Question Help designing a home networking system

solis_2610

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Hi! We are in the process of building a new house and we want to design a good networking system from the beginning.
First, we want to hardwire most of the rooms in the house. From the research i've made, my understanding is that the most comon setup is modem>router>switch>patch panel> rest of the house. Now, while we are hardwiring, we also need to think of Wifi, which is where I'm a little lost. The house is fairly big so I was considering a mesh wifi network system, but i dont quite understand the setup i have to make. Is it like this: Modem>Mesh router>switch>patch panel> rest of the house/rest of the mesh routers? Do i have to leave an ethernet outlet near where I would put the rest of the mesh routers?
Any help is aprecciated. Thanks!
 

USAFRet

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Room ethernet cables leading to a central point.
There, router, switch. The room cables are connected tot he switch.

WiFi coverage is done by Access Points in or near the desired locations. Connected to those room ethernet cables.

The word "mesh" is simply a buzzword.

Get GOOD quality cable.
Don't get immersed in the supposed Cat 7 Cat 8 foolishness.
Unless you need more than gigabit performance, Cat5e does that perfectly.
 
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We did this back in 1995 and I'll share some lessons learned from that time.
  • Do NOT have someone else terminate the jacks--get the tools and the knowledge and do this yourself. Use keystone jacks and leave a service loop in each box.
  • Run the best wire available at the time, which would be cat6a. 6a is overkill for 1Gbs, but allows you to be fully compliant for 10Gb and everything in between, so very future proofed.
  • Run 2x-4x as many runs to each room/wall as you are thinking you will need. In time you will need more wires in more places than you ever thought!
  • Run wires where you would have security cameras at all eaves and throughout the attic. Make sure to have 2x to each location in case one wire is damaged (this will happen where you most critically will need a wire).
  • Run wires in ceilings where you would want wireless connectivity. Professional wireless installations use 'smoke detector' style access points installed in this manner and is what you really want for seamless wireless.
  • Don't forget to run coax! RG6 already has proven to run 2.5Gb via moca and there is a roadmap to higher speeds. In the future, there may even be more purposes for this simple, solid wire that costs very little to run.
  • Dream BIG. Think of what the infrastructure would look like for the biggest network you could possible imagine--and then double that. This is what you should be wiring for because the future will bring more demands than anyone can envision at this time.
  • Plan a proper place to be the central demarc. Talk to the Internet providers, cable providers, etc who install in the area and find out what they need for their demarc. And then plan for that and plan a place that's airconditioned (a duct or 2 is fine) and is protected from physical intrusion. The typical closet, under the stairs, garage is NOT where you want this stuff to be, so think it out properly and think about the cabinets where all the equipment will go--and not those stupid Leviton 'media cabinets'--you want to think about at least a '4U 19" depth rack' type of space.
My parent's house was run with 400Mhz wire that was far beyond the 150Mhz spec available at the time and cost 2x more than any wire on the market (Mohawk Megalan 400). This wire even pre-dated the cat5/5e specs I believe. Today, the properly terminated runs of this wire runs gigabit at 940Mb (tested using iperf). The other improperly terminated runs are a mess of re-work that I need to do, and in some cases may not be able to do because of the lack of service loops and general contractor stupidity and F-upery. They work at 100Mb, but that's far short of what they are capable of thanks to idiots who think they know how to wire ethernet. And it still pisses me off about the thousands of dollars we paid these people to install the wiring (hence why I recommended not terminating as that's there 90% of our problems are and you can do this better yourself and save a lot of cash too).

We have a 48 port switch in a demarc that we did not select. Because of this, all the equipment sits in a corner where air circulation is the poorest in that room. It's also inconvenient. In short, it absolutely sucks.

