Wi-Fi Extension advice sought

Domenico

Standard Member
I have a BT Smart Hub Router (working with 300Mb broadband) in an Ground Floor understairs cupboard, which provides a decent enough signal to run most tech in the House however, I have a Hive Thermostat in my First Floor Bedroom which keeps dropping its connection to the Router. My Son has an XBox in his First Floor Bedroom and has no issues, but I'm considering getting something that improves the signal received upstairs.

I have a BT port in my Bedroom which I (presumably) can hard-wire from and am considering a Wi-Fi extender in the room to wire to, alternatively, have this extender work without a hard-wire (and just pick-up the Router signal).

Could anyone recommend (i) Wi-Fi Extender Product and (ii) whether I should cable from the port or just rely on the signal alon from downstairs? Thanks
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Wi-Fi extenders that connect to your existing Wi-Fi and extend it are all crap. Not worth bothering with.

A couple of possible options:
Powerline adaptors with Wi-Fi (one would be connected via Ethernet to your router, the other where ever you want.
Additional router setup as an access point and use the wireless of that.
Consider a mesh wi-fi system (expensive).
 

Domenico

Standard Member
Wi-Fi extenders that connect to your existing Wi-Fi and extend it are all crap. Not worth bothering with.

A couple of possible options:
Powerline adaptors with Wi-Fi (one would be connected via Ethernet to your router, the other where ever you want.
Additional router setup as an access point and use the wireless of that.
Consider a mesh wi-fi system (expensive).
Thanks Greg, interesting perspective on extenders. Lots of good reviews on (dirty word approaching) Amazon, had me convinced. Would I purchse a normal router and set-up using a laptop? Please forgive Layman intellect.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
The trouble with WiFi extenders that simply clone the existing Wi-Fi signal and they are often very flakey and the speeds are not great.

If you got another router (anything will do really from the last few years, second hand for example), you connect it up, then connect via web browser and configure it that way. Turn it into an AP and go from there. It would result in two Wi-fi networks though, but at least you would have two strong networks for the various parts of the house.
 

Domenico

Standard Member
The trouble with WiFi extenders that simply clone the existing Wi-Fi signal and they are often very flakey and the speeds are not great.

If you got another router (anything will do really from the last few years, second hand for example), you connect it up, then connect via web browser and configure it that way. Turn it into an AP and go from there. It would result in two Wi-fi networks though, but at least you would have two strong networks for the various parts of the house.
Cheers Greg. I'm going to search for a you tube video for support in getting this set-up. If you could suggest a link, I'd appreciate it?
 

Eddy555

Distinguished Member
Tenda Nova mesh WiFi are great value - worth a look

A few of my friends have the MW3 and are very pleased with them. My folks installed the MW6 and that's fixed a load of issues with WiFi (they had extenders which were a pain).
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
Your best bet would be trying to get a Cat5e / Cat 6 cable from where your router is to your loft. This would then allow you to install a wireless access point (any flavour) on your first floor providing additional wifi coverage. Failing that look at any of the Mesh Wifi Products.
 

Domenico

Standard Member
I've been recommended BT Wi-Fi discs to create a mesh network. As I have a BT Smart Hub 2, would this be a suitable solution?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
I have a BT port in my Bedroom which I (presumably) can hard-wire from and am considering a Wi-Fi extender in the room to wire to, alternatively, have this extender work without a hard-wire (and just pick-up the Router signal).
You cannot use the BT socket - the end of the ISP line needs to have one, and only one, modem on the end of it, so you cannot "just" plug another router into the phone line on n extension socket.

Contrary to other opinions here, I have a 23 quid TPLink Wi-Fi repeater and it works just fine - but then I'm prepared to accept the speed clobbering such devices effect as I don't need huge speeds for a bit of light web surfing and the occasional download.

So-called "mesh" systems (such as BT's discs and other "whole home" systems) are Wi-Fi repeaters, with a bit of a rebranding and some software extras to aid roaming hand offs, establishment of the backhaul links, set up and so on.

There's actually no such thing as "Wi-Fi Signal" as it is popularly imagined and thusly there's nothing to "boost" (not withstanding that it's physically impossible to "boost" any radio signal.) Wi-Fi is not some kind of ethereal energy field like "The Force." I submit that the best analogy is sound - just as there's no "audio signal" there's no "Wi-Fi signal." Communication devices need to make noises that can the heard by the intended recipient, and for two way communication (which all Wi-Fi is) both sides of the conversation need to be able to "hear each other."

