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Adventures in Networking (II)

So, one thing to decide to set up a home network, but quite another to actually do it. To start with, we didn’t have Ethernet wiring, and were still in lock-down. I needed to figure out what I actually wanted to deploy, and wanted to be reasonably confident I didn’t end up painting myself into a corner by selecting something I’ll want to throw away in a year.

As noted, I was inspired by Troy Hunt’s blog posts ( describing his experiences with Ubiquiti, but did my own investigation / research. I finally decided on UniFi ( as well:

Clearly, hanging Ethernet cabling on the walls is a temporary measure, but it worked better than I would have expected. Once COVID-19 eases up a bit, we’re planning to install Ethernet cabling, and this will also give me time to plan out exactly what I want, and debate two important questions:

What sort of cabling?

#TIL a bit about network cabling. ( This can be a painfully complex area, with overlapping standards, quality levels, speeds, costs, etc. To vastly simplify, network cabling is broken into “categories”, and numbered according to the relevant ANSI ( or TIA ( standards.

“Cat 5” and “Cat 5e” are still comparatively common, and adequate for many purposes, but the need for higher capacity is growing rapidly. For residential purposes, “Cat 6e” should be more than adequate for the next few years, but how long? “Cat 7” is not a standard, but I’m not sure how much difference that makes in practical terms, while “Cat 8” might be too expensive to be practical. More research to do on this.

Where should the “network room” be located?

#TIL a bit about patch panels ( and the physical side of home networking. As with most things, it’s simple in principle but can become extremely complex in practice. The goal is simply to run a cable for each outlet back to the patch panel, then connect the patch panel to the network port. Needless to say, the complexity ranges from this:

... to THIS.

Current thinking is that we’ll set up something in the basement, near our circuit-breaker box. A lot more research to come – questions to answer include:

  • How many ports?

  • Where do I want them?

  • Will I want to install in-wall units?

  • Is it worth it to buy a server rack?

  • Power management? (Add a circuit to our breaker box? Surge protection? UPS?)

Enough, though. Baby steps. By breaking everything down into small steps, each step can inform the next one, brick by brick.

Next comes the setup.




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