If there were ever a time we needed our home networking to work better, it would be now. If you were to do a quick google search on “best router,” you probably wonder where to start when you get 124 million results. The issue isn’t the answer (like 42), but are we asking the right questions? In this blog, I want to try and ask the right questions and give homeowners a place to look for the correct answers.
It's not just about the router.
A typical router is like using a water hose to water your grass. A bigger hose moves more water, but a sprinkler system installed throughout your yard is a far more effective way to water your lawn. At Bravas, when we design networks, we keep two things in mind: Firstly, we provide the backbone for all the communication within your home and secondly, to give everyone and everything in your home access to the Internet as needed. To deliver on this, we use five pieces of technology:
- Gateway/Router– built into a single unit, a gateway and router is simply a device that joins together the network in your home with the Internet coming from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
- Firewall – will also filter what comes into your home to ensure it is safe and secure. These are often built into the gateway/router, but more secure systems will have their own firewalls.
- Wi-Fi Access Points: as the home size grows, the number of access points must increase to provide adequate wireless coverage.
- Wireless Controller – manages the Wi-Fi environment for your home. In simple networks, this will also be included with your gateway/router, but larger homes with multiple access points located throughout the house require a wireless controller.
- Switch - the backbone for the wired network and can also be used to power devices like touchscreens and doorbells, known as PoE devices.
It is important to remember that not all networks are created equal. For instance, there is a big difference between how you set up homes with multiple access points. In a large home with multiple access points, needed for good coverage, some access points are designed to hold onto a signal if it possibly can. In these networks, it is not until the signal drops that the network helps you connect to an access point you may be standing right next to! The wireless controller can manage this for you.
So, when you consider your network and your home, you need to think about what technology elements you need.
Some size matters
Regardless of which Wi-Fi routers and access points you're considering, they all have limits. For example, in the latest routers, you can choose where to use one of two radio frequencies: 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. In basic terms, the 2.4 GHz network transmits further, and the 5 GHz network transmits faster. Both are limited by the distance between the router and the device trying to connect to it. Add into that, the more walls the signal must pass through, the less effective it's going to be.
While this might seem obvious, here are three common mistakes we often find:
- The router is in a closed wiring cabinet in a small room in at one end of the home, meaning the signal must travel through plaster, brick, concrete, and even some types of sheetrock.
- Your router is behind your television or another device that can cause interference or mask the signal
- Newer tablets such as iPads use networking technology like 802.11ac, which an old router might not support.
Getting a clear but short distance between your router and your device is the trick. Sometimes, of course, that might mean you need additional access points.
What you do with it
According to a report in Fortune, about 50 million people in total will have dropped cable or satellite TV subscriptions by 2021. But it's not like people who have 'cut the cord' aren't watching TV. USA Today reported that Netflix added over 8 million subscribers worldwide between October and December 2019.
What most of those 'streamers' and 'bingers' are doing is watching TV provided to them through their network and often over Wi-Fi. Those HD pictures use up a lot of your Wi-Fi bandwidth, slowing the network down for everyone. If your streaming to a device with less than perfect signal, this effect is compounded. We often see this when little Johnny gets a new PlayStation, installs it in his room, and now everyone is complaining that the Wi-Fi is slow.
The truth is that if you can afford it, you can't have too much bandwidth, but all that bandwidth is useless if the signal can't get to your devices, and back. Even the fastest router in the world is still dependent on the tiny antenna in your smartphone to be able to communicate back to it. One way to see how well the signal is working is to wait until your home is using its maximum amount of bandwidth (say peak TV time in the evening) and then use a tool like Speedtest.net to check the speed in each room.
Getting it right
Most of the routers you can buy at Amazon should work well in a home of 1,000 square feet or less. The moment you move above that size and want to stream on multiple devices at once or want the signal to stretch to the end of your gazebo, you need to think about something more. That's were someone like Bravas can help.
We have a four-step process built to ensure you get great networking across your whole home and property.
- Step 1: Information Gathering - Our process begins by understanding how you want to use your home.
- Step 2: Design - Our team of certified IT professionals is dedicated to designing a network that is customized to the design of your home and keeping you connected wherever devices roam throughout your property.
- Step 3: Installation – qualified Bravas designers and installers work with your builder or remodelers to ensure the correct and safe placement of the networking equipment.
- Step 4: Support – A single phone number gives you access to Bravas and Access Networks professionals who are available to help you should your network experience problems.
At Bravas, we design and maintain your home's network based on a simple premise: We keep you connected. We work with trusted partners who can deliver an enterprise-grade solution for your home. Together we will custom tailor and install a network designed for your modern luxury smart home.
Let us help you get the right network for your home, not just for now but for going forward.