Advanced Home WiFi Networking

This post is a follow on to the original ‘Internet Load Balancing and managed wifi at home’ post you can find here:
Peplink | Pepwave - Forum](Peplink | Pepwave - Forum)

In the original I show how you can use a Peplink Balance One to load balance up to three active Internet WAN connections and manage three (or more) Peplink Access Points.
For many typical homes, two to three Access Points will be more than enough to provide general WiFi coverage, especially since quite a few homes now only use portable WiFI enabled devices (like smartphones, tablets, Laptops and wireless printers).

This post is for the rest of us who perhaps have more advanced needs, or have more devices of different types that we want to connect access both whilst at home and when on the road.

This isn’t my home network - but I want it to be.This design is loosely based on my own home network. Or rather, it’s how I would like and expect my own home network to look like if I started again from scratch today. The only real differences between this design and what I actually have installed in my house are the specific Peplink products and devices in use and the number of devices and their locations.

All Networks EvolveA Peplink MAX HD2]( was the first thing I installed when I moved to into this house three years ago as there was no fixed line internet service activated and i needed to get online straight away.
It worked great even for VoIP, which gave me a moment of breathing space to rip up the floorboards and run data cable to every room I could whilst the house was still empty of furniture. You can read my blog about that initial HD2 install in 2012 here Moving House? Be Sure to pack a Peplink Max! – Martin Langmaid – SDWAN Architect](Moving House? Be Sure to pack a Peplink Max! – Martin Langmaid – SDWAN Architect)

Today, I have a mix of network infrastructure and client devices, with a WiFi and wired network covering every corner of the property - even the shed in the garden that has a 8 port POE switch in it running external WiFi Access Points, CCTV and SIP Intercoms. Since my wife and I both work from home most of the time, we also have two home offices (we have a different, incompatible definition of ‘tidy’ forcing us to work in different rooms), but to try and simplify things a little for this post I have limited the diagram to the following key areas.

Office - if you have a home office this tends to be where most of your networking equipment will be installed. Its also normally where your fixed line internet connections are terminated.

Lounge - Smart TV’s Personal Video Recorders and networked audio players tend to be situated here.
The rest of the house - Where you want good strong WiFi Signal.
The garden / outside - So you can sneak a look at your email or watch that facebook video when you’re meant to be raking up leaves or ‘relaxing’.
Remote Access - If you travel and need to work at the same time (or want to stream CCTV / IP Video from home when you’re away) then easy secure remote access is important too.

The Home OfficeNormally the central location of most home computer networks (since it’s where you will tend to install your home internet router) - although rarely physically in the middle of the home. In this diagram you can see that as before I am using the Balance One router]( as the internet access device.

The Balance One provides up to 8 wired ethernet ports for locally connected devices (such as VoIP handsets, PC’s and network printers). In this diagram it also connects to an additional Power over Ethernet capable switch that in turn powers and connects the remotely distributed wired Access Points to the data network.

As before you can connect a mix of up to three internet WANs (eg DSL, Fiber, Satellite or cellular via the USB) and load balance your internet access across all available healthy WAN links. Or you can failover between the Links in any sensible order to suit your specific requirements - so for example only using satellite connectivity if the DSL is oversubscribed, and only using cellular if all other connectivity is unavailable.

The Balance One supports VLANs too, and I have shown the example of creating a VLAN to separate VoIP and Data traffic.

The LoungeTypically the multi-media center of the home, in the diagram you can see an internet connected smart TV and Personal Video Recorder (Tivo or similar). I’m probably being a little conservative here since I expect many people have a games console and even networked audio players too.

I have connected all of these wired ethernet devices into an AP One In Wall]( This AP replaces a typical single gang RJ45 network point with a really tidy package that includes a 2x2 Mimo AP (2,4Ghz & 5Ghz) and 4 port POE Switch. This gives great WiFi signal in the room of the house that frequently sees the highest general usage of personal WiFi devices whilst also providing the guarantee of fixed line connectivity back to the core network for video and audio streaming.

The diagram also shows two active SSIDS configured, one for just by family members and the other for guest use. As you can see these SSIDS are available across all APs and in fact are centrally managed on the Balance One itself which acts as the network AP Controller.

General House WiFiThe diagram shows two AP One AC Mini]( access points, one per floor of the property. These are great, tiny (98mm x 98mm) POE powered APs supporting 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n wireless connectivity.

