Best Way to Connect Multi-Room Wired Devices to Net in Non-Wired Home

Posted on 2008-11-14
Last Modified: 2013-11-09
I'm getting ready to move into a new home and I'm in the process of getting cable broadband internet access installed (RoadRunner).  The house is two stories and I plan on needing some kind of wired internet connectivity in 2-3 rooms upstairs, and at least one room downstairs.  The devices I will have hooked up to the network are wired only (for the most part), so I need a way to network these via ethernet cables in each of the rooms.

I'd like to determine what the best method would be for getting these rooms networked.  The main cable connection is probably going to come in one of the rooms upstairs via coax cable w/ attached cable modem and will be hooked up to a LinkSys Wireless G router.

Due to the distance between all of the rooms that need networking, I'm not really sure what the most practical solution would be.  I thought about the possibility of using some kind of wireless access points or routers at each location, and then plugging the devices into those.  Not sure if that's viable or not, or how it would effect performance.

If anyone could provide a good plan for doing this all relatively easy and inexpensive, I would appreciate it.  Mentions of specific hardware that I could use to accomplish this would be very helpful as well.  Thanks in advance!
Question by:Tomeeboy
    LVL 6

    Assisted Solution

    Wireless is a generally reliable method of accomplishing what you want in an inexpensive manner.  You should only need one wireless router for all of the devices in your house.

    You can get wireless adapters for somewhere in the 20 dollar each range I think.  The question is how many devices and of what kind?  Wireless print servers can be a little bit of a hassle.  A CLEAN wired solution isn't really viable for less than 100 dollars I should think, if you have knowledge for cutting Cat5 cables and punching down keystone jacks.  Or a friend to do it.

    How many devices and of what kind?  How big is the house?  Are you staying a while?  And is there a lot of homes in the area?  (COuld lead to wireless interference)
    LVL 15

    Author Comment

    The devices I will be connecting to the network include computers, Xbox 360s (and other game systems, although most are wireless), and DVRs.  On average, probably 1-2 wired devices per room, totalling maybe 7 or 8 devices total that are not wireless ready.

    Some of the rooms are close enough to where the main connection comes in that I thought of trying to run my own Cat5.  One of the biggest problems is going to be the room downstairs, which is clear on the other side of the house and down one level from where everything else will be set up.

    I'll be in the house for a long time, so I don't want to cut too many corners, but I've got plenty of other things that I have to spend money on.  The house is around 2200 sqft, not counting the basement (which I intend on having networked devices in as well, but not until after I finish it).  There are a decent amount of homes in the area, but I'm not packed in like a sardine or anything (no rear neighbors for anyone on my side of the street, just woods).
    LVL 19

    Accepted Solution

    Yes, wireless is the best way to go.

    Don't feel that because the device does not support a wireless connection that you cannot use wireless with the device as all you need is an external USB wireless device that uses a USB connection( ) if your device supports USB to connect; or uses an ethernet connection( ) if your device only supports ethernet connections.

    If the distance is great between rooms, just check the wireless router's range before you buy it...the range given usually refers to a direct line of sight range too so if the devices have a lot between then in terms of walls appliances, etc, then you might need a stronger wireless signal. You can also purchase additional booster antennas for your wireless router which can help as well if needed.

    I'd also try to stay with the same brand of product for all devices on your wireless network to make troubleshooting calls to support easier.
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    I think that WiReDNeT's answer sums it all up nicely.  You can always run a long cable for the few stragglers that absolutely won't let you go wireless.  
    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    by:Rob Hutchinson
    Opps, wrong link for the wireless USB adapter, that link is for a signal booster, here's the right link:
    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    by:Rob Hutchinson
    FYI, not endorsing DLink as the best, just using their products as an example.
    LVL 15

    Author Comment

    Most of the devices are not going to support USB connection and will need to connect via ethernet cable.  The D-Link GamerLounge sounds interesting, but is that the way it works (ie: connects to my wireless router wirelessly, and allows me to plug a wired device into it)?  Seems you can only plug one device in, and in some of these rooms I may have two or even three devices to plug in.
    LVL 7

    Assisted Solution

    "If anyone could provide a good plan for doing this all relatively easy and inexpensive......"

    It always better stay with wired -cheap, effective, reliable, full bandwith -like 1GB.
    In most of the cases range which wirless can cover effectifly really small, as well bandwiths is decreasing dramicly with further distance, and each reapter ussialy dont help - fro simple reason- each repeater "eating of 50% of bandwith".

