The Best Home Network Setup: A Step-by-Step Guide

Is your home network slow? Keep your kids calling “Dad! The wifi is down again!”?

Let’s do something about that. Because a good and stable home network makes things so much easier. And a good home network setup isn’t expensive and pretty easy to setup.

As an IT Admin, I get a lot of questions from people about their home network.

Why is my wifi down every time?

Do you know why Netflix keeps buffering, I have a 100mbit internet connection and it’s still slow!

Which access point should I buy? The one with 4 or 6 antennas? The more is better right?

Today, I am going to explain how your home network works, which components you need (router, access point, switch etc) and how you can set it up to get the best network with great performance.

Planning your Home Network Setup

Before we start buying the network gear, first figure out what we need and what we want to accomplish with our home network.

  • What is the layout of your home and where do you want to have internet? Just inside or do you also want to use the WiFi in your garden?
  • Wired or Wireless? Most devices can connect over WiFi, but for streaming and gaming, a wired connection is better.
  • How many devices do we need to connect wired?
  • Do you want to support PoE (Power of Ethernet) devices? Think of IP Cameras and Access Points.

To help you pick the right gear, I created a home network gear planner. Just fill in a few details and it will give you a shopping list with the right sized switch, the number of access points you need while making sure you get the best network gear for your money.

So taking these points into consideration, we need to plan for a network setup that is suitable for now and the upcoming 3 to 5 years. More and more devices require an internet connection these days, most wireless, so good wireless coverage is important. Especially if you want to use Smart Home products, like the Philips Hue lights. They require a wireless connection.

Also, keep into consideration that kids grow up, get there own mobile phone and might have a computer or game console in their own room.

Best Home Network Router

The first thing we need is a good network router. Your ISP will provide you with a modem/router which sometimes also has a built-in access point. So you might think, why not use just the default modem/router?

Well, you have no control over security, the features are limited and the WiFi coverage is terrible. Besides that, the modem/router from the ISP needs to be placed close to the internet cable, which is in most cases not place where you want to use the wireless network.

So what makes a good router? If we look on the internet most brands advertise with the speed of the wireless connection, how many Mbps the router can handle etc. But what we are looking for is

  • Easy to manage – preferred a simple to use web interface
  • Fast – (amount of packages per second it can process, the throughput)
  • Supports QoS – (quality of service, so we can prioritize streaming media and gaming)
  • Fanless (fans make noise and attracted dust into the device)

What I don’t care about it there WiFi performance. A router is never placed in the optimal position for good WiFi coverage. And good WiFi coverage and speed is the most important part of a good home network. We will leave the Wifi to the access points, there are built for that.

Which router should you buy?

Now there are many routers on the market, but I have the best experience with the Unifi or Edge routers, both from Ubiquiti. You might have never heard of them, but they make enterprise-class network equipment for a really great price.

I use only Unifi or Edge network gear for home networks, and it has never let me down.

Ubiquiti Unifi USG

The Unifi line uses a web-based controller which you can run on your computer or with a cloud key. You can use one controller to manage all your Unifi devices, get a clear overview of your network performance and connected clients.

The performance of the devices is enterprise-grade, the prices really good. They support all the must-have features, like QoS, Advanced Firewall, VLAN support and VPN. You can get and Unifi USG on Amazon for around $ 120.

EdgeRouter X

If online gaming, streaming or video conferencing is important for you (or your household), then go for the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X.

The EdgeRouter X is capable of handling 100 to 250mbit internet connections with QoS enabled. The USG can only handle a 60mbit internet connection with QoS.

If you have multiple access points and/or other PoE devices, then take a look at the EdgeRouter X SFP. This one has 5 PoE ports that you can use to connect and powerup your Unifi access points.

Another advantage of the ERX is that costs only around $50 on Amazon. I have written a detailed guide on how to install and set up the EdgeRouter X and optimize it for the best performance.

Netgear Nighthawk (R7000)

If you don’t want to go for a Ubiquiti product, then the Netgear NightHawk (R7000) is a really good and popular option. This is one of the most bought routers on Amazon for a good reason.

The Nighthawk R7000- AC1900 has dynamic QoS. QoS prioritizes the network traffic, for example, streaming (Netflix, YouTube), video conferencing (Skype) traffic is more important than normal download network traffic. So this is given a higher priority and is handled first over the network.

If you don’t want, or can’t place dedicated access points in your house, then this is the router you should get. The wifi performance is great and blazing fast.

The Netgear is more expensive than the USG or the EdgeRouter.

Home Network Switch

Connecting network devices by wire is the best solution if you want stability and performance. Wireless networks are prone to interference which can be really frustrating when you are watching your favorite series on Netflix or competing in an online game. So when you have the opportunity, pull cables to every location in your house to ensure a good, reliable, home network.

When I remodeled my home I pulled some extra wires to the TV and HiFi set. Yes, the Smart TV supports WiFi, but the built-in antenna is surrounded by metal which weakens the signal. And I hate it when Netflix keeps buffering, so if you have the chance, get an ethernet cable between your TV and router.

How many ports do you need?

So as part of our home network setup, we need a good switch to connect all the devices together. The most routers come with 4 Lan ports, so if you are only going to use WiFi in your home, then a switch is not needed.

In all the other cases, I recommend getting at least an 8-port switch to connect everything. Why 8-ports? Well, let I take you through a shortlist of common network devices:

  1. You need one port of the switch to connect the router
  2. Access point ground floor
  3. Access point second floor
  4. NAS (Network Attached Storage / External hard drive)
  5. Smart TV
  6. Game Console
  7. Smart Thermostat (some connect over wifi, others need a bridge)
  8. Office / Computer

You see, nothing really special here and I already used the 8-ports. When buying a switch keep the following in mind:

  • PoE support, this way you can connect an access point with only an ethernet cable.
  • vLAN support, you want to separate your guest network for your own.
  • Gigabit Ethernet speed

Unifi US-8-60W

Unifi US-8-60W Home Network Switch

To take full advantage of the Unifi products, we will go with an Unifi Switch with PoE. The PoE allows you to connect the Unifi Access Points with only an ethernet cable, eliminating the need for a PoE adapter (and extra power sockets)

The Unifi line is again enterprise-grade hardware for a good price. Combining all the Unifi products will allow us to manage our network with just one controller. It will make your life and network a lot easier. They Unifi Switch will cost you around the $ 110,- on Amazon, but that is money well spent.

