Built a new home, now I need to network it

I moved into my new home three weeks ago and now that I’ve nearly got everything put away and organized, I want to look at building a high-end network infrastructure. I currently have a Tenda MW6 mesh WiFi setup, which while nice, doesn’t allow me to do everything I want to do.

From what I’ve been told, Ubiquiti products are the way to go for someone like myself who doesn’t have a lot of experience in this area, but tends to read and absorb information quickly. The current setup I was considering is the Dream Machine Pro, UniFi Switch PRO 24 PoE, and two (2) UniFi 6 Long-Range Access Points.

Given my home is 2400 sq. ft., I figure that should ensure sufficient coverage, and if it doesn’t, I figure I can always add more access points. I want to power the access points by POE, and eventually other things like security cameras and UniFi’s Network Video Recorder.

Are there other solutions out there that are just as good, or better, for an equivalent price? When this is all said and done, just those four items will be around $1500, plus I have to purchase Cat6 cable, a crimping tool, a wall-mount vertical server rack to store the UDM Pro and the switch.

Are there other setups that I should / could consider?

For a little edification, I currently have Spectrum cable Internet, to which I connect using a Netgear CM500 cable modem. My Tenda MW6 are acting as the router / access points, and the cable modem is plugged directly into the MW6. I don’t like modem / router combos, and prefer to have each “thing” as its own separate device.

Once I’ve built out a wireless network that I’m confident can sustain 1 Gbps of transfer, I will eventually upgrade my Internet access to gigabit, either with Spectrum’s service, or with Frontier once they enter the neighborhood (they’re currently building the infrastructure to come here, since this is a fairly wealthy neighborhood with average home prices around $370,000+.). I also intend to switch to a business account with either service so I can request a static IP. I’d like to host some things on my own servers eventually. I have a PowerEdge R610 and R720xd that were given to me, and I’d like to eventually build out some services like a large Plex Media Server on the R720xd (12 3.5" HDD version), and a Nextcloud server on the R610 along with some other things.

Any insight should be helpful and appreciated. I guess I’m attracted to the Ubiquiti environment because it seems relatively easy for new users with some basic networking knowledge to dive into, but I’m not adverse to picking up books or reading websites and really digging in if there are better options at more reasonable prices.

Hi @ChrisBozeman, welcome to Level One Tech; like you, I wanted better equipment for my network but didn’t know what equipment to buy. So I read a lot of forum posts and watched a lot of Youtube videos. I, too, heard good things about Ubiquiti products. So on the recommendation of a network engineer I have talked to a few times, I purchased an Unifi Gen 2 switch and a Netgate Pfsense appliance. I didn’t purchase an Edgerouter or Edgeswitch (according to the Engineer I talked to) both the Edegerouter and Edgeswitch have just basic NAT routing abilities. The Netgate appliance had a lot more enterprise-level features that I wanted for not much more cost.
I have been running these devices for almost three months. My only complaint is with the Unifi switch. For the first three weeks, everything was running fine. Then the switch decides to go offline; while I still had limited internet access, I lost control of my switch. Meaning while some of the switch’s clients still had internet access, I lose the ability to change the switch’s configuration; also, the controller software (which is used to control the switch) loses its connection to the switch. This problem has happened three times since this equipment has been running. The only solution to this problem is to reset the switch to its factory setting and reconfigure the switch. When this quirk first happened after repairing this bug, I purchased a Gen 2 Cloud Key ( before purchasing a Cloud Key, I was using Ubiquiti Control Software installed on a Virtual Machine.) thought it might provide a more stable experience. Well, I was wrong.

I don’t know of any other Manufacture’s equipment that would be better than Ubiquiti products and also be less expensive, but I would consider expanding your budget because of the bug I have found on my switch is also on all Ubiquiti products manufacture in the last 2 years. Meaning all Ubiquiti products could decide to stop functioning properly every three to four weeks requiring a reset to factory settings and a reconfiguration of your equipment. Once you consider the cost of your time or paying someone else every month or so to get your equipment back into working condition, an extra $500 to $1,000 might be worth it.

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Is your new home fully modern/stick framed or is it older construction?

Basically, any stone/concrete/tile/metal mesh will kill your throughput. U6-LR is great at holding decent performance at range, but e.g. around 100/150mbps at -70dBm on a 2-3 year old phone (same device gets 650mbps in same room).

If you want better than that, you must either have large open spaces in your 2400sqft home, or you should maybe follow my rule of thumb of no more than 2 walls or 1 floor between AP and client (when considering quantity and placement of APs).

You typically get 5 separate non overlapping 80MHz channels. And not all 5 are allowed same power. More than 5 (overlaps). Gets really complicated.

Yes, the home is new construction. It was completed a month ago. It’s very much wooden 2x4 frame, not cinder block construction as is common in hurricane-prone areas like Florida for instance.

What I want is 1 Gbps wireless in every room of my house, and I’m willing to purchase whatever equipment I need and perform whatever setup and tweaking is required. And yes, I very much do understand I might have a lot of learning in my future, so if there are any books or YouTube videos or Udemy courses or any other type of resource you would recommend, I’m all ears.

My personal reco for Unifi is go AP-only or full network. Having the switches without the gateway is difficult to administer because half the features are unavailable and the controller tends to be less reliable (as described above).

It is possible to add pfsense between the cable modem and unifi gateway as dmz gateway or as a transparent filtering bridge. Of course then you’re spending more money, but you could add it later.

Otherwise, Netgear, Mikrotik or lower-end Cisco switches plus pfsense and Ubiquiti AP would give you more features than all-Unifi at the cost of more administrative overhead.

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This will be tough - near impossible with 802.11ac phones, or older 802.11ac 2x2 laptops. High end phones and relatively high end or high quality laptops made in 2020 and newer (assuming they do 3x3 or 4x4 and/or have 802.11ax wifi) will probably be fine reaching this or getting 800Mbps+ in the same room, and/or maybe room next door.

I’d say budget/plan for 5 separate distinct access points (500 sqft each). Just so you can reduce the distance and obstructions.

This is because the data rate is generally determined by signal strength. A typical 2x4 drywall halves the signal strength best guess (-3dBm). Typical floor counts as -6dBm.
Aim to basically get the best signal possible everywhere.
Plan to ceiling mount them (furniture impedes signal).

Note that the devices themselves decide what AP to connect to, it may not always be the best one. What you can do is make sure they have an option.

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