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Advice for a 60+ device home where base can't be central

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by Elbub, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    A bit of context. I live in the desert of Arizona in the US. I have a ranch-style house, so it is long when measured end-to-end. It has a loft mid-house, and a fireplace with an aluminum firewall between the main living area and the master bedroom.

    Originally, my setup had my cable modem and base wireless router set in the loft. But I was getting about 1/3 of the bandwidth I was paying for. The cable company came out and determined that the RG6 in the house was old and that the heat had degraded it. They found the same thing from their equipment to the house. They replaced the exterior run at their expense and added one internal connector between their outside box and the adjoining inside wall. And sure enough, moving my modem and wireless router to that point instantly gave me the gig connection I'm paying for.

    Prior to the new RG6 run, I had purchased a Netgear RAX200 and an EAX80 to try and improve speeds. In the new setup, the RAX200 is at the far end of the house opposite the master bedroom, and the EAX80 is in the old spot in the loft. Between firmware issues and seemly known issues with the EAX80 becoming unresponsive, my wireless network is constantly having to be reset. I've also found that the EAX80's signal is no where near as strong as the RAX200's, and now the devices in my master bedroom are dropping connections and losing packets.

    I'm at a bit of a loss as to what I should do. I'm looking for thoughts on two things:
    (1) Are there suggestions on ways to improve the stability and performance of the RAX200 and EAX80? I will likely factory reset them this weekend and rebuild them, as I've seen that advice quite a bit.
    (2) Is there a better recommended solution?

    Direct CAT-6 runs are not an option due to the way the house and walls were built. I have to solve this wirelessly.

    Last note, all systems that need high-speed connections are directly-connected to the RAX200. All of the other devices just need a reliable, consistent connection and several of them are streaming devices (Roku, AppleTV, Smart TVs).

    Thanks for any thoughts!
     
  2. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    Put the router and the node closer to each other. Roughly 1/3 of the length of the home for each end. :)

    What does a 'reset' mean here?

    How many of those 60+ devices are connected to a single radio at any one time?

    Are you using Auto Wireless settings for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands? Are you using manual control channels and manually selected bandwidth for each radio?

    Are the two routers using the same control channels on each band?
     
  3. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    Nodes are setup distance-wise as you noted. Reset relating to the EAX80 means to power off for 60 seconds and then power back on. To expand on the EAX80 issues, if I disable WiFi and just use it as a wireless bridge, the stability is fine. If I used both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, it is very unstable. If I use just the 2.4GHz band it is unstable. If I use just the 5GHz band, it is mostly stable. It is currently configured with just the 5Ghz band active.

    I have spread the devices across the radios. So the ones connected to the RAX200 are roughly 8 directly wired, about 25 on the 2.4GHz band and about 15 on the 5GHz band. On the EAX80, 6 devices directly wired, and up 25 on the 5GHz band.

    The RAX200 and EAX80 communicate with each other on 5GHz, Channel 36. I have not manually set the channel. Signal between the RAX200 and EAX80 is strong, and the backchannel bandwidth is reporting as 36Mbps
     
  4. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    That is not a reset, just an enhanced reboot. :)

    Flash the latest firmware on both routers and fully reset them once more. Do not use a saved backup config file. Do not 'blindly' use old customizations that may have been needed before.

    Use new, never before used SSID's (not just new to your network, but new to all client devices too) and use manual control channels.

    Are you using any USB devices on the routers? Test without them.

    Use 20MHz bandwidth and only test with control channels 1, 6, or 11 for the 2.4GHz band.

    Use 20/40/80 MHz bandwidth for the 5GHz band and test each non-DFS channel you have available.

    Instead of using a new SSID, you can 'reset network settings' on each client device instead and reboot them (new SSID is easier).

    The backchannel bandwidth of 36Mbps seems very low. What are your paid-for ISP speeds and can you achieve them regularly with a wired connection?
     
  5. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    Sounds like a good weekend project. Was planning to factory-reset both devices and set them up again and I'll add you advice to the mix.

    Bandwidth is 1G down and ~100Mbps up. It IS an asymmetrical connection so the up is minorly below what I should be getting on upstream. Prior to moving to the new RG6 jack it was ~300Mbps down and ~30Mbps up. Thus the need to relocate to the new jack.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
    L&LD likes this.
  6. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    You are not going to be able to use all your really nice bandwidth unless you use wire because you stated all the fast devices are over a wireless setup. Is it possible to change where your ISP comes into the house and terminate at where the RAX200 is located and reverse your router setup? That would be good.

    IF you cannot use wire then I would lower my what I am paying for and drop down to around 500 meg connection. I don't know what tiers your ISP has. But why pay for bandwidth you cannot use? The best you are going to get is around 500 meg give or take a little using wireless. Think about all the devices sharing that slower speed vs 1 gig connection if you use wire.
     
  7. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    Actually the opposite. All of my wired devices that need the high speed are connected directly to my RAX200 and are getting the full bandwidth. The wireless devices connected to the RAX200 are also getting very-high speeds. The wired and wireless devices connected to the EAX80 are getting much lower speeds, which is mostly OK. But on the wireless devices, I'm seeing packet loss which is not OK. The packet loss on the devices connected to the EAX80 is my core issue. The secondary issue is my inability to use the 2.4GHz radio without creating instability with teh EAX80.
     
  8. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    OK. I read it backwards. Yes having the ISP connected to the RAX200 is what I would do. Wire is most reliable way.
     
  9. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    Would love to wire it, but the estimate I got was over $700 for a single run due to the complexity of getting through foot-thick, highly-insulated walls with supports. Not to mention, it is attic work at a time of year when it is over 120 degrees F in my attic.
     
