Best option for home wifi extension?

Helen Member Posts: 2
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I have a NETGEAR EX3800 WiFi extender that worked well for a couple of years but is now increasingly unreliable and I repeatedly have to switch it off and back on again. This is the second one I’ve had of these and the first one did the same thing. I’m thinking about getting a mesh network instead. Ignoring cost differences, which would you recommend? Another WiFi extender, a powerline adaptor or the mesh network?

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  • Ajax
    Ajax Member Posts: 35
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    edited August 1, 2019 #2 Answer ✓
    I've used a combination of Gigabit powerline extenders and cat5 cabling where I can and put some Cisco AP's on the end. I've used the Cisco WAP121's but I'm sure there are some updated versions available now. I don't have any trouble speed wise and rarely require reboots. We have 6 streaming devices around the house and often we have a few on at a time with no buffering. I've got 3 AP's around my house and get decent signal throughout.
    I tried the Netgear extenders once (WN3000RP) and found as you have. Regular downtime and reboots required.
  • Lee_Bo
    Lee_Bo Member Posts: 272
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    I tried several additions and extensions to my Asus router, but in the end I just decided to pay the money and get a true mesh network, so I went with the Ubiquiti Amplifi system.  Was a little more than I was looking to spend but I have been very satisfied so far.
  • The_dave
    The_dave Member Posts: 2
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    #4 Answer ✓

    I find ubiquiti unifi to be absolutely fantastic - and works well for a combination of wired access points, and meshed if wires cannot be run. The management platform is great - even for simple usage, but has some reasonably advanced features if needed.

    Uniquiti also do a stand-alone platform for meshing at home (amplifi), which is also really impressive, and very extensible if required.

    Often there can be a certain amount of trial and error (and educated guesswork) when it comes to extending WiFi - I know it well, but consistently had one “dead” room until I put another AP in.

  • Romulus
    Romulus Member, Beta Tester Posts: 35
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    #5 Answer ✓
    Things I have tried :
    1. Cheap extenders 
    2. Cheap routers as extenders
    3. Cheap mesh 
    All of these were with wired back haul. I was always frustrated by the extender solutions as devices just wouldn't hop to another node when they should (it's up to the device to decide). I ended up configuring different SSID's so I could manually select the one that was best (painful).

    My current solution (the cheap mesh) consists of an Asus RT-AC86U for my main router and two Asus AC-1900 re-flashed to upgrade them to RT-AC68U routers. These form an Asus mesh and has been working very well for me. The mesh gives the devices the nudge they need to hop from one node to the other. I have happily streamed video whilst roaming between the access points.

    The AC-1900's cost a mere $50 each but require a fairly complex upgrade procedure to make them mesh capable (only for the technically brave). But Asus has a bunch of models that are mesh capable that don't need that hassle. Whilst I wouldn't say it has been entirely plain sailing my mesh seems pretty reliable and doesn't need reboots too often (say once every month or two). And it's not like it ever folds completely, I just seem to get the odd device having trouble and reboot to resolve.

    Whilst I am sure there are much better mesh solutions out there, they seem to cost an arm and a leg and many don't seem to have much in the way of advanced configuration options. The Asus solution gives me a lot of control over my network. About the only thing missing is a guest Wifi network. Maybe they will add that someday.
  • CryptoMinky
    CryptoMinky Member Posts: 11
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    #6 Answer ✓
    After many tries I have concluded that "cheap mesh and cheap extenders are a waste of good money". I would add that one should consider the following elements when designing  or improving an extended Wi-Fi system: distance, wall construction, optimal configuration of components, optimal placement of devices (not to close to other RF generating devices), new advances in router technology and finally - electronic equipment fatigue.


  • RichCreedy
    RichCreedy Member, Beta Tester Posts: 38
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    we use tenda nova mw6 or mw3 at customer premises
  • TheCustomCave
    TheCustomCave Member, Beta Tester Posts: 48
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    If you've got the scope to do so then I'd highly recommend cabling around the house, then adding APs where needed.
    Mesh networking, extenders, powerline etc. are not quite as stable and reliable long term as the tried and tested methods above. They're ok for the small stuff but as houses become more and more technologically diverse they just can't keep up with the latency and bandwidth required.
  • FingLover
    FingLover Member Posts: 7
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    Personally, I prefer mesh routers.

    ie Google Wifi (see link at the bottom)

    That solved my range issue when I was in the similar situation.