The 48 port switch is actually in sufficient so we have a 96 port that we just acquired to 'upgrade' it. The bigger problem is that we have several switches scattered throughout the house, most of them 24 ports, so many of the devices on these switches are basically sharing only 1Gbs of bandwidth with other devices. If we would have had more ports in the rooms, we would have had more aggregate bandwidth since everything would have 1Gb straight to our switch, but then we probably would have needed more than 96 ports too. We never thought we'd ever have gear of this quantity at the house, but times have changed and used quality gear is cheap! We have many NAS units, rack mount servers, and more--much of which was not even a dream in 1995.

So bottom line is plan bigger and better and spend money where it counts and you'll never have to worry about this again in your lifetime. :) I hope this helps and feel free to ask questions. :)
 
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kanewolf

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Hi! We are in the process of building a new house and we want to design a good networking system from the beginning.
First, we want to hardwire most of the rooms in the house. From the research i've made, my understanding is that the most comon setup is modem>router>switch>patch panel> rest of the house. Now, while we are hardwiring, we also need to think of Wifi, which is where I'm a little lost. The house is fairly big so I was considering a mesh wifi network system, but i dont quite understand the setup i have to make. Is it like this: Modem>Mesh router>switch>patch panel> rest of the house/rest of the mesh routers? Do i have to leave an ethernet outlet near where I would put the rest of the mesh routers?
Any help is aprecciated. Thanks!
Also your central point, where the cables come together. You need environmental control and power. You probably want a good sized UPS to maintain all this equipment.
It is common to put network storage at the "core" switch location to share media and backups to the rest of the house.

Remember to include cabling for cameras. The soffit, the porches, etc. You may also want to stub out a conduit to the back yard. That will allow you to pull cable later to a man-cave or pool area.
 

WarWolverineWarrior

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You don't need mesh routers if you're running cable. You need access points.
Also run at least 2 cables per run, you don't need to terminate them, you can hide them in the wall for later use.
Any good mesh router(triband) would cost a lot more than running a cable with an access point.

Just to clarify, a router routs traffic. Most routers you see will come with wireless access points, but we still call it a router because it's 1 box with antennas.
 
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solis_2610

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Sep 19, 2015
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We did this back in 1995 and I'll share some lessons learned from that time.
  • Do NOT have someone else terminate the jacks--get the tools and the knowledge and do this yourself. Use keystone jacks and leave a service loop in each box.
  • Run the best wire available at the time, which would be cat6a. 6a is overkill for 1Gbs, but allows you to be fully compliant for 10Gb and everything in between, so very future proofed.
  • Run 2x-4x as many runs to each room/wall as you are thinking you will need. In time you will need more wires in more places than you ever thought!
  • Run wires where you would have security cameras at all eaves and throughout the attic. Make sure to have 2x to each location in case one wire is damaged (this will happen where you most critically will need a wire).
  • Run wires in ceilings where you would want wireless connectivity. Professional wireless installations use 'smoke detector' style access points installed in this manner and is what you really want for seamless wireless.
  • Don't forget to run coax! RG6 already has proven to run 2.5Gb via moca and there is a roadmap to higher speeds. In the future, there may even be more purposes for this simple, solid wire that costs very little to run.
  • Dream BIG. Think of what the infrastructure would look like for the biggest network you could possible imagine--and then double that. This is what you should be wiring for because the future will bring more demands than anyone can envision at this time.
  • Plan a proper place to be the central demarc. Talk to the Internet providers, cable providers, etc who install in the area and find out what they need for their demarc. And then plan for that and plan a place that's airconditioned (a duct or 2 is fine) and is protected from physical intrusion. The typical closet, under the stairs, garage is NOT where you want this stuff to be, so think it out properly and think about the cabinets where all the equipment will go--and not those stupid Leviton 'media cabinets'--you want to think about at least a '4U 19" depth rack' type of space.
My parent's house was run with 400Mhz wire that was far beyond the 150Mhz spec available at the time and cost 2x more than any wire on the market (Mohawk Megalan 400). This wire even pre-dated the cat5/5e specs I believe. Today, the properly terminated runs of this wire runs gigabit at 940Mb (tested using iperf). The other improperly terminated runs are a mess of re-work that I need to do, and in some cases may not be able to do because of the lack of service loops and general contractor stupidity and F-upery. They work at 100Mb, but that's far short of what they are capable of thanks to idiots who think they know how to wire ethernet. And it still pisses me off about the thousands of dollars we paid these people to install the wiring (hence why I recommended not terminating as that's there 90% of our problems are and you can do this better yourself and save a lot of cash too).

