If you studied psychology (and I didn’t) you will have learned about Maslow’ pyramid of needs. So this is the post-covid smart home era we need a new version and here it is on the right:

Sounds familiar? It should! So Wi-Fi (and battery life) working properly will be a key success factor in your project. No connectivity means no alerts or control. Humans of any kind will get cranky if something does not operate to expectations and Internet access is no different. Want to hear teenagers swear when gaming? Disconnect them and learn new “current” vocabulary.

So how do we get to where we need to be? Good question. First determine how many users are on the network and how many devices as well. Second catalog all the online services used like movie sites, gaming, and so forth. From there you will get an idea of what you need and you can start quantifying what is needed. 

Here are key items you need to take into consideration when selecting an Internet Service Provider (ISP), related service plan and which Wi-Fi equipment you may need:



Don’t go for the most frugal option. These days the lower-priced ISPs just resell the “big players’ infrastructure” with their own layer on top of it so you can get a discount but their support may be lacking. You may need all the help you can get and if you’re out of town supporting this type of endeavor you don’t want downtime.

Internet > everything else!


This means “how much Internet you need”. Anything from a 30Mbps in download and 10Mbps in upload should be sufficient unless pesky teenagers live in the same house. With these speeds you can get Netflix in 4K resolution, and other things can happen at the same time without bogging everything down. More is better until you go overboard and pay for nothings other than bragging rights (or a geeky flex). As usual for this type of service, everything varies based on location, so do your homework and check out what’s available around.

Here is a quick read to help you out on doing this very very scientific calculation. Example: if you sum up that you need 50Mbps and you have a choice between a 50Mbps plan and a 100Mbps plan, take the 100Mbps. When stuff goes slowly no one is happy.

Here are some links which may lend a hand for your shopping needs:

    • ISPs in Canada: Government search tool– PlanHub search tool
    • ISPs In the US: Broadband Now – Allconnect
    • For the other countries I’ll let you search as there are too many and local stuff will vary from region to region.
    • If you’re not within reach of the usual telephone or cable suppliers, you can look at “mobile hotspot” or satellite services. Talk to the neighbors or city hall if you’re in this situation to know what’s available.

Wi-Fi Equipment Options

: router

: wired Ethernet

: mesh network

: powerline network

: coaxial network


This is a fun topic if you’re into this stuff (I am) but may be a bit complex at times. What should you get and how fast? Here are some guidelines:

  • Does your ISP supply a Wi-Fi router? If yes, and for a person living alone, should be plentiful. If not get something supporting the Wi-Fi 6 standard as they are now affordable and will have a longer lifespan. Trustworthy brands include TP-Link, Netgear, Asus, Google and Eero (Amazon). If you connect smart home stuff over Wi-Fi and not the other protocols, assume that your ISP’s router drops performance at 25 connected things (if not sooner), that’s the time you look to upgrade that ISP router. The ISP router is usually “good enough” for the average family scenario, not a connected smart house over Wi-Fi.
  • How much range do you need in the home? Do you have dead zones? It’s simpler than you think to determine if what you have on hand is sufficient. All you need a smartphone and an app to scan Wi-Fi, personally I like Network Analyzer as it works well and the free version is sufficient but feel free to use what you like. When you use the app in the problem areas for Wi-Fi coverage, you can see the signal strength in “db” and it’s always a negative number (don’t ask) so the metrics you need to look for are -50db or lower is a really good signal, -65db or bigger you start seeing some issues. Also do test for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz while at it to get the real picture of the residence. 
  • For the record, when you connect at 5Ghz your connection is faster than at 2.4Ghz but you have less range. Most smart home products are 2.4Ghz as we care about range above all and they don’t transmit that much data.
  • Now if your signal needs more oomph, the easiest way to do so and also to keep the best possible performance is a Wi-Fi “mesh” network, where multiple access points will be distributed in the property based on dead spots and distance from the router. Here is a good article at Tom’s Hardware for demystify this stuff. These mesh devices can either replace the ISP router or just replace/augment the Wi-Fi capabilities of that ISP device, it’s your call but having only one device to manage Vs two is always easier but ask your ISP if you’re not sure especially if the router handles TV and landline services. The usual suspects you can look at are Eero, TP-Link, Netgear and Linksys. The best scenario for any networking setup, is physical wiring between devices like the mesh “nodes”. If you can’t do this there are a few options based on needs and budgets:
    • Just leave it as is and add nothing at all, cheaper, commonly good enough, deploy nodes as best you can after reading the manual and be smart about positioning them (don’t put one right by an electric baseboard heater, etc.). You don’t need to maximize everything either, if your smart TV is connected at 250Mbps and you need 25Mbps for 4k movies, you’re all set! But if you’re reading this it’s not good enough so jump to the next item:
    • Get a dual-band mesh: the cheaper mesh option as it has less “stuff” in each nodes (antennas, etc.) and sufficient for most homes. Remember the math you did to chose your ISP above? Use that here too to guesstimate what you need. Go for Wi-Fi 6 or better, Wi-Fi 5 is now in the past. Not good enough? Read the next item:
    • Get a tri-band mesh: this means these nodes have a “3rd antenna” to pass traffic and information between the nodes, dedicate for just that, which frees the other 2 antennas to serve users and devices. More speed, no wiring needed, but more expensive. Eero, for their WiFi6 units, says their dual-band system goes up to 500Mbps and tri-band up to 1Gbps. Ball is in your camp to decide what you need, look at your plan from your ISP 1st and think about the future. 
    • Use “Ethernet over powerline” where you use your power outlets as.. network wiring1 Does not always work as wiring age, panel age, receptacles and more factors may affect this type of product. The only way to know is to try and in this house it’s a no go but the previous one it worked well. If you go that route make sure you can return what you buy if it does not work. Very important: DO NOT PLUG THE ADAPTERS IN POWER BARS, plug them directly in the wall outlet.
    • Use coaxial cables, the ones for the cable TV stuff most likely wired in your house: that’s what I use and works quite well, but a smidgeon more expensive than powerline. This is what I use, very happy and there are others on the market you can look at based on where you live.

From there you should be all set, and look for seasonal sales if you can. In Canada we have a site named RedFlagDeals where I look for deals before buying pretty much anything all year long, odds are the same thing exists for your region.

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