[SOLVED] Mesh Network Questions... Need Help

mannye

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Nov 10, 2012
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Hello everyone. I am currently using a cobbled together wifi/wired network in my house that just needs updating. I have the modem from AT&T which does one zone, then I'm running an old D-Link router in the other part of the house which is attached to the AT&T router via ethernet and the whole thing is a big mess.

First some info. The house is built out of concrete and inch-thick rebar. It's like a giant Faraday Cage, or rather a bunch of Faraday Cages set up in a horseshoe pattern. It's also from 1938. Cell phone signals are cut off inside the house. The modem is in the den which sits away from every other room in the house I had to set up the access point in the living room because the wifi signal barely makes it out of the den into the kitchen. By the time we get to the dining room, the signal is down to one bar.

Because of this and also because I've lived here for over 20 years, when wired networks were the name of the game, I also have a wired network going to the living room and the office downstairs, the garage where I have my office and each bedroom upstairs.

I need to upgrade everything. The wired network has an ancient 10/100 switch I found at a thrift store like 10 years ago, so that needs upgrading. I was thinking of either the Linksys SE3008 or the NETGEAR Nighthawk GS810EMX. I do gaming in the garage as well as work so I wonder if the extra expense of the Nighthawk is needed or not. They are both 8 ports.

I was thinking of the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) for the mesh network to go alongside the wired network. I figure that would futureproof (a little) and provide the strong signals or the flexibility to add more nodes as needed to get wifi to the different areas.

Does this sound like a good plan or is there something better? Also, can those nodes take advantage of the ethernet connections? I don't know ANYTHING about the mesh options. Thanks in advance for any help.
 
So called "mesh" is all marketing to home consumers. Large businesses do not use mesh solutions. They use ethernet connected AP similar to what you now say you have.
This has been the way wifi has been installed for many years, well before home uses really even had single wifi routers.

It is up to you how you configure your network and if it is all 1 with a single SSID or multiple. The equipment you have can run either.

I just can't believe how bad the marketing guys have sucked in people with the word "mesh". You have people that can quote the marketing word for word but have no clue what it means. The largest is people that talk about "seamless roaming".
First who really needs this feature. Do people really try to watch netflix while they walk up and down stairs in their house, I guess people walk in front of cars watching their cell phone.

The roaming issue is fully in control of the end device not the network. Key to making it work as good as you can is adjusting the radio power on the wifi sources to get as little overlap as possible but still provide good coverage. This is nothing new and how
wifi installs have been done in large business. It is the planning and testing of the wifi layout that is key to having the roaming work the best.

For most people it is far easier to just run the radios at full power and let the human control the roaming. If the end device did not switch to the best radio by itself you can just stop and start the wifi and it will connect to the strongest signal.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Hello everyone. I am currently using a cobbled together wifi/wired network in my house that just needs updating. I have the modem from AT&T which does one zone, then I'm running an old D-Link router in the other part of the house which is attached to the AT&T router via ethernet and the whole thing is a big mess.

First some info. The house is built out of concrete and inch-thick rebar. It's like a giant Faraday Cage, or rather a bunch of Faraday Cages set up in a horseshoe pattern. It's also from 1938. Cell phone signals are cut off inside the house. The modem is in the den which sits away from every other room in the house I had to set up the access point in the living room because the wifi signal barely makes it out of the den into the kitchen. By the time we get to the dining room, the signal is down to one bar.

Because of this and also because I've lived here for over 20 years, when wired networks were the name of the game, I also have a wired network going to the living room and the office downstairs, the garage where I have my office and each bedroom upstairs.

I need to upgrade everything. The wired network has an ancient 10/100 switch I found at a thrift store like 10 years ago, so that needs upgrading. I was thinking of either the Linksys SE3008 or the NETGEAR Nighthawk GS810EMX. I do gaming in the garage as well as work so I wonder if the extra expense of the Nighthawk is needed or not. They are both 8 ports.

I was thinking of the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) for the mesh network to go alongside the wired network. I figure that would futureproof (a little) and provide the strong signals or the flexibility to add more nodes as needed to get wifi to the different areas.

Does this sound like a good plan or is there something better? Also, can those nodes take advantage of the ethernet connections? I don't know ANYTHING about the mesh options. Thanks in advance for any help.
Mesh -- meaning wireless uplink, probably won't work for you. A single SSID system could work with a wired infrastructure tying it together.
If WIFI doesn't get to an area today, putting in a mesh unit there won't work.
 

mannye

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Nov 10, 2012
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Mesh -- meaning wireless uplink, probably won't work for you. A single SSID system could work with a wired infrastructure tying it together.
If WIFI doesn't get to an area today, putting in a mesh unit there won't work.
Thanks for responding! Interesting. I thought that the repeaters piggybacked off each other and sent the signal on to the next node. One main one in the den, then a repeater in the kitchen, which would reach the living room, then another one on the landing upstairs, grabbing the signal and sending it up to the second floor bedrooms. Or am I completely mistaken about how a mesh network works?
 
