Setup a Smart Home or Home Office

Modems and Routers, April 7, 2014

We do not need to understand all of the technology behind smart devices to set up a smart home or office. But there is some information that we need to know in order to determine what devices will be appropriate for our requirements. Lets start with some low tech information about modems and routers.

A modem receives information from your ISP through the phone lines, optical fiber, or coaxial cable in your home (depending on your service provider) and converts it into a digital signal. Routers connect physically via a network cable to a modem to allow communication between network enabled devices connected to the router and the Internet. Routers allow you to connect other devices either by an Ethernet cable or by using WiFi. Cable modems and wireless routers are also available combined into a single device. While a combined modem and router offers convenience, it may limit your upgrade choices in the future.

The NETGEAR Gigabit Cable Modem supports all cable internet speed tiers, up to Gigabit (1000 Mbps) service

To properly support your smart home network and the other devices that may be connected to your network you will need high speed internet service and fast WiFi that covers your entire house. To accomplish this, first be sure your cable modem output matches the speed of your broadband data plan. Next be sure you have fast wifi; most modems currently in homes use the 802.11n standard which can have speeds up to 450 mbps (megabits per second). The newest standard that is generally available is 802.11ac which has a maximum speed of 1.7Gbps (gigabits per second). Last but not least make sure your router's WiFi signal range covers the entire area where your devices are located.

If your home is less than 1600 square feet, the Netgear (R7800-100NAS) Nighthawk X4S AC2600 4x4 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router should offer complete coverage.

In this post, I will document the process I am planning to use when I upgrade my router and make improvements and additions to my current smart home devices. My current smart home devices and services are below:

  • Comcast cable internet (75 mbps)
  • Netgear N450 WiFi Cable Modem Router
  • Google Home Mini
  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Liftmaster Remote Light Switch
  • Liftmaster 825LM Smart Plug
  • VegaHome Outdoor Smart Plug
  • Tonbux Smart Plug
  • TP-Link AV600 Nano Powerline ethernet Adapter
  • Arlo wire-free HD security cameras

Lets start with the modem I am upgrading, it is a Netgear CG3000Dv2 N450 Wireless Cable Modem Router. Netgear rates it's range as sufficient to cover medium to large homes and the WiFi speed is rated at 450 mbps with the modem rated at up to 340 Mbps. It was easy to setup with Comcast and I was able to add all the smart devices above to the network without a lot of problems.

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