Loft conversion, want to wire up and extend wifi

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We bought our place last June and are about to start a loft conversion and kitchen renovation (amongst other less dramatic bits like replastering and decorating pretty much everywhere!). It's a small 2 bed terraced house, we'll be getting a new master bedroom up in the loft.

Our Sky router is in the lounge, right at the front of the house.
The study is the second bedroom at the back of the house, wifi is already flakey in here as it's furthest away from the router, so I'm using Devolo powerline adapters which work fine.
No wifi reaches to the garden.

I'd like to get ethernet up to the study obviously, and extend the wifi so that it reaches the loft and garden. My idea (in laymans terms) is to plug in an AP/extender into the new ethernet in the study, as that is a nice midpoint between the garden and loft room and could probably service them both. Question is, what sort of kit should I be looking at? I'm a very basic user but I'm guessing will need a switch somewhere, as I guess I'll need 3-4 ethernet points in the study eventually (home PC, 2x work laptops, AP, maybe Sky mini?). I only have one port free on the Sky router as it is. Would you put the switch down with the router and run 3-4 ethernets up to the study? Or run one up and have a switch in the study? :confused: I guess I should also run ethernet up to the loft in case the AP in the study doesn't work well, or just generally for futureproofing (e.g. our neighbours use their loft as a study not a bedroom).

So, running the ethernet is fairly straightforward (just the question of where to put a switch?), but how would you sort the wifi? I can't spend a fortune, mesh sounds good but I'm not sure it's worth it here. I don't mind a separate SSID if that's how it has to be with an AP/extender.

Thanks.
 
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Personally I would have a Cat6 run from the lounge to study. If you can, run 2 lengths to the study but leave the 2nd run loose in the backbox as redundancy incase one fails or something.

Then do another run (or two) from the study to the loft above and terminate the runs into faceplates so it's nice and tidy. Have an 8 port gigabit switch in the study, then your 2x Cat6 ports on the wall plate in study can go into the switch - which effectively brings internet up from downstairs, and then provides internet to the loft port/s as well. Then you will have 5-6 ports free in the study to add a WiFi AP and wire up any devices in the study.

Then in the loft you have 1-2x Cat6 on a wall plate. One for an additional WiFi AP if necessary, the other for any wired devices you want for the bedroom (or put another switch on it if you start finding multiple devices you want wired!)

For the actual AP hardware, if you want to keep costs down just get yourself a mesh kit as you mention. There are plenty of options like Netgear Orbi, TP-Link, Tenda, Amazon eero, etc depends on your budget. If you got a 3 pack you could situate one per floor and then disable the Sky router's WiFi so you just have 1 SSID that roams seamlessly. Or a 2 pack might suffice with the ground and first floor only to cover the loft too. But for the pennies Cat6 costs, I would still do runs to the loft incase you change your mind in the future.

Then with your Cat6 available you can hard-wire the APs (make sure you get models that can do this) and this way you ensure you lose no bandwidth as opposed to wireless meshing.
 
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Thanks for that. Good ideas indeed. I guess doing (separately) cat6 and mesh is quite straightforward. But because of the cost of mesh and bandwidth maybe having hardwired APs is preferable? I doubt I'd notice the difference but always like to do things 'properly'! However my knowledge on APs is limited..

Then with your Cat6 available you can hard-wire the APs (make sure you get models that can do this*) and this way you ensure you lose no bandwidth as opposed to wireless meshing.
Like what models for example? I'm struggling to figure out what they're called. And if I get hardwired APs they will have to have a different SSID yes? And I presume no 'mesh' options connect via ethernet? (EDIT: Is this what people call 'ethernet backhaul' ?)

Also, possibly related but I will want a Google doorbell or similar eventually. I take it they don't need ethernet..
 
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The advice from @Sparx is bang-on. Hardwire as much as possible. A CAT6 cable will always give you 100Mbps or 1Gbps or even 10Gbps if that’s what you plug in at both ends. WiFi (even really good WiFi) will never do that and if you have all your access points cabled you don’t need mesh, because they’re all cabled. And of course they all have the same SSID and you’ll never notice when you pass from one access point to another.

One of the best things about wiring your home is that you can always unplug an access point and plug in the latest and greatest and you just get the upgrade.

I strongly recommend Ubiquiti UniFi access points. If you can ceiling mount your attic access point I would recommend the UniFi U6-Pro. If you can’t then the UAP-In-Wall HD is a Great Wall-mounted option or the UAP-FlexHD is great if you want one that stands on a table or shelf.
 
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The advice from @Sparx is bang-on. Hardwire as much as possible.
Oh definitely. In reality I won't need ethernet anywhere apart from the study and loft room but I'm definitely set on that.

And of course they all have the same SSID and you’ll never notice when you pass from one access point to another.
But with regular APs (non mesh) if I were on a conference call or using wifi calling would I not have a momentary blip when moving from the router's wifi to an AP? Whereas with mesh I wouldn't get that? And if I were in the garden and 'just about' on the main router wifi, I wouldn't change to a closer AP unless it completely drops right?