If you need more then 8 ports, I suggest you go for two Unifi switches, an US-8-60w, and a normal US-8. The 16 and 24 ports Unifi’s have built-in fans which can make some noise. The 8 ports are fanless.

Netgear ProSafe series

Netgear Prosafe network switch for home

Netgear has a lot of switch models, plastic housing, metal, managed, non-managed, big, small, grey, blue… But what we want is a managed switch, 8 to 16 ports and gigabit ethernet.

The ProSafe series is the best choice for home and small business. They can be wall-mounted really nicely, have a lifetime warranty and all the essential networking features. The ProSafe is a little bit more expensive compared to the Unifi, but it comes with more ports, so you only need one of it. Check the price on Amazon if you are interested.

So these are my two goto switches, I have used them both many times and they never let me down.

Home Wireless Network

For every business or home network setup, I just use one brand for the access points, Ubiquiti Unifi. Why? Because they are so easy to manage and have such a great performance that they are the best value for money in my opinion.

So to get the best wireless network, we need to understand the layout and structure of our house and identify the places where the most Wireless devices are.

Yes, you can place an access point in the hallway, but if there is a concrete wall between the hall and the living room, then your wireless signal will suffer from the concrete and rebar.

Unifi has multiple access points, you can read more in this article on choosing the right access point for your network and installing the access points. If you go for the all Unifi solution, make sure you check out the Unifi Product bundles on Amazon to save some money.

Home Network Basics

So before we start with setting up our home network, let me talk you through some basics to help you understand how a home network works.

In a network, all devices get an Ip Address. Each device has a unique Ip Address in the network. This way all the devices can communicate with each other.

Your router has always a fixed Ip Address, this way you are able to easily log in to your router, you simply go to http://192.168.1.1 or http://192.168.0.1.

DHCP vs Fixed Ip Address

In a network, a device has either a fixed Ip Address or gets an Ip Address from the DHCP server. The DHCP server is built-in to your router and assigns a unique Ip Address for a specific time to a computer.

This way you can not only use your notebook or mobile phone in your home network but also at the office for example. When your notebook connects with the wireless network from the office it will request an Ip Address from the DHCP server at your office.

Now it’s good practice to give fixed network device a fixed Ip Address. This way you always know how to connect to them. Think of your network printer, access point or NAS. When you leave your network printer on DHCP then it will get a new IP Address every time it’s restarted, resulting in that you will lose the connection to your printer.

So in our home network setup, we will give our fixed network devices a fixed IP address so we can easily manage them when necessary.

Home Network Setup

We now have all the gear we need to for our network. All is left to connect and install everything and we are done. Sound simple right?

Let me help you with that 😉

If you go for the all Unifi solution a recommend getting an Unifi Cloud Key.  With the Cloud Key, you can manage your home network from the cloud and it eliminates the need for a local controller (which you can install on a Raspberry Pi for example)

Home Network Diagram

So we have all the parts, but how do you set it up? First a little diagram of how your network setup could look like:

Home Network Diagram

As you can see we have a modem that we got from our ISP, the Router (EdgeRouter ER-X in this case), a switch, multiple access points, and a Cloud Key.

If you have used the Home Network Gear Calculator you might have noticed that in a lot of situation it will recommend the EdgeRouter ER-X SFP. This router has 5 LAN ports that also support PoE. This way you can connect your access points and Cloud Key directly to your router. This will save you a more expensive PoE switch.

So in that situation, your home network setup might look as follows:

Advanced Home Network Diagram

Now no matter what router you bought (or already have), the basics are the same. The router from the ISP will only be used to set up the internet connection. Further, it will only forward all the traffic to our own router.

I always give network devices a fixed IP-address and use DHCP only for the clients. This way you know how and where to reach your network equipment when something is not working.

Step 1 – Connect the router to the modem

Most ISP’s combine a modem and router into one device. This way you can just plug in your computer and it all works. But we want the best home network setup possible, so we need to “disable” the router function of the ISP’s modem/router.

What you will have to keep in mind is that every router you buy has a fixed IP-address already set from the factory and 9 out of 10 times it is 192.168.1.1 and that’s a problem. Because if two devices in the network have the same Ip Address then they can’t talk to each other.

As you can see in the big diagram above, the router from the ISP and our own router have a different IP Range then our internal network (colored orange).

Change Ip address and DHCP

So we are going to start with changing network settings in the router from the ISP:

  • Press Windows Key + R
  • Type cmd <enter>

The good old dos box (Windows Command Prompt) opens. Enter the following command:

ipconfig <enter>

It will give you a result similar to this:

As you can see, the default address of my ISP’s router is also 192.168.1.1, so when we connect our new router to the one of the ISP we will get a conflict.

So first you need to login to your ISP router, on http://192.168.1.1 and change the IP range in the DHCP settings to something like 192.168.0.10 – 192.168.0.100 and make the IP-address of the router itself 192.168.0.1

You will find the DHCP settings somewhere under Network Settings, Local Network, Network Setup or something similar.

Set the router in Bridge or DMZ mode

To disable the router function or your ISP’s router we need to set it in Bridge mode or DMZ mode. It really depends on the brand of your router on where this setting is located. Most likely on the internet settings page.

Disable the built-in access point

Because we are logged into our router, we might just also disable the wifi so we don’t have to come back later. But before you do this, make sure you are connected to your router with a network cable. Otherwise, you will lose the connection to your router.

Find the Wireless settings page and disable the WiFi so it won’t interfere with our new access point.

Connect new router

We now can safely connect our new router, just connect a cable between a LAN port of your ISP router to the WAN or Eth0 port of your new router. And because we need our computer connected as well, a cable from a LAN port of our new router to your computer:

Best Home Network Setup connecting the router

In case of an Unifi USG router, you now need to connect the Cloud Key to set up the controller. This way you can adapt all the network devices. I won’t go into detail about this now.

