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Gauge
Member since Mar 2014
26 posts

Best WIFI solution for large area
I'm trying to get WIFI coverage for an area inside my house and in the backyard. The area is too large for a single wireless router to handle. My current setup uses a first wireless router (with a hard wired ethernet connection to the cable modem) that covers most of the home. I also have a second wireless router that is configured as an access point, and that is connected to the first router via a hard wired CAT 6 ethernet connection. This access point (i.e. the second router) covers the remainder of the home, as well as the backyard. The first wireless router and the access point have separate and distinct SSID's. Both the first router and the access point are starting to give out on me, so it's time to upgrade. I'm looking for the best wireless solution from a performance standpoint (i.e. I'm not afraid to do extra work setting up the network if it gives me better performance).

It seems like my options are a new wireless router and hard wired access point like I currently have, a mesh system, or some other type of setup that I don't currently know about.

What is the best way to do this? Considering I already have CAT 6 ethernet cable run for the access point, it seems like a waste to do a mesh system where the two nodes of the mesh system connect to each other wirelessly (rather than using the CAT 6 cable)??? Is there any advantage that a mesh system has over my current wireless router and hard wired access point? Is my current wireless router and hard wired access point basically the same thing as a mesh network, except that it has a hard wired connection rather than a wireless connection between the two "nodes?"

In any event, what's the recommended way for me to upgrade? Wireless router and hard wired access point, mesh network, or something else?



scottfruget
Wofford Fan
Member since Nov 2010
2158 posts
 Online 

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
Seems like you answered your own question. Put in an access point


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50
TBoy
Notre Dame Fan
Kalamazoo
Member since Dec 2007
14584 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
I got a Netgear Orbi with three units, with the main unit connected to my single access point, and it expanded my wifi to every corner of my house and yard seamlessly. But IMO, if you can expand the number of wired access points you can probably get even better results.


LordSnow
LSU Fan
Your Mom's House
Member since May 2011
4535 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
Google wifi 3 puck system works great for me.


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gpburdell
Georgia Tech Fan
ATL
Member since Jun 2015
751 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
I agree there is no reason to mesh the second access point when you can hard wire it.

I'm a big fan of Ubiquiti Unifi networking/wifi products and that's what I'd recommend.

If you're interested in the Ubiquiti route take a look at this first to see what you're stepping into.
https://www.troyhunt.com/ubiquiti-all-the-things-how-i-finally-fixed-my-dodgy-wifi/

When I read this a couple years ago and doing research into Ubiquiti is what convinced me and couldn't be happier. I'll never buy consumer gear again.

This solution makes more sense when you can hard wire everything. This is what I did when I built a new house two years go and and have 4 hard wired APs in my house plus ethernet jacks in every major room.

One thing I'll mention is that Ubiquiti has introduced a Unifi Dream Machine. It's an all in one solution (router, switch, access point) that could be an option. You'd still need a second access point. I personally prefer having separate components so I can upgrade pieces as needed.


kywildcatfanone
Kentucky Fan
Wildcat Country!
Member since Oct 2012
71729 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

This is what I did when I built a new house two years go and and have 4 hard wired APs in my house plus ethernet jacks in every major room.



I'm building a new house now, going to wire each TV location and at least one other jack in each room with cat6.
I was planning to have two wired locations in closets one each side of the house to provide wifi coverage everywhere. I will have one under my screened in room as well to provide access in part od the back yard
Make sense?


gpburdell
Georgia Tech Fan
ATL
Member since Jun 2015
751 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

I was planning to have two wired locations in closets one each side of the house to provide wifi coverage everywhere. I will have one under my screened in room as well to provide access in part od the back yard
Make sense?


I wouldn't put APs in closets as that just adds more stuff the signal has to go through which is a bigger issue for 5Ghz. I'd either put them on the wall or the ceiling. I have Ubiquiti in wall APs which aren't an eyesore like some of the bigger APs.

If I could go back in time, I'd have ran cat6 to my back porch so I could put APs there too. Also, I would have added couple more drops for security cameras. Luckily my builder already included some for the front and back.


shawnlsu
LSU Fan
Member since Nov 2011
18254 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

I'm a big fan of Ubiquiti Unifi networking/wifi products and that's what I'd recommend.

Have it at the home and the office and I love it.
I install it a lot in residential and small office environments with good success.
It also allows for remote management, so clients can agree to that up front and I can make changes for them remotely. And I am NOT an IT guy, I'm a fiber tech


shawnlsu
LSU Fan
Member since Nov 2011
18254 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

I wouldn't put APs in closets as that just adds more stuff the signal has to go through which is a bigger issue for 5Ghz. I'd either put them on the wall or the ceiling. I have Ubiquiti in wall APs which aren't an eyesore like some of the bigger APs.

Agreed, they look like a flat smoke detector with an LED that can be turned on or off.