I'm just wondering why the main recommendation isn't to go for a mesh set-up with ethernet backhaul. Something like the 'AmpliFi Mesh Wi-Fi System' set isn't all that more than the U6-Pro you mentioned and that gives me the mesh, two APs (study and loft) and I believe supports ethernet backhaul. The Ubiquiti stuff does seem a bit pricey. At the end of the day the wifi will mainly just be used for phones/iPad, occasionally Zoom calls but if I do that it'd only be family. I'll be in the study for important work calls. So I don't want to be tempted into over-spending here!

Also, stupid question but we're in a Victoria terraced house. How exactly would someone run cables through from the front room, up and back through the house into the study on the first floor, then up into the loft above? :confused:
 
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Oh definitely. In reality I won't need ethernet anywhere apart from the study and loft room but I'm definitely set on that.

But with regular APs (non mesh) if I were on a conference call or using wifi calling would I not have a momentary blip when moving from the router's wifi to an AP? Whereas with mesh I wouldn't get that? And if I were in the garden and 'just about' on the main router wifi, I wouldn't change to a closer AP unless it completely drops right?

I'm just wondering why the main recommendation isn't to go for a mesh set-up with ethernet backhaul. Something like the 'AmpliFi Mesh Wi-Fi System' set isn't all that more than the U6-Pro you mentioned and that gives me the mesh, two APs (study and loft) and I believe supports ethernet backhaul. The Ubiquiti stuff does seem a bit pricey. At the end of the day the wifi will mainly just be used for phones/iPad, occasionally Zoom calls but if I do that it'd only be family. I'll be in the study for important work calls. So I don't want to be tempted into over-spending here!

Also, stupid question but we're in a Victoria terraced house. How exactly would someone run cables through from the front room, up and back through the house into the study on the first floor, then up into the loft above? :confused:

Access points are effectively mesh without the wireless communication. They only have wired communication (although most of them will also do wireless mesh generally no-one uses it).

As for mesh not dropping VOIP calls it’s simply not possible to move between access points or mesh nodes without disconnecting from that transceiver and connecting to the next, so yes, any wireless solution is likely to drop a VoIP call. Zoom or Teams calls (even WiFi calling) are heavily buffered, so that generally doesn’t happen.

As for the cost, I generally meet clients who generally just want something that works properly or who have been through the whole single point router -> Ethernet over mains -> mesh and none of it has really performed to their expectations so they finally bite the bullet and spend the money. You can buy a UniFi UAP-Lite access point for £60 and it will do much what the others do, just a bit slower with top-end clients. Most people want the WiFi6 access points these days but if you only want WiFi5 that’s about half the price.

Obviousiy I would need to see the building to decide on cable routing, but generally there is cutting the plaster and putting trunking in the wall or there is internal or external surface mount trunking. By far the easiest option is a 12mm hole through the external wall, then either run external grade cable straight up to the attic through the soffit or ventilation bricks and then put the distribution system on the wall or in a cupboard somewhere. If you’re having power run to the attic conversion there will be trunked or conduit routing for that. Ask the contractor to put in a second conduit for your ethernet cables. Ideally not the same one the power is running in.
 
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Thanks @WJA96 good info there. We had a guy round to move our TV/Sky/phoneline cables when we first moved in (they were going through the window frames, of said windows which we had to replace asap :rolleyes: ). I'm sure when I asked him he was on about throwing the ethernet over the roof to get to the loft (my words, not his) which I thought was a bit odd. It's a terraced house, so no external walls... Would they ever use the chimney? We won't be installing a fire, only surrounds for aesthetics... just a thought.

Cutting into plaster makes sense, we will have all rooms replastered/skimmed at least so maybe that is the easiest way. Will make a note for our main builder re. the conduit, I suspect he will have a guy to come in and run these cables anyway.
 
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If we are having all the skirting boards replaced could they run the cables through there? And/or up the chimneys? We're never going to use them as fireplaces but they are there in each room...

Also another question. I will at some point plump for a Nest doorbell (or similar). I understand they don't use ethernet, but it seems like some models might? Would you get ethernet put to the front door as well whilst they're doing it? Even if whatever doorbell I go for doesn't need it? Thinking of futureproofing really..
 
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Yes, you can even get special skirting board with a cable channel in it. And yes, I’d run cables EVERYWHERE if you have the budget. I’d even run cable for an outdoor access point at the front of the house and one at the rear so you have outdoor WiFi as well.
 
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Yes, you can even get special skirting board with a cable channel in it. And yes, I’d run cables EVERYWHERE if you have the budget. I’d even run cable for an outdoor access point at the front of the house and one at the rear so you have outdoor WiFi as well.
I appreciate the sentiment but our front garden is about a foot deep from the bay window, and our back garden is about 4.5m deep so I think it’ll be nicely covered with the router in the front room - and an AP somewhere near the back like the back bedroom :)
 
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I appreciate the sentiment but our front garden is about a foot deep from the bay window, and our back garden is about 4.5m deep so I think it’ll be nicely covered with the router in the front room - and an AP somewhere near the back like the back bedroom :)

I thought the same but my car won’t connect to the house WLAN unless it’s through the AP on the front of the garage.
 