Step 2 – Setting up our new Router

So our new router is connected to the one of the ISP. We now need to set up our new router. I created a detailed guide for the Edgerouter ER-X. If you have chosen another router then you can follow the step below as a guideline for your home network setup:

Change the default password

Security in our home network is something you always have to take care of. Make sure you change the default password of the router to something unique and strong. Default passwords are listed on the internet, so you really shouldn’t use those.

Setup the DHCP server

We want to keep the Ip Address above the 192.168.1.200 available for the fixed network devices. So make sure the DHCP range is set to something like 192.168.1.10 to 192.168.1.199. This way we have enough Ip Address available for our access points, network printers etc.

DNS Server

DNS Servers translate domain names, like lazyadmin.nl, to an Ip Address. So your computer can connect to the server where the site is hosted. Now some DNS servers are relatively slow while others are blazing fast.

You can find the fastest DNS server for you, but most of the time 1.1.1.1 and 1.1.0.0 are the fastest DNS server available. Another advantage of 1.1.1.1 is that they respect your privacy, more info about that here.

Step 3 – Connect the switch

This one is pretty easy, just put a cable between a LAN port of your new router and the switch. If you have a managed switch, then check the documentation on how to login into the web interface.

Some switches come with a fixed IP address, others have a tool to find the device. What I often use in for me strange networks, is a small program called Advanced Ip Scanner. This small, free tool, scans your network and list all connected devices and their IP-Address.

When you are logged into to switch, give it a fixed IP address, so you don’t have to search for it again.

Step 4 – Access Points

Depending on the access point you got and the switch that you’ve bought, it can be as simple a connecting an ethernet cable between the switch and access point. But when you have a switch without PoE, then you need to place the PoE adapter between the switch and access point.

If you did go for the Unifi access point, and you should have, then open the Unifi Controller (or app if you want to install them without controller), adopt the access points. A full guide on how to install the Unifi Access Points can be found here

The best location for the access point

The placement of the access point is a really important part of your home network setup. Placing it in the right location makes all the difference in a good wifi connection or not. In the Unifi Controller is an option the create a floorplan with your devices placed on it.

You can use this map to find the perfect location for your access points. The map allows you to draw a different type of walls, each with their own characteristics. Next, you can place your access point on it and turn on the heat map.

You will see how much of the signal is blocked by the walls, doors, and windows, so you get a good idea of what the perfect location is. I made a few examples to give you an idea.

In the first floor plan, the access point is placed at the entrance. It’s typically used location because people don’t like the view of an access point on the ceiling of there living room. As you can see, the 5G coverage in the living room is poor, the slower 2G coverage is ok.

Best access point location

When you place the access point in the living room, where most of the wireless devices are, you will get a good connection with great performance. So I really suggest that you first draw up your floorplan in the controller, so you can find the best location for the access point.

Best access point location for home network setup

Home Network Security

Separate Guest WiFi Network

After we have done our home network setup it’s time to think about the security of it and the devices on it. We all get guests in our house, it can be friends, family or relatives and they all have a cell phone. You might be tempted to give them your WiFi password, but what if their device has malware or a virus on it? Your network could be infected as well.

Most modern access points allow you to create multiple SSID’s (WiFI networks), so create one for your guests. But that’s not all you have to do, the goal is to separate the guest network traffic from your own network. And that’s where VLANs comes in (remember what to keep in mind when looking for a new switch).

Create a separate VLAN for your guest network to keep your network safe. When creating a VLAN you need to create the VLAN on the router first, and then assign the VLAN to the guest SSID in the access point.

If you have gone for the Unifi solution you can also use the Unifi Guest Network to prevent guests from accessing your local network. Read more about the guest network and guest portal in this article.

Scan internet traffic

To keep our network safe, we need to prevent malware and other malicious traffic. This can be done with a free service called OpenDNS. When you browse the internet, every URL you type is converted to an IP address.

So when you type www.google.com, it’s converted by a DNS server to the correct IP address (for example 172.217.19.196 ). This conversion is done by DNS servers, and there are many DNS server available. Your ISP has one, Google, Microsoft, etc.

What OpenDNS does is keeping a list of known malicious servers. When your computer makes a request to www.fakebanksite.com it will check if that site is on the known list and block the traffic. This way it protects you from phishing and other malicious websites

OpenDNS is free for personal use and I really recommend using it. All it takes is changing the DNS servers in your new router to their DNS server to protect your network.

OpenDNS is also one of the fastest DNS servers available, so a really good choice next to 1.1.1.1.

Change the default network name (SSID)

New routers and access points come with a default WiFi network name (SSID) and password. You should always change this immediately after you connected everything. Hackers can easily guess the password based on the manufacturer of the router or access point.

Choose an SSID name that doesn’t give away any personal information like your family name or address.

Regular update the firmware of your network appliances

All network appliances, router, access point, switch, smart devices, printers, need to be updated regularly to keep them secure. Creating a good home network isn’t a one-time task, you need to keep it updated.

The firmware updates can address security vulnerabilities and improve your network device’s performance. So every two months or so, check for the latest updates and apply them to the devices.

If you are using the Unifi network gear, then you can check it easily for all the devices from the controller.

I hope you found this guide useful, if you have any question or suggestions, please let know.

You might also like:

Get more stuff like this

IT, Office365, Smart Home, PowerShell and Blogging Tips

I hate spam to, so you can unsubscribe at any time.

75 thoughts on “The Best Home Network Setup: A Step-by-Step Guide”

  1. Thank you very much for the information on your pages. More so, thank you for your efforts to produce this; it’s much appreciated.
    I’m not one for platitudes. My purpose in commenting is to pass along the following link from the OpenWRT folks in case anyone out there is looking for more performance from what is already a seemingly amazing device.
    https://forum.openwrt.org/t/ubiquiti-edgerouter-x-loading-openwrt-and-performance-numbers/27470
    I must say “seemingly” since I’ve not personally put my hands on one. I think that will be changing in the near future.
    Enjoy the ride!
    /perry

  2. I very impress about the detail of Home network, I have a question using the nanoHD, like other home, we have cell, printer laptop and now I bought a IPTV (INTERNET TV-BOX) the connection i using is wifi, but some time this device is disconnected from nano hd, could you guide how to setup, so can not disconnect, do i need a cloud key, a router etc. I really like to make it better home network. please tell me what I need to do in terns of setup or equipment o buy.

