What are WAPs?

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(And why no home can be “smart” without them)

Know what we love about these blogs? No background noise!

We love the atmosphere of being on site, and our clients enjoy a peek behind the scenes of our latest projects. However, it makes explaining important smart home topics a challenge.

Today we’re diving into a topic that’s crucial to the success of every smart home: WAPs and connectivity.

There’s a lot of jargon in the smart home world; this series aims to demystify the most common terminology and tech. So, grab a cuppa and let’s get to it.

WAPs explained

A Wireless Access Point, or WAP, is a piece of hardware that connects Wi-Fi devices to a wired network. They’re slim pieces of kit that can be installed discreetly throughout your home to boost connectivity.

You can watch Jason installing one in this video.

Regardless of your provider, strategically placed WAPs ensure you get superfast internet throughout your home. So, if you pay for 100 megabits coming into your property, you’ll get 100 megabits in every room.

Why do I need a WAP?

It would make life easier if everyone’s router was placed in the dead centre of their home. Let’s face it, this is rarely the case. That’s why we use WAPs even in small houses. That way, no matter which room you’re in you’ll get full-speed coverage.

Plagued with slow or patchy internet? It’s likely that your router is the problem. The fact is, a router alone doesn’t have the power to cover every inch of your home — especially larger properties or old houses with thick stone walls.

Placed in key areas throughout your home, WAPs solve poor connectivity by providing a wider signal.

Types of WAP

We use two types of Wireless Access Points:

  • Ceiling mounts
  • In-wall units

Ceiling mounts are fixed to your ceiling at various key points in your home. They’re discreet and ensure a reliable internet connection regardless of what floor you’re on or which room you’re in.

In-wall units are particularly nifty. The wired point at the bottom lets you connect televisions, Sky boxes, and gaming consoles directly to the network. Direct connection means a robust, reliable connection — no buffering, and no lag.

Wired connections are always our first choice for these devices, not Wi-Fi.

Why choose a wired connection?

The quick answer is that Wi-Fi is unreliable. It can either kick you off or not work at all. As our founder John explains, “If we added to the burden by putting everything on Wi-Fi, that problem becomes much, much worse.”

In an ideal world we would only use Wi-Fi for smartphones or a laptop. Keeping the majority of devices wired (like TVs, game consoles, and smart appliances) will reduce the burden on your Wi-Fi and allow a seamless connection for mobile devices and laptops.

The added benefit is that your wired devices will never let you down. A wired connection is particularly important for home security; when it comes to your family’s safety, don’t let inconsistent internet let you down when you need it most.

Why do I need a WAP in my home cinema room?

There are a few factors that’ll give your home cinema star quality.

One of our current projects is a dedicated smart home cinema room for a client in Angus, Scotland. It features:

  • Sound-absorbing anthracite walls
  • Tiered seating for superior viewing
  •  Full-screen projector with automated screen drop-down
  • In-wall sound system with five speakers and a richly bassy subwoofer

But what’s the ultimate secret to making a movie masterpiece? In our expert Gavin’s opinion: cabling and internet connectivity.

In our latest behind-the-scenes Gavin shows how we’re using WAPS in a client’s home cinema room to create seamless connectivity. Why? Telling it like it is, Gavin says, “Essentially they work better.”

At the risk of repeating ourselves: a wired connection is the difference between an immersive cinematic experience and film night frustration. WAPs are essential to avoid buffering, a drop in sound, or dreaded lag.

The great thing about the WAPs we install in home cinemas is that they come with two connections. One for connecting to the TV and the second can connect to a Sky Q Box. You’ll notice an immediate difference in quality once your devices are wired into the network.

WAPs today are slim and neatly installed so you don’t need to worry about unsightly hardwear ruining the look of your home cinema.

Struggling to make it through a 2.5 hour movie without a cheeky scroll? WAPs means you get the benefit of uninterrupted browsing on your phone while the film’s streaming. Ideal if you want to spend quality time with the family but find your attention span wandering. (We’ll make an exception for the latest Bond movie, though).

The great thing about a home cinema that uses WAPs is that you can use it to watch sports events live or as a gaming room for the kids. In this sense it’s a great communal space for socialising,a gathering place for the family to relax after Christmas dinner, or a cosy den to hide away from the rest of the house. Truly multipurpose — and possibly better value than the real cinema.

Follow the build of this extraordinary 7.1 smart cinema room on our Smart Living channel. We’ll be waiting with the popcorn.

What’s the difference between a WAP and a router?

Your basic home router is actually a clever device that combines a router, switch, and access point rolled into one.

Essentially, your router manages network connections between your local network and the internet. The router’s internal switch takes one ethernet signal and splits it into many. These are the ports on the back of your router.

The access point is wired to the switch inside the router to create a wireless network.

Adding WAPs effectively builds on this basic set-up. One router isn’t powerful enough to extend a reliable signal throughout your home. That’s why you’ll sometimes get kicked offline if you’re trying to work in a room further away from the router.

Are WAPs better than extenders?

The quick answer: Yes; WAPs are more reliable and robust than extenders.

In theory a device that boosts your Wi-Fi signal sounds ideal. What actually happens? Because extenders can’t communicate with the router or access point and devices at the same time it must split bandwidth between them. This means that the speed of any connected devices will be cut in half.

Because WAPs are wired directly to the router they can send an uninterrupted, full-strength signal to wireless devices.

More about Smart Living

Curious about home cinemas and smart living? Our YouTube channel and blog will give you an insight into how we build smart homes for our clients. It’s also the place to find more pearls of tech wisdom from our experts John and Gavin.

Remember, we’re not so high-tech that you can’t reach us the old-fashioned way. Give us a bell on 01738 566 566 to chat to a member of the team.

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