VABuckeye
Ohio State Fan
Oak Hill, VA
Member since Dec 2007
27653 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
If the house is studs and drywall an AP in a closet is no big deal and will work fine. If it's an older house and concrete block is involved then I'd agree that closets can be a bad idea.


kywildcatfanone
Kentucky Fan
Wildcat Country!
Member since Oct 2012
71729 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

If the house is studs and drywall an AP in a closet is no big deal and will work fine.



Was wondering about that. If it's all wood studs and drywall, does it really inhibit the signal to any real degree?

The question is, do you do mesh, like 3-4 points, or just AP's, or does it make a difference?


Korkstand
LSU Fan
Plaquemine, LA
Member since Nov 2003
20103 posts
 Online 

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

If it's all wood studs and drywall, does it really inhibit the signal to any real degree?
Wood and drywall, not really. Metal and brick/concrete are the worst. I think one thing people forget about are bathrooms. Large mirrors basically block/reflect most of the signal. Large tiled walls in a shower block signals. If there is a strange wifi dead zone in your house, it might be because there's a bathroom in the way.

And if you have brick exterior, the signal will probably be weak outside. New-ish windows probably aren't much better with all the panes and insulating/blocking material in them.
quote:

The question is, do you do mesh, like 3-4 points, or just AP's, or does it make a difference?
The only real difference as I understand it is the link between nodes, wired or wireless. Mesh is really popular because it's easy to install and works pretty damned well. Hardwired APs should perform better, and I can imagine some scenarios where it may be difficult to extend a wireless mesh.

Also I don't know the real-world coverage of the popular mesh nodes, but ballpark looks like about 1 per 1500 sqft? In my experience 1 properly placed Ubiquiti AP will cover about a block.


BeepNode
The City of Central
Member since Feb 2014
2821 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

Ubiquiti


quote:

It also allows for remote management, so clients can agree to that up front and I can make changes for them remotely.


Jesus Christ. These wifi threads always deliver.


gpburdell
Georgia Tech Fan
ATL
Member since Jun 2015
751 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

In my experience 1 properly placed Ubiquiti AP will cover about a block.


This. The Ubiquiti "ufo" APs are amazing but I don't like seeing them unless their ceiling mounted.

That's why I went with their in wall units. Though some of the newer ufo APs support skins which let them blend in based on where it's mounted which is nice.


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bluebarracuda
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Oct 2011
15328 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

Jesus Christ. These wifi threads always deliver.


I know, right? These people just need a simple mesh system, not a prosumer setup


Korkstand
LSU Fan
Plaquemine, LA
Member since Nov 2003
20103 posts
 Online 

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

I know, right? These people just need a simple mesh system, not a prosumer setup
Ubiquiti has that too with their Amplifi products, and they are price-competitive with the leading mesh systems.

Though, considering OP already has cat6 run to what seems to be an ideal AP location, why would you recommend a wifi mesh over a router + AP?

I'm not sure if we have enough data on the mesh systems yet, but if they're anything like other consumer routers, they aren't going to last very long. OP says both of his routers are going out, but it's likely just the wifi is getting flaky and the router part still works fine.

If I were OP, I would get 2 Ubiquiti APs for a total cost of about $160. Put one in place of the AP-configured router, and put that router away for a spare. Turn off the wifi on the "main" router, and install the second Ubiquiti AP near it. For half the cost I bet he'll get better performance than any of the mesh systems.


BeepNode
The City of Central
Member since Feb 2014
2821 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

For half the cost I bet he'll get better performance than any of the mesh systems.


You can run google/Nest systems wired. That's what I do. I have two 1st generation Google Wifi pucks that do good job of covering the entire house and then a 3rd (wired) puck in the shop that also picks up the yard and the other side of the pool area. Same deal with the Orbi.

No need to complicate matters unless you're also trying to do 802.1x, VLANs and so on. I have two boxes full of Ubiquiti/Unifi gear. Mostly switches, but also a firewall, camera, APs, and cloud keys.


Korkstand
LSU Fan
Plaquemine, LA
Member since Nov 2003
20103 posts
 Online 

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

You can run google/Nest systems wired.
Yeah, so considering OP is already wired, what's the advantage to google/nest here over unifi ap's?


BeepNode
The City of Central
Member since Feb 2014
2821 posts

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

Yeah, so considering OP is already wired, what's the advantage to google/nest here over unifi ap's?


Ease of use and reliability. Not everyone wants to play IT guy at home.


Korkstand
LSU Fan
Plaquemine, LA
Member since Nov 2003
20103 posts
 Online 

re: Best WIFI solution for large area
quote:

Ease of use and reliability. Not everyone wants to play IT guy at home.
I believe you can set up a Unifi AP with just the phone app. Discovery and setup looks dead simple.

And reliability? Are you kidding?

But yeah go with the safe option, I get it.


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