I am suggesting that two additional APs can frequently be enough to provide any additional WiFI coverage required since both the AP One In Wall in the lounge and the Balance One in the office are providing WiFi coverage for their locations too. However you might need more of course depending on the floorspace of the property and its construction.
Once again the two main Home and Guest SSIDs are available on these APs.

Garden / Outside WiFiTo provide WiFi access and coverage outside in the garden I am using an AP One Flex 300]( Access Point.

This is an IP55 rated waterproof Access Point that has software selectable directional and omnidirectional antennas. The selectable antennas makes it really versatile for use outdoors as you can either point it at the area of the garden you need WiFi to work (like an outdoor seating area or shed/workshop) and use the inbuilt directional antenna, or put it on a central surface and create a WiFi hotspot around it using the omnidirectional antenna selection.
It also supports POE passthrough, so you can connect a POE powered IP CCTV camera to its ethernet connector (as I am suggesting here) to make external CCTV installation easy too.

Remote LocationsThere are two other locations shown on the diagram that you might not have considered before.

The first shows a BR1]( router installed in your car which provides wired and wireless internet connectivity to in vehicle devices using cellular internet connectivity (using an inbuilt single cellular modem that supports dual sim cards). It also has in built GPS for vehicle tracking (you can access real time maps via InControl 2]( for GPS enabled devices) .

The other location is shown as in a hotel, but this could be any location where you might want to have internet access when away from home, such as a customer’s office when you are working on site perhaps. Here I am suggesting a Max On The Go ]( supports up to four USB cellular dongles, and provides wired and wireless LAN device access.

You might be wondering why as a home (or professional) user this might be useful to you. The first reason is for easy remote access - more on that in a moment, the second is perhaps less obvious, but both of these remote devices can be managed centrally by InControl 2 in the same way as the Balance One. This means that you can have the same SSIDs on the remote devices as your home network, and that means your smartphones, tablets and laptops will connect automatically to these devices when they are available.

So when you arrive at your hotel and they give you a WiFI token to access their network, you can get the Max On The Go to connect to it using Wi-Fi as a WAN connection and once connected all of your other devices you might have with you (your phone, and laptop and tablet) will immediately have internet access as they will register to the MAX On The Go using the Home SSID.
Remote AccessAlthough not a requirement for everyone - there are many situations where easy remote access to your network can be useful - especially if your home network is also your ‘work’ network for those of us that work from home.

In this example I have a Network Attached Storage solution in the office and an IP CCTV camera in the garden that would likely be nice to access remotely from time to time - especially when on holiday or travelling for work. Of course just about any good router (the Balance One included) supports Port forwarding and Dynamic DNS registration so you could just forward ports through to these devices and set up a dynamic DNS url to get access, however I’m not a big fan of opening ports on my firewall and much prefer to connect securely using encryption.

Secure Remote VPN doesn’t have to be hardPepVPN]( - Peplinks proprietary site to site VPN solution that is unique to our devices, is really easy to configure and you can do so either directly on the web UI’s of the Balance One and remote devices themselves or use InControl to set it up for you.

Once connected you have secure network connectivity and access to any LAN device on your home network, which opens up some really interesting options when travelling or working away from your house.

When working away you have full network connectivity to your home devices so you can print to your printer in your home office, access your NAS and store and retrieve content or connect directly to your IP CCTV network from anywhere.

When travelling you have some unique capabilities such as the ability to stream IPTV and Audio to devices that would normally need to be connected to the local network, and the ability to send your internet traffic from wherever you are over the VPN so that you appear to be accessing internet sites from your home.

All of this means you can:

  • Have a VoiP handset or network audio endpoint in your car

  • Connect a remote device directly to your home DNLA network and stream movies and TV shows from your NAS box to the smart TV in your hotel room.

  • Access your home test lab when working at your customer’s site.

  • When abroad, you can connect to the internet via your home network to access geographically restricted content (like BBC Iplayer for example).

In SummaryThis advanced home network example intentionally demonstrates some advanced ideas and concepts that push the limits of accepted norms for home network deployments. I am trying to show that you can add some really clever capabilities to your home network and even introduce functionality that would normally be considered as enterprise features easily using our devices and management solutions.

I hope it encourages you to blow the dust off of your ISPs router you have under your desk and do more to improve your home network experience and welcome any further questions you might have on what is possible.