Wireless AP vs. Router: Make the Right Choice

Wireless access points (WAP or AP) and routers are often thought of as the same thing. In fact, a wireless access point is similar to a router but there are some differences. Technically, any router with Wi-Fi onboard can be called a wireless access point, but that’s not their only definition. For example, a router can be an access point, but an access point can’t be a router. This post will cover both wireless AP and router, explaining each of their roles and advanced features. Then you can decide which one is best suited for your wireless network.

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What Is A Wireless Access Point(AP)?

An access point is a networking hardware appliance that can be used as either an independent device or a component of a router. A WAP performs two major functions in a network. First, it enables devices that don’t have inbuilt Wi-Fi connection to access a wireless network. Once you connect a WAP to a router (that don’t have an inbuilt WI-FI ability) with an Ethernet cable, it becomes a wireless device which will connect to your network. Secondly, WAP is used as a wireless range extender, increasing the coverage of your existing WI-FI network. If you connect your router to a wireless access point through an Ethernet cable, you will be able to increase the area of your Wi-Fi access.

What Is A Router?

A router acts as a gateway in a computer network by connecting various devices wirelessly. A wireless router is a basic router with an added feature on an inbuilt access point. It allows a wireless communication and sharing of data amongst devices and computers that are connected to a particular network. The wireless router achieves this by allocating IP addresses to the computers and devices. Additionally, a router helps these computers that are within the wireless network to share devices such as scanners and printers wirelessly.

Wireless AP vs. Router: What’s the Difference?
Appearance

Almost anyone who has an internet connection has a router nowadays. So I guess everyone is quite familiar with it. The commonly used router usually has antennas ranging from 1 to 4. And it has four more wired network ports compare to a wireless AP, except one WAN port for connecting upper network equipment, and the rest four LAN ports for connecting a computer with a wired network card in an intranet. Additionally, it has more indicators than wireless AP.

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A simple wireless access point usually has a wired RJ45 network port, power interface, configuration port (USB port or through the web interface configuration) and several status indicators. Apart from the common configuration, a wireless access point can be designed into different types:

Ceiling-mount Wireless AP

Wall-mount Wireless AP

Outdoor Wireless AP

Application

A wireless AP is widely used in large enterprises, because large companies need a large number of wireless access node to achieve a large network coverage. And all access terminal belong to the same network, which is convenient for the company network administrator to realize network control and management.

A wireless router is generally used in homes and SOHO environments where the coverage is narrow and users account for a small part. Under such kind of circumstances, only one wireless AP is enough.

Connection Mode

A wireless AP can’t be connected to ADSLMODE, unless a switch or hub or router is used as a medium. While the wireless router is endowed with broadband dial-up function, you can directly connect to the ADSLMODEM and achieve dial-up Internet access.

Function

The function of wireless AP is to convert a wired network into a wireless network. To put it simply, wireless AP serves as a bridge between wireless networks and wired networks. Its signal range is spherical, so it is better to be placed in a higher point, which can increase network coverage. Wireless AP is a wireless switch, which is connected to a wired switch or router, and the wireless terminal and the original network belong to the same subnet.

A wireless router is a wireless AP with routing function, which is connected to ADSL broadband lines. Through the router function, an independent wireless home networking is built.

Wireless AP vs. Router: Which One should I Buy?

Typically, wireless routers are used in residential and small businesses, where all users can be supported by one combined AP and router. Wireless APs are used in larger businesses and venues, where many APs are required to provide service, for example, to cover a bigger area or to support thousands of users. In larger WLANs, it usually makes sense to have several APs feeding into a single, separate router.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you want to build more reliable wireless network, you may need a wireless access point. If you just want a wireless network at home to cover only several people, the wireless router is enough. If you are looking for a good wireless AP supplier, FS. COM is a good choice. FS.COM provides several wireless access points with high performance to support resilient wireless access services for use in enterprise offices, schools, hospitals, hotels and more.

Proper Cabling Solutions for PoE Network

Ethernet cables

By running power and data transmission over a single Ethernet cable, PoE (Power over Ethernet) has found success across a variety of applications such as IP surveillance cameras, IP phones and wireless access points. However, without the right cabling and network design in place, PoE can encounter cable heating and connectivity issues that may adversely affect performance. So in this post, some cabling recommendations for PoE will be listed for your reference.

working principle of PoE switch

Issues Affect PoE Performance

Heat generation in cable bundles is one of the biggest issues that affect PoE performance. When power is added to balanced twisted-pair cabling, the copper conductors generate heat and temperatures rise. High temperatures will lead to higher insertion loss, and in turn shorter permissible cable lengths. It can also increase bit error rates, and create higher power costs due to more power dissipated in the cabling.

Cabling Recommendations for PoE

Some cabling recommendations for PoE are suggested to help lower cabling temperature.

Use Higher Category Cabling

Higher category-rated cable typically means larger gauge sizes, and as power currents increase, these larger conductors will perform better than smaller cable. Generally, higher category cabling will be necessary to minimize temperature increases while supporting PDs that require more power.

Reduce the Number of Cables per Bundle

If cables are bundled or closely grouped with other cables, cables near the center of the bundle have difficulty radiating heat out into the environment. Therefore, the cables in the middle of the bundle heat up more than those toward the outer layers of the bundle. Separating large cable bundles into smaller bundles or avoiding tight bundles will reduce temperature rise.

Design Pathways to Support Airflow

Enclosed conduit can contribute to heat issues. When possible, using ventilated cable trays would get better airflow. Open mesh cable trays and ladder racks will improve heat dissipation and create more opportunities for loosely grouping cables instead of tight bundling.

Cat 5e vs. Cat 6a: Which Is Better for PoE Cabling?

The type of cabling selected can make a big difference in terms of how heat inside the cable is managed, and how it impacts performance. Typically, Cat 5e and Cat 6a cable can be used to support PoE devices. But it’s better to use Cat 6a for PoE cabling.

With larger-gauge diameter, Cat 6a can reduce resistance and keep power waste to a minimum as it has a lower temperature increase compared to smaller-gauge Cat 5e. This better performance will provide additional flexibility, including larger bundle sizes, closed installation conditions and higher ambient temperatures. For instance, when comparing 23-gauge and 24-gauge cabling, there is a large variance in how power is handled. As much as 20% of the power through the cable can get “lost” in a 24-gauge Cat 5e cable, leading to inefficiency. In addition, less power is dissipated in a 23-gauge Cat 6a cable, which means that more of the power being transferred through the cable is actually being used, improving energy efficiency and lowering operating costs.

FS PoE Switches & Ethernet Cables Solution

FS offers fully managed PoE Gigabit switches, which delivers robust performance and intelligent switching for growing networks. Available with 8, 24, or 48 PoE Gigabit Ethernet ports, the model details of our PoE switches are listed below. Among them, the PS130-8 and PS400-24 are PoE switches, while PS650-48, PS250-8 and PS650-24 are PoE+ switches. Reliable & economical, our PoE switches are ideal for SME networks and can expand your network much more easily than ever.

FS PoE switches specification

Besides PoE, we also have various types of Ethernet cables including Cat 6a, Cat 6, Cat 5e and Cat 7 Ethernet patch cables. Most of them are in large stock and multiple cable colors are available. For more details, please visit www.fs.com.