There is no smart home without a stable foundation. We are looking at an optimal infrastructure with routers, Ethernet cables, powerline adapters and WiFi. This article will explain the basis of smart home and how you ensure the right infrastructure.
In the past year we have already extensively discussed some parts of the infrastructure of a smart home, including the use of WiFi repeaters and routers and modems for your smart home . In this article we take the full basics of your smart home, because without this basis there is no smart home.
The basis of every smart home
The basis of every smart home is a good infrastructure. This infrastructure enables communication between the devices in your smart home and ensures that these devices can communicate with the outside world. You can therefore also see the infrastructure as your network; the links between all devices and your modem / router.
The first step you take is to estimate how you want to furnish your smart home. Which devices do you want to connect, where will these devices be placed and what is the status of the network that is already there? In this way you can estimate how much pressure you are going to put on your network and how you can respond to this by improving your network. Take a good look at the future in which more and more equipment is becoming smart, more and more people are walking around with smart and mobile devices and the infrastructure must therefore be optimal.
One of the most important devices in your network is the router. The internet connection arrives on this device and is then distributed. The router looks at the devices associated with it and optimizes the signal for each of them. In recent years, routers have become increasingly faster, not only in terms of throughput but also in terms of processor power. This processor power makes it possible to provide more and more devices with an optimal internet connection. The router is the gateway and must be able to handle all connections, with a stable and fast signal.
Make sure you buy a router of good quality, so with a user-friendly interface, a powerful processor and sufficient connection options. Good brands include LinkSys, Sitecom, TP-Link and Netgear. Do you use a router from KPN, Ziggo or another provider? It is always wise to buy a router from an A-brand yourself. These are faster, safer, offer more setting options, and so on. In addition, you do not have to reset everything when switching providers.
The Ethernet cables
Where for many the next step would be the WiFi connection, it is actually the ethernet cable, or the utp cable. All equipment that must always be connected to the internet and for which you require a stable and fast connection must actually be connected via a cable. The Ethernet cable is still the best way to connect your smart home equipment (including your computers) to the internet and your home network. Not only because it is faster, but also because it is safer and you avoid the crowds on the WiFi network.
Now it is often quite difficult to connect all devices in the house with an Ethernet cable. In many existing homes, there are no Ethernet cables through the walls or they do not come out the wall in every room. Still, it is wise to pull Ethernet cables where possible, especially if you are going to build a house. Make sure that every room is equipped with a connection point and – even better – make sure that the inventory you made first is as complete as possible so that you can already lay the connections at specific points. Think of cameras, for example.
Now you may find out that you have too few ethernet ports on your router. Solutions can also be found for this, for example in the form of a switch. This switch acts as a sort of signal distributor and makes it possible to connect dozens of additional Ethernet cables, depending on the device. There are also POE switches. This stands for Power Over Ethernet. If you have smart home devices that support this, for example a camera, you can connect them purely via an Ethernet cable. A separate connection to the mains is then not necessary.
The ethernet cable offers the highest bandwidth and is the best option, but if this is not possible then there are other options before looking at WiFi. For example, Homeplug (also called powerline) is an interesting solution. This works through your mains and therefore makes it possible to get internet signals via your socket to another room. Hang a Homeplug on the wall socket at your router and connect both with an ethernet cable. Then hang a homeplug in the desired room and you can also connect an Ethernet cable to it to connect equipment. We are now ready for the second generation of Homeplug, which works through phases / groups in the house by making contact with the earth or zero. The protective earth is therefore required for the use of Homeplug.
Another possibility is the use of coax cables, which may already be there. The advantage of coax over Homeplug is that it allows two-way traffic, one signal out and one signal back at the same time. It is a solution where you have to go directly from starting point (connection) to end point (connection). Two well-known brands for internet via coax are Echobox and Hirschmann Moka.
WiFi and WiFi repeaters
If you have followed the first steps and have therefore provided the most important devices with a stable and fast connection via a cable, you can start looking at your WiFi network. Your WiFi network is a must, you need it, but it is important to keep the pressure on it as low as possible. This is for a reason, because suppose you turn on three devices that stream music and / or video, a WiFi network is often already at its maximum. And with the advent of more and more mobile devices and accessories that can be connected via WiFi, you have to actively manage the wireless network. In addition – not entirely unimportant – WiFi does not offer two-way traffic like an Ethernet cable does, and therefore has a slower response time. You can send information but you cannot receive it at the same time.
First of all, you look at the coverage in your home. Do you have sufficient coverage on your mobile devices everywhere in your home? And can the smart home accessories tucked away in the corner also have enough range (if they don’t have a wired connection)? Using WiFi repeaters, you simply repeat the signal from your router in a room where the signal is somewhat weaker. In this way you ensure sufficient coverage throughout your house. Roaming is an important word here; More and more router manufacturers are offering access points and repeaters that allow you to use the same network (SSID) throughout the house and to switch seamlessly between these access points. Think of it as a mobile network; you can switch seamlessly from one cell tower to another with your phone outdoors and you have excellent coverage everywhere.
Next, make sure to set whether your network accepts 2.4GHz, 5GHz, or both. If you have devices that do not yet support 5GHz, you have to switch on 2.4GHz anyway. The 5GHz band is generally used less, so you may also experience a better connection. It is also true that at 2.4GHz there are only three overlapping channels; channels 1, 6 and 11. This is much more at 5GHz, namely 23 (depending on your device). This will make it work better in combination with other networks. A 5GHz network is less likely to experience interference, as most wireless devices such as Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, microwave ovens and computers use the 2.4GHz band. However, 5GHz has the disadvantage that the signal is more difficult to pass through walls;
The next step is to find the most suitable (least crowded) channels. WiFi routers and access points allow you to set different channels in the management interface. Channel 1 or 6 is often switched on by default. If there are many routers (networks) in the area, it is advisable to adjust the default channel yourself, for example to 3, 8, 11 or 13. Because channels work overlapping, it is wise to have at least 1 channel space between other channels. leave the neighborhood. There are several tools available to search for the best channels, including Vistumbler (Windows), WiFi Analyzer (Android), and Network Analyzer (iOS).
An average router can handle about 25 devices on the wireless network. These are devices that do not demand too much from the router, no continuous video stream for example. As indicated above, you can see that the router (the network) will have a hard time if you start streaming with three or more devices. The network will then become saturated. It is therefore wise to check which devices are and which are not connected wirelessly and you can even use various tools, including Wi-Spy and Channelizer, analyze how your network is faring at a particular moment. With this analysis you can also continue to look for a solution to increase stability. So keep full control over your wireless network. Know which devices are connecting to it, what these devices are asking for, how your network is performing and where the bottlenecks lie.
And then there is one more point regarding WiFi. At present, there are two main protocols for the communication of and between smart home devices; ZigBee and Z-Wave. ZigBee is a standard that works on the 2.4GHz bandwidth and can be found around channel 1. If you have several ZigBee devices in your network, you will see, for example with the tool mentioned above, that the network is already quite active. This is also a part to take into account, but if you want to know more about these smart home standards, you can visit our article about smart home protocols .
With the above tips and steps you can achieve a good and stable basis for your smart home. Make sure you estimate what you will need in advance and then look for the best network, from wired connections via ethernet to a WiFi network for devices that need to communicate wirelessly. In this way, your smart home is also provided with a perfect basis for the future.