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Wi-Fi and Home Automation - Maslow's Needs Hierarchy Revised

Posted by LiveHouse Automation on

They say the first step to solving a problem, is admitting you have one. Dear Readers, I had a problem.

It was affecting my life, causing arguments with my family, stress and frustration, it started wasting money. All because of one basic human need that wasn't being met.

Sounds like I had a gambling or drinking problem? No.

What was missing from my life was reliable Wi-Fi. Yep, Wi-Fi. Please refer to the pyramid of human needs below, updated for life in a connected world.  

 

 

I'd been living in denial of my Wi-Fi problem for a while. At first it was the complaints of slow internet by the kids, of having to use 3G in the back garden. Most annoyingly standing in the driveway waiting for my phone to figure out that the WiFi was too weak and switch to 3G so that I could activate my garage door. And then switch back again before it connected.

When iOS9 came out it introduced a feature called Wi-Fi Assist that uses 3G data when your Wi-Fi is poor to improve user experience. The 3G data on my iPhone tripled that month even though I was at home connected to wireless.

My family was telling me the Wi-Fi was poor. My gut was telling me. Now Apple was telling me and the only people benefitting were at Telstra.

I had to face my problem. More Wireless devices were being added, cameras, tablets, Xbox... it was only getting worse.

I tried upgrading my internet router to one with a trio of large external antennas, I tried using Wireless repeaters which sapped the speed from my mobile devices. I used a range extender which created a new Wireless network, that not only reduced speed but created a different wireless network I had to connect to. Of course my iPhone would stay connected to the weaker signal as I moved around the house, and would only change over when I got completely disconnected.

I'd wasted hundreds of dollars and achieved nothing. (Although my new router does look pretty cool.)

So I decided it was time to get serious. Fortunately I have a background in Enterprise networking and wireless, so I could leverage a solution that isn't typically deployed at home.

 

 

Enter Ubiquiti Unifi. Enterprise class features and disruptive pricing according to the glossy brochures - which basically means it's inexpensive enough to use at home. This kit cost about the same as the money I'd wasted on the failed solutions so far.

After unboxing I put it all on my office desk, connected it up so that I could configure it.

 

 

Now these things do look cool. Setup using the Ubiquiti administration tools is pretty straight forward, providing you know a bit about network design and configuration. There's a lot more capability here than I needed to use, like setting up a guest portal.

Pretty soon I'd got everything configured and it was time to mount the Access Points (AP's) and Switch. I mounted the switch in my roof space, used an existing network cable that ran down to my router to get internet access and then ran the 20m Cat5 cables to where I wanted the AP's to sit. The AP's are powered by the switch, so only it needs power.

I put one in my games room, one in my garage and one in the hallway between the kids bedrooms and my home office. Each AP mounts to the ceiling with a hidden bracket - 3 screws and a 13mm hole for the network cable to pass through. The AP's are sleek, modern and unobtrusive once mounted.

 

 

After the physical installation, it was back to the administration tools to check on the status of the Wireless network.

 

 

As I'd used the same network credentials as the old Wireless network, everyone was already connected with excellent signal strengths.

 

 

Full home coverage, even out in the front and back yard. Problem Solved.

No more complaints from the family and I don't stand around like an idiot in the driveway waiting for my phone to connect before I open the garage door after walking the dog. Although I've now eliminated that problem anyway using GPS tracking to have the door automatically open. Based upon the AP that devices are connected to, I can narrow down the search for my partners phone when she plonks it somewhere.

If you've got a problem with getting your basic Wi-Fi needs met, we've developed a LiveHouse Smart Kit based on this solution. All you need to do is connect it up and turn it on - or we can install it for you.

Or browse our full range of networking products to find the gear that's right for your home.

-Ant.


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