We have a 48 port switch in a demarc that we did not select. Because of this, all the equipment sits in a corner where air circulation is the poorest in that room. It's also inconvenient. In short, it absolutely sucks.

The 48 port switch is actually in sufficient so we have a 96 port that we just acquired to 'upgrade' it. The bigger problem is that we have several switches scattered throughout the house, most of them 24 ports, so many of the devices on these switches are basically sharing only 1Gbs of bandwidth with other devices. If we would have had more ports in the rooms, we would have had more aggregate bandwidth since everything would have 1Gb straight to our switch, but then we probably would have needed more than 96 ports too. We never thought we'd ever have gear of this quantity at the house, but times have changed and used quality gear is cheap! We have many NAS units, rack mount servers, and more--much of which was not even a dream in 1995.

So bottom line is plan bigger and better and spend money where it counts and you'll never have to worry about this again in your lifetime. :) I hope this helps and feel free to ask questions. :)
Thanks you for all the advice! Definitely will be taking those into account. Do you have any idea of what it's needed to run the coaxial network for TV's? I also have to do that but I don't know what is needed.
 

solis_2610

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You don't need mesh routers if you're running cable. You need access points.
Also run at least 2 cables per run, you don't need to terminate them, you can hide them in the wall for later use.
Any good mesh router(triband) would cost a lot more than running a cable with an access point.

Just to clarify, a router routs traffic. Most routers you see will come with wireless access points, but we still call it a router because it's 1 box with antennas.
Interesting clarification, didn't know about that. About the access points, I did a very quick research and found that the cost would be almost the same as a mesh system (i was thinking about this one: https://www.amazon.com/-/es/TP-Link-Deco-AX1800-sistema-hogar/dp/B06WVCB862/ref=sr_1_3?__mk_es_US=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&dchild=1&keywords=tp+link+deco+m5&qid=1628282604&sr=8-3) , or maybe more. Now, i don't know anything about access points so maybe you can clarify me a few things: do they "form" a single wifi network around the house? I don't want to want many networks. If they do from a single network, do all APs have to be the same? Also, from what i have seen, most mesh systems offer intuitive apps for configuration, which is a plus for me. Anyway, any recommendation is welcome :)
 
Thanks you for all the advice! Definitely will be taking those into account. Do you have any idea of what it's needed to run the coaxial network for TV's? I also have to do that but I don't know what is needed.
It's basically the same as ethernet, except termination is pretty idiot-proof so you can let them do that if you wish. Again, make sure you you have 2x runs minimum. At one point I remember that our cable modem came in at one location, but I needed it somewhere else and I had to use both jacks in that room to take the incoming signal and push it out to somewhere else. This is also where having a well designed demarc helps, but at our site with two different providers with two different external demarcs they had to run cable from two different places to whatever worked.
 

WarWolverineWarrior

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Interesting clarification, didn't know about that. About the access points, I did a very quick research and found that the cost would be almost the same as a mesh system (i was thinking about this one: https://www.amazon.com/-/es/TP-Link-Deco-AX1800-sistema-hogar/dp/B06WVCB862/ref=sr_1_3?__mk_es_US=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&dchild=1&keywords=tp+link+deco+m5&qid=1628282604&sr=8-3) , or maybe more. Now, i don't know anything about access points so maybe you can clarify me a few things: do they "form" a single wifi network around the house? I don't want to want many networks. If they do from a single network, do all APs have to be the same? Also, from what i have seen, most mesh systems offer intuitive apps for configuration, which is a plus for me. Anyway, any recommendation is welcome :)
It's recommended to get Tri-band mesh systems. Tri-band routers have 2.4Ghz, 5Ghz and another 5Ghz bands. It uses the 2nd 5Ghz band to talk to each other. Very high rated mesh is Netgear Orbi.

