Rebuilding My Home Network


I have been having issues with my home network. Running a TP-Link router with DD-WRT installed, for reasons unknown to me, the WiFi would randomly stop working. The odd part about this is that the wired connected devices would still work, so it was only when the smart thermostat or the Wemo switches not working, would I then realize that there was a problem. Then one day, the router would not connect to the internet at all. Did a backup of the configuration, performed factory reset, and suddenly it started working. I am not sure what happened, but something with the configuration caused a problem and I was not happy about it. I had created automations that would login to the router via the web interface and restart it when there were issues, but it was at this point, that I had enough.

Coming Out of Retirement

Before the TP-Link Archer C7 router, I had been using the Linksys WRT1900AC router. While it is not perfect, it did the job and did it well. Did not have as many issues as the TP-Link.

For that reason, I decided to bring it out of retirement, and install OpenWRT on it. Reason I went with OpenWRT is because I previously had DD-WRT on this router and would have issues with it. This time figured that I could try something different. In addition, I was able to find more videos about OpenWRT and how to configure it than about DD-WRT and how to configure it.

3 Dumb Routers

People often talk about network and internet security. Steve Gibson did an interview around 2016 about the 3 Dumb Routers concept. The way it works is that you have 3 routers. Connect your trusted devices, like your computers and phones, to Router 1. Connect your untrusted devices, like your IOT, smart thermostat, and smart speaker, to Router 2. Connect Router 1 and Router 2 to Router 3. Then Router 3 connects to your modem or ISP provided connection device.

I wanted to apply this concept to my home network. However, I did not want to use 3 routers to do so. What I ended up doing was to use multiple interfaces in OpenWRT and firewall rules to accomplish this. With other routers, you can do the same thing with VLANs.

I created an interface for the IOT and Guest networks. The used the bridge network that is configured by default to connect my trusted devices. It is possible to connect your wired devices to your IOT network, but I do not have any of those currently.

The firewall rules prevent traffic from one network going to another and can block access to the internet when it is necessary. It is possible to have a child WiFi network, that automatically turns off and on a certain time. Makes bedtime that much easier and prevents kids from waking in the middle of the night blasting the TV or watching content unsupervised.


There is one feature that I will miss from having a DD-WRT router and that is the data usage. It would show a graph of how much data was sent and received. While my ISP does not have any data limits or caps, it would be useful to know that information in case they said that I was using too much. Hopefully, this router will serve well and have less issues. As for the other router, may end up selling it as I do not have a need to have a stack of spare routers laying around.

Posted: 2023-07-20
Author: Kenny Robinson, @almostengr