    Thanks,

    • If your device is disconnecting it maybe just out of reach of the nanoHD. You can check the signal strength with the WiFiman app on your mobile. If the signal strength is around the -75db then it’s pretty low which may cause the disconnection issues.

      I recommended to get a Gen2 Cloud key so you have more insight in your network. This way you can also easily change the settings of the access point.

      If the IPTV is out of range, try to add the AC lite or and AC-Inwall to your setup to extend the wireless network range.

  3. I have a reolink 4K IP camera system installed in my home. If I go with the Unifi products and the setup you detail here will I have a conflict? I read somewhere ubiquiti is proprietary and only ubiquiti cameras will work.

    • I don’t think it would be an issue. The Reolink cams support 802.3af PoE (Power of Ethernet) and consume up to 8 watts per camera. All Unifi switches also support 802.3af and can deliver up to 12watt. So you can connect your Reolink cams to an Unifi Switch.

  4. Absolutely great article, well explained. I have a question for you if possible as I am unsure which products to use/keep.
    Currently with ISP BT (UK) their router doesnt allow Guest Network nor Bridge Mode.
    I need to allow Internet access in a guest house next door, but preferably on a separate Network. And in future moving office out of current house into the garden to an outbuilding.
    I did think of connecting BT Router >>> USG >>> USG-8 Switch (or the -60W for PoE) >>> 1 AP wall unit (which I would therefore need the PoE switch) in the guest house next door and 1 AP-Lite in existing house.
    I know there is a potential issue of double NATing if using existing ISP Router in non-bridge mode, therefore how should the set up be if we were to eliminate this?
    I have some diagrams if you have time to look through, I think I have too many options because the office building I think it will need to be hard wired then with wireless AP as well? Any advice? I currently have a USG and US-AC-Lite which I currently cannot return. Thanks for any advice you can give.

    • Does the router support DMZ mode perhaps? You could use that instead.

      Otherwise, if you can change the DHCP range and internal Ip Address of your ISP router, change it to something like 10.0.0.1/24 and keep your internal network (the network behind the USG) on 192.168.0.1/24. For the guest house, I would recommend using a separate VLAN.

      I just bought a USG myself so I can write some articles about it, so keep following my site (or subscribe to the newsletter) for tips (articles are planned for october.. )

  5. Dear Rudy,

    With a lot of interest I’ve read your tutorial, and a couple of things are usefull to change in my modem/router. I have a fiber optic router in North East Thailand, with 2 usb ports. Every couple of months I try to Google some information how to connect a harddrive to the usb and get data, like music, visible for example on my smartphone. Despite the information I have read already for over a year, I can’t make it working. Do you have any suggestions how to fix this?
    I would be very grateful if I can play something from my own home network.

    Respectfully,
    Dutchie

  6. We just moved and I’m in my network planning stage. Our condo has cat5e wiring to each room and I’m trying to decide on the best access point products.

    My first thought was the UniFi AP AC Lite but I noticed that there is an in-wall unit. What are the pros/cons to the in-wall vs. the AP AC? The in-wall looks like an easy, inconspicuous install.

    • The signal of the in wall units is easily blocked by furniture. So you will need more in wall accesspoints then with the normal ones

      Also go for the LR version, it’s more sensitive for the weaker mobile phone signals.

  7. Hi Ruud,

    Great posting! Very useful and clear.
    All the tools you recommend are for Windows, do you also have similar ones for Mac OSX I could use?

    Kind regards,

    Casper

    • Wonderful article!
      My Arris surfboard just went out after 3 years of faithful service and I’m considering upgrading my network in 2020.

      Just a few questions. I have and townhouse and the reception in 1 of the bedrooms is atrocious. Since the ISP place the operating port downstairs would it be wise for me to get a wireless access point for that particular room? We do slot of gaming and streaming, with 2 consoles, 2 firesticks, 4 phones, and 2 smart t.v.s but a wired connection for upstairs wouldn’t be desirable with a set of 4 year old twin boys running rapid.

      What would be you opinion in this matter?

      Thanks!

  8. Hi Ruud,

    Great posting! Very useful and clear.
    All the tools you recommend are for Windows, do you also have Mac OSX I could use?

    Kind regards,

    Casper

  9. Hi Ruud,

    Finally an clear (and down-to-earth) article about setting up these kind of products, great!

    Still, I got several questions. Let’s start with the main question: when it comes to securing my internet connection/traffic: what is your take on enabling things like Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), Deep Packet Inspection, etc. for a home / IoT network ? (In my new I would like to separate the IoT-devices from my private (Macbook, TV, etc.) devices.)

    And, how does this influence the choice for either the EdgeRouter X or the USG ?

    Although I understand there’s no one-device-solution, I’m trying to find a balance between security and performance. As you said in earlier posts, the setup is something you (probably) do once and I do think I have some basic network experience to use both the USG and EdgeRouter. Although the USG sounds appealing because of the Unifi controller….

    With regards,

    Rutger

    • Hi Rutger,

      Enabling IPS on a USG will have a huge impact on the throughput. For the EdgeRouter it isn’t even available if I am correct. Personally I would take a look at Sophos UTM Home Edition.

      The one controller dashboard with the USG is nice (especially the insights you get), but I prefer the performance you get with the EdgeRouter X.

  10. Grammar police here:

    “people don’t like the few of an access point on the ceiling of there living room.”

    You probably meant to write:

    “people don’t like the view of an access point on the ceiling of their living room.”

  11. Hi Ruud,
    I have set up a vlan on the ERX, and then assigned that vlan to the guest network. As soon as I do that, devices cannot connect anymore. Iwas wondering if I should also adjust domething in the HP switch in between?

    • Yes, you should also create the vLAN on the HP Switch and assign it to both the port of the router and port of the access point. The Hp switch is now probably in the default vlan 1, and doesn’t allow or do anything with to other traffic.