If you ever walked in a hospital or a big public place, look up and you will see a square or a circle Wireless Access Point.
https://www.newegg.com/p/0ED-000E-000M4?Description=access point ax&cm_re=access_point ax-_-0ED-000E-000M4-_-Product
This Access Point can be powered by POE(Power Over Ethernet) it does not need any external power from an outlet/wired, it gets the power from the Ethernet if the Switch supports POE.

Almost every common "router" can also be configured as a Wireless Access point.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG3uzfwL-MM


Also make sure to buy AX-E/Wifi 6E as it's the new standard.
 
Interesting clarification, didn't know about that. About the access points, I did a very quick research and found that the cost would be almost the same as a mesh system (i was thinking about this one: https://www.amazon.com/-/es/TP-Link-Deco-AX1800-sistema-hogar/dp/B06WVCB862/ref=sr_1_3?__mk_es_US=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&dchild=1&keywords=tp+link+deco+m5&qid=1628282604&sr=8-3) , or maybe more. Now, i don't know anything about access points so maybe you can clarify me a few things: do they "form" a single wifi network around the house? I don't want to want many networks. If they do from a single network, do all APs have to be the same? Also, from what i have seen, most mesh systems offer intuitive apps for configuration, which is a plus for me. Anyway, any recommendation is welcome :)
Mesh systems are an expensive consumer way to mimic a good enterprise level wireless system with seamless handoff.

The funny thing is that there are cheaper and better ways to do the same thing, primarily Asus ai-mesh which is available in all their newer access points. This is ideal for a nice new setup like you have that has a wired backbone. The consumer mesh systems are designed for the consumer that has an old house and wants the new shiny without the work--but it doesn't work as well either, just better than what said consumer had before so they shell out the bucks and think they're happy (ignorance is bliss after all).

You can install Asus routers in ai-mesh mode around the house where you need them and then one at the demarc to be your router (or use a used enterprise grade router that doesn't have wifi which is what we've done). Then you can set the asus routers all to ai-mesh mode and they'll communicate over the wired links and be much closer to a true enterprise wireless setup. Ubiquiti also makes a very slick setup, but they have a potential security backdoor that is potentially universal and entrenched in all their products. No guarantee that Asus doesn't have something similar as everything is being made by the wanna-be slave overlords overseas.
 
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solis_2610

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Sep 19, 2015
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Mesh systems are an expensive consumer way to mimic a good enterprise level wireless system with seamless handoff.

The funny thing is that there are cheaper and better ways to do the same thing, primarily Asus ai-mesh which is available in all their newer access points. This is ideal for a nice new setup like you have that has a wired backbone. The consumer mesh systems are designed for the consumer that has an old house and wants the new shiny without the work--but it doesn't work as well either, just better than what said consumer had before so they shell out the bucks and think they're happy (ignorance is bliss after all).

You can install Asus routers in ai-mesh mode around the house where you need them and then one at the demarc to be your router (or use a used enterprise grade router that doesn't have wifi which is what we've done). Then you can set the asus routers all to ai-mesh mode and they'll communicate over the wired links and be much closer to a true enterprise wireless setup. Ubiquiti also makes a very slick setup, but they have a potential security backdoor that is potentially universal and entrenched in all their products. No guarantee that Asus doesn't have something similar as everything is being made by the wanna-be slave overlords overseas.
So i could get, lets say, 3 of these https://www.amazon.com/-/es/Router-WiFi-ASUS-RT-AC1200_V2-configuración/dp/B082YWFR32/ref=sr_1_13?__mk_es_US=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&crid=3IE6FFBPCJ6NJ&dchild=1&keywords=asus+access+point&qid=1628285758&sprefix=asus+acce,aps,244&sr=8-13 and set them up in mesh mode? Because that seems like a good option, considering they are cheap. Also, would that configuration be superior (speed, cover area, reliability) to the mesh systems i was mentioning before? Thanks for the advice :)
 

