Deciding Home Network Architecture
In this section we will determine what devices that need to be connected and how they will be connected. Some devices will be attached to our network through wired connections where as others will be connected through wireless . Other factors which will determine our home network architecture is whether an individual device is stationary or mobile. Wheather it needs very high bandwidth or low bandwidth connection.
All of our devices are located at different locations in the home and they need to be connected through different media. Depending upon their location lets divide them into different clusters.
Cluser #1: Media Center (Family Room)
- Dish Network DVR
- Home Theater PC
Cluster #2: Home Office
- Multi function network printer
- Desktop PC
- NAS (Network Attached Storage)
Cluster #3: Master Bedroom
Cluster #4: Bedroom_2 (Any place which is central to the house where Main Wireless Router can be placed for good signal through the house)
- ATT DSL Modem (Internet)
- Any 802.11N/G Wireless Router
Cluster #5: All Mobile Wireless Devices
- Notebook/Laptop computer
- Any WIFI enabled portable device
In order to setup our Connected Home Network we need to find ways to connect above Clusters with each other. For Cluster to Cluster Connection we can choose either wired connection or wireless connnection.
If your home is already wired with Ethernet you are lucky. Task of connecting the clusters is easy. You can use a cheap Ethernet switch and connect its Internet /WAN port to the one of the LAN ports of the Wireless Gateway Router (Cluster#4) and you have a connected home network.
Most homes are not wired with Ethernet ports in every room. The possible way to connect the clusters are.
- Using a Wireless adapter connect each device to the main wireless router.
- Connect the Clusters to the Gateway router by creating Router to Router Bridge and connect the local devices through Ethernet.
There are other possible ways but to keep things simple lets focus on above two. We will discuss the third option before we exit this page, I promise!!
Option #1 is not good because a) It will need 1 wireless adapter per device which will be very expensive b) For good streaming video experience application wired LAN is desired over WIFI connections.
I like option #2 because a) We need one Wireless Bridging Router per cluster b) Wireless Bridge can also act as high speed switch, so local; devices can be connected using high speed LAN connections (100Mbps or 1 Gbps).
So, lets focus on Option#2 for the reasons discussed above. Our network of 5 clusters is shown in the picture below. Click the image to see the bigger version.
As shown in the image our home is connected to Internet through a DSL modem. The single Internet connection is shared by all the devices through a Wireless Router in Cluster#4. This wireless router acts a Internet Gateway for the network. It sets up a Local Area Network for the home and also acts as a DHCP server to allocate IP address to our devices. All the mobile devices (Cluster#5) are connected directly to the Gateway Router through WIFI connection.
Cluster#1 (Media Room), Cluster#2(Home Office) and Optionally Cluster#3 or more are connected to the Gateway router through wireless connection using router to router wireless bridge. You need one wireless bridge per cluster. Devices in these clusters are connected to the LAN port of the Wireless Bridge Router. The local devices at each cluster communicate with each other at a very high speed. Typically its 100Mbps connected , 1Gbps if the Bridge and all the devices support Gigabit Ethernet connection.
The traffic from Inter cluster devices flows through through the Gateway router. If the all the three routers are 802.11n than then very good data rate can be achieved.
Other technologies like MOCA, Homeplug Powerline Ethernet use existing Cable or Electrical wiring to connect network devices from one room to other. This is the third option I promised to inform you before I conclude this page. Picture below shows how to use Homeplug Powerline Ethernet for home networking. Please see Using Powerline Ethernet for Home Networking for more details.
For now lets focus on getting connectivity between two remotes locations in home using wireless connection. We have pretty much laid out plan we know we need one main gateway wireless router and two to three wireless bridges for our Connected Home Network. Lets go to next page to select our routers and bridges and to find out how to convert cheap wireless routers into wireless bridges.