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  • Router Range in 2021

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      • #2371803
        Towson_Steve
        AskWoody Plus

        I’m looking to find out what the best expectation might be, replacing a wifi router in a four level vacation home, where the needed wifi range would be vertically oriented rather than horizontally.  The present router is on the bottom floor, the main living (and most electronically populated) room is the third.  I toyed with the idea of fishing an ethernet cable up to the third, but then the router would need to be in a cabinet (locked for rental season use).  I’d rather that be a worst case solution.  Surprisingly, the old router provides just enough signal for wifi data use on the fourth floor, but I doubt I could stream video that far.  Nor would I want to.

        Any current hardware suggestions?

        We have an Xfinity modem (Arris TM502G), but bought a Cisco E1200 router for wifi.  This is circa 2013, and this setup has been working well enough since.

        Why?  Yesterday evening, I found that the SSIDs of my little network weren’t showing up on my phone or laptop, and that my only internet access seemed to be xfinitywifi.  During troubleshooting, I reset the modem, and noticed the WPS light flashing.  I couldn’t pick up an SSID, so I schlepped my laptop down to the router and cabled in.  I couldn’t get a connection at the router IP.  I hit the reset, and then the router came up to the FW update screen, and pretty much insisted it needed its FW re-applied.  After doing so, it is again working, but I was fully prepared to purchase its successor due to its age, and the length of time in a dubious environment (seaside, indoors but maybe I wouldn’t want to live there year-round).  Xfinity’s modem?  Who cares?  I rent that for convenience.

        I tried a wifi extender, but it had trouble connecting it, even on the second floor, so that didn’t seem to be a good solution.  I read that router antennae were oriented for horizontal transmission characteristics, and had the Cisco hung vertically from a wall, but it didn’t make enough difference.   I don’t care about IoT, although I do have a remote deadbolt (works great).

         

        Thanks,Gang,

        Steve in Towson

         

      • #2371849
        PaulK
        AskWoody Lounger

        You might try posting your situation at one (or more?; but be sparse with cross-posting)
        https://www.dslreports.com/forum/comcast
        https://www.dslreports.com/forum/comcastdirect
        https://www.dslreports.com/forum/cisco
        Registering at DslReports is free.

        My ISP is Charter Spectrum, and daily I peruse some of the latest posts at
        https://www.dslreports.com/forum/charter
        There is an abundance of other information if you back up one level
        https://www.dslreports.com/forums/all

        To keep the folks here on AW informed, they would consider it a courtesy if you note if you get results there at DslReports.

        • #2372088
          Towson_Steve
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks, PaulK,

          I googled dslreports, naturally and the first thing I found was a report that they were hit with a ddos attack.  Looking into that, there was no timestamp posted with the blurb, but assumed you might have more timely info.

          I took a chance and clicked you links, and found the forums you mentioned.

          In the past, I got flamed by members of other forums for posting simultaneously on several forums at one time, looking for greatest response.  So I’m gun-shy about that.

          As an older retired geek, I’m a little slower at researching.  So thanks again, and if I get somewhere with my problem, I’ll post my solution.

           

          Thanks,

          Towson_Steve

          ISP: Xfinity (Comcast)

      • #2371993
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Lounger

        I recommend making a holistic review of your streaming needs including: the connection speed provided by your internet service provider, capability of your modem, and WIFI modem including – streaming requirements, guest network, security, number of LAN ports required, and need for USB ports.

        And consider if you want a wireless or mesh router.

        Then you can fine-tune your router needs.

        If you decide to obtain a new router make sure that your new unit meets the WiFi 6 standard and supports WPA3 security.

        Also, since you use your property as a rental, make sure that the new router supports a second “guest” network.

        Also make sure that the router has sufficient LAN Ports to support your needs. We tend to hard wire our computers and stream to televisions, notebooks, and WIFI radios. Right now, our routers are hardwired to three workstations and our internet phone system.