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Update; We have stairs up to the loft and a shell of a room to poke around in! Exciting! :)

The builder's electrician came round today so we were picking points and I discussed ethernet options. Seems he wants to take the cable from the router externally up the front of the house (hiding it behind the drainpipe) and then in at the loft. I think into the loft floor and across to the back. I'm not 100% sure how he will get to the study/back bedroom, it was a bit hectic. Perhaps it'll run the same route and then down as the study points are roughly below the loft points? :confused:

I asked him to run two cables each (2x study, 2x loft), sounds like he will fit double faceplates for each so they'll all be usable.

Does that sound ok? Cat6, external/shielded stuff. Would I expect him to fit faceplates in the wall by my router (so I run a very short cables to/from the router)? Or should he just leave them hanging out of a hole to plug straight in to the router? Cheers. You know what it's like, I know what I want but discussing with a builder-type on a busy site was hectic to say the least... :o
 
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The builder's electrician came round today so we were picking points and I discussed ethernet options. Seems he wants to take the cable from the router externally up the front of the house (hiding it behind the drainpipe) and then in at the loft. I think into the loft floor and across to the back. I'm not 100% sure how he will get to the study/back bedroom, it was a bit hectic. Perhaps it'll run the same route and then down as the study points are roughly below the loft points? :confused:

Don't see a problem with that, that's how Sky did the cable run in my old house. They used black coax and it was run neat behind our drain pipe, never noticed it at all. With 4 cables being run, I imagine he'll use black cable ties to the drain pipe to keep them together and tidy, rather than flapping behind the drain.

So effectively is he going to do 4x Cat6 runs from the the ground floor up to the loft, right? I presume he'd bring all 4 up together, then for the 2 runs to the study bedroom, he'll just carry them on under the loft floorboards and drop them down. Whilst the other 2 go into position in the loft conversion wherever you specify to him.

Does that sound ok? Cat6, external/shielded stuff. Would I expect him to fit faceplates in the wall by my router (so I run a very short cables to/from the router)? Or should he just leave them hanging out of a hole to plug straight in to the router? Cheers. You know what it's like, I know what I want but discussing with a builder-type on a busy site was hectic to say the least... :o

100% they all need putting into Cat6 faceplates. So ground floor you would have a quad faceplate, then your loft and study bedroom each have a twin faceplate. Then you'd just have anywhere from 1-4 cables into your router, depending how many ports you're actually using, so this will make your Cat6 points 'live' so to speak, ready to plug into your network/internet.
 
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So effectively is he going to do 4x Cat6 runs from the the ground floor up to the loft, right? I presume he'd bring all 4 up together, then for the 2 runs to the study bedroom, he'll just carry them on under the loft floorboards and drop them down. Whilst the other 2 go into position in the loft conversion wherever you specify to him.
I believe that's what's happening. Speaking of Sky, our dish is on the back of the house, but the cable goes right over the roof and down the front. I'm tempted to ask if they can put it through the loft floor at the same time, but I think actually I think he's already run his cables (I was out last night so didn't get back until 11pm so didn't see what he's done). Girlfriend was rather of the opinion to just leave it be...
100% they all need putting into Cat6 faceplates. So ground floor you would have a quad faceplate, then your loft and study bedroom each have a twin faceplate.
Got it. Might cost me another £120+vat for another faceplate/termination but oh well! I will definitely have 2 'live' ports per room which is great.

Sidenote, what is it with women being totally disinterested in stuff like this? It gets palmed off as 'stuff you want' yet she is the one who turns off her mobile data when connected to wifi on her phone :)confused: ) and will be the first to point out the wifi isn't working. She also doesn't have much data on her contract so needs wifi! Considering we barely get wifi in the back bedroom/study as it is, there's zero chance you'd get it in the loft so why don't I get any credit for actually thinking of this stuff? lol :(
 
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I believe that's what's happening. Speaking of Sky, our dish is on the back of the house, but the cable goes right over the roof and down the front. I'm tempted to ask if they can put it through the loft floor at the same time, but I think actually I think he's already run his cables (I was out last night so didn't get back until 11pm so didn't see what he's done). Girlfriend was rather of the opinion to just leave it be...

Got it. Might cost me another £120+vat for another faceplate/termination but oh well! I will definitely have 2 'live' ports per room which is great.

Yeah I've seen the odd house with the Sky cable chucked over the roof, grinds my gears :cry: If you can get them to pull it back and re-run it in the loft/floor space I would... To appease my own OCD and helps with kerb appeal lol. Makes so much sense to do it now if you're in the middle of converting the loft and floors up etc.

The 3 faceplates will cost around £10 and it's barely 30 mins work to terminate those 4 runs into 8 ports. It shouldn't be anywhere near £120+VAT of labour lol. Hell if he wants that much, tell him to leave the cables loose in a backbox and you'll terminate them yourself - it's a very easy DIY job!
 
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