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I'm looking to massively upgrade my home infrastructure. I have multiple wired and wireless devices - desktop computers, laptops, servers, tablets, phones, assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, etc), game consoles, home automation hardware.

My end goal is to have multiple networks. A "safe"/green network for devices I trust (my computers, game consoles) that will be a combination of wired and wireless, a home automation network where the assistants and automation hardware will live that will need a single wired port and the rest will be wireless, a DMZ where the servers will live that will be all wired access and a guest wireless network that will be all wireless access. The devices that can control the home automation will probably live on that specific network as well due to how the automation devices work.

I'd like a router (with possible additional access points) to cover the entire house and a bit of the yard. This is roughly 4000 square feet across two levels.

I do not want to build a Linux based router for this. I understand that such distributions exist. I'm not interested in that. I want a single device (router) and possibly complimentary access points where I just need to configure things.

Additional nice to haves:

  • Wireless that operates on both 2.4 and 5Ghz frequencies.
  • Ability to open and close access between the various networks. For example, a firewall hole between the "green" network and the DMZ for SSH access or preventing the guest network from communicating communicating with any of the other three networks.
  • Intuitive user interface for configuring all of this.
  • DHCP server for each network, with different IP ranges.

I'm guessing the budget for this router and an access point or two that can handle all of this will be less than $1,000.

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Having had a very similar use-case, I highly recommend Ubiquiti EdgeMax Routers for managing your network. They are high quality options (with some nice security and resource delegation features) and have many models that support Power Over Ethernet on at least one port. They also work well when establishing the kind of subnets you are talking about. I've used one in combination with my modem to form a gateway for quite some time. Just a couple of $60 models to separate the concerns of managing the two different networks (so that a problem with one doesn't mean a problem with the other) and to allow isolation of the network you don't want reachable by guests would do the trick. This also gives the option of setting up two subnets for your networks if you get three routers, all for under $200 together. They're also usually about the size of a cell phone.

I was running this through a mid-range Asus router, but it failed as an AP unless I also allowed it to run its own subnet and function as a router. Even then, reliability was sketchy. I recently replaced it with an Ubiquiti AP-Pro, which supports both bands under one network ID. It has its own software for managing access and has an option for activation and management of a guest network with restrictions as to what guests may do. The unit is weather-resistant and is designed to be wall- or ceiling-mounted if you like, so it's possible to even mount them externally. It also has a second ethernet port for bridging or connecting a computer directly to the wired connection, making it easy to chain multiple across a house instead of setting up a mesh network or configuring the device to repeat a signal and lose bandwidth. I currently use only one of these on my second floor of my 5000 sq ft home; a direct connected device consistently gets nearly 1Gb/s speeds on the internet (which is max 1Gb/s), a wireless-AC connection one floor down usually gets 500Mb/s minimum, and my son's connection across the house never drops below 200Mb/s. The unit cost me about $90 as it connects to the PoE on the router for power, but you can get an injector for about $20 if you need to supply power another way.

3x Ubiquiti EdgeMax = $180 (because this gets you DHCP 3x and separates your APs entirely based on network)

3x Ubiquiti AC-Pro = $270-340 (depending on power connection and presuming you need more than one due to geography)

4x Decent wall Surge Suppressor (if you hook up your units with PoE Injectors instead of normal PoE) = $80

Huge spool of Cat5e (6 is a waste for 1Gb and down) = $80

Crimping Tool = $30 (because crimping your own cables is infinitely cheaper in the long haul)

Ethernet plug headers = $10

Total: $650 - $720

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  • I took a look at the EdgeMax routers and switches. Is there a reason you went with Ubiquiti's Edgemax line over their UniFi line? – Andy Aug 2 '18 at 14:26
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    I don't use the little controller you can get to manage UniFi and the APs. Compatibility with that and UI layout are the two main differences there. That, and the EdgeMax supports a little more hands-on advanced tweaking. – CDove Aug 3 '18 at 11:35

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