Where should I put my router?
July 25, 2010 6:18 PM   Subscribe

I am about to run CAT6 through my house. Where should I place the router?

The walls will be open and we will be running CAT6 through the basement of our 1500 sq ft home. There are two bedrooms (8x10) and a longer family room (8x20) downstairs. We are not going to run cable upstairs as it is a log cabin style home, so the upstairs is served by wireless. I am planning on four drops in the basement - one in each bedroom and one at each end of the family room. The drops would be wired in star fashion to a central termination point, which would naturally house the router. Where should this be?

My current plan would be to terminate in the closet of the bedroom currently serving as my home office, as it would be convenient to run the FIOS through there and place router in there (potentially I would also have a NAS and then it could be a server closet). However, I am not sure that this is the best place to put a wireless router intended to serve the upstairs. The wireless router currently sits 8 feet away from the planned location on my desk, so I know signal strength from this room isn't an issue, but the placement in a closet may be an issue.

Also, would other homeowners want to have a designated home office with server closet, or is it better to terminate wires and place a router in a more public room of the home (in this case, the family room)? I am planning on selling my house in a year or two so appealing placement to other potential homeowners is reasonably important.

So your options for placing the router are: inside closet of bedroom, inside bedroom, or inside family room. Which would you choose?
posted by crazycanuck to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I, personally, would prefer to have the server closet in the office, as elsewhere is more accessible to guests. If signal strength is a problem, you could always install a repeater somewhere to provide additional signal to places that aren't getting enough.
posted by Hiker at 6:31 PM on July 25, 2010

My opinion?

If I had the chance and had open walls, I would run cable to everyroom in the house - even the kitchen, at least 2 drops in living/family rooms (where TV's and media centers would go).

Wireless cannot keep up to HDTV streaming...
posted by jkaczor at 6:35 PM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, router placement? Somewhere easily accessible, near telephone/cable jacks.

Somewhere that could be kept quiet with soundproofing, in-case you ever want a full-on-server setup.
posted by jkaczor at 6:37 PM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: Your 'router' is actually 3 things:
a router that routes packets;
an ethernet switch that has a bunch of ports to connect your wires;
and a wireless access point that connects to wireless devices.

You can use 2 devices to serve this purpose.

Where would you place the network closet if wireless was not an issue? Do that and disable the wireless part of this router (device #1).

Now, you need a wireless access point (device #2) to plug into any one of the network jacks in your house.

Device #2 can be another router, which would allow you to use its physical ports as well - you could connect your NAS to device #2. If you do that, be sure to put device #2 in 'bridge' mode so all your devices can see each other.

If device #2 can run DD-WRT (or Tomato, which I prefer) you can do some fancy stuff using both routers' wireless access point functions.
posted by pants tent at 7:02 PM on July 25, 2010

One thing that worked for us was the frequent use of switches.

I picked up a 3 gigabit dlink 8 port switches relatively cheaply ( $20 a piece w/ rebate). I put one switch on each floor and ran the cables for each floor to the switch on that floor. In the basement went the cable modem and the NAT router. Fortunately we had a nice line from attic to basement which touched closets on all floors.

The use of switches reduced the number of long cable runs...and help inter and intra floor throughput in our case...

So I would find a good cavity which connects the attic to the basement. Place your router near this cavity on the most appropriate floor.

For the sake of future owners I would place a conduit with cable in this cavity as well...
posted by NoDef at 7:11 PM on July 25, 2010

I think you'd be best served if you got a non-wireless router, and a wireless access point.

That would let you put the FIOS, the cable home-runs, and the router all in one place (office closet is good) and the wireless access point somewhere else -- like on the second floor.

That would require you to run some cable up there, which I realize could be a challenge in a log cabin home. But you (and the next owners) would be much, much happier with that setup, I think.
posted by FfejL at 7:15 PM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: I'm also in the process of wiring my house, and am avoiding placing any of the network hardware in rooms that are officially bedrooms, mainly for future occupants who might be using all the bedrooms as actual bedrooms.

Having the router in a bedroom can be pretty inconvenient, in the event that the router or modem needs some physical attention (rebooting, a blinking light check etc) while the occupant of the room is sleeping. No internet until morning, in that case.
posted by everybody polka at 7:17 PM on July 25, 2010

Also, I totally agree with jkaczor - wire everything! Only mobile devices should be using wireless.

