All About Smart Home Networks
Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Everything you need to know about a network for your smart home system.
Looking for more info on home Networks and WiFi?
Just 10 years ago, you would have virtually no need for a home network in your Somerset County, NJ property. With a simple Wi-Fi router, you could easily connect your laptop computer or smartphone to the internet. Today, though, we have many more devices battling for bandwidth. And if your smart home isn’t working at peak performance, it may be because of too much strain on the network. In this blog, we’ll illustrate why your network is one of the most important systems in your smart home, and how to prioritize operations using Quality of Service software. Just keep reading for more. The State of the Average Home Network When you hear the term “home network,” your mind probably immediately goes to “router.” But there’s so much more to a modern network than just a single device! Or at least, there should be. This graphic tells the story far better than a text explanation could: If you’re relying on just a typical router from your Internet Service Provider to support all the smart devices throughout your home, you’re likely seeing a few of these symptoms:
Spotty coverage (maybe you have trouble connecting to the WiFi on your patio, in the bedroom, or in the kitchen)
Devices that are online one minute, then gone the next
The network slows to a crawl when you (or several people) try to do multiple things at once
You have to reboot your router on a regular basis
Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? The good
news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few changes to your home network that will result in a big boost in performance… 1. Ensure You Have Full Coverage of Your Property The first change is the implementation of Wireless Access Points (WAP). These devices broaden the reach of your network coverage. As part of a professional network installation, your smart technology company will assess the unique layout of your property and identify exactly where WAPs are needed. The WAPs will drastically cut down on the areas where you simply cannot access your network.
2. Upgrade Your Networking Equipment One of the main reasons you need WAPs in the smart home is because the average ISP router doesn’t have the reach or power you need to cover your property in strong wireless signal. Especially for properties with a large square footage, the need for higher-end networking devices, such as routers and switches, is clear. Our brand recommendation for routers and switches is Pakedge – you can learn more about the other brands we carry for networking, cell phone reception, and more by clicking here. Pakedge offers a wide variety of internet routers for any home. Their RK and FG series of routers can provide the coverage and security that you’ll need for operating your entire smart home with confidence. 3. Take a Look at Network Security Network security is one of the most important aspects of finding the appropriate internet router. If you’re relying on your router’s default security settings, you’re leaving yourself open to a wide variety of data security issues. As information travels between devices on your network, someone could theoretically “listen in” on that data flow – unless you’ve secured your network properly. For the basics, we recommend changing the default password and Service Set Identifier (SSID) to make it harder for people to gain access to your network. While a lot of homeowners choose their last name or other identifiable verbiage as their SSID, it’s typically better to create a more obscure name for your network. That will help you avoid any kind of malicious attack. As a network specialist, we can also do more security measures such as enabling WPA encryption, disabling SSID broadcasting, enabling MAC address filtering, and more to ensure that your network is robustly secure. Additionally, Pakedge offers a variety of security features. Below, we’ve defined some of the most important: SPI Firewall: A strong barrier between your network and any outside connections. Only authorized users can penetrate it. OpenVPN: A password-protected Virtual Private Network. Any device can connect to your VPN if they have the password. IPSec and SSL: Your network will only allow access to domains with SSL certification. SSL means that the domain itself has proven it’s secure, even before it reaches your router. This is appropriate for very large homes that host public events and commercial spaces. DMZ: Standing for “de-militarized zone,” a DMZ is a separate device – native to commercial routers – that allows guests to access certain features of your network without access to your private data. Think of logging onto the internet at your local coffee shop. Most high-quality home routers will provide a virtual DMZ. While not technically a DMZ because it’s not a separate piece of technology, it provides the same service. Friends and family can access the internet at your residence but not your private information. Packedge’s RK and FG series of routers offer these security features, and they’re appropriate for everything from a large house to an apartment building to a small business. 4. Improve Bandwidth Allocation As we’ve covered in a previous blog, too many user can cause a slow network. But today, everything is connected to the internet – not just smartphones and tablets. In many cases you can’t pick or choose the devices you’d like to use the available bandwidth. From your TV to your thermostat, each device has to fight for the bandwidth necessary to perform. And there’s no sign of these network-connected devices slowing down soon. Many newer appliances, like refrigerators and washing machines, also require network connections. So the solution doesn’t lie in reducing your connections, but rather prioritizing the connections so your system operates the way it should.
How Quality of Service Networking Helps Because it’s virtually impossible to remove components or users from your network, the solution is to ensure it’s capable of handling the traffic. The first step includes increasing your bandwidth. Essentially, that means allowing more space for more devices on the network. To increase bandwidth, more powerful routers are necessary, ones with higher throughput speed and more virtual local area network capabilities. VLANS help segment traffic so the slower and less crucial devices can operate simultaneously with the faster and essential devices. To help manage and prioritize the importance of the device within the network – for instance, your security system over your smart TV – integrators can employ Quality of Service software (QoS). QoS makes your network more efficient by making each component’s performance visible to an integrator so they can tailor the service to your system. This kind of control over resources helps maximize the performance of the whole system, thereby enhancing your smart home experience. A strong network is essential to your smart home’s performance. It can mean the difference between a system you use every day, and one you never touch If you’re interested in increasing the capabilities of your integrated technology, adding more devices to your system or you want faster connections, you may need to upgrade your network.
For additional resources, please visit our page on Home WiFI Networks with articles like this on everything you need to know. Additionally, you can check out our photo gallery on the same page to explore our previous work.
Bravo AV is proud to be an HTA (Home Technology Association) Certified Installation Firm and professional A/V experts. Tom Curnin, the owner of Bravo AV, is a CEDIA Professional Designer, a certified THX Level 1 home theater professional and a member of the Home Acoustic Alliance trained to Level II. You can contact Tom directly at (908) 953-0555 or through email at Tom@BravoAV.com.