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GTell
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Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:57 pm

Hello,

This is probably a very simple question, but I am new to networking questions. I just bought a new house and I had every room wired up with cat5e cable. I play a lot of video games and I watch movies on the internet, so wired connection is a must. However, I still use from time to time wifi for my laptop when I go from one room to another. The thing is my house is too big for my router. The signal is not strong enough to cover all the rooms.

I saw that "wifi extender" exists, but also read that these things somehow "boost" the signal while losing speed. This is something I want to avoid. I was wondering if I could, say, plug another router via my cat5e cable in the particular room where the wifi signal is weak and repeat the wifi signal WITHOUT losing any speed. Is that doable?
 
ludi
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:45 pm

With an Ethernet connection, it's quite doable. Add a second WiFi AP and give it the same SSID, encryption method, and password as your first unit's WiFi. Ideally, the second AP should be the same brand (and preferably, same model number and firmware revision) as your first WiFi AP.

HOWEVER, if the second unit offers DHCP and/or is an Internet router, you need to disable the DHCP server in the second unit's settings. Also, make sure it has a different assigned IP address than the first unit. Locate them far enough apart that their coverage zones don't overlap too much. Then connect a LAN port from the second unit via Ethernet cable to a LAN port on the first unit, and leave the second unit's WAN/Internet port disconnected. Your devices should automatically roam between the two APs, using the first unit's router as the DHCP server and Internet gateway.

Ideally the channel autodetect feature will do what it's supposed to to do, but if you have issues you can force the first unit to channel 1 and the second unit to channel 6. If you ever add a third unit, make it channel 11.
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notfred
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:45 am

Get some UniFi AC AP Lite or AC AP LR, mount them on your walls or ceilings as required and feed them from the Cat5 you already have in place. Turn off the WiFi on your router, install the controller app on your phone to set them up and you are done.
 
DLHM
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:11 am

notfred wrote:
Get some UniFi AC AP Lite or AC AP LR, mount them on your walls or ceilings as required and feed them from the Cat5 you already have in place. Turn off the WiFi on your router, install the controller app on your phone to set them up and you are done.



I agree with Unifi LR, They work very well. I have 5, and the best thing is a single management console for all 5.
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llisandro
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:24 am

I agree that Ubiquiti APs is probably the best way to go (I'm also reading up on this as we close on a house in a couple weeks, and am probably going to run Ubiquiti APs off of my old Black Knight router).

This recent Ars article might be good reading on the state of mesh routers: Plume APs look cool to me- the idea is a lower AP in each room (you can backhaul over ethernet) so devices in different rooms aren't competing for access to the same AP. Plume APs are ~$55 bucks apiece, so ubiquiti is probably cheaper for most houses, but Plume might be better depending on the layout of your house, and IMO they blend into their surroundings a bit better than a ubiquiti unit, whose antenna is designed for ceiling-mount, right?
 
roncat
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:41 am

Any of the solutions listed by others will work for web browsing with a laptop.

Not sure what "losing speed" means. If you care about raw connection speed, there are a million intrawebs articles about wi-fi systems and placement. One good ac/ad router (like a Asus RT-AC88U or similar/better), well-placed, is the optimal condition. As you add signal sources, you always begin to degrade speed. Doesn't matter if you add the sources, it's your neighbors router, etc. The solutions listed here will cause some degradation, but not enough to give you an undesirable web browsing experience.

You really just want coverage at the minimum transmit power. If you put a bunch of repeaters in, make sure they have power adjustments and run them as low as possible. Be a good neighbor. Don't be that guy, and screw them (or they will likely just escalate the wifi power war and you're right back where you started).
 
Vhalidictes
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:06 am

I'm taking a wild guess here, but I've seen "losing speed" personally - if APs are too close together they can interfere with each other and lower total throughput. This can be even worse in an apartment of condo situation where lots of other wireless networks are in-range and there is channel-sharing.

Also, mesh-networking involves AP-to-AP communication and is another way to lose a ton of bandwidth. Fortunately it's not well-supported, or really needed in most cases.
 
Sputnik7
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:16 am

I would suggest doing the single, massive router, assuming coverage is good. If not, I would actually suggest mesh.

My new house is also wired with ethernet, and I set up 2 APs (one upstairs, one downstairs). Same SSID's, same passwords, encryption, etc. I've now back-pedaled slightly and set up 2 SSID's, one for upstairs, one for downstairs. I manually connect to each one depending on where I want to spend my time.

The issue with going the multiple AP route is it depends on your client device AP switching intelligence. Sure you can set some settings to have the router disconnect your client below X dB of signal, but the burden is ultimately on your tablets, cellphones, laptops, etc, unless you want to spend $$$ on getting an enterprise class router(s) that are much more intelligent at handing off.
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ludi
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:18 pm

notfred wrote:
Get some UniFi AC AP Lite or AC AP LR, mount them on your walls or ceilings as required and feed them from the Cat5 you already have in place. Turn off the WiFi on your router, install the controller app on your phone to set them up and you are done.

I'm using a UniFi AP myself, but for someone who is self-described "new at networking" the Ubiquiti interface might be intimidating.
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Firestarter
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:46 pm

I've tried using 2 APs with the same SSID etc. but my phone always seemed to stick with the worst one
 
Vhalidictes
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:56 pm

Firestarter wrote:
I've tried using 2 APs with the same SSID etc. but my phone always seemed to stick with the worst one


AP roaming never seems to work well. I've ended up having a different SSID for each AP.
 
cphite
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Re: Improving wifi coverage in my new home

Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:25 pm

GTell wrote:
Hello,

This is probably a very simple question, but I am new to networking questions. I just bought a new house and I had every room wired up with cat5e cable. I play a lot of video games and I watch movies on the internet, so wired connection is a must. However, I still use from time to time wifi for my laptop when I go from one room to another. The thing is my house is too big for my router. The signal is not strong enough to cover all the rooms.

I saw that "wifi extender" exists, but also read that these things somehow "boost" the signal while losing speed. This is something I want to avoid. I was wondering if I could, say, plug another router via my cat5e cable in the particular room where the wifi signal is weak and repeat the wifi signal WITHOUT losing any speed. Is that doable?


I have my router upstairs since it's where my office is, my gaming rig, and so forth; and while our signal was fine through most of the house, we were having some trouble in the basement, so I ended up grabbing one of these http://www.tp-link.com/us/products/details/cat-5508_RE200.html and plugged it in down in the basement.

So far I am completely happy with it. It seems to work great, I haven't noticed any drop in speed. I have it broadcasting a separate SSID on a different channel. Setup was a breeze, and I think it cost me around $30

I was concerned about interference, but frankly haven't seen any evidence of it. I will say this: The thing definitely has range. I get full bars from it on devices even on my second floor. I probably could have gone with the smaller (and $10 cheaper) model.

Given that you have ethernet all through the house and you're mostly looking for a "room to room" solution, it might be worth checking out.

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