Single Switch Vs. Multiple Switch: How to Select for Home Network?

Network switches are indispensable part on setting up a home network. For home Gigabit Ethernet switches, both one large single switch and multiple smaller switches are good options. Using one large switch, the speed of data transferring could be faster but the problem is you have to run multiple lines throughout the house. Using multiple switches at home maybe redundant at some extent. So how to choose?

For choosing single large switch or multiple smaller switch applied to home network, it is not an easy question to answer. Because it involves various factors—size of the house, power consumption, fiber or copper, rack mount or not. Besides, you still need to consider how dense each part of the house will have networking. And then, in terms of this topic, we did some researches on some professional forums to investigate and congregate thoughts. Most of them prefer to use one larger switch rather than multiple smaller switches for home networking. The reasons are described in the following part.

switch stacking

Figure1: multiple smaller switch stack

By using a central switch you will have UPS protection, unless you have an UPS at each location of course. And using a larger switch instead of multiple smaller ones, just because you will end up using less power that way. By using multiple switches, just make sure you buy two in case of hardware failure, that is the downside of centralizing everything to one device. So in that way, you will cost more to make sure the work of the hardware. In the below statement, we would list some merits and demerits to further clarify the reason why it is better to choose one large single switch instead of multiple smaller switches for home network.

Benefits of Using A Single Switch
  • A single switch will give you more security and better manageability, since it is centrally located.
  • In case of a small building, it is feasible to have a single optical switch catering to everyone. But if the building is big, then due to distance limitation of fast Ethernet, it may not be possible for one switch to cater to all the users. In this case, you will have to go for multiple switch solution.
  • One single switch will give you better performance than many switches. This is because in case of many switches, the inter-switch link is usually fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet, but when you are using a single switch, switch backbone operates at much higher speeds.

So we can infer that if you have a small network, then you can start with single switch, and then as the network grows, you can migrate to multiple switch scenario. But if you are planning for a single switch situation, please think about a backup for this switch (either automatic failover or manual failover), so that in case of failure you can switch to the backup.

Weakness of Using Multiple Switches

First of all, using multiple switches dispatched in the different places is some sort of complexity. You need to connect all of them through some paths. And then, power consumption is also a big trouble. Using multiple switches inevitably brought much more power consumption than single switches. Besides, using multiple or redundant switch is common for security specially IP camera. If one of the switch breaks, then your other camera is still accessible. Then you have the distance limitation, which if this is the case, then you don’t have a choice but to implement more switch.


Figure2: fabric of multiple switches


According to the above description and analysis, we can draw a conclusion that using a single large network switches are better than using multiple smaller switches for home networking in most cases. But if you own an extremely larger house to meet your network requirement, and then multiple smaller switches would be good options.

Are You Familiar With Optical Switch?

There are lots of fiber optical devices used for communication networks. And optical switch is the one transmitting light signals between different channels. If a light signal is propagated from one phone or computer to another, it may be required to move between different fiber paths. Under this condition, optical switch plays an important part as it can transfer the signal with a minimum loss of voice or data quality. With the growth of technologies, many new methods have been combined with optical switch to achieve higher speed performance. Today, let’s step into the world of optical switch and explore its secrets.

Types of Optical Switches

Basically, there are two types of optical switches – OEO (optical-electrical-optical) switch and OOO (optical-optical-optical) switch. Network management functions of operating a network are available today using an optical switch with an electronic-based switching matrix. OEO switch receives the optical signal and converts it into electrical signal. Then it switches the signal into a different port and converts it back to optical signal for the network. By using an electronic fabric, OEO switch accomplishes bandwidth grooming and overcomes the network impairments.


OOO switch or all-optical switch enables the managing and switching of optical signals without converting them into electronic signals. This is especially attractive to those carriers operating large offices where up to 80 percent of the traffic is expected to pass through the office on its way to locations around the globe. It receives the optical signal and switches it to a different port in the optical domain, then returns it back to the network as an optical signal.


Technologies Applied In Optical Switch
MEMS Switching

MEMS (micro electrical mechanical system) technology uses many moving mirrors to switch the signals by deflecting light waves from one port to another. There are two MEMS structures. One is called 2D MEMS mirror, and another is 3D MEMS mirror. 3D MEMS based optical switch is more widely used in the industry. Following figure shows the operation process of the MEMS switching.


Liquid Crystal Switching

Liquid crystal technology employs the polarization effects of light in liquid crystals for light switching. At first, the light is filtered through polarization beam splitter to be separated into two or more paths. Then the light is put through a liquid crystal where its polarization property may be changed. At last, the light comes into the polarization beam combiner to be steered into the output port. And the output port is decided by the new polarization property of light.


Bubble Based Switching

Bubble based switch can use air bubbles and micro trenches aligned vertically and horizontally to switch the light. When there is no need for switching, the light can pass through the trenches uninterrupted. This technology has the benefits of low cost and fast switching time.


Thermo-Optic Switching

Thermo-optic switch will send light down a wave guard. The light is then split into different wave guards. If a switching command is issued, one of the wave guard arms is heated and the light within the wave guard will change its optical path length. Then the light is recombined and the path lengths of the lights are measured. If the lengths are different then the beam will be switched into one output port. If they are the same, the beam will be switched into another port.



Optical switches can be applied to various applications. In high speed networks, switches for this function are usually used within optical cross-connects to handle large amount of traffic. Another application is for the protection switching. If a fiber fails, the switch allows the signal to be rerouted to another fiber before the problem occurs. Also, the OADM (optical add-drop multiplexer) will use some optical switches to convert signals from a DWDM stream allowing carriers to selectively remove some wavelengths from a signal.


Optical switch is an important device that transfers light signals into different channels. Based on the original OOO type and OEO type optical switches, many new technologies have been brought in, which ensures the high performance of optical switches. With growing demands for higher data bandwidth, the future of optical switch is bright.