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Wired and Wireless Networks

While not part of your electrical system, computers, tablets, phones, even your entertainment center are now hooked up to the information network of your home. Most of this is done wirelessly, but for some items, a wired connection using an Ethernet cable is ideal. Even if you are using a wireless network, the initial setup and decision for that network can be difficult.


The easiest way to break down networks is into wired and wireless categories. Wireless networks are the most popular for common users. Connecting all of your devices via WiFi is extremely convenient (and easy to do when the network is working properly). WiFi hubs rarely seem to cooperate so amicably, however. Missing passwords, connection failures, and slow internet speeds all seem to be major problems on a wireless network.

While wired networks have their own issues, common Ethernet hubs don’t require the complicated setup (or constant resets) of home WiFi hubs. In fact, for a home network you don’t have to worry about password access. Though it would be negligent to not point out that, if you have wireless access somewhere on your network, you should still set up passwords and passkey encryption on your network.

Running New Cables?

So what’s needed for a new network? Well it’s best to decide what will be running on the network. Just as you need to be cautious when placing too high a load on a single electrical circuit, you should avoid overburdening your network. Nothing terrible will happen if you do, but the network will slow down. Wireless has always had slower data transmission rates than wired connections. So think about what you’re connecting. Do you want to stream HD shows to your TV? Or do you work with large media files that need to be transferred between machines? Anything that requires fast data transmission should be on a wired network for data integrity and fast communication.

Still, it’s not a bad idea to set up a wireless network in your home. Most internet service providers will set one up for you when they install your service, but if you want to install one yourself, most routers come with simple setup instructions that require little effort.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for high speed data connections, you’ll need to run cables. For that, you need to decide where everything is going to be situated. Find where you will need to cut new data outlets in the wall. Try to locate your modem centrally to cut down on the amount of cable you need to buy. Having an electrician install multiple outlets at once will help to keep the cost down, and give you options for expansion in the future.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you’re installing a new wired or wireless network, you should be wary of these mistakes:

  • Router Placement – High, open spaces are best. Avoid metal enclosures, distant rooms, and high-power electronics (microwave ovens or appliance circuits).
  • Plug-in Correctly – When you’re setting up your modem, make sure that the router is connected to the LAN port and the data cable from your ISP is connected to the WAN port on the modem. This is important because the two use very different methods of communication. The WAN port connects to the internet so that the modem can translate appropriately, while your personal network will work off of the LAN connection.
  • Connecting In the Wrong Order – Always power down your modem before connecting a new router, wireless or otherwise, to the modem. This helps it to sync properly and allows it to recognize the network when it’s already active.