    If do know your house, and have some wiring skills - it much easier run CAT5/6, then deal with endless "wireless headache" -which eventually will be poping up time by time.
    LVL 44

    Expert Comment


    D-Link -
    Linksys -
    Belkin -
    ZyXEL -

    And I'm sure there are other manufacturers as well.

    You can still use wireless APs with them... just connect the APs back to the main router's LAN port[s] using the powerline devices rather than pulling Plenum or Riser rated cat5e (or cat6a of the same ratings) into the walls.
    LVL 23

    Assisted Solution

    With going completely wired, the primary expense is time, installation of the wiring (if you can't do it yourself)  ends, crimplers, wall jacks, wall plates+brackets, and tools.
    I much prefer going compeltely wired, as it is a much more reliable solution than bridging wireless to wired.  Wireless involves fewer physical challenges, but can also have some major headaches involved;  consumer level wireless devices are not very reliable.

    Since you are familiar with Linksys equipment,  I would recommend putting a LinkSys wireless access point in each room.   Cisco's  Aironet brand APs are vastly superior to the  Linksys products, and much more reliable, but also much more expensive (like $600+ per AP), and you want cheap.  To me,  "cheap" but decent quality
    for wireless means expect to sepnd about $100 per room on average.

    With a wireless setup, since you have wired-only devices,  I would place an access point in each room.   Keep in mind a wireless "access point"  is not a wireless router,
    it has unique capabilities.

    If there are some rooms (i.e. adjacent rooms) that are convenient or easy to wire to the central room, then consider doing so  for those "easy" rooms;  the wired connection can feed the AP in the adjacent rooms and provide a better connection, if you change which APs you are bridging together to minimize the wireless distance of other APs.

    You may need to disable the wireless antenna on the "Wireless G Router", and connect a _real_  access point to the router using a crossover cable.  
    Use only wireless APs to build the wireless portion of your LAN, not routers.

    This may seem like a waste, but LinkSys' Wireless Router products do not support proper operation as a wireless bridge  (unless some devices have this as a brand new feature).

    To connect multiple wired networks together, you need proper bridges;
    Linksys Wireless G Routers (at least in past versions), have been _only_ for simpler networks where you don't have multiple wireless infrastructure devices that need to connect to each other.

    Make sure your chosen APs  LET you create a bridge setup with multiple APs connected to each other or connected to a central bridge.

    Some APs  may literally only allow you to create one bridge connection, and that is NOT suitable for your situation;  you need to connect several APs as bridges.

    You may also need repeaters at some points if some rooms are out of range.
    Make sure your access points can be setup as wireless bridges and connect to
    multiple other access points in this mode  through a repeater.

    When you are bridging APs together, don't expect to be able to connect to the AP with a wireless client device;  you are using it as a bridge, so the only devices with network connectivity will be the ones physically plugged into the AP.

    i.e. The wired ports that come on the AP are the only connectivity that each room's devices get.

    If you want to be able to use a wireless laptop in a room for example, you in general need another Wireless AP for that,  although some wireless vendors may have (in recent years) modified software to help acommodate you for situations like that,
    in general, an  AP for most consumer level wireless is either being used as a bridge or an access device (but could not be used for both at the same time).

    So research the feature set of the wireless devices you are using caferfully.
    Download product manuals for each product before purchasing  to make sure any
    device you plan on buying can properly do what you need.

    And that the models you are using and their available configurations and restrictions would not conflict with what you need.

    An alternative to putting an AP in each room that has bridge mode is to use an actual "wireless bridge" product, If there are multiple devices in a room, be CAREFUL about which wireless bridge product you choose.

    I do not recommend this, as many single-port "wireless bridge" products impose an artificial limit on number of devices you may plugin to the bridge,  even if you buy a switch to attach (with cross-over cable) to the bridge.

    This may be cheaper than necessarily placing an AP in some rooms on the fringe (with only one device);  but  the bridge is also unlikely to be able to act as a repeater, or to bridge multiple APs.

    It is best to not plan on connecting a wireless device from one vendor to another vendor's device.

    i.e. You may  cannot setup a proper wireless bridge between a LinkSys AP and a D-Link AP.

    Make sure you pick a product selection that lets you bridge a central AP to multiple access points  and configure things so the setup will work.

    LVL 15

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the responses.  I ended up going with a wireless bridge solution temporarily, which is working out pretty well for now.  To limit my costs, I have only added a bridge to one of the rooms that I originally intended to have wired; it is easy enough to move in the event that I need it somewhere else.  I'll ultimately get the place properly hard-wired, so this seemed like the most economic solution until then.  I did look into the powerline option, where the connection is run through the power outlets, but it was about twice as expensive as what I ultimately ended up with.

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