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  • The Hard Side: Fixing Wi-Fi problems with a mesh network

    Home Forums AskWoody blog The Hard Side: Fixing Wi-Fi problems with a mesh network

    This topic contains 14 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Nathan Parker 10 months, 4 weeks ago.

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    • #347448 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      Lincoln Spector steps you through the reasons for buying and installing a mesh network. If you’re still struggling with pulling wires, dyspeptic route
      [See the full post at: The Hard Side: Fixing Wi-Fi problems with a mesh network]

    • #347477 Reply

      anonymous

      I think the Netgear Orbi should have been mentioned here as well.  Its performance will at least equal, and usually outperforms the two mentioned items, and offers the ability to directly configure the devices without the use of any “cloud” or “app” interaction, although an App does exist for it.  I much prefer a simple browser addressed interface for devices like these.

      Most reviews end up selecting the Orbi as the top solution and my deployment of them into numerous wi-fi challenged locations with stunning results backs up the endorsement.  Just make sure to upgrade to the latest firmware after following the initial setup steps.

    • #347545 Reply

      NetDef
      AskWoody_MVP

      Up to a certain point these new easy to setup Mesh systems work very well.

      But I’ve directly observed issues in crowded area’s with their back-hauls, which tend to lean on the 2.4GHz bands (likely because that band penetrates obstacles better, and has a longer range.)

      If you are trying to solve for a large home, or office, or if you are in an area with lots of competing Wi-Fi units, wired access points that support SSID roaming with careful channel selection and tuning are still the best way to go.

      The flip side of this:  if your neighbor puts in a new mesh system in close proximity to your space – be prepared for trouble on your network.  Don’t ask me how I know.  😉

      For large homes separated by generous properties this should never be a problem.  But for large multilevel condo’s, or office buildings, your installer needs both technical skill and negotiating skills (because they may need to coordinate channel usage and spread with neighbors.)

      ~ Group "Weekend" ~

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #347607 Reply

        Michael432
        AskWoody_MVP

        Definition: Backhaul is the connection between the main router and the satellite device(s). Both AmpliFi and Velop support Ethernet for backhaul. If using wireless backhaul, AmpliFi lets you chose the frequency band, Velop does not. More on mesh routers here  https://www.routersecurity.org/MeshRouters.php

        Get up to speed on router security at RouterSecurity.org

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #347709 Reply

          NetDef
          AskWoody_MVP

          Do you happen to know whether Amplifi allows you to select from the 5GHz bands for their mesh back haul?

          ~ Group "Weekend" ~

          • #347713 Reply

            Michael432
            AskWoody_MVP

            Yes, AmpliFi does let you chose the frequency band to use for backhaul.

            Get up to speed on router security at RouterSecurity.org

            1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #347617 Reply

      Michael432
      AskWoody_MVP

      I have installed two AmpliFi systems (no experience with Velop). In my experience AmpliFi is not a mesh system, it is instead two Wi-Fi extenders. Specifically, one AmpliFi satellite antenna can not talk to another AmpliFi satellite antenna. Each can only talk to the router which greatly limits its usefulness if you need to extend Wi-Fi in only one direction. There were plans to fix this, I don’t know the current status.

      Also, be warned that the AmpliFi satellites are very directional, this was tested in an Ars Technica article. And, the design of the AmpliFi satellites makes it hard to move them up/down/left/right which is often needed to get a stronger signal. On the other hand, you do not need the satellite antennas. Not only can you buy just the router, you can also make a network of two routers, no antennas. Not a hack, this is a supported configuration.

      For adjusting the location of the satellites a speed test should be secondary. The system should have some type of signal strength indicator of its own. The AmpliFi antennas are great at this, they have 5 blue dots that indicate signal strength.

      Privacy is also an issue with mesh router systems. Most require you to setup an account with the vendor and then you have no idea what data about your network activity is sent back to the home office. AmpliFi does not require an account, so its great on privacy.

      As for security, AmpliFi does not disable WPS, even though the app has a WPS on/off switch. Also, it defaults to using the same password for the initial Wi-Fi network and for admin access to the router. Not good, but fixable.

      Get up to speed on router security at RouterSecurity.org

      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #347673 Reply

      Nathan Parker
      AskWoody_MVP

      Has Lincoln (or anyone here) ever experienced issued with the Linksys Velop nodes dropping offline and showing a yellow light due to thick walls?

