Building home network - WiFi router after switch possible?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by T Coma, May 27, 2016.

  1. T Coma macrumors 6502

    T Coma

    Dec 3, 2015
    Flyover Country, USA
    I'm doing my research now on home networks and how to build, but I'd like to tap into the MR network gurus resource too. Currently, I have a Surfboard SB6121 cable modem and Asus TM-AC1900 wireless router. I have not yet purchased a network switch.

    DETAILED VERSION: Due to the heavy construction of my old 3 story building, wireless and wired networking has been a bit of a challenge. The PoE is basically in one corner of the house, and due to construction/layout restrictions, cannot easily be relocated. Running CAT6 to the locations around the house would, surprisingly, be not too difficult and of course would give me the speed/security/stability benefits welcome at various computer desk setups around the building. Of course, WiFi would still be necessary for guests and personal wireless devices, but I'm limited at the location for the wireless router. If I put it exactly in the center of the house (which is possible), I can get a decent signal everywhere. If I put it at the PoE, I definitely cannot get a decent signal everywhere - or almost anywhere, really. My PoE and switch/cabling hub would need to be in a specific location which would not be ideal for a wireless router. In my preliminary research (and yes I know I need to learn a lot more - the "For Dummies" book is on order) it seems that a wireless router cannot go after a switch. I assume that is not entirely true, but probably a general statement for us mere civilians. I'd much prefer not to go the "wifi repeater" route for a few reasons, so let's take that off the table. The question therefore is:

    Can I run a wireless router after a switch, e.g., modem---> switch---> wireless router, and how so?
  2. davidoloan Suspended

    Apr 28, 2009
    The router will only have routing capability of all devices with it at the top of the chain.

    I've been re-wiring my ethernet network with Cat6a for the last few weeks. I've installed my four base stations at the best locations I can, so that the whole house has excellent signal.

    I bought a good quality modem and it is in the hallway at the point our fibre supply comes into the house. I have a Cat 6a ethernet cable coming down from the attic via a conduit to the British Telecom socket and wall plate. I have installed the modem on the wall just below the BT socket. I have 2 inches of ethernet coming out of the base of the BT socket straight into the modem.

    That Cat 6a cable runs up into the attic and I have used cable clips to route it about 30 metres to a cabinet by the attic opening. I installed a Cat 6a socket and wall plate to a truss and connected the cable to it, right beside the cabinet where I have my router and switches in the attic.

    I'm using Apple routers / base stations, but on the first one I have switched off all wireless functionality so it solely a router. I have placed the first basestation in the cabinet by the attic opening and have connected it to the socket on the truss by a short ethernet cable. Then I created a network on it (turned off all wireless functionality) and gave it the name "Router".

    Then I installed three separate basestations in three locations in the attic that provide an excellent signal to every part of the house and a specific part of the garden. Then I ran ethernet and clipped it to the rafters and trusses all the way to the three routers.

    On each router I extended the network created on the first base station. So base station 2,3 and 4 now create a wireless network, but base station 1 does the routing. At least that is my intention. Base station 1 is not necessary but I had it left over and I have put in the system with the idea of taking the load off the base stations that provide the Wi-Fi.

    Apple only put three ethernet connections on their base stations (not enough) so I have run ethernet cables back from the second, third and fourth base stations to the three 8 port gigabit switches I have installed in the cabinet. I had these left over so thats the reason I haven't used a single 24 port.

    From these switches I have been running CAT 6a all over the attic and down conduits into various rooms. I'm at 400 metres of cable now. Its taken a few weeks of 3 and 4 hours at a time. I've removed wiring from a few electrical sockets that were not needed and used those conduits for ethernet.

    The router and three basestations have been operating flawlessly for three weeks while I install the rest of the cable. I've installed a switch at ground level to turn off / on the power for the whole system. I hope at some stage Apple will make a basestation with a few more sockets so I can attach the switches directly to the "Router", but its all working perfectly.

    You say you have the opportunity to run ethernet so I would take advantage of that and put your router exactly where you want it and think about whatever wired extensions are available from Asus. You can make a much better Wi Fi network from multiple routers / access points than just finding a single best place unless the house is ideally sized and constructed; e.g. we have a big chimney at one point which presents a problem to Wi Fi.

    You should also think about the type of ethernet cable if you decide to install. CAT 6 is good value now and good for long runs. CAT 6a future-proofs you a bit. You can use solid copper cable for infrastructural cabling and then stranded cable for patch cables; i.e from your wall socket to a device. There is a lot of rubbish on the forums about shielded cable and creating giant antennas etc. Your terminations will be a lot simpler if you don't use shielded cable, because you don't need to ground the cable. For shielded cable you simply need to drain the RF energy to ground at one end of the cable. Shielded cables have a drain wire running the length of the cable in addition to the twisted pairs of copper. You can ground the cables at a patch panel before your switch. I'm currently deciding what way I'm going to do it.

    I spent £60 on 100metres of Konig Cat 6 shielded and I wasn't impressed with the quality of the materials. It looks built down to a low price. I haven't used it. I found Draka cables through a recommendation and the cable is built like a tank, and very thick so have to take that into account with plugs etc. I'm pleased with it. You'll find a good seller who sells cable by the metre on a reel and you will find a good brand with some research. A lot of cable is no name / no specification but Draka have a website detailing the specification. The other quality brands probably do too.

    I also bought 100 metres of cheap Cat 5 and made some short and long cables and then tried out variations of my network on the ground, just in the hallway and rooms etc and this was really useful. This stopped me from attempting to put my Switches in between the router and the other three base stations. You won't install anything that doesn't work if you do this.

