Everybody is talking about the “internet of things” but what does that really mean. As we understand it, that’s a fancy way of saying that more and more devices are getting Internet access — especially those that people didn’t expect to find using wireless connectivity like ovens and refrigerators and light bulbs. But for all this to happen, it’s necessary to have a stable and efficient home network. And while the connection to the online world comes from an internet service provider (ISP), what occurs inside is the responsibility of the homeowner (or apartment dweller).
Building The Network - Cabling
Internet devices, regardless of what they are, must connect to the router which then connects to the ISP. There are two ways to do this: the first is to run cables (called Ethernet cables) from the connection on the Internet device to the router physically: this requires the length of cable to be long enough to go from point A to point B. The advantage of cabling over a wireless connection is that there is no interference that can occur between the device and the router that can foul up the signal’s strength or cause “noise” that makes the quality of what is being transmitted less (this can be especially important when dealing with streaming video). On the negative side, putting down cables can be a hardship, which is why those who opt for doing this often call in a professional installer as they can not only deal with the cables on the floor, but through walls as needed also. hide the cables so that there's no trace they are even there.
Building The Network - Wireless
The alternate to cables for a home network is to use a wireless connection. Most Internet devices now come with WiFi built inside, and the speed of 802.11N devices is fairly standard. This means that the “speed” of the Internet device’s wireless transmitter/receiver is fast enough to deal with streaming video and other transmissions that use a lot of “bandwidth” (there’s that high resolution streaming video again). So it can be important to have the latest , for example, rather than staying with an older model whose WiFi could be of a lower speed (a reality of WiFi devices is that if you have a single “G” WiFi device using the same wireless network as that of faster devices, it will cause a slowdown overall).
Another, and most serious issue with a wireless network is that there can be “dead spots” or areas where the WiFi coverage is spotty or less efficient than other areas: caused by interference from a fridge or microwave nearby, or the motor of an AC window-mounted unit or a too-thick wall or metal cabinet that just happens to be in the worst possible place to block a signal. The best way to avoid this as an issue is to use what is called WiFi — these take the wireless signal and then “resend” it onward — it’s like an outfielder catching a ball and then using his own arm/force to send it forward. These repeaters are fairly easy to set up, with many of them plugging right into an AC outlet. This helps to ensure a strong and stable signal throughout the area where the home network is to reside (and can be especially useful when basements and attics are taken into account).
Powering The Network
It might seem counter-intuitive, but attention should be given to the power that the various Internet devices are being powered by. While there’s no choice but to use the electrical power provided by the utility power company, that doesn’t mean it can’t be modified to work better — in fact it’s known that the AC power coming into one’s home is “dirty” with interference that can only negatively impact the devices being plugged into them. That can be especially true as it impacts the picture of one of today’s or
And then there’s the outages — which even if they only occur for a microsecond or half second, will cause issues with the overall life of the electronics they’re “feeding” along with causing resets on devices that maintain an “always on” situation. To deal with this, the first solution is to “smooth” the power by having a power conditioner. These devices take the electrical power from the outlet and “clean” it up — with their having outlets for the various Internet devices to plug into.
For power outages, a more specialized device is needed — and it’s a simple one that many computer users have. Called an Uninterruptible power supply, it has a battery that kicks in whenever the power that it itself is plugged into (and which an Internet capable device is then plugged into the UPS), and so maintains an even and controlled flow of power without any interruptions. This will help to keep the network — Internet devices and network devices — working efficiently and effectively.
The Internet of Things is fast becoming a common factor in most homes — with more devices joining in on the home network to provide entertainment as well as other useful aspects of modern living. Making sure the home network can handle all this is a necessary evil, one that must be considered and dealt with in order to have it work as best it can.