TRENDnet 16-Port Green Ethernet Switch
Let me start out by saying that I am not Irish, none of my family is Irish, heck I don’t even have an Irish Setter so for me to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is quite a stretch. Like most American’s I will be sporting green apparel and at times I will even do my favorite Lucky Charms leprechaun impression.
Normally around our house the St. Patrick’s Day celebration begins with a traditional breakfast of ham with scrambled eggs. The eggs of course have been laced with green food coloring making this a breakfast of “Green Eggs and Ham”. This year though we broke with tradition and instead had green instant oatmeal. It just wasn’t the same but there was a reason why I broke with tradition.
After several days of backbreaking manual labor I now had a two-inch wide by three-inch deep trench that went the circumference of my house and backyard swimming pool. Within this trench was waterproof conduit that went to each room of the house. Within the conduit were Category-6 Ethernet wires in direct burial casing. The goal was to bring the house into the 21st century by adding hard-wire Ethernet to each room.
When the house was built in the early 1990’s it was really before the Internet became big and no one thought to included Category 3 let alone Category 5 wiring in a house. Through the years I have tried several methods of networking the house that didn’t require the drastic measure of digging trenches or cutting holes in walls.
I tried Phoneline networking where you utilized the existing telephone wire for networking. It worked but had very limited success. Adapters and interface cards were impossible to find and when you did find them the drivers were typically outdated making it a nightmare to support.
From there we tried Powerline networking which uses the power outlets to get networking capabilities. This had a little more success but the power grid in my house and surrounding area caused problems and degraded the speed. This coupled with the fact that the adapters were rather expensive and you continually had to upgrade to get even a small amount of throughput made it economically doomed.
I set up wireless next to try and solve my networking problems. Unfortunately in a two-story house with a sunken third level and all the twists and turns built into the floor plan there were dead spots that caused you to lose connectivity on a semi-regular basis. I tried repeaters and extenders but those too had limited success.
In the end it looked as though adding a hardwired Ethernet network would be necessary. The house has vaulted ceilings and is built on a solid concrete slab making it impossible to make short quick runs of wiring. There was no centralized area in the house to which you could terminate all of the cables meaning I had a very distributed network on my hands.
The end result saw two hubs of wiring concentration. One was in the family room where all of the home theater equipment and video game systems are housed. It also made an easy place to connect the downstairs bedroom as well as two bedrooms upstairs. The second hub of concentration was in the living room where all of the office computers, printers, etc. were run along with the master bedroom. The living room also contained the connection to the cable modem.
With wires run to each of these locations it was simply a matter of finding a hub or switch that would handle the various connections. Since I had run Category 6 wire to each location I felt I should not scrimp on the distribution. I selected two TRENDnet 16-Port Green Ethernet switches. This would allow me to have gigabit Ethernet speeds throughout the house allowing us to stream high definition video between computers and our home theater system with no degradation in performance.
One of the selling points for the TRENDnet switch was its green classification. The idea of adding two gigabit switches to my house was crazy enough but with a family our size and the data needs that occur I knew the switches would be running 24/7 meaning my electric bill would take a hit. During the colder winter months that isn’t so bad but add that to the constant air conditioning that occurs in the Arizona summer the last thing I needed was a couple of power hungry switches.
The switch reduces power consumption by reducing power to unused ports. This sets the port into a standby mode that can be activated simply by plugging in an Ethernet cable and firing up the device on the other hand. There are no manual steps needed on the switch making it simple when I am not around and we need another device added.
The TRENDnet switch also reduces power by determining what is needed based on the length of cable run. For cable lengths of over 66 feet the switch uses full power to a port when in 10/100 Mbps mode where less than that will use reduced power. For the gigabit Ethernet side, 198 foot cable runs use full power while 32-197 foot runs use less power and 1-32 feet use significant less power.
Finally, the TRENDnet switch will reduce its overall power usage when none of the devices on the switch are active meaning you do not have to power off the device when leaving or going to bed it will take care of itself.
The installation of the switch was simple. Remove them from the box, place them in as inconspicuous a place as you can, plug in the Ethernet cables, turn on the power switch and you are ready to go.
I’ve come to trust the TRENDnet name having several smaller capacity switches in the past. The sign of a good networking device is to be able to install it and then forget it is even there. With TRENDnet I have that peace of mind knowing that I will have high-speed network capabilities whenever I need and I’m saving energy in the process. The only regret I have is that I didn’t do this sooner.