to be as easy as humanely possible...
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August 25, 2013 3:36:55 AM

Nearly, but there's no reason to have the PC in the middle. More like:
  1. PCs
  2. |
  3. Phone line - Router - Switch - NAS
  4. |
  5. Other WAPS


You can get dedicated WAPs, but it's often just as cheap to get routers. And they can be any brand, I've got a Fritz!Box 7340 as a router/5GHz WAP, a TP-Link something as main 2.4GHz one, and an old Netgear 802.11b/g-only one upstairs where the signal disappears due to being at one end and going through the tin roof.

If most of your data goes over ethernet, you won't need to worry too much. I'd get N300 ones personally, maybe dual-band N600 if you're in a crowded area.

For the most part it's plug and play. You just need to turn off the DHCP servers on the WAPs and set them to a different IP address. Plenty of guides.

It's easiest if you buy a bunch of the same/similar models, because then you don't have to relearn the interfaces.

Make sure you run every cable to the centre cabinet - Ethernet is point-to-point.

You can either buy lots of premade ethernet cables, buy a boxof cable and connectors and a crimp, or you can buy sockets and a punch. Sockets look best.

In a basement you have to run most of the cables down multiple floors, while on say the second floor you'll use a little less cable. Will probably cover most of your house from the one WAP too, depending on how large it is.

Is the incoming phone line likely to be underground or overhead? If the former, you may be better in the basement.
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August 25, 2013 4:21:37 AM

Ok cool, so to clarify you basically wire all PCs & WAPs to the switch via ethernet?

So: Phone Line -> Modem -> Router -> Switch -> (All Pcs and as many WAPs as required)

I have a 300m drum of Cat 6 cable and a crimp tool from last time I built my own home. I expect the incoming phone line will come into the property at ground level so for convenience I think I'll locate the router & switch etc in a cupboard off the hallway.

Can you program all the WAPs to appear as the same wireless network or do they do that automatically? i.e if say I have 4 WAPs in the property and somebody wants to connect wirelssly to the network, will it appear on their network list as 1 or 4 diffently named networks?
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August 25, 2013 4:25:33 AM

Yup. That's perfect. Many routers come with a built in modem, but if you expect to get fibre at some point going for separate can be better.

I believe that if you name them the same, use the same security (use WPA2), and same passphrase, they roam freely and show as one.
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August 25, 2013 4:37:26 AM

Yeah already got fibre optic so have a modem & router set-up.

Everything makes more sense now, thanks for the help SS. Much appreciated. :) 
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August 25, 2013 4:57:41 AM

Conalex said:
Yeah already got fibre optic so have a modem & router set-up.

Everything makes more sense now, thanks for the help SS. Much appreciated. :) 

Don't forget the patch panel. All the cat6 cables from the rooms will end there.
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August 25, 2013 5:01:41 AM

noidea_77 said:
Conalex said:
Yeah already got fibre optic so have a modem & router set-up.

Everything makes more sense now, thanks for the help SS. Much appreciated. :) 

Don't forget the patch panel. All the cat6 cables from the rooms will end there.


I meant to ask you about this earlier, what is a patch panel? Is this a wall plate that is fitted to the wall and all ethernet cables are wired into the back of it?
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