Wire up your home network with a switch

Wire up your home network with a switch

Wired Networks are here to stay!

There is a saying at D-Link, which we try to live by, despite how much we love Wi-Fi, 'If you can, use a wired connection.' Wired connections are optimal for a number of reasons - speed, security and reliability being just the start.

It is standard for a router to have only 3/4 'ethernet ports' that allow for wired connections to plug directly into the router, but with more devices now being internet compatible, Smart TV's, Playstations, Nas Devices and streaming boxes, you can very quickly run out of spare ports. Not all is lost however - its incredibly easy and cost effective to increase the number of wired connections with a switch.

What is a switch?

As mentioned, more and more devices demand connectivity back to the router, some products are specifically designed to be wireless only, smart thermostats, smart home speakers etc. Whereas others can benefit markedly from the more stable signal provided by a wired connection, such as burglar alarms, games consoles, smart TVs and TV recorders, they may have wireless capability but 4K streaming and gaming will improve in terms of speed and stability. When planning a home network setup, remember it may not be convenient to run a cable to every device, so we recommend to use a wired connection when you can, and a wireless connection when you can’t.

How do I choose the right switch for me?

Now that's the 64 million dollar question! As you can imagine, there's a few bits to consider:

Size - aka number of ports

We'll start with one of the easier requirements - how many ports are needed. Switches provide a number of options here - the most popular sizes of 5 and 8 will be sufficient for most homes or small offices, but if you have more devices to wire up, 16 and 24 port versions are also common. The simple rule to follow when deciding what size switch to buy is, count the number of devices you want to connect by wire and add on a couple of spares for future expansion, and remember that 1 port is used up connecting the switch to the router. It is worth mentioning that you can connect a switch to another switch, adding further ports, but two 8 port switches connected will give 14 ports vs in a 16 port switch, 15 will be spare, not to mention the need for 2 PSU's to be plugged in!

Why the need for Speed?

Networks need to be faster and more powerful to connect more devices for tasks like surveillance, working from home and streaming at the same time. There are 2x common switch speeds in the home, with faster speeds normally reserved for business, but becoming more common in homes, especially with prosumers. Fast Ethernet, often referred to as 10/100mbs provides speeds of up to 100mbs and Gigabit, or 10/100/1000mbs, offering speeds up to 1 gigabit (1000mbs.) 2.5 GB switches for home are a bit harder to find, although we have the exceptionally well designed DMS-1610XT, 10/25/40/100 Gigabit switches are rarely needed outside of big business

When choosing what switch to add to your network, firstly find out what speed the ethernet ports on your router are, if you have Fast Ethernet ports, you should go for a Fast Ethernet switch, Gigabit ports on your router will allow you to choose, I would suggest in most cases, Gigabit is worth the extra investment. 

Need Power?

Yes, you can add to the functionality of power, via a network switch. This can prove to be useful, as it will enable one cable to provide both internet and power, via PoE - power over ethernet. 
This allows the connection to an Access Point, Camera or VoIP phone, even when a standard plug socket is not available, very handy for surveillance cameras etc. If you have a switch already, PoE can be added to a non-PoE switch, if you just have 1 or 2 devices that need power, via a PoE injector.
 
Plastic or Metal?

The choice of plastic vs metal could be based on cost, longevity or just looks! Plastic switches are generally cheaper than metal, a 5 port plastic fast ethernet switch is around £8-9 pounds, whereas its metal compadre would be closer to £14/15. This could party be put down to expected lifespan - as metal dissipates heat, but plastic blocks it, a plastic switch can run hotter, putting more strain on its internal components. The final consideration is looks - often people have a preference between the two and this can often tip the balance in one direction. The DGS-105GL & DGS-108GL are a great middle point here, a metal case with plastic ports, so the longevity of a metal case along with the price savings of plastic ports - genius!


I'm convinced, after I wire everything up, what improvements will I see?

Security

Wired networks are more secure than wireless networks. This is due to the fact that your network is only accessible with a physical cable connection. With wireless networks, the Wi-Fi signal is broadcasted outside of your home, leaving it open to the public and potential hackers

Less Interference
Wi-Fi can be subject to more interference than a wired connection. Factors such as;
Home layout
Signal blocking objects
Electrical interference
Neighbours Wi-Fi networks


n.b. Wi-Fi 6 is a big improvement here with ‘bss coloring' but wired still wins out.

Lower Latency  

As any Gamer will attest, connection speed and quality isn’t just about raw bandwidth, latency is also a big factor. Latency is the delay in how long it takes for traffic to get from a device to its destination. Latency can be an issue with all Internet connections and networks, but wired network connections tend to have the lowest latency.

Increased Speed  

Although the gap between wired and wireless has narrowed - Ethernet speeds are just faster than wireless. The gap is closed by Wi-Fi 6, so if you are using wireless AC/n or older for your wireless, you will benefit from using a wired connection or a router upgrade!

If you need any advice on building a home network, you can contact us via our live chat - / or drop us an email