Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/28/you-might-need-to-upgrade-your.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/28/you-might-need-to-upgrade-your.html
I think you’ll find a lot of folks are satisfied with modern mesh routers. Our Ubiquity router works great and solved exactly the problem we had getting a good signal in the room that was furthest from the router.
Thumbs up on mesh networks. Upgraded the old base station to an Orbi mesh system last year and am loving it. No more dead spots and I can move or expand the network anywhere I need to for optimum performance. Each satellite unit has several ethernet ports for devices needing a hardline connection so you get the best of wifi and wired. I consistently get about 95% of my 100mb connection at the furthest point due to the Orbi’s dedicated backhaul channel.
Pricey to purchase upfront but well worth it in the long run. Plus the units look nice sitting out in the open on a bookshelf - not like a dead spider.
Bonus feature of an upgrade: old routers are riddled with security flaws that will never be fixed unless you install something like DD-WRT on it (assuming you even can).
In fact, in my opinion you’re better off using a WiFi router as just an access point and then relying on a proper router/firewall running pfSense or something similar.
Best practice IMHO is that anything that can be hardwired without too much hassle should be.
Ie. all things like desktop PCs and static consoles should be wired up if feasable to do so
I have a relatively decent AP (An ex-corporate Mikrotik AP) but even though it’s much better than the supplied WiFi on our ISP’s router, it’s still only capable of utilising roughly 50% the bandwidth of our internet connection…
Pretty much how i have things set up.
ISP router in modem mode.
Old micro PC running pfsense.
And two APs. (primary one is the microtik, the other is my previous ISP router as an AP running DD-WRT)
Does anyone reading this have experience with mesh routers in an old house with plaster and lath walls? Because our 200 year old house (despite being only 1600 sq feet over two stories) absorbs and blocks wifi like nothing else. I’ve tried relocating the base station and adding repeaters but we still have dead areas and low bandwidth in places that are less than 15 linear feet from the router.
I’m loathe to invest in a mesh hardware solution if they have the same challenges and passing cat 5 is not an option through solid walls
Yep, I had buffering problems with wifi through my apple airport and cable one hitron wifi routers. Even after upgrading to gigabyte service. Wiring up the streaming devices made it work fine and i downgraded to a plan with half the monthly cost.
My experience is the wirecutter recommended netgear wifi router i bought refurb from amazon was defective but the archer wirecutter recd wifi router for less than half the price works perfect for my 1500sf place.
Our house isn’t that old, but our bathroom is like an impenetrable WiFi wall. (I assume because of all the piping going through the walls there)
It’s the reason our house has two AP’s, one each side of it…
Could that be your issue too?
What the hell is an omnipole antenna?
Mesh routers are now the preferred solution. The single big honken’ router is an anachronism and no longer the best solution in all but the smallest houses. Even many apartments can benefit. The main reason is that 5 GHz bands have extremely poor penetration through even interior walls and doors. This is actually good: it means your neighbors will cause less interference. But it means you need multiple base stations for full coverage.
Pretty much any of the mesh routers will work well. Google Wifi, Amplifi, Orbi, Eero, etc. They are all easy to set up. They don’t have the absolute highest single-user throughput, but they will easily scaled with several users and dozens of connected devices. As a side benefit, since they get coverage by meshing rather than having lots of movable antennas, they don’t need to look like an alien spaceship. Some people of course like that look but for most people the more benign look of most mesh routers facilitates putting them out in the the open on a bookshelf or countertop, which dramatically improves their coverage compared to in a closet or on the floor under a table.
A multi-access point wired setup (like a UniFi system) mounted to the ceiling is the absolute best solution, but is impractical for most people.
Hell I just want to get a router so I don’t have to pay Comcast the $11 a month rental on their old Cisco box.
same as in town … twenty dollars.
in one old plaster house I could only get wifi signal down hallways and stairs, with some rooms and the addition cut off. I put a powerline station at the original wifi router, and powerline wifi outside the faraday cage of the old plaster house, with an additional wired powerline station at the tv.
