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So, I bought a house a few months ago, and finally it's time to move in.

I'm going to network the living room, and the office for now, but later I will probably network the bedroom also.

To the living room, I'm going to need at least 4/5 Ethernet ports, one for the TV, another one for the Wii, another one for the XBox, and another one for the AV/Receiver, and one spare just in case.

For the office, I'm going to need 3/4 Ethernet Ports, 1 for the desktop, another for the server (that acts as web server/file server/DLNA server), another for the NAS and one spare for a laptop or something else.

Since the house was already built, I won't be breaking the walls to put the connectors inside the walls, so I'm using cable ducts.

If I use one 10 port switch, I have to pass a lot of cables from the hallway to the living room and to the office, but I will only have one point of failure, so it's easy to debug, and I only need two pieces of equipment: a router and a switch.

But it's harder to expand, if for example I want to put a HTPC on my living room, I would have to pass another cable. Or I could also just starting to use a switch on that division, but that doesn't sound right.

If I use a switch for each house division, I will need to have 3 equipments, the router, and two switches, so more points of failure, more power consumption, but less cable. And it's easy to expand, I just replace the switch on that location with one that has more ports. And presto, more ports ready to use. But it will also be more aesthetically pleasurable because the wire duct would be a lot smaller.

What approach would be better in this case?

Keep in mind that reliability and transfer speed is the goal.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Definitely go for one switch per room. Basic switches are very cheap. Debugging is still easy:
- If one of your devices fails, it's the connection between that device and the switch.
- If all of your devices in a room fail, it's either the switch or the connection between the switch and the router. Test this by directly inserting the cable between switch and router into one of the devices.

If you're willing to go slightly more expensive (and your house isn't too big), you could even use a PoE injector to power all your switches and your router from one DC adapter, making the difference in power consumption negligible.

Other answers recommend wireless or HomePlug. Both remain suboptimal however: their ideal speeds are lower than ethernet speeds, and their actual speeds are still much lower than ideal, especially (for wireless) when you're in a city with dozens of other networks around. My 300Mbps wireless network, even though it's the only one around, gets a maximum speed of 100Mbps (about 10 meters away), a 1Gbps wired network gets 1Gbps up to 100 meters away.

Electric cable networking has the added disadvantage that you need to know exactly how the cables in your house are connected. If the connection between two wall sockets is too long, or goes through a circuit breaker and back, your network speeds will be dial-up level. We use it for connecting our TV to the network, and we had to go halfway between the router and the TV using ethernet (drilling through a wall), before finding a wall socket that had a somewhat reliable connection to the TV's wall socket. The total distance covered by HomePlug is maybe three meters, which kind of defeats its point. I'd test it in your house first (using a friend's equipment maybe) before committing to it.

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I would like to know the reason for the down vote? –  Tio Jun 4 '12 at 9:10
    
@Tio, I did not downvote; however, his comment about Homeplug only going 3 meters clearly demonstrates he has either not used it correctly or does not understand the technology. I have been running HomeplugAV through hundreds of feet of electrical cabling in my home since it first came out in 2007. –  Mike Pennington Jun 4 '12 at 17:12
    
@Mike I never claimed HomeplugAV only goes three meters. What I said is that when my ISP installed HomePlugAV, it didn't work properly. I live in an old house, I have no idea how someone once laid the electrical cables, but the fact is, when I drilled a hole through the wall, and put the adapter in a different wall socket in a different room (probably on the same circuit), it started working. I'm not saying this will be a problem for everyone. All I'm saying is that HomePlug is expensive equipment, and it's not guaranteed to be compatible with your home, so test it before buying! –  FrederikVds Jun 4 '12 at 18:14
    
@MikePennington, thanks I was looking for an explanation for the down vote, just that. The wall sockets are definitely in a different circuit, but I will probably go with your solution, Homeplug AV didn't convince me and Wireless is still wireless, even with N routers.. –  Tio Jun 4 '12 at 21:10
    
Mike reading my previous comment, I actually wrote something wrong, I'm not going to use your solution, while it seems to be a good solution if there are no breakers between the connections, this is not the case. @FrederikVds, I will go for this solution, one switch per division, I've already ordered one Linksys 5 port for the office. Thanks everyone –  Tio Jun 7 '12 at 22:52

Running cables is one option, but most of the time it's not really worth the effort, IMHO... this is what I would do in your situation

  1. Put your router and ethernet switch wherever your service provider gives you a modem.
  2. Use HomeplugAV to connect devices that stream video or audio from the internet, or devices require a physical ethernet jack. If you need more than one wired ethernet jack in a particular place, attach an ethernet switch to the HomeplugAV transceiver.
  3. Set up a 802.11g / 802.11n wireless network for computers / laptops

This has the advantage of providing wired connections where you need them, one central distribution point for your network, and you won't spend time running wire all over the house. Disadvantage: HomeplugAV is going to cost more than wires, but you spend less time dealing with cabling issues... I think it is a good tradeoff.

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With 600Mbps wireless N routers available for under $200, there is no point in running any copper. N-rated APs are ~80 apiece and accept multiple ethernet devices (equivilent to a switch in each room). Half of your gear will be wireless capable already.

Drool http://www.newegg.com/Store/Category.aspx?Category=281&name=Networking

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These devices would need to do client mode if you were not to run client mode at all. This would be an important consideration in selecting hardware –  Journeyman Geek Jun 4 '12 at 9:22

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