eastpark
eastpark HalfDork
5/21/21 6:19 a.m.

Hi - I'd like to upgrade the aging home wifi setup and looking for recommendations on upgrading.

Requirements:

  • Fast
  • Reliable
  • Secure

I have a relatively small bungalow (1300 SF) with a detached garage/shop (about 60 feet from the house). The current wireless router reaches out to the garage, so coverage appears OK.

This is for 4 computers, 2 phones, 5 IOT devices, 4 smart TV's, a Sonos system and printers. Assume the # of connected devices to grow over the years.

I want it to be as future-proof as much as possible/practical. Cost is not a factor - I want to meet or exceed my requirements. We don't do any gaming - just work, Teams and Zoom meetings, TV streaming and general surfing.

Any experience in Mesh versus traditional wireless router? I'm not sure if mesh is an advantage, but maybe in the future?

Thanks, Paul

 

dj06482 (Forum Supporter)
dj06482 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/21/21 6:35 a.m.

I went with a mesh system mid-2020 and am glad we did. Our issue before was primarily low bandwidth at the fringe of WiFi coverage (our router is in the basement).  We have four kids who were streaming full time (either video games or Google meets for school), and I've been working from home full-time, as well.
 

Definitely do some research, as not all mesh systems are created equal (a dedicated back channel was important to me).  Based on my research, I went  with the Netgear Orbi RBK50, and it's worked really well for us.

If you're not having coverage/bandwidth issues, mesh may not be a huge advantage. But  with an increase in connected devices, I'd recommend it if you're upgrading.

Security is about having strong passwords for your WiFi, and keeping your firmware updated on your connected devices (think Alexa, security cameras, etc.)  

 

Toyman01 + Sized and
Toyman01 + Sized and MegaDork
5/21/21 6:51 a.m.

We are using this: TP-Link Deco Mesh WiFi System

It covers my entire house and my detached shop with no problems. 

 

szeis4cookie (Forum Supporter)
szeis4cookie (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/21/21 6:52 a.m.

+1 for Mesh - I upgraded to the Google Nest Wifi mid-2020, after virtual school and WFH exposed some dead spots in our house. Now our network can comfortably handle 4 simultaneous Zoom calls, where before it would start to choke on the third one. 

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
5/21/21 7:32 a.m.

The most secure connections that work best with video etc tend to be wired. WiFi is still less secure (security researchers just found another bug that's an issue in the fundamental protocol) and can/still does exhibit odd hiccups as it does use shared radio frequencies.

Right, now that the soapbox moment is over - define "future proof".

WiFi in general is backward compatible quite a way, so you don't generally have to upgrade every five minutes to the latest and greatest. Especially as the latest and greatest will also require hardware upgrades/new hardware at the receiving end (TVs, computers etc). The "safe" lifespan in general is defined by the timeframe you can get firmware updates for the devices, so for longevity you don't necessarily want consumer grade devices - you really want the business grade stuff. The recommendation for that used to be Ubiquiti but they've fallen a bit out of favour recently due to some "phone home" type shenanigans etc.

Re the mesh or no mesh question - if you can get a single access point to cover the whole house, it makes things simpler from a technical perspective, but if it leads to weak reception in areas you might be better off with a mesh. That said, a mesh system isn't the be all and end all here either. One other thing to consider is that a lot of mesh system require cloud connectivity, so at least check if the system keeps working without cloud connectivity for a while. It's no fun if your WiFi is going onthe fritz because the provider has a cloud outage.

Oh, and back to the soapbox - if the mesh system you choose has the ability to do so, I'd consider hardwiring in the backlinks from each mesh node.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
5/21/21 7:33 a.m.

I have an Amplifi setup. Works great, pull 150 mb down on the patio. 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/21/21 8:04 a.m.

A year ago, we bought the Xfi pods for the house.  And have been pretty happy about it.  We have an extended wireless because the internet connection is in the new part of the house- which is far away from the rest.  

We've tried various wi-fi extenders, and ran with an apple version for quite a while.  But that eventually wore out (apparently, that's actually a thing....).  After converting my modem to it's wi-fi capability, I tried running another extender, but it was not quite that great.  So we went with the Xfi pods.

You can turn various levels of security on- which is what we do.  And also make sure that your provider does not use it's device as a hot spot for it's customers- Xfinity has that as the base settings.

eastpark
eastpark HalfDork
5/21/21 8:54 a.m.
BoxheadTim said:

Right, now that the soapbox moment is over - define "future proof".

Oh, and back to the soapbox - if the mesh system you choose has the ability to do so, I'd consider hardwiring in the backlinks from each mesh node.

Future proof in the sense that I try to avoid networks and wifi as much as I can. Frankly, I suck at this type of stuff, so I tend to avoid it. In other words, if im going to curse and swear and change out my stuff - I want it to last as long as possible before the misery of doing it again.

Good to know about the backlinks/back channel information. I will keep that in mind.

 

And thanks to everyone for your input!

CAinCA
CAinCA Reader
5/21/21 11:43 a.m.

