Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Homes and Networks for the 21st Century

Blomstrom.Tech began by helping friends and family improve their networks and WiFi in their homes. For so many years we all just subscribed to our internet provider of choice and listened to their recommendations of how to maximize the service. We bought useless extenders and boosters that are still everywhere on the internet and in stores. They never solved the problem and never will. They only serve to be a band aid that the companies can sell to us without any strings (or wires) attached. Even worse, some of these products are now called "mesh", are very expensive and still don't do the job. They are all consumer grade products marketed to unsuspecting home owners. 

Fast forward to the year 2020 and now everyone is working from home. Suddenly the network bar has been raised and people want their homes to be as fast and reliable as being at an office. 

And there lies the root of the problem. 

A well laid out business includes an IT infrastructure that you barely see. It includes hardware and wires behind the scenes connecting everything together and managed by software. The controlling hardware is located in a room designed to keep it cool.  Wires can be fixed, added or upgraded using access areas designed for future improvements. 

Our homes are another story. 

In my travels, I have seen many homes and crawled around in their attics. I have been asked to add new lines, and the only way to do so is to drill and open holes in drywall. Adding wires for cameras and other accesories ranges from difficult to impossble. 

The sad thing is that this should not be an issue with all the new construction being done. However,  builders are still using outdated floorplans and partnering with  services companies that are stuck in the last century. 

How many of you have some stupid box in a random closet with wiring in it? 

How many of you still even need coaxial wires for TV's throughout the house? 

How many of you have a closet that looks like this because of equipment and modems? 

And I don't see the trend changing until people become more aware. 

For now, the best solution I can offer is to organize the mess into a wall rack like below: 

This one shown has a Ubiquiti cable modem on top, a UDM Pro controller, patch panel, 24 port POE switch and tripp-lite UPS battry. It is mounted above the existing wire closet over head to free up closet space. 

Other folks ask me to relocate the wire closet to somewhere else. 
Yes, this can be done. It is expensive. 

I can also consult on upcoming projects....

A couple of years ago I built a new home with one of the well known builders. Even with my knowledge and expertise, I was at the mercy of their nonsense.  Below is like my floorplan. 
When I met with the services company, I was fortunate that I convinced them to move the so-called "structured wiring" box out of my MBR closet and onto the wall of my office. This location allows me to have a standard 19" equipment rack to the right of the door. I was also able to have them do their "standard" network/coaxial outlets in the bedrooms and one on the porch plus a few basic speaker runs. But that is where their usefulness and understanding ended. 

I then spoke with the Project Manager on my site and he agreed to let me lay additional wires as long as they were unseen after drywall. This was better than nothing, but less than ideal. My family and I laid over forty additional lines including those that would go to the access points shown as blue circles and also cameras. It also incuded additional network jacks and whole house sound wires. It was a solid improvement over what the builder and their services company had to offer. 

To ensure success, I took copius photos and measurements to ensure I could find the wires again after we closed on the house. I am happy to share that I missed only one of my wired locations. 

But my home still has the same age old problem - in order to add or upgrade, drilling and drywall will be affected. In hindsight, I overlooked several areas to improve in both the power and network areas. 

IMHO, I feel that an ideal home built in the 21st century should include: 

- A larger breaker box 
  • With ample expansion circuit locations
  • Reduced daisy chaining room outlets
  • Pre-provisioned for an external generator or EV charger
  • Pre-provisioned with dedicated main and garage refrigerator circuits
- A dedicated location (NOT a bedroom closet) for A/V and data racks that includes
  • Appropriate measures for cooling
  • Easy access to outside wall for ISP access and upgrades
  • Dedicated power that includes either L5-30R (recommended) or 5-20R receptacle for PDU
  • Straight, unobstructed vertical access to attic and wiring spaces.
    Large diameter PVC conduit preferred to prevent future need for drilling
- In the wiring area (i.e. attic) include cat walks to main bundle

- Cat 6 (network wire) considerations
  • Dual Cat 6 (RG coaxial optional) to every room and video location
  • Dual Cat 6 on ALL walls of rooms considered an office
  • Cat 6 run added to doorbell locations
  • Cat 6 to all logical camera locations
  • Cat 6 to WiFi access point locations, including exterior spaces

I am available for consultation if you plan to upgrade or build a new home. 
Please call me as soon as you begin discussing the project so you can plan the best solution! 
So many times I am called after the project has begun or as an after thought. 
By then, it may be too late!

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