I used a TP-link WPA-9020 kit with an additional WPA-8630 kit, leaving a leftover powerline adapter, but it works.
Like DLSR camera options, WIFI also has prosumer options that are sorta hidden unless you’re in the industry. If you need a wifi upgrade and you need real performance, like control and are not afraid of minimalist Cisco-style firewall interfaces, look into the MikroTik Hap range:
Just a satisfied user, these things are designed to mesh across conference centers, are cheap, have long wifi range, ultimate configurability and use the pro RouterBoard software…You just won’t see them available in consumer retail stores.
No idea about lath and plaster but my house is 2 floors with about a foot of concrete in between. The old single router barely made it up the stairs to the bedrooms directly above it even with range extenders. That problem completely went away with mesh. Plus you can position the satellite units anywhere there’s a power outlet for maximum coverage. It also gives me hardwire ethernet ports wherever I need them.
I like the fact that Orbi uses a dedicated 5Ghz channel just for base-to-satellite communication so it doesn’t share the primary 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radios for backhaul traffic.
Another enthusiastic vote for a Mesh Network router. I used to cobble together my own sort of mesh networks with a high-end traditional router and a number of range extenders while I waited for the Mesh routers to reach dependable functionality and reasonable price. I have since switched to a Linksys Velop mesh setup with a base and two satellites and then a Netgear Orbi mesh setup with a base and 1 satellite. They both provided excellent, rock-steady coverage and handled the hand-offs, as you moved about from room to room and the device distributions through the channels and 5 and 2.4 radios in ways that are superior to anything I had jury-rigged before. I think I would give a slight edge to the Netgear Orbi, but that might be attributable to the fact that I was using it in a smaller and more open location than where I had the Linksys Velop. My one substantial issue with the Netgear Orbi is that after a firmware upgrade, this Netgear “Armor” security function appeared and began systematically blocking devices from the network, where they’d been functioning flawlessly and safely for months. It’s supposed to make your router and network safer, so good, but it does not allow you to easily tweak the settings to white-list certain devices or services. It would block Netflix and my principle laptop from functioning on the network. And it wouldn’t even do this in a sensible manner, so I had to discover that Armor was the source of problem through a lot of trial and error. It produced an array of false indicators that a device was connected, or that a cable was not, etc. Very irritating and the best I could do is disable Armor, as it wouldn’t allow me to delete it. And then of course, it reactivates itself when you reboot or upgrade your router firmware, so I would have to go through another fire-dance. But once disabled (with my regular security suite in operation anyway) it works exceedingly well.
A mesh system is probably the “best” solution here, but may still not work great or you may need a lot of nodes (5-6) to get good coverage.
They aren’t magic of course. The main advantage over repeaters is that they are configured as a whole and the individual units are typically cheap. Together these facilitate using lots of nodes. You might end up having to put repeaters on both sides of doors in order to bridge the signal across.
Do you have a crawl space and/or attic? Those are good places to run cat5 through. Most of the mesh routers also support connecting the mesh units by cat5. You don’t need to consider running cat5 all the way to the end device: just somewhere you can put an access point. Also, you don’t need to run the cat5 back to the “home base” – you can connect any two units with ethernet and they will take advantage of that.
For reference, we have a single story 1800 ft^2 house with standard drywall construction and an “open” floor plan and we still use 2 wired access points. With a mesh system we would probably need 3.
I tend to prefer hardwired access points instead, with a separate dedicated router. As it was, I found that a single AP covers my house well, but I could always add more if it were necessary. I’ve been using Ubiquiti gear myself, and have been mostly happy with it (main gripe: IPv6 isn’t really supported in their EdgeRouter GUI).
For anything where speed truly matters, though, there’s no substitute for Cat5 or better.
Yeah, this is a nice thing to look for especially if you are going to have a lot of nodes. Most mesh units have only a single 5 GHz radio for both clients and backhaul (as I understand most of them won’t use 2.4 GHz for backhaul at all). This effectively means you entire house ends up on the same 5 GHz band. Which works pretty well, and is better than a single access point, but is not optimal.