  12. Hi Ruud. Good one, thank you. Got a question for you.

    I have a small office network, wifi router (TP-Link DSL something) out here. The router WAN port is connected to ISP, all LAN ports are free (the router is not connected to any computer by wire). No problem with Inernet on computers, but when I try to set up a local network just to print from a USB-printer connected to one of them, a nightmare begins. All machines are Win7 desktops or notebooks, they belong to WorkGroup, got their IP adresses automatically, the net is not ‘public’, a network discovery, file and print sharing are enabled, no password are required. Computers don’t ‘see’ each other by ping (well, sometimes they do after I restart them and the router and then they disappear from scope after another restart). The router IP adress is 192.168.1.1, computers have IP’s like 192.168.1.100 and above, a mask is 255.255.255.0. When I ping the router IP everything’s fine of course, when 192.168.1.100 pings .101 the request’s timed out.

    Any idea?

  13. Hi Ruud,

    – Do you have any experience with patch cables from FS.com? Monoprice has a great offer and easy website if you are a US customer, but they charge a lot for shipping. Combined with custom duties and Dutch VAT that doesn’t make them very price attractive. The German Monoprice store on Amazon.de is ok for buying bulk cable, but their offering in patch cables is quite limited and most of the variations in colour and size are not available.

    – Is there a minimum length for patch cables? I would like to keep the mess to a minimum and need pretty much only a couple of centimeters for the connection between patch panel and switch. Can I use e.g. 15cm cables?

    – Is there a certain thing I have to look for with patch cables and PoE? Does it matter over such short distances what the cable is made of? And does this impact minimum size? And would you expect issues by using extra thin cables to save some space?

    Many thanks for your help!

    All the best,

    Hans

    • Hi Hans,

      Try netwerkproducten.com for ordering patch cables in the Netherlands. I have great experience with them.

      About the minimum length, nope, it’s more how short can you get them. But in practice, 15cm cables are the shortest one that is workable.

      About the quality, I always go for the full copper cable. If you go for CCA (Copper Coated Aluminium) you will have a higher chance of breaking the wires inside. CCA cables also have 40% higher resistance on DC current than copper cables. Go for quality, resolving network issues due to faulty cables is a pain in the *** to find.

  14. Hey Ruud,

    great article. I have a situation where I hope you could help me.
    I need to setup a LAN for a small office. They have MikroTik hardware available. There will be two LAN’s and one WLAN available – one LAN for each department, and the WLAN for the guests. There is only one ISP internet access line. This is how I thought I could do this. But please correct me with any of your insights.

    1 The ISP Internet line will connect to the main router, a MikroTik hEX PoE (5x Gigabit Ethernet with PoE output for four ports, SFP, USB, 800MHz CPU, 128MB RAM, RouterOS L4) then this router will serve the following LANs

    2 one MikroTik hAP ac for guests Wifi

    3 one MikroTik hEX (5x Gigabit Ethernet, Dual Core 880MHz CPU, 256MB RAM, USB, microSD, RouterOS L4) for the accounting department LAN

    3.1 a MikroTik RB260GSP Switch that will connect all the computers and printers and NAS

    4 one MikroTik hEX (5x Gigabit Ethernet, Dual Core 880MHz CPU, 256MB RAM, USB, microSD, RouterOS L4) for the design department LAN

    4.1 a MikroTik RB260GSP Switch that will connect all the computers and printers inside the department

    Now, how could people from accounting department communicate to the design department?
    Do you see any flaws from this network design?

    Thanks in advance.

    • You have 3 routers in your design, there is no need for that. One router, a couple of switches and access point should work. You want to separate the two departments, but also they need to communicate (share files and printers?) with each other. Why do you want to separate the network then? Normally you separate it if the network gets too big, or you don’t want those devices can access each other.

      If you want to split the LAN networks, look into VLANs. For the guests, if you go for the Unifi line you can simply create a guest wireless network and still offer wireless access to the employees.

  15. Hi Ruud, helpful guide, thanks. I’ve got a situation where I cant lay Ethernet cable in my apartment and need to connect my ISP’s router directly to my old LTE access point/router. The reason for this is that the ISP has locked down all the functionality on the access point, so I can’t configure it to function as a WAN. Do you think this could work? Thanks, Dane

    • Hi Dane,

      Your ISP router is locked, that happens a lot, unfortunately. But what do you mean you need to connect it to your old LTE access point / router? Let’s go back a few steps, what do you want to achieve? A better wireless network or a faster connection with a lower latency? A guest network?

  16. Rudd,
    I just bought a house wired with Ethernet! I have carried over from my previous house a DOCSIS 3.1 arrris surfboard modem and an ASUS RT 86U wireless router. I am going to add a switch/patch panel, and going by your configuration above, I would plug my switch into my ASUS wifi Router. Correct? What is the speed difference of the wired connections at the Ethernet drops in my house with this type of configuration vs. the configuration with access points? In other words, will my hard wired Ethernet connections suffer loss of speed by using my existing WIFI router rather than using a dedicated router with access points? I hope I am being clear!

    • Your wired connections will be fine. But your wireless connection will not be as fast as when you separate the router and access points. The built-in wi-fi in the Asus router won’t give you the best / optimal signal strength and performance compared to install an access point.

      • Hi Rudy! Just to clarify, I mistakenly thought that my ISP would not configure the wireless router they had supplied me with to work as a wireless LAN in my house. That’s why I wanted to connect an older LTE modem with router to the access point. As it turns out, they were more than happy to set up my wireless router as a WLAN, and even to unlock the settings for me if need be (provided I signed a document first, so that they would not need to fix it free of charge if things went wrong). The problem was actually something the installing technician had mis-configured. I can now connect all my devices to the wireless access point and ping any device on the network from my laptop, which is what I wanted to do in the beginning. Thanks again!

  17. Hi there,

    YES! Wonderful clear explanations. After months and months of scratching my head, I appear to have found someone who can answer my network question 🙂

    I have a very simple network set up (I have full control so can amend settings as necessary). Two computers – (without wifi) is connected directly via cable to the ISP modem/router. This is the default IP 192.168.1.1. runs Windows 10, and connection is managed by Windows/ISP modem.

