Home Network Planning

Continuing on the topic of planning the new home automation, I’ve been researching and earmarking various components to kit out the network/server rack.

The new house will have all the structured wiring converge in the master suite closet, as is the practice here, so I plan to place the rack in the same location.

WiFi

For the wireless network, I have decided to go with hardware from Ubiquiti. From what I’ve seen, they’re the gold standard for wifi and geared towards the prosumer and commercial segment. This choice is also what is driving my decision to outfit a rack instead of just mounting devices on a backer board.

You can view the Ubiquiti lineup as a deconstructed version of the consumer wifi router we all have. Where those have a router, switch, and wifi access point all rolled into one device; Ubiquiti has these separated out, and provides many choices for each. This allows a user to dial in the best solution for their needs.

For the wifi access points, I am planning to go with two UAP-AC-PRO, one on each level of the house. Admittedly these are slight overkill, but I’m going with this AP for two reasons:  1) elimination of wifi connectivity woes we’ve been struggling with and 2) the 3×3 MIMO that this model has. I want this wifi solution to be solid for many years to come, and handle any future capacity needs. With IoT devices using wifi networks, rolling out a solid solution is necessary. That lame wifi router that the ISP’s give out just do not cut it anymore.

The AP’s (and most of Ubiquiti’s hardware) are powered via PoE, which greatly simplifies where these can be deployed.

There’s a guest bedroom on the first floor that might be out of range of decent coverage. The backup plan for that is installing a UAP-AC-IW-PRO in the room, should that be the case. I’ll wait to see how the UAP-AC-PRO coverage is, first.  (I’ve toyed with the idea of not using the UAP-AC-PRO’s at all, and just going with the UAP-AC-IW-PRO’s – perhaps two or three per floor. I might post on the Ubiquiti Community forum and see what they think.)

Driving the AP’s will be the US-8-150W switch. This switch has all 8 ports with PoE capability, should the need arise, and is rack mountable. While at the minimum I’ll only have three PoE devices at the start, Ubiquiti makes network-connected surveillance cameras that I am looking to eventually deploy.

The gateway/firewall will be the USG-PRO-4. This is also rack mountable. From there will be the fiber line from the ISP.

Lastly, I’ll be picking up the Cloud Key (UC-CK) to run the Unifi administration software from. This will take up one of the ports on the switch, so at a minimum there will be three PoE devices. If the InWall AP is needed, that will be four. I may also opt for an UAP-AC-M for coverage outdoors, and that would be a possible fifth PoE port.

Patch Panel

To bring the network cables from the structured wiring panel to the network rack, I’ll be using a 24-port keystone patch panel. Going with a keystone solution gives more flexibility than a traditional patch panel where you punchdown the wiring directly to the ports. Also, I will be able to use different port colors if I choose to say, install red jacks for items that will be utilizing the PoE, blue jacks for any servers, and black jacks for any client ports, etc.

Servers

As previously posted, the Intel NUC will reside in the rack on a vented rack shelf.  The NUC’s have holes for VESA mounting, and if I can make that work with the shelf, I will. Otherwise it’ll be secured with zip ties.  Next to the NUC will be a Raspberry Pi 3, which will be secured with velcro straps, as this may be moved around depending on the project I’m using it for. (Weather station, camera server, etc.)

Power

CyberPower makes a nice 1U UPS that would cover the power needs of the rack. This will live on the bottom of the rack. I looked at picking up a PDU, but for a cabinet this small it felt like overkill.

Network Cabinet

Finally, the rack itself. I’ve gone back and forth on what to get, and narrowed it down to a NavePoint 9U wall-mounted cabinet. It has room for everything with some to grow, and yet not too large for the space. The unit looks nice, and the cooling fans on the top are a nice feature. If noise is a problem, I’ll look into replacing the cabinet fans with Noctua’s, and even the system fans in the switch and gateway, should those give off any noise.

 

4 Comments

  1. I use multiple WiFi access points but they are different SSID so you have to switch between networks or log into different access points, which is not great.
    Make sure you plan for everything even if you don’t think you will need it. I didn’t plan on having cameras and now I wish I did. My wiring closet is a mess of wires. I also used keystone wiring. I have had to go back and fix a few keystones as the network performance dropped on a few connections.

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    1. Yeah – the Ubiquiti AP’s support Fast Roaming, which will allow hand-off making the experience seamless. Good points for planning for expansion – I’ve been hemming/hawing between the 8-port or 16-port switch… now you’re making me tilt towards the 16-port again. I might as well, to maintain that overkill status. 🙂

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