Home networking for dummies
October 13, 2020 7:22 AM   Subscribe

I have weak WiFi in the basement where my office is. I have an Orbi mesh network, a gigabit switch arriving today, and no idea how to provide service to the wired and wireless devices that need a connection. Can you help?

Had a longer write up, but maybe I can distill to a basic question: if I add the gigabit switch somewhere in the network, where does it go?

I have Fios, and the Fios box in the basement connects the house via a single CAT5 port. The CAT5 goes directly to the first floor, where we have the Orbi base station. The Orbi has a couple of satellites--one in the living room on the first floor, and one temporarily on my desk in the basement. Basement satellite usually lives in the garage for security cameras, which can't connect while their satellite is in the basement.

If I add the switch to my setup, where does it go? Should I connect it to the Fios box and then run the CAT5 to the Orbi base from the switch? Or should I keep the run from the Fios box to the Orbi and run the switch from one of the wired connections on the Orbi?

In any event, I think I will need to add another satellite to get service back to the garage. If I can make the switch work, I might convert all the wireless devices in the basement to wired (which is a hassle in itself)!
posted by Admiral Haddock to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why did you buy the gigabit switch? Was it just to get more wired connections? If your Orbi is also your modem then I would connect it off that.

We have an ethernet switch that comes off the ethernet on our wireless router (our Comcast modem is configured to be a bridge) so we could put the PS and Xbox on wired connections.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:35 AM on October 13

I would return the switch, and buy another Orbi and a short Cat5 cable. Then I would move the Orbi base station to the basement, connect it to the Fios with the new Cat5 cable. Plug the Cat5 cable that runs upstairs into the basement Orbi base station, and install the Orbi you just bought where the base station used to be connecting it to the Cat5 from the basement. Then return your other Orbi to the garage.

You probably don't want to connect the switch to the Fios. The Orbi base station is managing your network, and things might not work correctly if you put the switch between the Fios and the Orbi.

If you need more ethernet ports you'll want to plug the switch into one of the Orbis.
posted by gregr at 7:47 AM on October 13 [3 favorites]

Thanks so far--makes a lot of sense. I bought the switch before I moved the satellite to the basement, thinking I'd need to have all the downstairs devices wired.

Gregr, it never occurred to me that I could wire the Orbis together. That's a fantastic idea.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:56 AM on October 13

My setup with fiber is a mesh master connected to the fiber router, a gigabit switch connected to the mesh master, and lines from there to all my mesh nodes. Also our home offices and fileserver have their own Cat5 ethernet.

Lets the wireless be dedicated to mobile devices, and the kids laptops for remote learning.

My mesh network (Deco from tplink) has a great feature in the app that lets me see which devices connect to which nodes. I was able to move them around to balance devices on the network.
posted by nickggully at 8:04 AM on October 13

Gregr has it. That feature is called 'ethernet backhaul' and is described here.

We also have Orbis and I use a couple of small dumb Netgear switches plugged directly into the Orbi's to increase the number of available ports - in one switch, I have the Apple TV, Hue bridge, and pi-hole. The other switch is in my office so I can have ludicrous speeds for my workstation(s).
posted by jquinby at 8:12 AM on October 13

If the Orbi base station has an Ethernet port for backhaul and not just the one for the Internet side, why not put the base station in the basement, plug the switch into it, and use the existing wire up to where the base station is for one of the satellites? That way you can have the stuff in your basement office wired for better reliability (and leave more airtime for everything else in the house) and get the same wireless coverage you have now with a minimum of hassle.
posted by wierdo at 4:49 AM on October 15

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