It also helps that the new HDBaseT standard uses Cat6.
posted by pants tent at 7:17 PM on July 25, 2010

A wire always trumps wireless. If the walls are open, do multiple drops to every room in the place. Cat 6 is cheap and can be used for phone jacks, and the new HDbaseT in addition to wired ethernet connections.

As for switch / patchbay placement, try for somewhere central but not in out in the open. Perhaps utilize some of that wasted space at the top of a closet or something.
posted by jjb at 7:36 PM on July 25, 2010

HDBaseT uses Cat5e as well — Cat6 is not required.

Also, I would definitely buy and pull double as much cable as you think you need. I.e., if you are going to put a drop somewhere, pull two pieces of cable and make it two drops. Even if you only connect one of them to your router/switch right now, you may be glad later for the extra span. At some point in the future you might want to have one network for video and another for voice+data, and keep the two physically separated.

For running to the upper rooms in the house, you might want to consider unorthodox solutions. If you get the right grade of cable, you can run Ethernet outside — so you could get it from the basement to the attic by running it up an exterior corner. Once up there, you could have a second switch that breaks it out to horizontal spans that drop into rooms via the walls. (In my house something similar to this is done for the cable TV line.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:37 PM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: Seconding most of the comments so far, especially about putting two cables to each drop.

I'd add - when I wired my home with CAT5e, I made a star configuration centered on the room that was at the time the home office. When I reconfigured to make it back into a bedroom and moved the office elsewhere, reorganising the cabling was a complete pain in the arse. That bedroom now has an ethernet switch under the floorboards - hardly ideal.

My suggestion would be to make your server/network closet somewhere that is accessible from a hallway, or put it in a basement or attic - a storage space that is out of the way. The router (and modem, where applicable) need to be rebootable and hence accessible without disturbing people.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 7:55 PM on July 25, 2010

If the closet might wind up being Junior's bedroom when you sell the house, you don't want to terminate there. Short of that, I don't see it as a problem. You also seem to be concerned about signal strength to the upstairs, if I'm reading you right. I wouldn't worry about that.

I would do what I could to avoid having all those blinky boxes and wires out in the open. If it turns out that the family room is the only logical place, perhaps you could shove everything inside a structured-wiring panel and conceal that behind a potted palm.
posted by adamrice at 8:04 PM on July 25, 2010

Go for the office closet. You can only plan ahead so much... sure, maybe the folks who buy your house in two years will want to use your office as Junior's room, and would, consequently not want to have their router there. Or maybe it'll be their office and they'd think it the perfect setup. You can't know.

I'm pretty sure the only reactions will be "Cat-6, what's that?" or "Already wired-up? Awesome!" They'll make it work for them somehow. Your task is to make it work for you.
posted by mumkin at 9:05 PM on July 25, 2010

I actually had the coax cable line run straight to the floor of my room closet, created a makeshift switch panel with siamese cat5e run to the living room, another area of my bedroom, and the study. The wireless router sits in there, bridging the line from the cable modem to all the available ports on the switch panel. Has been working wonderfully over the past 11 years.
posted by liquoredonlife at 9:30 PM on July 25, 2010

Response by poster: That would require you to run some cable up there, which I realize could be a challenge in a log cabin home.

Yes, there is exactly one drywall wall, which is between the kitchen and the bathroom, both of which are not hospitable environments for network hardware. All of the other interior walls are solid wood. The only way to get wire out to the living room would be to run it outside, and drill a hole through the logs to get it back inside. Upstairs is wireless only.

I am liking the suggestion for separate wireless access point, hadn't thought about it before. We do also have a hallway linen closet, it is however further from where the FIOS would come into the house (as it is a centre hallway). We also have a storage room at the back, which I now realize is probably the best place for router/cable termination. I may even be able to get FIOS into the house there as well. Thanks guys for the suggestions.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:34 PM on July 25, 2010

The last house I wired up, I put the router in the cupboard under the stairs, because it gave me easy access to both upstairs and downstairs.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:57 AM on July 26, 2010

Your cat6 runs can be up to 100 meters, so in the context of your house, length of the run is probably not a concern.
posted by gjc at 5:55 AM on July 26, 2010

Something I heard recently (not sure how accurate) is that HDMI could eventually be replaced with simple ethernet cabling, so if that is in your temporary future, I'd definately think of running additional lines. If not for you now, then for the future owners as a selling point. Good luck!
posted by bach at 8:16 AM on July 26, 2010

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