  10. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    You really only need 1 wire to the other router. Maybe wait until winter.

    If you don't need wired connections at the other end then use wireless and pay the penalty.
     
  11. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    Smart home hubs (Hubitat, Hue, Sonos, etc.) need to be central in the loft. That's the wired connections the EAX80 is supporting.
     
  12. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    I hope you don't mind a follow-up question. Looking at your post history, you seem to have lots of answers! :)

    If I'm understanding ASUS' AiMesh, any two devices with support can be turned into a mesh. One of my challenges is that the EAX80's signal strength is significantly lower than the RAX200's. It seems like a solution to the signal issue might be using two ASUS routers with external antennas and configure them as a mesh. I'm thinking that might improve my signal strength for the devices currently connected via the EAX80 and also give me better signal back to the room where I currently have the RAX200. Of course I'll do the resets and reconfigures first, but does this seem like a viable option or am I making this harder than it needs to be?
     
  13. MichaelCG

    MichaelCG Very Senior Member

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    Adding an Ethernet run appears to be out of the question....what about COAX or PowerLine setups? I know some of your COAX may be less than optimal...but if you have runs that already cross the house, they still may be better than just WiFi.

    If you are only getting a 36Mbps link between the two Netgear devices, your signal is either weak or of poor quality. These devices you have with good signal should be able to link at waaaaaaay higher speeds. You are just wasting money on this gear if that is the best the link is going to get. Using a $20 802.11N bridge can get those speeds. That needs to be resolved before you do anything else if you continue to rely upon wireless back-haul. If your requirements for this extended portion of the network are more about stability than speed, for sure check into PowerLine devices. They usually are stable, but no where near as fast as a hard cable or line of sight WiFi.

    Why is the Sonos on the EAX80?
    -- Buy a Play1 and plug it into the RAX200, no need to pull your audio over that wireless back-haul when Sonos already does the rest over wireless.
    -- Make sure your SonosNet channel doesn't conflict with your 2.4GHz WiFi channels
     
  14. jpthsd

    jpthsd Occasional Visitor

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    Have a dedicated firewall/router non-built in Wireless, form the wireless network with Aruba! It's expensive but it would work rock-solid! (you have to wire Ether to each of Aruba access points, but once they are all set, you have very stable wireless network)

    Good luck!
     
  15. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    Funny enough, I had to build a MOCA network over the existing RG6 to link two TiVos. The throughput is abysmal. Barely enough to get a table signal for the Tivos. Powerlines won't work post circuit box rewire for my solar system. The circuits are very nicely isolated. I had used a powerline connection when I originally bought the house but can't get it to work anymore. Its why I reached out here, as I've pretty much exhausted all of tools and tricks I would normally use.

    I have a set of original-generation (unsupported) sonos speakers. So I have to have the bridge. And honestly, they are fine. Everything hard-wired to the EAX80 works fine. It the things that connect wirelessly that are causing issues. Note - when the RAX200 was where the EAX80 is now I had no issues with packet loss or signal distribution. Its what prompted the question above about switching to an ASUS system where both nodes would have external antennas over the EAX80's internal antenna.

    Oh, and thanks for the reminder! I do need to check if I have a channel conflict with Sonos!
     
  16. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    What I'm starting to realize is that I am likely going to have to bite the bullet post-summer and pay to have cables run. But I'm still holding out hope that a wireless solution exists. Right now buying a completely-different set of wireless network devices will be 1/4 of what running cable will cost.
     
  17. MichaelCG

    MichaelCG Very Senior Member

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    Go buy a couple of UniFi or TP-Link devices to test with and move around to see if you can improve your link speeds. That can help prove if different antenna combos can help or if your existing devices have other issues. They are both fairly inexpensive and stable. I was able to get close to 100Mbps between two UAP-AC-M bridged across the street from each other in a noisy residential environment.

    Otherwise you may need to move to a more advanced mesh that has dedicated back-haul radios and can be placed more closely together.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  18. Elbub

    Elbub Occasional Visitor

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    Thanks for the suggestion!
     
  19. jpthsd

    jpthsd Occasional Visitor

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    Yah,,,,I got it..however, you might have fewer drop cost/Ethernet drop with Aruba V.S Ethernet wiring project. If it were me, I would centralize networking in one place i.e office and then run like 2-3 Ethernet drops around the area to install the Aruba AP. It's rock solid network equipment for business (I work in Hospital IT, we are all using Aruba for mission critical iOS, laptop and other wifi required equipment).

    Aruba price is getting consumer friendly - you might consider a long run ecosystem than the consumer networking equipment(given networking needed in your scenario :))

    Mine is 1600 sqt, my office in the corner and had dead wifi zone in across corner (or very weak 2.4/5Ghz). I just recently purchased AC86U, flashed Merlin, made it my main router, my old AC68U to merlin, made in AiMesh. Now the Aimesh's covering 1600Sqt house without deadzone (35 wifi hungry equipment, my ISP Fiber 100/100Mbps)....knock on wood,, it's working flawless until now with Merlin!

    In your case, the location of the main router (if setting up as Mesh network) is the most critical decision. However, I think you should consider the long run operation...these wifi stuffs are not cheap!! (Enterprise Aruba has great reputation, long run vs consumer wifi network equipment some run like 2 years and dead ,,,,I have luck my Asus N65-AC68U been 4-5 years 24/7,,they will someday be dead :) ) - Interested in Asus networking, you might take a look at them :)

    Good luck!
     
  20. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    AiMesh is an Asus thing. If you want to use it you will need an all Asus setup.

    Afaik, you can't use 'mesh' routers between brands currently.