Your smart home is only as good as its network. Having a fully functioning home network keeps day-to-day life running smoothly. It’s not just TVs, smartphones, and tablets that connect to a home network, it can be lights, audio systems, surveillance systems, outdoor speakers, and even appliances. Connectivity for these devices can happen in one of two ways: wireless and wired — either connecting devices via a WiFi signal or a physical Ethernet cord.
The advantage of using Ethernet is it’s easier to set up, is arguably more secure, and provides greater speeds. It also frees up bandwidth for those devices that require WiFi, and don’t have an Ethernet option, like a smartphone. It is often recommended that larger devices such as televisions, scanners, and printers, or anything that isn’t mobile, connect via Ethernet because of these benefits.
The obvious advantage of WiFi is mobility but also retrofit ability. Especially in older homes, there is not always going to be an Ethernet connection available at the location you would like to put a device or appliance. So, unless you’re willing to possibly turn your walls into swiss cheese, WiFi might be the best option.
A quality home network provides time savings and efficiency. For example, connecting multiple devices or computers to a single printer via the network allows you to quickly print from anywhere in the house. Also, a home network allows you to access files, documents, music, videos, photos, and more, all from any of your devices on the network.
Bandwidth is an important factor that affects the quality and speed of your home network. It is often compared to traffic on the road. When you’re the only car driving, the trip is easy and fast; but as more cars join the road, the drive gets slower and more difficult, leading to a traffic jam. This is the same with a device connection: as more devices are trying to connect to the network, the bandwidth becomes crowded and slower. All the more reason to have a network with both Ethernet and WiFi connections. Using the same analogy, think of an Ethernet connection like a subway or train, and a WiFi connection like the freeway. By having some devices on Ethernet, and some on WiFi, you can optimize the amount of traffic and bandwidth being used. Performing an analysis on how much of your bandwidth is currently being used through your router settings or by downloading a third-party application will aid you in deciding whether you need to upgrade your network to improve its efficiency and speed.
Within your home network settings, you can prioritize devices and even types of content. For example, you can set a sequence for your work devices to connect to the internet before something like streaming or video games. With a smart home system, each connection takes up some amount of your internet bandwidth, so prioritizing devices assures that the most important ones will be able to connect with the strongest and most reliable speed.
The location of your physical home network devices, such as the router and modem, also play a role in successful device connection. It is important to place your WiFi antenna (usually located on your router) in a central location in order to even out the connection throughout your home. If needed, you can add range extenders or wireless access points for more hard-to-reach or remote areas.
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An efficient home network should be secure, fast, and reliable. Familiarizing yourself with the components of your connected home system will allow you to use all its features to their highest level. If you want to learn more about what your home network can offer you, or if you think it’s time to upgrade, Gleeson's Home Entertainment and Automation provides many options to cater to your needs. Contact us to learn more about our products and services.