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Improving Your Wifi Network for IoT

Last Updated: Nov 06, 2017 05:51PM CST
Improving your WiFi Network for the Internet of Things
 
Now that you have three computers, two tablets, four smartphones, three smart TVs, two thermostats, four smoke detectors, two door locks and 10 smart light switches connected to your Wi-Fi network, it may be time to upgrade that network to handle the load.
 
Today’s typical consumer Wi-Fi network router/access point is designed to only handle about 20 persistent connections.  After that, you’re likely to need more hardware to support the load.
 
Here is Plum’s recommendation for maximizing your Wi-Fi coverage and connectivity.
 
Put your modem in bridge mode
Your ISP provided you with a single box that typically covers three tasks.  First, it converts your phone or cable signal into Ethernet.  This is the modem function.  Second, it assigns IP addresses and routes signals from connected devices (whether wired or wireless) to each other and to the WAN.  And, third, it acts as a Wi-Fi access point to allow wireless devices to connect to the router.
 
All of these tasks require compute power and typically these multi-function boxes are not powerful enough to handle all of these tasks for a large number of IP connected devices.
 
Putting your router into bridge mode means turning your modem/router/access point into just a modem.  You can typically google this phrase “how to put “XYZ model’ in to bridge mode.”  Look at your cable modem and find the manufacturer and model number of your modem.  Consult google on how to log into your device and change the settings to put your modem into bridge mode.
 
Add a high performance router
 
Now that your modem is providing an IP address for your home, you’ll need a separate router to handle the DHCP functions of assigning an IP address and routing signals inside your home.  We’ve tried quite a few routers and our favorite right now is the Netgear Nighthawk R7000.  An upgrade to this router is the Net       gear Nighthawk R7800.  There are other routers that are also suitable, but this one has performed very solidly in our tests. 
 
Here’s a good site for comparing price performance on router models.  Remember, that you’re looking for good performance on 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz since most IOT devices still operate in the 2.4GHz band.  http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/tools/charts/router/bar/115-2_4-ghz-updn-c
 
 
If you have a small floorplan house and less than 20 connected devices, you can also use this device as your Wi-Fi access point. 
 
If you have more than 20 connected devices or a larger floorplan house, you’ll likely need additional Wi-Fi access points. 
 
Add additional Wi-Fi access points.
If you live in a multi-story house or have more than about 2000 square feet, you might need to put in additional Wi-Fi access points to get good coverage throughout your house.
 
Or, if you have more than twenty Wi-Fi connected devices, you’ll need another access point. 
 
We strongly suggest that this access point be connected to your main router via Ethernet cable.  If your house is wired for Ethernet, this can be fairly straightforward.  In some cases, you might need to run Ethernet cable inside your house to connect the new access point(s) to your router. 
 
If you have 3 floors in your house, you’ll likely benefit from having one access point on each floor.  Or, if you have stone or metal walls, you’ll benefit having an access point on each side of this obstruction. 
 
When you set up these additional access points, make sure to configure them as access points only, not routers.  Your house should only have one router and that’s the main router that you plugged directly into your modem.
 
If you are adding one additional access point to your network, it can be plugged directly into your main router. 
 
However, if you are adding two or more additional access points to your network, we suggest putting a switch in between your main router and your additional access points.  A switch will allow communication between devices on the additional access points without burdening the main router.  See the diagram at the end of this article for a visual chart of how this would be connected. 
 
We also suggest the same router as we recommended before for these access points.  We’ve had good success with the Nighthawk R7000 or R7800.  They have very strong processors and great 2.4GHz and 5GHz simultaneous throughput. 
 
Mesh Wi-Fi Networks
Recently companies like Eero and Luma have offered mesh Wi-Fi access points and router to easily extend Wi-Fi connectivity across your home.  Unfortunately for IOT devices, there are currently problems with these networks and IOT devices.  We are working with the engineering teams at these companies but as of now, we cannot recommend these networks for IOT devices.
 
 
A Strong and Capable Network
 
A network with a separate modem, separate strong router and separate strong access points is a reliable and consistent network.  It can be set up for a reasonable cost and will provide your family with strong connectivity for their devices and will allow you to build out your IOT connected smart home.
 
Plum is standing by to help.  Please contact us at support@plumlife.com or 1.844.200.7586



 

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