        We have reviewed and found acceptable the following Wireless Routers:

        • Synology RT2600ac
        • Netgear Nighthawk AX6 AX4300 (RAX45)
        • Asus AC2900 (RT-AC86U)
        • Netgear Nighthawk X10 (AD7200)
        • Asus AX5400 (RT-AX82U)
        • Linksys Max-Stream AC1900 (EA7430)
        • Netgear NIghthawk AC1900 (R7000)
        • Asus AC3100 (RT-AC88U)

        We have an Asus AC3100 (RT-AC88U) that is located in the basement of our three-story structure and have no problem streaming audio and vidio to the top floor.  Due to security concerns we have also run a hard wire to our workstations on the third floor.

        Because of the size of your building you may want to consider a mesh router.  The advantage of a mesh setup is that the base unit connects to your modem and then communicates wirelessly with the other two or three units that a spread around the structure.

        Mesh Router Setup

        • Netgear Orbi AX4200
        • Netgear Nighthawk AX1800
        • #2372100
          Towson_Steve
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks for your thoughtful and thorough suggestions, Kathy.  🙂

          I’m very old school about the beachfront vacation home.  If you’re at the beach, be on the beach, wear yourself out with sunshine and fresh air, then have dinner, then crash.  Repeat everyday.  We only offered wifi as our personal needs required it, and only offered TV without premium channels or PPV.  Blu-ray was a concession.

          I was under the mistaken impression that mesh was pretty much line-of-sight horizontally, and was more desirable for IoT stuff.  I’ll look into it.  But mostly I’m only interested in boosting the wifi signal enough to get a “passable” data strength signal to the fourth level (m0stly for mobile phone use).

          So probably, my question should have been: If my current router throws a “bubble” of coverage of 100 ft, including height, in an open flat area, say, what is available that would throw that “bubble” 200 ft, or 150 ft ?  that might get my passable range through one extra floor.  That top floor?  It’s a large bedroom and bath space.  Not an electronic entertainment space by any stretch.

          Again, Thanks!

          Towson_Steve

           

           

          • #2372135
            Kathy Stevens
            AskWoody Lounger

            As I mentioned above, we have an ASUS AC3100 (RT-AC88U) that is located in the basement of our three-story structure and have no problem streaming audio and video to the top floor and about 160 feet outside of the house on the side where the basement floor is at ground level.

      • #2372096
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        If you don’t run a cable you need a mesh setup with a dedicated backlink channel, otherwise you get half speed at the remote end. Either way I can’t see how to get coverage without a second device.

        Check out the mesh network reviews to see what works.

        cheers, Paul

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2372101
        Towson_Steve
        AskWoody Plus

        I was afraid of that.  I might use an older router as a bridge.

        S

      • #2372191
        PaulK
        AskWoody Lounger

        Regarding radio frequency propagation –
        ‘It depends’ also on the materials between the termini. Steel is a blocker, and thicker concrete also isn’t good. And whatever may be reflecting signals also can cause nodes and holes. An elementary ‘signal strength’ indicator can be a laptop or phone that has signal bars. Move the receiver around the reception area, some locations MAY be acceptable. The 2.4 band has better penetration, but not as good speed.

        Instead of fishing a cable through the walls, would it be feasible to run it outside? Sloppy, yes; but it could be covered with trim. Or maybe tucked tightly against something that already is vertical.

        I … had the Cisco hung vertically from a wall, but it didn’t make enough difference.

        Try again? On the wall, rotate it 90? Or did you already test that?

        • #2372331
          Towson_Steve
          AskWoody Plus

          I’ve basically done the Spock with tricorder using phone and laptop gambit, as well as repositioning the router every which way.  I can get some wifi on the top floor, but it comes and goes.  Ironically, xfinitywifi, which is freeloading on my/any other local Xfinity subscriber actually comes in stronger in a lot of the house.

          Running cable outside would mean breaching brand new siding, which would get me exiled to Siberia.

          This is why I was asking if anyone knew if home routers were all limited to the same transmission wattage, or have any of the newer multi antennae routers increased their range.

          S

           

      • #2372354
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Lounger

        Again, we have an ASUS AC3100 (RT-AC88U) that is located in the basement of our three-story structure and have no problem streaming audio and video to the top floor and about 160 feet outside of the house on the side where the basement floor is at ground level.

        The router’s four antennas are adjustable and can be oriented to maximize the vertical signal which should be enough to reach the third floor of a frame construction building.