gggplaya

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So i could get, lets say, 3 of these https://www.amazon.com/-/es/Router-WiFi-ASUS-RT-AC1200_V2-configuración/dp/B082YWFR32/ref=sr_1_13?__mk_es_US=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&crid=3IE6FFBPCJ6NJ&dchild=1&keywords=asus+access+point&qid=1628285758&sprefix=asus+acce,aps,244&sr=8-13 and set them up in mesh mode? Because that seems like a good option, considering they are cheap. Also, would that configuration be superior (speed, cover area, reliability) to the mesh systems i was mentioning before? Thanks for the advice :)

That router does not support AIMESH, go onto the specs page, it says no. https://www.asus.com/Networking-IoT-Servers/WiFi-Routers/ASUS-WiFi-Routers/RT-AC1200/

You can find a list of AiMesh routers near the bottom of this page: https://www.asus.com/Microsite/AiMesh/ea/

How tech savvy is the OP, are you comfortable with configuring a router through the web ui? If doing a full home system, I personally like Ubiquiti. Access points are cheap and they work extremely well. Very reliable in my house. The downside is you need to be at least tech savvy to set it up. The UI is designed more for commercial applications, therefore it assumes you have some networking knowledge.
 

solis_2610

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That router does not support AIMESH, go onto the specs page, it says no. https://www.asus.com/Networking-IoT-Servers/WiFi-Routers/ASUS-WiFi-Routers/RT-AC1200/

You can find a list of AiMesh routers near the bottom of this page: https://www.asus.com/Microsite/AiMesh/ea/

How tech savvy is the OP, are you comfortable with configuring a router through the web ui? If doing a full home system, I personally like Ubiquiti. Access points are cheap and they work extremely well. Very reliable in my house. The downside is you need to be at least tech savvy to set it up. The UI is designed more for commercial applications, therefore it assumes you have some networking knowledge.
Yeah, realized i wasn't compatible right after my response hahaha. But yeah, I think i'll be able to do the setup myself. Evidently my knowledge in networking is/was close to none, but after a little reasearch and all of your replies I got a better understanding. I think i'll be going for the access points setup. Anyway, thank you all for your recomendations! :)
 
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I agree fully with SamirD's recommendation for getting the very highest quality cable possible with a standard, which is 6a.

I will add to that you only need to use cheap commodity Cat 5e punchdown jacks right now. By the time you actually need better jacks, the price on them will have come way down (right now they are boutique items commanding a high price) and they will be really easy to change out then, unlike the wire.

I absolutely hate mesh systems, especially Netgear--at default settings, they will sit on in-between channels on 2.4GHz like ch4 and ch9 and worse, will fill both 2.4GHz and 5GHz with a bunch of SSIDs for backhaul channels with unbroadcasted names. What a blank SSID does is force battery-powered mobile devices to have to repeatedly query the mesh device for its name to reduce battery life. So mesh systems are sort of a last resort if you cannot run wire to an AP (thanks to multiple radios at least they don't halve bandwidth like a repeater but still add latency) and don't mind if your neighbors hate you.

They are about as neighbor-unfriendly as setting your 2.4GHz AP to 40MHz wide and the Beacon Interval to 1, but I can see how they would be useful if you lived on a farm with nobody around to mind if you used up every available channel. The signal strength on some of these things is just insane--I don't know how they can legally do this, but the signal is over -60dB a whole block away. And this is from someone using old wifi drivers from before Netgear sued ASUS for violating FCC maximum radiated power levels...

Yep, the seamless handoff thing would sure be useful as you drive your tractor while streaming music.
 
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Ralston18

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"Design":

And I will add the suggestion that you get a copy of the house floor plans or otherwise sketch out the planned network in as much detail as possible.

Use a floor plan copy - very likely you will end up making changes.

