Question Router Recommendations for a Device Crowded House

Oct 13, 2020
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I am currently using a Netgear Nighthawk R6700 and a Netgear AC750 extender (hardwired) for my home network. I have over 30 devices connecting simultaneously (smart switches, outlets, bulbs, alexas, irrigation controls, alarm hub, computers, phones, tvs etc). The house is two 2 stories and about 2000 sq ft. There is a central stone/brick chimney and most of the walls are sheetrocked + 1/2" decorative wood covering.

I think the device traffic and structural impediments of the houes are giving me a pretty weak wifi signal. Also, devices don't do a great job switching from extender to main router network if I am moving about the house. Any recommendations on a new network configuration or new equipment to improve our wifi? I am up for scrapping the current equipment if better options exist. I don't want to spend over $200 if possible. My internet service is 100/10.

Thanks
 
Have the extender connected via ethernet is the best way to run these devices. You are running it as a AP rather than a wifi repeater. Wifi coverage is mostly related to placement of the radios. I assume you have the "extender" upstairs? This should give you pretty good coverage.

There is not much you can do to increase the coverage. Almost all router transmit at the maximum legal power so different hardware seldom makes any difference. Most issues are related to the lower power transmitters and small antenna in the end devices. All you can really do is to try to add another AP to get more coverage. That depends on you have ethernet in another location. You could consider powerline networks or MoCA if you have tv coax. Both these technologies would replace the ethernet cable between the router and the AP. They do not perform as well but should exceed the 100mpbs you get from your ISP.

The current routers you have also likely match the end devices. Buying some fancy router that does 4x4 mimo and qam1024 does little good if the end device also does not support these features. Most device match router that have number 1200-1750.

Wifi was never designed to do roaming. The end device is in full control and it only has 1 radio so it can not actually detect a second radio source. There is almost no need for the feature. People talk about it but realistically how many people are walking around their house watching netflix, or more likely falling down the stairs. All you need to do is stop and restart the wifi and it will connect to the strongest wifi source. It generally is done so quickly you will not lose the ip or get logged out of things. Don't get conned by the marketing on so called mesh equipment there is not a real solution to the roaming until they change the end devices so the network controls it like a cell tower network. But again there is really no need for seamless roaming in the house, maybe VoIP but now days with unlimited minutes it is simpler to just use the cell network than to mess around.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
Adding multiple WIFI sources with wired connectivity is the best answer. You could create a SSID for your IOT devices. Move them to separate radios.
Get as much as possible to a wired connection as possible. TVs, PCs, all stationary devices that support wired, should be on wired.
 
Oct 13, 2020
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Thanks for the suggestions. It seems like one more AP at the far end of the house will help. Currently, you could say the main router is central and 2nd AP is south, but North side is missing an AP (well the north side of house has a fine signal but once you step into the yard it drops to near nothing). The one secondary AP I have is hardwired and luckily, its easy enough for me to run CAT6 to hardwire in a third AP. Sounds crazy to have 3 AP for not such a large house but it seems that the houses construction warrants it.

In terms of setting up multiple AP, should I just set broadcast strength to minimize too much overlap of each AP? Also, should I set them on all different channels or the same?

Regarding dedicated AP for the random devices throughout the house; does a guest network satisfy this? Or does it share the same radio as the primary network and thus, will bog down the router all the same?

Thanks
 
In theory you put in them on different channels. It tends to no longer be practical unless you are will to give up speed. Modern routers use 40mhz channels on 2.4g. There is only 60mhz total so it is impossible to fit 2 without overlap. On 5g it is tiny bit better. It uses 80mhz channels (160 if you have wifi6) There are 2 blocks large enough hold 80mhz so you can have 2 non overlapping channels. I can't wait for wiif6e I hear rumors or 6-8 blocks of 160mhz on the 6g radio.

You can if you are willing to reduce the speed change it to run 20mhz channels and then there are lots of ways to not overlap.

When they are on the same channel it is recommended you turn down the power. It is very tricky to get this correct so you get good coverage and minimize the interference and to some extent allow the devices to roam.