    This is my installation cable which I recommend though it might not be available in the USA
    These are the other Draka solid cables

    This is my network which has been flawless for about three weeks. Switches are after router so that everything is on the network it controls. I still have to run an ethernet cable directly to the printer and install three Airport Expresses for speakers.

  3. HenryAZ macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2010
    South Congress AZ
    Your router is plugged into the modem with a short ethernet cable? Make the cable longer and put the router where it makes the most sense for Wi-fi reception. Then hook up your switch to the router. You can put the switch wherever it makes the most sense for running cables to the remainder of your devices that are to be cabled. If that's back by the modem, or at the other end of your house, so be it, just make sure the switch is cabled downstream from the router.
  4. davidoloan Suspended

    Apr 28, 2009
    Cable is approx 30m long from modem to wall socket in attic.
  5. IHelpId10t5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 28, 2014
    No, you cannot place a switch between your Surfboard modem and ASUS router. Your modem simply bridges whatever Internet connectivity that your ISP has provided (e.g. Cable, ADSL), to an Ethernet port that must then go directly to a router's "WAN" port. In your case your router's (ASUS) WAN port is considered the "outside interface" for your network and is assigned the Internet facing IP address that your ISP assigns. Your ASUS then provides internal IP addresses, routing, and name resolution to any number of devices that are connected to its LAN ports (via NAT, DNS, DHCP, etc.). The LAN ports on your ASUS are considered "inside interfaces" and all of your devices in your house must be connected to these in some way. You can connect a switch to any of these LAN ports to extend/expand your network to more devices.

    So, in your case, install your surfboard modem where necessary in the house (where your ISP connectivity enters the house). Then, run a Cat6 cable from there to the center of the house where you need your ASUS router and connect it to the WAN port of the ASUS. Then run one or more Cat6 cables from any of the ASUS's LAN ports to the location(s) in the house where you want the switch or other hardwires devices. You can connect a switch to any of those LAN ports.

    One last observation is to make sure you are using the term PoE correctly. PoE means "Power over Ethernet" and is used to conveniently power remote devices like IP cameras through the same Cat6 cable as the Ethernet connection. It seems you may be using "PoE" to mean something that it isn't.

    Good luck with your project. Hardwired Ethernet through Cat6 is your best friend if you are able to do so. Hardwired Ethernet is reliable, fast, and simple.
  6. T Coma thread starter macrumors 6502

    T Coma

    Dec 3, 2015
    Flyover Country, USA
    Thanks, all. This stuff is gold. Makes my job a lot easier now.

    (Another one of the myriad meanings for the acronym - Point of Entry)
  7. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    If I'm understanding your setup correctly -- particularly the part where it's not too difficult to run cable right now -- then you might consider locating the wireless router where it gives the best coverage and not only running ethernet to it (from the point of entry/modem/switch location), but running ethernet from it (back to the point of entry/switch). In other words, run two cables.

    The switch won't care how its uplink feed gets to it. Once you've fed the router's LAN output back to the switch, nothing else need change.

    I have the same situation as you do, and that's my solution (not fully implemented yet, because construction where the router's going to be located isn't finished yet). In my case, because it was easy, I've run 4 CAT6e cables to where the router's going to be, so I can bring back the router's output to my patch panel and switches.

    This is only practical if it's not hard to run cabling.
  8. thisismyusername, May 31, 2016
    Last edited: May 31, 2016

    thisismyusername macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2015
    What I did is have the router and wireless access point be 2 different devices. I have a wired-only router in my basement wiring closet and a wireless access point (WAP, which is my old wireless router in bridged mode, thus turning off the routing part) in my office. The WAP uses a wired connection to my router. I also use the WAP as a switch in my office since I don't have enough wired connections from the basement.

    Now I didn't have to use a wired-only router in the basement. I could have used just about any regular wireless router with either the wireless part on or off. I've done it both ways in the past. If it was left on, I would have setup up the basement wireless router and the office WAP with the same SSID and password, thus making my WIFI network larger than what a single WAP can serve. They don't have to be the same brand to do this. In fact, that's exactly what I used to do before I built my current router and relocated the WAP to a spot in my house where I could get good coverage everywhere.

    In short, a "router" and "wireless access point" do not have to be the same physical device, nor do they have to be close to each other. They
  9. HenryAZ macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2010
    South Congress AZ
    Nor should they be. Network devices are typically built for one purpose, and other functions are added on. The add-ons are not necessarily the best solution to their purpose, and many times end up not in the ideal location for their purpose, as you observe. I firmly believe a network device should be dedicated to its single real purpose, and located where it best serves that purpose. In my case, I have an "all-in-one" CenturyLink device (Actiontec C1000A) at the point of entry, but I have it configured so it operates only as a modem. It bridges over to a dedicated router, also at the point of entry, for routing. The wireless Access Point is located in the center of the house, cabled back to the router. And just for grins, I run DHCP on a unix server, so each network device does only one thing, that for which it was designed, and is ideally located.

    Sometimes, the "all-in-one" device may be preferable, because of cost considerations, and also because it can be located where it serves the whole house or apartment well.

    Every room in our house has ethernet cabling available. My wife chooses not to use it, because she uses laptops primarily. I only use Wi-fi at home if I have to.
  10. mmomega macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    Basic setup.

    ex: my office setup
    ATT Fiber Optic Modem->Meraki Router->3 24port Switches->2 WiFi Access Points

    ex: Home setup is similar
    Cable Modem->Ubiquiti Router->Ubiquiti 24port Switch->2 UniFi Access Points

    and I've run CAT6 to everything that can be hardwired throughout the house.

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9 May 27, 2016