      I tried the Linksys Velop in my home to blanket Wi-Fi throughout my 1,700 sq foot home. The satellite node wasn’t too far from my office where the primary was, but it kept knocking offline and showing a yellow light due to the thickness of my walls.

      The only solution I could get that would blanket my home Wi-Fi was an enterprise-grade WAP from Cambium Networks from my ISP they installed in my ceiling and cloud-manage. I tried high-end AC routers from Asus and even a Cisco small business WAP and nothing could blanket my home W-Fi coverage. One issue is my office is at one end of the home, so they had to install the WAP in a more central location.

      Nathan Parker

      • #347710 Reply

        NetDef
        AskWoody_MVP

        I have a similar layout for my home office: the office is at one side of the house, in the basement.  What works in my office on a single WAP solution does not work for most of the rest of the house – and vice versa.

        In my case I likely went overkill:  A Unifi Cloud Key controller, and three of their dual band pro units on wired Ethernet.  With that many AP’s, I was able to disable entirely the congested 2.4GHz band, and find 5Ghz channels for all three that were completely clear.

         

        ~ Group "Weekend" ~

        • #347802 Reply

          Nathan Parker
          AskWoody_MVP

          My AP sounds similar to NetDef’s (just different brand). With the one AP, I can now get on the 5GHz band throughout my house with it installed in the ceiling in the living room.

          My home is wired for Ethernet, but it seems the walls are still too think to use Mesh networking. Enterprise networking is about all that penetrates my walls, and even then, it has to be one solid WAP to get it to work.

           

          Nathan Parker

      • #347715 Reply

        Michael432
        AskWoody_MVP

        Other than Ethernet, you could have tried coax or power lines to send the Internet to the other end of your house. Or, a mesh system where one satellite device talks to another, which in turn, talks to the router. Mesh systems are normally sold as a package of 2 or 3 devices but many claim you can use more devices than that in the mesh network.

        Get up to speed on router security at RouterSecurity.org

        • #347738 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Not a problem I have at home, but this thread’s topic is something that I am curious to know more about.

          Would it make sense to do this: Use a long Ethernet cable (e.g. stapled high on the walls) from router to another part of the house where WiFi does not reach directly, connected there to a “satellite” (which it seems to be a sort of a local transmitter)? Looking this up on the Web, there are some satellite models with Ethernet ports.

          In fact, there are satellites with Ethernet ports on offer in Amazon. So, whether it makes good sense or not, this idea seems to be at least feasible:

          https://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-Orbi-Wall-Plug-Whole-System/dp/B072ZN4PSB/ref=pd_sim_0_1/142-7836497-5437014?

           

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

          • #347777 Reply

            NetDef
            AskWoody_MVP

            If you need the signal coverage, and you are using matching AP’s — then having a multi-AP system that supports SSID roaming can be very helpful to improve whole-house (or yard, or deck) coverage.

            Useful info on roaming at https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/basics/wireless-basics/33180-how-to-fix-wi-fi-roaming

            I personally don’t want to be the one that says “staple an Ethernet cable” across your house though.  Significant Other approval for such is likely to be poor.  (I ran mine professionally in-wall.)

            Also keep in mind there is a maximum run distance standard for Ethernet.  The standard says 328 cable feet for CAT5e or CAT6 for 1000Base-T from the switch to the device.  No substantial runs parallel to AC lines, etc.  Less is better. (Our company tries very hard to stay under 280 feet when wiring copper.)

             

            ~ Group "Weekend" ~

            • #347841 Reply

              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              Then my Ethernet cable proposal should be an OK solution for the single and really not fussy. Or for people that, on top of that, never receive visitors.

              Of course, using WiFi signal radio relays is more elegant. And expensive?

              Now, when it comes to connecting via a cable, I can’t see having a stapled cable as not preferable to having the drywall ripped off to put a duct for the same cable to pass through, then patched up and repainted, doing one’s best to hide the patch (something that I expect will not work very well). I rather staple the cable and then paint it the color of the wall, if it is placed high enough, the chances of visitors realizing it is there and making nasty comments about it should be greatly decreased.

              Also: more than 328 feet of cable would be around one regular street block in length (i.e. not the NY kind). So: definitely not a solution for people who live in Royal Palaces and such.

              Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #348283 Reply

      Nathan Parker

      When I had my home wired for Ethernet, I had it done with no exposed wires, and everything looks like traditional light socket plates. It wasn’t cheap, but the end result looks really good.

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.

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