The vast majority of guest networks share the same physical radios so they compete for resources with your main wifi devices. It is possible on many of the tri-band routers to assign a guest network to one of the 5g radios. Note the concept of guest is more to limit device on the guest network from getting access to the main network. It is not simple to implement when you have AP. What kanewolf is recommending is you just use a different SSID and a different radio so you could assign device to it.
 

neojack

Prominent
Apr 4, 2019
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for better roaming, you should reduce the emit power of your APs. that way devices will roam much more.
yes that mean you don't get full 5 bars but thats the point. if the device get a high powered signal 4 rooms across, it won't roam to the AP next to it.

install 3 APs at 20Mhz channel width
for 2.4ghz, select channels 1/6/11
for 5ghz, better select channels after DFS, 149 and up

you can expect real world tcp/ip speeds of around 60mbps in 5ghz and 25mbps in 2.4ghz
if you need more speed, well reduce the number of APs and set higher channel width but your coverage and roaming will be worse. compromises.

try to disable 2.4ghz on wifi devices that can do both, so they are forced in 5ghz. it will free up space in 2.4. less interference.

on your windows devices, you can go in the hardware settings of your Wifi card and select the "wifi roaming agressivity". not sure about the name in english. it's rated from 0 to 5.
if your coverage is good, select the higher setting so your device will constantly search for the best signal and roam to it.

if you have more than 2 AP's, a centralized console like unifi is much more confortable for management.
if you go this route, install the latest v5 of the controler, not the v6, this one is bad for now.

3x unifi AC lite is a wonderfull setup. (set in 20mhz channel width and reduced power for your needs)




Pro's and HD's are more for crowded public places
before you ask, forget about "meshing" marketing garbage. it's just a word for using the 5ghz radio for uplink. run ethernet cords to your APs, and stationnary devices.
 
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Oct 13, 2020
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Thanks for all the help, everyone.

Is there any difference between buying an "extender" vs just buying another router and setting it up in bridge mode and wired to the main router? Maybe extenders are cheaper but in terms of hardware or performance? If both are just in bridge mode, broadcasting an AP, and hardwired back to the main router AP, does it matter which you use?
 

neojack

Prominent
Apr 4, 2019
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Correct , the term extender is pretty much a marketing thing

But most of the time, extenders is a name mostly associated to a device that take it's uplink from another wifi link,
whereas "access points" is a name mostly associated to a device that take it's uplink from a wired link.

In both cases, it's implicit that the devide acts as a bridge. so no routing, no dhcp server etc . Think of it as a wifi switch.

Peole also use the term " dumb ap" wich emphasises on the absence of routing/dhcp

If you buy a regular router, the stock software inside most of the time doesnt allow a true "dumb ap" mode. In that case flashing it with an alternative OS such as openwrt is advised in order to get more settings.

The difference between a wifi router and an AP is only in software. So the hardware could be better or worse depending of the hardware specs.

If you buy a router device and configure it as a true dumb ap, there is would be no difference with an AP. but regular devices for home brands such as dlink tplink netgear etc often dont have this option in stock software.

As i said, for a large coverage with lots of devices roaming etc, you would be better served with unifi APs. Easy to manage too
 
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kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
The difference between a wifi router and an AP is only in software. So the hardware could be better or worse depending of the hardware specs.
The other difference is the built-in 4 port ethernet switch in a typical home router. Asus routers have a 1 button toggle to AP mode in the factory firmware. If you don't need any fancy features like multiple SSIDs, then a router acting as an AP, with wired connectivity back to your primary router will work just fine.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
So dumb question here but making a router an AP is more than just putting it into bridge mode? lol
The main thing required is to disable the DHCP server. The LAN ports and WIFI are bridged by default. If you connect the router LAN port to LAN port and have the DHCP server on the "AP" disabled, it will work. You don't get any fancy features like QOS or anything like that.
 
Oct 13, 2020
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Thanks.

Any recommendations for firmware for the Netgear EX6100v2 Extender and Netgear R6700 v3 router?

I see openwrt 19.07.4 is compatible with the extender but not with v3 of the router. no clue if its worth trying or not?
 
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