Start with what you have in mind then walk through your plan going room by room etc.. Double check measurements, proposed locations for patch panels, wall outlets, devices, etc.. Remember that you should label all wires and connections - at least at both ends. And wherever two cables are co-run: just so you know which cable is which....

Look for obstacles. Duct work, water/sewer pipes in walls, fire blocks, brick/stone work, etc..

Ensure, when necessary, that there is a nearby or otherwise suitably located wall outlet(s) to provide power to the devices at any given location. You do not want, for example, to have a router plugged into an 1/2 outlet controlled by a wall switch.

Expand your plan to include the entire property - even if such network expansion is in the future. Plan for growth. Run 3 cables perhaps even if only two are immediately needed.

Your plan can also be used to establish a checklist of required materials: cable, outlet boxes, punch downs, etc..

One more thought: do verify that your local ordinances/electrical codes allow you to install your own network wiring. Even though a network is low-voltage ( < 50 volts) some places require that the installation be done by a licensed professional. Or at least be inspected.

You will end up with a better plan and also a document (when all is finished) that will be very helpful when troubleshooting.
 
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I agree fully with SamirD's recommendation for getting the very highest quality cable possible with a standard, which is 6a.

I will add to that you only need to use cheap commodity Cat 5e punchdown jacks right now. By the time you actually need better jacks, the price on them will have come way down (right now they are boutique items commanding a high price) and they will be really easy to change out then, unlike the wire.
I used to think that this was the way to go until I found out that the 6a wire is actually thicker than 5e and also there's a 'spline' in the 6a wire that makes it nearly impossible to use anything but 6a jacks/keystones. Still won't be a major issue as OP can terminate what they need now and add more later as needed.
 
"Design":

And I will add the suggestion that you get a copy of the house floor plans or otherwise sketch out the planned network in as much detail as possible.

Use a floor plan copy - very likely you will end up making changes.

Start with what you have in mind then walk through your plan going room by room etc.. Double check measurements, proposed locations for patch panels, wall outlets, devices, etc.. Remember that you should label all wires and connections - at least at both ends. And wherever two cables are co-run: just so you know which cable is which....

Look for obstacles. Duct work, water/sewer pipes in walls, fire blocks, brick/stone work, etc..

Ensure, when necessary, that there is a nearby or otherwise suitably located wall outlet(s) to provide power to the devices at any given location. You do not want, for example, to have a router plugged into an 1/2 outlet controlled by a wall switch.

Expand your plan to include the entire property - even if such network expansion is in the future. Plan for growth. Run 3 cables perhaps even if only two are immediately needed.

Your plan can also be used to establish a checklist of required materials: cable, outlet boxes, punch downs, etc..

One more thought: do verify that your local ordinances/electrical codes allow you to install your own network wiring. Even though a network is low-voltage ( < 50 volts) some places require that the installation be done by a licensed professional. Or at least be inspected.

You will end up with a better plan and also a document (when all is finished) that will be very helpful when troubleshooting.
Yep, really great advice. Dealing with plans most of my years growing up, I forget that I actually go through this process automatically.

Knowing the local codes will be important. Sometimes you will need to run plenum jacked wire to meet code, sometimes all holes will need to be filled with firestop--knowing in advance will make a final inspection go smooth. And if code is too much of a hassle for wire to be run, just put conduits if that makes more sense and then you can run pre-terminated wire in it--just be sure to use 2" or greater pipes as the smaller diameters will jam once you have one cable already in it.
 
Yeah, it's really difficult to crimp 5e plugs onto 6a. But keystones are fine as you can cut away as much of the jacket spine as you need to get access to the wires, and it's easy to punch 20ga wire down into 22ga slots. I mean even if you leave three inches of jacket bare (spineless?) off the ends it's probably still going to be better than 5e cable and certainly good enough for now, right? Just be sure to leave a lot of excess cable for later.

However I do see that 6a keystones have now dropped a lot to only twice the price of 5e so that makes this point academic unless you already have them.
 
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