  • Chiefplumber
    Chiefplumber Member, Beta Tester Posts: 12
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    Sorry domenico, never is a long time and I don't believe in your solution.  So much of this question is physical home structure dependent.  Are you in a single or multi-family home environment?   Single or multi-floor?  How much distance do you have to cover?  Are your walls and floors masonry, wood, plaster, wallboard?  Are you trying to reach outside?  How much noise is created by other non-networked devices?  etc. etc. etc.  For my home with plaster walls and metal lath in the ceiling ... I use POE Cat 5 cabling run through the plumbing chase and multiple access points.  Using multiple access points you are creating multiple connectivity zones.  Your WiFi devices will decide which AP has the best signal and Fingbox will help you identify where they connect!!!  I looked at the Orbi solution and decided against it.  For my environment repeaters just don't cut it and a mesh network is just a fancy repeater.
  • Speedf
    Speedf Member Posts: 35
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    Personally I prefer Mesh to extenders.  I've used dozens of extenders and powerline adaptors and most are too much hassle in my opinion.  Both Mesh systems I've used (BT WholeHome) and Google WiFi are just seamless.
  • joltdude
    joltdude Member, Beta Tester Posts: 34
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    edited August 7, 2019 #12
    In order of preference, AP>MESH>EXTENDERS
    Never had good luck with extender tech.... that said iv used routers as extenders in the past vs dedicated extender devices and that can be pretty reliable.... but remember every hop can (but not necessarily) halve your throughput.... Reason I said can not will... there are some devices such as Orbi/Velop/using a router as an extender,  that can dedicate a channel to the connection and your throughput does not get affected as much.. Still may be some overhead but its negligible 
  • CryptoMinky
    CryptoMinky Member Posts: 11
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    I have been using an Asus AC86U as a bridged router with a TP-Link RE950 for about 6 months now. While I am tempted to go mesh with a second AC86U, the RE950 extender has been impressive and reliable.
  • Mattman
    Mattman Member, Beta Tester Posts: 26
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    I will echo the use of Ubiquiti's Amplifi mesh system. Personally, I used the Amplifi Instant due to the low cost of entry and my tight budget, but I like what I see in the extended Amplifi line.

    I also have a wired network in the rooms I've put the mesh points in, so that probably contributes to the satisfaction with the Instant line.

  • JonSaunders
    JonSaunders Member, Beta Tester Posts: 13
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    edited August 7, 2019 #15
    I use a fast D-Link router configured as an access point at each end of the house on different floors with Cat6 cabling back to the CenturyLink provided Zyxel modem/router.  I let the Zyxel device handle DHCP and the ethernet network but turned off its wireless radios.  This gives me consistent fast wireless support all over the house.  Before that, I tried wi-fi extenders, wire-line, and ethernet over coax.  My current solution is by far the best to make good use of my gigabit service from CenturyLink.  I also tried leaving the wireless radios turned "on" on the Zyxel device but found I got better connectivity and speed with them turned off, and just the D-Link APs handling the wireless activity.
  • JEspo
    JEspo Member, Beta Tester Posts: 7
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    I will echo a mesh system. I have Asus Lyra at three locations including my home with three floors, and they work very good for the price. I bought my home one used on OfferUp.
  • Aguden
    Aguden Member Posts: 5
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    I’ve used routers as WAPs all wired directly  back to my router.  I have my house, barn and free standing garage all on CAT5 and CAT6 and use the same 2 SSDIs (one for 2.4 and one for 5) and all works seamlessly. I virtually never reboot my router or any of the WAPs. I also have a few outside and they work fine too. I keep reading about the newer technology but I figure is if ain’t broke don’t fix it.  
  • kltaylor
    kltaylor Member, Beta Tester Posts: 1,231
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    edited August 9, 2019 #18
    As stated above, I've had great success with AI Mesh routers.  Whatever you do though, don't look for 'cheap' when it comes to whole-home WiFi.  There are brands out there that I will no longer recommend simply because the consumer line of products is synonymous with crap (I'm looking at you, Belkin!).
    Google search AI Mesh Wifi and look through those, then compare them to your budget.
    "There's a fine line between audacity and idiocy."
    -Warden Anastasia Luccio, Captain
  • Helen
    Helen Member Posts: 2
    Photogenic First Comment
    Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. They are all really useful. I should have said in my original post that I only have a 3-bed flat in London (approx 900 sq ft). It sounds like some of you have much larger properties and the solutions you use wouldn't really be necessary for my little flat!

    The main issue I have is that I lose signal at the front of my flat. It's split-level and is long, so the Wi-Fi signal drops somewhere in the middle and is quite weak upstairs. The NETGEAR extender has been perfectly adequate until recently, so I'm just looking for a more reliable replacement. Preferably something that is easy to install too, otherwise my next post will be about that!
    MIBSWE Member Posts: 33
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    I moved over to a mesh system 18 months ago and have never looked back. Same SSID & better connections all over the property. At the time, NetGear had a great mesh system, but when checking their forums, they were having lots of issues at the time (recommend you do this for any product that you're interested in to find the truth behind the marketing), so I chose the Multy X and I've been happy with them. Note that there's not much flexibility in configurations if you like changing a lot of hings, but for me it works. I can diables IPv6, use another DNS och block devices (I use Fing for this). They have a 5GHz, 2.4GHz and Guest network.