        What are the walls, ceilings, and floors of your building made of – concrete, drywall/wood, etc?

         

      • #2372430
        Towson_Steve
        AskWoody Plus

        The house is wood construction throughout, with metallic HVAC  duct work.  The bottom floor (where the router is) is ground level which is built on pylons (beach level).

        Your ASUS AC3100 (RT-AC88U) looks to be a state of the art gaming router, which is listing at $200+ on Amazon.  That’s a quantum level above what I have.  For a vacation solution, I can’t envision using that kind of fire power.

        I will continue to seek an answer to whether the FCC (or whatever authority) limits all wifi transmitters to the same wattage.  To show my age, for example CB radios were limited to transmit at a particular wattage.  No matter how fancy the unit was, they all had the same transmission wattage limit.  If you used a higher powered transmitter, you could get busted and fined.

         

      • #2372455
        JohnW
        AskWoody Plus

        Would something like this be simpler that adding a mesh network? All you need is some extra range, correct?

        My brother in law added an extender like this to his back bedroom hallway, so that he could get wi-fi back there. His router was in a room around the corner, with a cinder block masonry wall between them, so weak wi-fi at that end of the house. Extender did the trick there.

        Dual-band WiFi Range Extender – Essentials Edition, 750Mbps, Wall-plug

        https://www.netgear.com/home/wifi/range-extenders/ex3700/

      • #2372515
        Towson_Steve
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks, JohnW,

        Actually, I had tried a range extender very similar to what you have suggested – similar price.  When I tried it out, I started on the third level, which is where the living room/dining/room/kitchen area is.  I figured it would extend down as well as up to the other floors.  I was surprised that it couldn’t get/maintain contact with the primary router.  Placing it on the second level helped, but it didn’t extend the range to the top floor worth a darn.

        Could be the brand I bought (can’t remember the make/model) was too cheesy.  I used it in another location entirely, and it worked well enough.

        The other consideration with a wall plug unit is if installed in an exposed location, it may grow legs and disappear.  We would not know it was gone until the next time we would be there personally.  Losing a Bluray player is immediately obvious, but a range extender – not so obvious.

        I am thinking about calling linksys support about modding the present router by changing the internal antenna with  another with better characteristics (more intrinsic gain).  If I kill it, that would be the time to upgrade to newer technology.

         

        Steve

      • #2379589
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Lounger

        Have you had any luck replacing your wifi router in your vacation home?

      • #2379615
        WSscaisson
        AskWoody Lounger

        Re increasing wifi reach distance.

        The cheapest way is to buy a wifi router with removable/replaceable antennae. The longer the antenna the farther it can transmit. So buy replacement antennae as long as possible. However, avoid the replacement antenna with cable to the router antenna connector. The replacement antenna must be directly connected to the router’s antenna connector. With cable, you’d lose at least 3 dB of signal strength. This is a big loss by the cable itself.

        Antenna power output strength is technically hard to explain, you may research to gain more understanding.

        Another option is to buy self powered antenna with its own amplified power, to increase transmission reach. However, this kind of antenna is expensive (as much as 1/2 value of a wifi router). Might as well invest in a more capable wifi router with more antennae itself. (The more antennae, in general, can reach farther distance, by using various techniques.)

      • #2379633
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        I figured it would extend down as well as up to the other floors.  I was surprised that it couldn’t get/maintain contact with the primary router.

        You probably need one at each floor.

      • #2379777
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        The longer the antenna the farther it can transmit

        No true.
        Physical length does not equal electrical length or gain.
        Buying a higher gain antenna might work, depending on the building.
        Note: a new router / extender may be cheaper than a high gain antenna.

        cheers, Paul

        • #2381497
          WSscaisson
          AskWoody Lounger

          The longer the antenna the farther it can transmit

          No true.
          Physical length does not equal electrical length or gain.
          Buying a higher gain antenna might work, depending on the building.
          Note: a new router / extender may be cheaper than a high gain antenna.

          cheers, Paul

          I believe I’m correct,
          within the context of wifi router antenna.
          I am using consumer way of saying it, to help consumer looking for wifi antennae.