I have a friend that up until about a month ago was a director at a well known company that makes wifi chips. He recently left that company, but before he did he posted on FB that this was the best home wifi mesh network available. He and his team had worked directly with Google on this product. He's a very smart guy and I have no reason to doubt him:

 

Google WIFI 2nd Generation.

 

We have an Orbi RBS50 system. It's been OK, but if I were to do it again I think I'd go with Google WIFI. Our power went out about a month ago. and the piece of E36 M3 was DOA after the power came back on. I had to reload the firmware on our router to get it back up an running. 

Stampie
Stampie MegaDork
5/21/21 12:06 p.m.

I don't understand in that your first statement says you have good coverage with your current setup yet you want to change everything?  I'm a big believer in the KISS principle with wireless setups.  That and looking at straight line between router and problem areas will fix most issues.  By straight line I mean what is in between them?  Once I was in a situation that no wireless worked on a couch.  Fine on either end but not on the couch.  Did the straight line test and saw that a concrete support column for the condo was in the way.  Moved the router over a couple of feet and problem solved.

Placemotorsports
Placemotorsports HalfDork
5/21/21 3:39 p.m.

Another vote for the Orbi. Much more power than the TP deco that we did have.  Picked up the Orbi RBR750s 3 pack from Costco last summer and haven't had an issue since. 

eastpark
eastpark HalfDork
5/21/21 3:53 p.m.

In reply to Stampie :

Correct, and good catch! Yes, the coverage is good, but the equipment I'm using is getting pretty long in the tooth, and the performance seems (to me) to be degrading. Also, recent job changes have me looking at upgrading to something current and (hopefully) taking advantage of the latest tech. 

No Time
No Time SuperDork
5/21/21 3:53 p.m.

We're also running an Orbi RBS50 system with 2 satellites. I did some research and chose it because of the dedicated radio for back haul instead of sharing the same radio for backhaul and devices.

Once I worked out the placement for the units it's been pretty stable and the coverage is good enough that my kids can get WiFi at the bus stop a few houses down the street. 

The one complaint I have is that you can't turn off the 5ghz or 2.4 ghz completely. That created a headache getting a couple connected devices (smart lightbulb and robot vac) that will only connect to the 2.4 ghz on the network. I had to play with signal strength setting to get the 2.4 to be dominant while connecting, and once connected I was able to turn both frequencies back to 100%. 

I also have my router and modem plugged into a timer. The power to them shuts down for about 15 minutes in the middle of the night to force them to reboot daily.  I have to do the satellites manually, but haven't needed to do that in a while. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
5/21/21 4:02 p.m.

No way would I allow a Google or Alphabet product to be part of my home networking infrastructure. Nope nope nope. Same with Amazon or FB. Heck, they're not even allowed in the house. Hey, you did mention security.

I run a fairly normal wifi setup (igoring what's going on to get networking to the shop) - but was struggling with performance. I found that adding one more meshing access point in the main room increased performance significantly - even though it's only one room over from the primary AP. Signal strength is about the same between the two of them in much of the house but the distribution of devices across the two of them seems to help a lot. I'd prefer to have a hardwired network with multiple APs but that's a significant wiring project in a house of this age.

It's all Ubiquiti stuff, a UAP-AC-M-US mesh access point and and UAP-AC-LR for the primary. I have separate 2.4 and 5 GHz networks, the former is just there for the legacy devices. Most things on our network are at least 5 years old so they're not as fast as the current tech.

m4ff3w
m4ff3w UberDork
5/21/21 4:21 p.m.
z31maniac said:

I have an Amplifi setup. Works great, pull 150 mb down on the patio. 

Ubiquiti has discontinued Amplifi.  They have Unifi mesh though.

That said, run cat5e or cat6 everywhere.  Place APs where convienent. If you can't run ethernet, use MoCA adapters and utilize your coax in the house to get near gigabit speeds.

 

I'm a big fan of Ubiquiti Unifi gear.

 

 

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress Reader
5/23/21 8:30 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Yeah, using Google or Amazon hardware or software is a hard no from me as well.

Their fundamental business model is using your personal data and selling it to third parties.

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/23/21 9:02 a.m.

What's Mesh?

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
5/23/21 9:09 a.m.

It's a set of WiFi access points that work together and pretend to be a single WiFi network. Usually used to improve coverage in larger space or one that has other WiFi reception issues due to the materials used.

Usually consumer grade ones run firmware for really easy setup as well. The technology isn't that new - commercial grade stuff has been able to do this for a while but lacked the ease of setup.

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/23/21 9:22 a.m.

In reply to BoxheadTim :

Thanks

m4ff3w
m4ff3w UberDork
5/24/21 10:01 a.m.

Mesh is a wifi network that doesn't uses a wireless backhaul.  You might have one or a couple access points connected to the LAN and other access points that connect to the wired APs over a separate radio for their uplink.

Roaming is the ability to move from one AP to another seamlessly, a single network with multi access points.  

 

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