    (running Linux) is connected wirelessly (static connection no DHCP) via a TP-Link Archer C2 which I’ve tried to set up as an access point. The Archer is connected via cable to one of the ISP device’s four ports, into its WAN port. It has an IP address of 192.168.0.1. I’ve changed no other settings, not subnet or anything (because I don’t really understand subnet routing). I’ve left DHCP routing active because others do occasionally bring devices within range, but normal daily use means there are only ever two computers connected to the network.

    has a trouble free internet experience. For the internet works but connection issues mean dropout and recurring lag.

    The connection lists 192.168.0.1 as the Gateway i.e. the IP address of the Archer wap. The Archer in turn shows 192.168.1.1 as its Gateway address!

    It would appear from your post and answers that I need to change some setting? What I am trying to achieve is that connection (wireless via the Archer) is “pass through” i.e. as direct to the internet as possible, and to override things like DNS servers as set (and unable to be changed) within the ISP’s modem by being able to change such things within the Archer.

    Is this possible? If necessary I will alter settings but would prefer not to. I’m essentially trying to get the ISP’s device completely out of the way for .

    • Your router has an Ip Address of 192.168.0.1 and DHCP enabled with a scope of 192.168.0.10 – 192.168.0.199. Give your access point a static IP address: 192.168.0.2 and turn DHCP off (that is handled by your router). This way all the clients get an IP address from the DHCP server from the router and your access point will only pass through the internet connection.

      • Thank you! Very helpful.

        If it’s of interest to anyone – I’ve now set things up in this way, it works perfectly. However the router I’m using as the access point i.e. the TP-Link Archer C2 is now ‘inaccessible’ via web login. It seems that neither my ISP (Orange) nor TP-Link have designed the equipment to be used in exactly this way. If I turn on DHCP on the Archer, I can log in to it. But as things stand with the DHCP off on my access point the ISP’s modem DOES NOT recognise the TP-Link device and does not assign it an IP address. I had to do that manually from the access page for my ISP connection (i.e. the internet router) by assigning it a static route via its MAC address. Now my network functions as intended, but I cannot change or amend any setting within my access point router. No problem as such, just noted.

  18. Hey Ruud, Great information on your site!

    Quick question… I have my ISP modem/router, then a Netgear switch. I am looking at adding IP cameras.
    When I purchase a POE switch, does it just connect to the main switch in my small network chain?

    Thanks in advance!
    Andy

    • It’s better to connect it directly to the router. But if it isn’t possible, then you can connect it to the other switch. The fewer hops (devices) between the endpoint and internet the faster the connection will be.

  19. Ruud,

    I’m already (almost) full Unifi (16 port 150W switch, 5 APs) and just about to convert from an old merlin wrt Asus router in front of my ISP cable (modem mode) router to a USG.

    Everything comes into my living room, where I have the modem -> router -> Cat6 port -> (cellar) switch. I then have a few devices off the router ethernet ports, and a PoE AP out of the other Ethernet port in the living room. I’ve considered cleaning all this up, moving the USG to the cellar, straight out of the patch panel, but then I’d need an additional small switch in the living room for the TV, TiVo, NAS etc, which seems overkill.

    Any thoughts on optimising the layout? Perhaps a lightweight PoE switch that could drive an AP Lite AP without need for yet another power socket in my cupboard?!

    On security, I have already a guest network, VPN into the house (only access into the house for me), but everything is on one LAN. Would you recommend segmenting into VLANs? I struggle with so much connecting to the internet, or to other devices (e.g. Alexa, TP-Link plug driving a lamp, Smartphone etc), that where would I start?

    Great site – keep it up!

    • I don’t think an extra switch is an overkill, it’s common practice to pull a wire to a floor and use a switch for all devices on that floor.

      About the vLAN, they are indeed a bit hard to set up. But you could start with simply leaving all devices in the default vLAN (1) and only create a new vLAN for the guest network. Then you would only need to configure the access points and switch.

  20. Hi!

    Thanks for your advice. I would have one question for you. Is it necessary (or good choice) to use switch “after” the wifi-router (new Asus) instead of using the wifi router also as switch? So does it bring something extra benefit to use switch instead of router? You know.

    Thanks!

  21. Hi Ruud, one great article after the other – your sharing is so useful and appreciated ! Thanks a lot.

    I m trying to copy your setup but using TPLINK I still had instead of NETGEAR and I was wondering how to still use the 3 empty ports in my ISP’s NETGEAR modem now that I am using it as a bridge iso router.

    I was thinking to connect my synology to it with both LAN connections (although I doubt I will get twice the speed via port link aggregation but it helps against a failing network card) and use the third for my music infrastructure, connected via wire to the NAS.

    Reason behind is because I can’t imagine “hacking” my music infra (revox, no hdd inside) (but that might be naive from my side ?) and the Synology having a firewall on its own. As such I can also configure the VLAN’s (guest network, camera footage, my website and my private stuff) on my synology, hoping it doesn’t conflict with the Unifi EDGEROUTER LITE setup. I m hoping to then route the Unifi camera footage to my NAS and make it publicly available (filming horse boxes).

    Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts on this ! Not only Ruud but all people having knowledge in this area and willing to share.

  22. Hi, great post, I have a question, the modem has to be in bridge mode? I´m new in this, my ISP has a PPPoE connection, do I need to make the connection through the router or through the modem? Thanks!

    • If your router supports it, check if it has a specific WAN port, then you could use the router alone. Just enter the PPPoE details into the router to set up the internet connection.

  23. Great information! Appreciate the knowledge you are sharing. I have one question about choosing either Ubiquiti access points to spread the wifi or I am seeing online their mesh alternative Amplifi? We are having a home built and it is a doozy. I am worried about wifi and network coverage. It will be 2 levels and over 5200 square feet, so I am having ethernet pulled to each of the 5 bedrooms as well as the 2 offices and following your recommendation of 2 8 port Unifi switches. I figure that will be enough to hardline stationary devices, but worry about the wifi only devices. Do you recommend the Ubiquiti access points (2 for sure, maybe 3) installed into the ceilings or the amplify mesh option? Thank you again for your input!

    • I haven’t tested the Amplifi yet, but I will always prefer a wired access point over a wireless (repeater) based access point. The mesh antennas are always placed lower by the floor, resulting in more objects that will block the signal. Also, mesh networks like the Amplifi will have higher latency.