          In antenna theory, the physical appearance and size of the antenna are very much related to it’s receiving and emitting radio energy/power.
          When PaulT says ‘high gain’ antenna generally, it is also a way for consumer to differentiate products.
          What is exactly ‘high gain’?
          Does it have a built-in radio frequency amplifier? You can identify this type. They come with/require AC power supply adapter.
          A more complex question is:
          Is the amplifier an approx. flat frequency response, or is it tuned to certain range of frequencies, or is it AI auto tuned?…
          Forget that! Too complex.
          How about just differentiate whether the antenna has an amp. or not? With built-in amp. it always requires external power supply. That, is easy for consumer to identify.

          What about passive antennae, which do not have built-in amplifier?
          Here, THE ‘high’ gain PASSIVE antenna also has TWO meanings:
          1. Directional. In order to increase ‘gain’, aka receiving more or transmitting more power, needs to focus into a narrower beam. Higher sensitivity but loses coverage area.
          2. The physical size of the antenna, where the receiving/transmission elements have appropriate length (aka tuned to the RF wavelength); may also either stack 2 or 3 element(s) or something, thus it is still longer physically.

          In the market, you can see 3dBi, 6dBi, 9dBi PASSIVE antennae. Invariably the 9dBi antenna is the longest. Usually marketing people call 9dBi (sometimes 6dBi too) ‘high’ gain antenna.
          When you want ‘high gain’ –passive– antenna, it actually means LONGER antenna.

          So let’s skip the actively powered antenna (those with built-in amplifier).
          We now only talk about passive antenna, and how to increase ‘gain’ even though it has no amplifier.

          How can passive antenna have more gain, if not directional at all?
          It first has to do with tuning. To receive/transmit RF power, the antenna element physical length must be a multiple of the RF wavelength.
          One full wave length:
          100MHz FM is 3m (9.8ft)
          VHF is 1m to 10m (3.3 ft to 33ft[!!!])
          UHF is 10cm to 1m (3.9 inches to 3.3ft)
          2.4GHz is about 125mm (4.9 inches)

          To tune for maximum power, best is the antenna length equals full wavelength. Rather pessimistic! The antenna is so long!
          Luckily we can still tune and receiving power when tuned to 1/2 wavelength. Even better, even 1/4 wavelength can do it too.
          The problem?
          Less and less sensitivity!

          Another way is to make the antenna ‘looks’ longer in electrical circuit point of view. This, we use coil. The coil ‘elongates’ the physical antenna ‘length’ to matching the electrically ‘seen’ length.

          For those has been in the army, you will see antennae with top loaded, mid-loaded, and bottom loaded coils. The antenna tip loaded coil has the best efficiency (but top heavy). The bottom loaded approach has least added effective gain. But we usually use the bottom loaded coil system, as a compromise, because the ‘coil’ can be doubled as a spring for the antenna.

          For a typical wifi 9dBi consumer antenna, they use 1/4 wave dipole as the antenna element. Then stack another 1/4-wave di-pole to double the gain. Naturally two 1/4-wave di-poles are twice as long as a single di-pole antenna.

          For a view of how a 5dBi/9dBi passive antenna looks like, go here:
          https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/technical-articles/wi-fi-antennas-part-1-fundamentals/

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2380462
        Towson_Steve
        AskWoody Plus

        Hi again,

        I haven’t been able to pursue this problem since my last post, because rental season began and the property has been booked solid since.  (There is a 2-3 hour window each Saturday between renters, and I live 3 hours away – not a great window.)  I probably won’t get a chance to mess with it until September.

        I purchased a new router Linksys MR8300 V1.1.  It has 4 antennae.  I figured that since the old router had only an internal antenna, and it was six or seven years old, maybe newer technology and firmware would help a little, and it does, but it’s not burning up the world or anything.  I don’t know if the antennae can be removed.

        I will continue to seek an answer to whether the FCC (or whatever authority) limits all wifi transmitters to the same wattage.  THAT was my main question.  If the FCC hasn’t changed the limitations for home wifi routers in the past few tears, all the other solutions seem to be kluges, no?

        Thanks for the support.  I’ll report in in September.

        Towson_Steve

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