Some work that way but every hop you put in the path will cut the total bandwidth. In addition each hop can now get interference and cause re-transmission of data adding latency as well as consuming addition bandwidth.

There is no free lunch here you pay a huge performance penalty to implement it that way. The best mesh systems if you call it that use a dedicated radio to talk between the mesh units and the main router. To have multiple hops you would need devices with multiple backhaul radio chips as well as at least 2 to talk to the end devices.
There are a lot of mesh systems that do not have any extra radio chips and these just stomp on each other as well as the other end devices.

You should use mesh when you have no other options to provide wifi coverage. Using some kind of wired backhaul even if it is moca or powerline networks is going to be far superior.

Mesh is primarily market for lazy people that think they can put decorator boxes in every room and by magic you get a wifi network.
 

mannye

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Nov 10, 2012
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The best mesh systems if you call it that use a dedicated radio to talk between the mesh units and the main router. To have multiple hops you would need devices with multiple backhaul radio chips as well as at least 2 to talk to the end devices.
There are a lot of mesh systems that do not have any extra radio chips and these just stomp on each other as well as the other end devices.

Using some kind of wired backhaul even if it is moca or powerline networks is going to be far superior.
I think I understand. I am specifically looking at systems that have backhaul radio chips and I don't mind buying multiple devices. But I am open to whatever will solve the problem. I don't care what the solution is, as long as it works.

As far as placing designer objects around the house, that's silly. I want a system that works and doesn't look like a huge red mech spider in the middle of the living room, which is my current situation. Since it's a home and not an office.
 
So I will assume you do not have ethernet in remote rooms.

Your next best solution if you have coax cables is to put moca devices in the remote rooms using the moca for all the backhauls. You then put in wifi device that act as a AP. If you do not have coax cable consider powerline networks.

Be aware in any case you want the very minimum number of wifi sources. The more you put in the more they interfere.

Be careful to read the fine print. Many times the extra radio chips are only used to talk to the main router they use the other radios to talk between the node if they even do that. Again mesh/repeater systems should be your very last choice where you will accept all the performance issues. Pretty much you attitude must be even a bad network connection is better than no network connection.
 

mannye

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Nov 10, 2012
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So I will assume you do not have ethernet in remote rooms.

Your next best solution if you have coax cables is to put moca devices in the remote rooms using the moca for all the backhauls. You then put in wifi device that act as a AP. If you do not have coax cable consider powerline networks.

Be aware in any case you want the very minimum number of wifi sources. The more you put in the more they interfere.

Be careful to read the fine print. Many times the extra radio chips are only used to talk to the main router they use the other radios to talk between the node if they even do that. Again mesh/repeater systems should be your very last choice where you will accept all the performance issues. Pretty much you attitude must be even a bad network connection is better than no network connection.
Got it. But I DO INDEED have ethernet in every room. Both upstairs bedrooms, the living room, the office and the garage. I just also need to have a workable wifi network as well. I can buy a switch for each room as well. Assuming each room needs a wifi "node" how can I set up ONE wifi network through the whole house? At the moment, I've cobbled together a network using two old routers that I am using as wifi generators, but I have three different networks throughout the house. This is why I thought MESH would be the solution. And thanks again for taking the time to help me.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Got it. But I DO INDEED have ethernet in every room. Both upstairs bedrooms, the living room, the office and the garage. I just also need to have a workable wifi network as well. I can buy a switch for each room as well. Assuming each room needs a wifi "node" how can I set up ONE wifi network through the whole house? At the moment, I've cobbled together a network using two old routers that I am using as wifi generators, but I have three different networks throughout the house. This is why I thought MESH would be the solution. And thanks again for taking the time to help me.
You will always have "different" WIFI networks. You can have them all with the same name (SSID) and password with the hardware you have today, you just have to configure them that way.
A device may or may not roam between WIFI sources. That is up to the device. The way you describe your construction, it sounds like you need several WIFI sources.
 
So called "mesh" is all marketing to home consumers. Large businesses do not use mesh solutions. They use ethernet connected AP similar to what you now say you have.
This has been the way wifi has been installed for many years, well before home uses really even had single wifi routers.

It is up to you how you configure your network and if it is all 1 with a single SSID or multiple. The equipment you have can run either.

I just can't believe how bad the marketing guys have sucked in people with the word "mesh". You have people that can quote the marketing word for word but have no clue what it means. The largest is people that talk about "seamless roaming".
First who really needs this feature. Do people really try to watch netflix while they walk up and down stairs in their house, I guess people walk in front of cars watching their cell phone.

The roaming issue is fully in control of the end device not the network. Key to making it work as good as you can is adjusting the radio power on the wifi sources to get as little overlap as possible but still provide good coverage. This is nothing new and how
wifi installs have been done in large business. It is the planning and testing of the wifi layout that is key to having the roaming work the best.

For most people it is far easier to just run the radios at full power and let the human control the roaming. If the end device did not switch to the best radio by itself you can just stop and start the wifi and it will connect to the strongest signal.
 

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