      If you have the option, then place 2 or 3 Unifi Access Points on the ceiling for the best coverage and signal. Pull the wires now you still can, the mesh would more be an option if you don’t have that option anymore. For the access point, pick one Unifi AC-LR and the others can be Unifi AC-LITE

  24. Dear Ruud;

    thanks for all that info, i’m an IT student planing to do Sysadmin, i’ve been following your blog and find it very helpfull.
    Just wanted to encourage you to keep up with the good work.
    Cheers!!

    MaxiPeixoto

    • Yes, the server connects to the 10Gbe on the EdgeSwitch using the RJ45 ports on the switch. This way you don’t have to buy expensive transceivers. Now assuming you are using two uplinks per server can connect the Edgerouter of SFP with a normal SFP cable. This way you will have a 1Gbe link between the EdgeSwitch and the EdgeRouter.

      The EdgeSwitch Lite also has SFP ports, so you can connect this switch to the Edgerouter as well with the SFP ports.

      Your gateway is connected to the EdgeRouter with a normal cat6 cable using the RJ45 ports on the ERPro-8.

  25. Dear Ruud,

    Thank you so much for your clear advice! Very helpful.

    > An additional question: Do you have any recommendations for a 24 port patch panel CAT6 in the above setup (April 13 message) and the CAT6 type of cable to use?

    As it will be mainly cables going through walls and ending up in wall sockets, a solid core is recommended. But which type of shielding is recommended and which shielding type in the patch panel goes with that? All cables go through the same entry point as the power lines in the house (meterkast) and are laid alongside (not the same tubes) power lines in the concrete walls. Shielded seems to be a logical option. Also to avoid interference due to electrical systems in the meterkast. But which type and will that make the cable too thick to run two through one standard pipe?

    > And on the ER-8, does it make sense to use the Pro version as it has pretty much the same price as the ER-8?

    Many thanks and I will make sure to use your Amazon referral links to buy the hardware!

    Best,

    • Shielded cables are only necessary when you run the cables near powerful electric motors or near a broadcast station. You can safely wrap a Cat6 cable around a normal powerline and you won’t notice any difference. So don’t waste your money on that.

      About the cables, go for Monoprice cables, those cables are 23AWG and have a pure copper wire. For the patch panel, stick with Monoprice, they make good quality patch panels as well.

      The ER8-Pro is a little bit faster then the ER8 and has higher throughput. If you can get them for almost the same price then go for the pro.

  26. Great Article!

    I am in the process of rebuilding my network. I currently use my ISP-provided gateway with VOIP (Netcomm Wireless NF18ACV), which runs into the router/wireless AP (Netgear D6200), which then runs into a managed switch (Netgear GS116E). I want to replace the router and switch completely. I run a media server, which will be upgraded too.

    I want to have a 10GBe backbone from the servers. The main media server will running the web server and media server platform, and the second server will be the media storage server. Each server will have 2-4 10GBe ports.

    I will be using a patch panel for the wall sockets, which will only be Cat6 1GBe. I wish to separate the server, main LAN/WLAN and guest LAN/WLAN with VLANs. I’ve chosen to use Ubiquity. Also, would it be worthwhile running a separate firewall?. What would you advise for this setup?

    • Hi Daniel,

      Nice case you have here. Unifi has some switches that come with two SFP+ ports, these allow you to connect the two servers with a 10GBe over SFP+, but then you will need to buy two 10Gbe SFP+ transceivers and they are a bit expensive. It will also limit your ability to expand in the future. But if using 2 SFP+ ports is enough then the Unifi US-48 is the most budget-friendly option for the switch.

      Another option, if you need more 10Gbe ports, is to go for the EdgeSwitch 16 XG. This model comes with 4 10Gbe RJ45 ports and 12 SFP+ ports allowing you to expand in the future. You can use the SFP+ port to connect to switch to the Edge Router. But you will need an additional switch for your wall sockets, an Edge Switch Lite will do.

      You can use just one firewall/router for your network. There is no need to buy multiple firewalls. I don’t know how fast you uplink is, but if you go for the EdgeSwitch I suggest you buy an Edge Router 8 Pro, this one has two SFP ports (1gbit) so you can connect to Edge Switch with a fibre uplink. On the edge router, you can configure multiple VLANs and set up the firewall accordingly.

  27. Thanks for the good responses and this detailed guide! Couple of questions I still have left that would I would be thrilled if you are able to answer them:

    – When going for the Edgerouter, wouldn’t a higher performing version be a better choice to benefit from a 500/500 mbit fiber connection? And which one would you then pick?

    – After counting all the devices I actually have collected over the years and LAN wall sockets I have to connect, I also get easily to 20 slots needed. As only a couple of them need PoE, combining several switches might still be the most economical option, but isn’t it easier to just buy the Ubiquiti UniFi Switch US-24-250W? Although the 250W obviously is a massive overkill…

    – For cables, I think the most neat option is to use a patch board where I collect all the sturdy cables that go into the walls to other places in the house and then use flexible CAT-cables to connect from the patch board into the switch. Would you recommend using CAT6 or CAT6a? I would like to put two cables into each tube in the walls, so CAT6a might be to thick for that?

    – I am planning on using two times the Ubiquiti Light AP (bedroom/hallway) and one time the Pro (living room). Would that be a sensible option? It is a one floor appartment, but with a massive reinforced concrete wall separating livingroom from the other parts of the appartment.

    Many thanks for your advice!

    • Yes, if you have a 500 Mbit fibre then I would go for the ER-8.

      How many devices need a PoE? To save money you could buy a US-24 and add a Unifi US-8-60W to it. But then you only have 4 PoE ports. Another option is to use the PoE adapters that come with most devices, but that isn’t really efficient. Otherwise, the US-24-250W is your only option. 250W is what the switch is capable of providing, it won’t use it. But it’s expensive.

      CAT6A is indeed too thick and you don’t need it in home networks. CAT6 can also reach 10gbit up to ~50 meters, but your clients and switches don’t support it now. In my opinion, cat6a isn’t worth the extra cost for normal use.

      Change the pro for the Unifi AC LR. The LR is more sensitive than the pro. I don’t know the size and layout of your apartment, but the AC Lite’s for coverage is a good choice.