All Wi-Fi is facilitates by "Access Points" whether they are stand alone devices or built into other things like router, HomePlugs, repeaters "mesh" systems or whatever. If a single AP cannot provide the required coverage and/or service quality, then the only alternative is to put up more AP's and create a "cellular" coverage pattern: On big sites we put up hundreds.

The "trick" is how we establish the "backhaul" link between AP's and the rest of the (wired) network. The most reliable and fastest backhaul is usually to be found over "proper" wired data networking links such as ethernet over UTP. Next best is (probably) using HomePlugs. (Check out some of Greg's reviews of such devices in this site.) Least good is using Wi-Fi for the backhaul as well as the client access. This could be repeaters, mesh systems, "whole home" systems and so on. Some of the newer ones are employing a few tricks such as "tri-band" to mitigate some of the bandwidth (speed) clobbering inherent in Wi-FI repeaters, but fundamentally repeaters suffer because the backhaul transmissions and client transmissions all have to compete with each other for some "air time." (In Wi-Fi "only one thing at a time can transmit" and there are "rules" that determine who's turn it is and how to get along with the "neighbours.") Repeaters have there uses but if speed is important and you can find better alternatives, it's best to do so.
 
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mushii

Distinguished Member
@mickevh I have to disagree with you here on Homeplugs. Many of the homeplugs available still are only half duplex and although they quote (IMHO) ridiculous speeds (which are pretty much un-achievable) they are for an assumed, uninterrupted stream of one way traffic. as soon as there is any data travelling in the opposite direction speeds plummet and often the stream stutters. They are also susceptible to line noise induced by cheap wall warts and similar cheap chinese technology that seems to flood our homes. They are in many cases unreliable as speeds fluctuate wildly and I would only ever be used as a final resort. I personally would take modern Mesh APs over Homeplugs every day of the week. But that is just my opinion.

Fortunately my whole house is structured cabled in Cat 6 with wired APs on each floor. yes it was a PIA to retrofit but IMHO I think that the investment in time and effort is worth it.
 

psychopomp1

Member
OP,
I assume you are in a new build property with thin walls, ie very wifi friendly? if so, no need to waste money & over complicate things. You MUST get your existing router out in the open, as having a router in an enclosed space such as a cupboard is probably the worst possible place for wifi - I suspect your fibre ONT is also located in the cupboard. Simply bring your existing router out in the open and there's a good chance this fixes your issue.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
OP,
I assume you are in a new build property with thin walls, ie very wifi friendly? if so, no need to waste money & over complicate things. You MUST get your existing router out in the open, as having a router in an enclosed space such as a cupboard is probably the worst possible place for wifi - I suspect your fibre ONT is also located in the cupboard. Simply bring your existing router out in the open and there's a good chance this fixes your issue.
I'd missed that on the first post. Having a wireless router in a cupboard is definitely not a great idea. It will greatly reduce the range and performance of it.

@mickevh I have to disagree with you here on Homeplugs. Many of the homeplugs available still are only half duplex and although they quote (IMHO) ridiculous speeds (which are pretty much un-achievable) they are for an assumed, uninterrupted stream of one way traffic. as soon as there is any data travelling in the opposite direction speeds plummet and often the stream stutters. They are also susceptible to line noise induced by cheap wall warts and similar cheap chinese technology that seems to flood our homes. They are in many cases unreliable as speeds fluctuate wildly and I would only ever be used as a final resort. I personally would take modern Mesh APs over Homeplugs every day of the week. But that is just my opinion.

Fortunately my whole house is structured cabled in Cat 6 with wired APs on each floor. yes it was a PIA to retrofit but IMHO I think that the investment in time and effort is worth it.
Not sure what bit you are disagreeing with mickevh there, he doesn't say anything about homeplugs being full duplex?

I've a few homeplugs at home and they all work great, giving pretty decent speeds.
I go on about this constantly in my homeplug reviews, but the speeds quoted by the manufacturer are pretty meaningless to the end user as they are the combined up and down rate. So you have to half what they claim and then some.

