Different Types of Networking Switches for Simple Home Networks and Complex and Expensive Business Networks

When creating a network for a home, a smart home, or a business, it’s essential to choose the right networking switch. When creating a network, and one essential device is a networking switch. Routers connect a network to the Internet or another network, but Network Switches connect multiple devices to a network by receiving and forwarding data to its intended location within the network. Depending on the application and needs of the network, there are many different types of networking switches you can implement. Simply said, an unmanaged switch allows easy and immediate plug-and-play devices to be added into a network, while a managed switch is more difficult to set up, but allows greater control over the network. Here are the main types of networking switches to consider when building your network.

Unmanaged Networking Switch

Unmanaged networking switches have a fixed configuration and are far easier to install than their managed counterparts. However, their plug-and-play configuration creates significant limitations in the switch’s abilities and customization options. If you have a small network that only requires basic functions, an unmanaged networking switch should be suitable for its needs. Unmanaged Network Switches may also be used to connect a temporary small group — often temporarily — to a larger network. Most home networks use an Unmanaged Networking Switch, if they don’t only Wi-Fi. Some people will run an Ethernet cable to a remote area of a house that doesn’t have a good Wi-Fi signal. One end connects to the Internet Cable Modem, and the other end of the switch connects to an Unmanaged Network Switch. Most of these boxes have five or eight ports, but there are also many 16- and 24-port Unmanaged Network Switches. These unmanaged devices cost from about $40 to $150.

Managed Networking Switch

Many businesses require a managed networking switch setup, but some homeowners that have a true Smart Home Network need Managed Networking Switch devices to separate groups of devices, manage security cameras, and securely control other smart home devices. Managed networking switches are ideal for larger networks, as they support a wide range of advanced features such as port mirroring, redundancy, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), and virtual LAN. The settings of a managed networking switch can be controlled, configured, and monitored to better manage traffic in the network and enhance functionality. While they offer far more control and customization than unmanaged networking switches, managed switches are far more challenging to implement. Also, since managed switches offer a lot of control over the network, the features can potentially create a risk or threat. Only a few qualified network technicians with a high level of access privileges should be allowed to adjust managed network switch settings.

Managed switches allow monitoring, such as network status, diagnostics, and data prioritization. With a managed switch, unauthorized devices cannot be connected to the network, thus preventing malicious threats. If you don’t know the difference between a Managed Network Switch and an Unmanaged Network Switch, you’ll probably need to hire an expert if your situation requires a Managed Network Switch.

A Managed Network Switch might have 48 ports and cost up to $3,000 or more.

PoE Networking Switch

Another type of networking switch or feature is a PoE switch. PoE networking switches have a built-in Power over Ethernet injection. When network devices are connected to a PoE networking switch, the switch can detect whether or not they are compatible with PoE. If they are, the switch automatically enables power. A key benefit of PoE networking switches is their ability to support power and data transmission of multiple devices over a single network cable. PoE is important in Smart Homes for configuring bandwidth and powering multiple devices. Many Managed Networking Switch devices include PoE or PoE+. The updated IEEE 802.3at-2009 PoE standard also known as PoE+ or PoE plus, provides up to 25.5 W of power for Type 2 devices. PoE+ is backward compatible to PoE. The additional power with PoE+ supports devices and provides 30W of DC power to each PoE port (up to 25.5W of power for each device). PoE Type 2 can support devices such as more complex surveillance cameras that pan, tilt or zoom, LCD displays, biometric sensors, tablets, and wireless access points with six antennas. There are also higher power PoE that involves Type 3 (60W) for videoconferencing and building management devices and Type 4(100W) laptop and flat screen devices.

LAN Networking Switch

LAN networking switches refer to local area network switches, which are generally used to connect points on a LAN. They provide separate connections for every node in a network, so only two devices are communicating at a time. In doing so, they help reduce congestion and bottlenecking in a network.


Small office/home office (SOHO) applications typically use a single switch, or an all-purpose device such as a residential gateway to access small office/home broadband services such as DSL or cable Internet (cable modem). Mid-to-large sized LANs in the business environment contain a number of linked managed switches. A casual observer may see a switch as similar to a router, but a router involves forwarding data packets between computer networks with sophistication ranging from small office routers that simply forward IP packets between the home computers and the Internet via cable modems to enterprise routers that connect large business or connect ISP networks, to the most powerful core routers that forward data at high speed along the optical fiber lines of the Internet backbone. Switches don’t connect separate networks, they connect devices to a network.

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