  28. Great read.
    With regard to the Unifi US-8-60W, do you see any benefit in upgrading to the Unifi 8-Port Managed Switch with POE [150 Watt]?
    The 150w is around twice the price, here in Australia anyway.

    • That would only be useful if you want to connect a lot of PoE devices to it. So it depends on the wattage of your PoE devices. A Unifi G3 Cam uses only 4 watts for example.

  29. My ISP is a fiber optic provider. I do not have an ISP provided modem/router. It is only a cable that goes from the wall directly to my router.

    With this, my question is, will this set up still work with the network diagram by bypassing the ISP modem? Also, would I just set up my Ubiquiti router by skipping the original IP config?

    • Yes, this should still work, but you will need some info from your ISP. They should provide you with information on how to connect your router to the internet. Probably a PPPoE account name or static IP Address.

  30. Great article. Well thought out and informative. I am looking at the Ubiquiti website’s product descriptions for the EdgeRouterX and the Unifi Security gateway and am having trouble finding the part related to the article’s quote “The EdgeRouter X is capable of handling 100 to 250mbit internet connections with QoS enabled. The USG can only handle a 60mbit internet connection with QoS.” These both appear to be 1G capable ethernet ports. What am I missing? Is it specific to having QoS enabled? My connection has a stated rate of 400 mbps although this pc is testing at ~95 Mbps.

    • Hi Jack,

      I understand your confusion. Yes, the speed limit is related to enabling SQM. If you look in the User Guide, page 49, you will see a nice table with the speed limitation with SQM enabled.

      If you want to take full advantage of the 400mbps you probably going to need an ER-8, but they cost a lot more ($300) then the ER-X

  31. Don’t understand all this but trying to set up better wifi system than just using router and modem furnished by TV and internet providers (DishNetwork and Century Link). Only using system for TVs and computers in 3 rooms all on same floor (including streaming through Roku Ultra). Do I need “access points” and, if so, how many? You don’t discuss modems but imply that I should just use the provider’s modem. Is that good enough quality and what if I don’t want to keep paying their monthly fee? Will the Ubiquiti components work with my providers?

    • Modems are indeed provided by your provider and most providers don’t allow using custom modems. Best is to run network cables to the computers and TVs, but if that isn’t possible then installing a good access point will improve the quality of your network. Access points provide a wireless network to your computers and mobile devices. How many you need depends on the size of your house and how it’s built. Stone or concrete walls block more signal than wooden walls.
      You can start by installing a single Unifi Access Point. Go for the long range version, it’s more sensitive and will cover a greater area of the house. Get a Cloud key to control the access point and follow this article for the installation

  32. Hi Rudd, thanks for the post.
    I am also a fan of Ubiquiti solutions- although they may be not that easy to setup.
    I have Edge Max PoE supporting router and single AP in one location- works great.

    Anyway- my question concerns your network diagram. I am not sure what is a purpose for switch in this setup. Could you connect just directly to the usg router?

    Second question concerns cloud key – where exactly do you connect it? And why do you think it has no option of PoE?

    Lastly- would you plan for a single high range Unifi AP in a 200 sq m wooden house with single brick wall with chimney in the center or would you rather go directly for 2 AP on each level? I know I should make a heat map – but would like to know your opinion.
    Thanks

    • Hi Marian,

      The USG in the network diagram only has 2 LAN ports. In de diagram I only laid-out the network devices. Even with 3 devices, you will need a switch to connect them all. If you take other wired connected devices into account you have no other choice then adding a switch to your network. Edge routers typically have more LAN ports, so then you might can do without a switch.

      About the cloud key, it doesn’t matter where you connected it. I would go for connecting it to the switch. The cloud key gen-1only be powered with an 802.3af PoE connection. The gen-2 can be powered with PoE or with a USB C.

      2 ap’s on each level for sure. Go for the Long range on the ground floor and a lite for the other level. The long range is more sensitive which will result in a better connection with mobile devices.

  33. Thanks a lot!
    Exactly the type of manual I’ve been looking for.
    Used ordered the full Unify setup and can’t wait to finally get to use my full connection speed everywhere in my house.

  34. Thanks for a very helpful article. A question regarding switching options. You say:
    “If you need more than 8 ports, I suggest you go for two Unifi switches, an US-8-60w and a normal US-8.”
    Would you just connect these two 8-port switches separately to the internal router or daisy-chain them? Due to limitations on routing the ethernet cables in our house, I would ideally have one 8-port switch in the cellar, and a second one in a room on the upstairs floor. How would you configure such a network, assuming that is a valid plan?

    • Ideal you connect them both to the router. Placing the two switches on different floors is no problem at all. I even recommend it, because you will need to run less length of cable, reducing the change of interference.

  35. My router is supplied by my ISP (MIDCO). At only $1/month, it is pretty affordable since I didn’t want it to have wireless. It is a CODA 45 and has a fixed address (192.168.100.1). Since I can’t change the address of the modem, how would I set up a router to not have a conflict?

    • Hi Mark,

      What type of router do you want to connect to the CODA? Your new router should have 192.168.100.254 on the WAN side (the eth port between the new router and the CODA). Your internal network will have to change to another subnet. For example 192.168.1.x .

  36. Great post. I’m toying with the idea of going with a full mesh home network for idea. Or doing it off my own back purely for the additional features which I won’t get with out of the box mesh networks. I’m currently looking at the Ubiquti range and swaying towards using their APs as well as a switch and cloud controller. What would your opinion be for a network engineer to go for? Simplistic setup with limited features, or go for a full fat network?

    • Go for the Ubiquiti range. You don’t need to use all the features, but if you are at the point of replacing everything, then going for the Unifi setup is just a great choice.

      The insides that you get are really nice, they are super easy to setup and it has all the features to play with if you want. I don’t know you home layout, but for that access points, go for multiple Unifi AC’s Lite https://amzn.to/2wrQgoH access point if you have a one level house or a AC Pro https://amzn.to/2o2ium5 on the ground floor and (multiple) AC lite access point upstairs.

      If you have a few bucks left in you budget, then also buy the Unifi USG https://amzn.to/2MLjDfL. This is a router and firewall with great performance and allows you to control your network from start to end.

      You can do it only right once 😉

Leave a Comment