Also some of the older 500 homeplugs only had 100 ethernet ports, so were limited to that anyway. The more recent 1000 homeplugs you should with decent internal wiring get 300 fairly easily.
 

dcjs01

Standard Member
I struggled to get good Wi-Fi coverage through our house. I tried powerline solutions, Wi-Fi extenders etc but nothing really worked.
In desperation I bought a BT Whole Home System with 3 discs and it has been great. Good coverage throughout the house with devices switching seamlessly between the discs as you move around. Good enough for 4K video streaming all around the house.
Had them for quite a while. Did have a glitch a few weeks ago but reset the whole system and away it went again.
would thoroughly recommend.
Other advantage, when the time comes, is next time I swap ISPs I just simply connect BT system to Ethernet port on new router and off we go. No reconfiguring WiFi settings etc.
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
@Greg Hook I disagreed with @mickevh about powerline being a better option than mesh Wi-fi. My experience is that modern mesh Wi-fi systems are generally faster and more reliable than powerline. Mesh systems tend to run at full duplex and are generally more robust at supporting HD media streaming. I will agree that sometimes your only options are homeplugs or Cat 5/6 and for many people they do not want the mess of installing structured cabling.

I ran homeplugs for a few months when we moved into our current home to get an internet connection to our cinema room and wife’s yoga room on the second floor, but after a while their flakiness became wearing. They were replaced by a pair of Cat6 cables that form a LAG between my Node0 switch and my Cinema Room Switch and a third cat 6 from my node 0 switch for a Ubiquiti access point on my top floor landing.

Of all the powerline switches that I have tried (which is a lot) I found TPLink the most reliable, but they are, imho still a very poor second place to modern mesh Wi-fi solutions.
 

dcjs01

Standard Member
@mushii , I would agree with you. I went through well reviewed Wi-Fi extenders from a couple of well known brands and found them painfully slow. I tried Powerline from Devolo and Billion and found them unreliable in terms of connection back to router. Especially if on different ring mains within the house.
Tried the BT system, which isn’t true MESH, but works a treat.
 

gfplux

Active Member
I have two Fritz 310 WiFi extenders.
One €29 from January 2018 now 22 months old the other €28.42 from December 2028 now 10 months old.
They do a great job for me and I am very happy.
Just upgraded my router to a Fritzbox 7530 and it was only a few seconds to reconnect them to the new box
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
...Mesh systems tend to run at full duplex...
I doubt that - all Wi-Fi (possibly any two-way radio) is half-duplex unless you get into multiplexing across multiple channels (frequencies.) IIRC is down to the fact that the power level difference in the antenna between transmit and receive are so many order of magnitude different, that ever with techniques like echo cancellation, the Tx wipes out any Rx. However, I'm not an electrical engineer (or radio ham.)

Maybe you are referring to (so-called) "tri-band" kit where the client access and backhaul (mesh) links run on different channels allowing client access and mesh links to function concurrently without competing with each other. This isn't particularly a feature of "mesh" systems - you can mesh without tri-band and tri-band without mesh. My point being, not to assume as SOHO "mesh" system is tri-band - if such things matter one should check the data sheet.
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
Generally I try to use cabled infrastructure if I can. We have had good success with Ubiquiti Nanos for p2p where we couldn’t get cable in between buildings.
 

russelkhan

Active Member
I would also recommend a mesh system. I'm using a BT Whole Home system and it's been great. Prior to that I had a mish-mash of wi-fi extenders and bridged routers to extend connectivity around the house. In my last house I was using powerline quite successfully but in this house they just don't work with my wiring. The BT mesh system has been rock solid and reliable for me, and pretty much hassle free. I wouldn't recommend the Linksys Velop mesh system as I got a set for my brother's house last year and it's been very problematic with individual nodes losing connection with each other. He has now switched to BT Whole Home like me and it's been fine. Sorry if I sound like a BT employee!
 

Eddy555

Distinguished Member
I'm using a Velop and it's been great, but I do use a wired backhaul connection between the 2 nodes.
If I was to buy again though I'd be looking at the Tenda Nova MW3 or MW6 as they are great value and I know several people who have them and say they're great. My mate even installed a set in his local pub and it's been great they're too
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
@shotokan101 have I offended you in some way? Care to explain the angry rating on my post?
 

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