Expanding Wifi Range

donduck

Occasional Visitor
I have a rt-n66u installed with Merlin firmware installed.

I will be moving to a 3000+sq ft house and in Canada, houses are mainly made of drywall and wood (I'm sinplifying it ;)

I want to extend the range of my wifi so that I can ensure there is wifi across the house. I'm planning to have internet directly hooked to the tv because I use chromecast and android tv for all my tv consumption.

So problem is the router will be in a corner of the house on the main floor and to extend wifi using a cost effective method, which approach should I use aside from increasing the transmitting power:

1) replacing more powerful antennas (if so, any recommendations?)
2) buying a wifi extender?
3) replace with a more powerful router?

I'm not sure which is a more cost effective approach... I'm open to suggestions!

Thanks!
 

Nerre

Senior Member
Alternative 3 is really not an option, WiFi is 2-way. You will not get extended range by adding power to the access point, you would also need to add power to every client.

Think of it as you and someone else trying to talk across a large distance. As long as the other person is whispering, it won't help if you start screaming. Both of you need to start screaming.

The primary option should be to use several access points, each one connected to the router using cables.

Only use WiFi extenders or similar if it is not possible to give the access points a wired connection. WiFi extenders will introduce extra latency and often (however not always) reduce the bandwidth to half (because half of the time they need to talk to the router, and half of the time to the clients).

Better antennas may work, but you need to understand that any gain from a "better" antenna is due to directivity. While you get better signal in one direction, you get worse signal in another.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Contrary to what Nerre stated, I would start with option 3.

The RT-N66U was a great router. But that was well over 4 years ago. Today, it has been greatly improved upon. ;)

http://www.snbforums.com/threads/sh...-go-with-the-rt-ac1900p-v3.34748/#post-281391

While the above link doesn't directly compare an RT-N66U to a current router, it gives an idea how much progress has been made since the RT-N66U appeared on the scene.

The argument that WiFi is 2 way and that a more powerful router is somehow only half the answer is old and proven untrue in my experience. A good, modern and powerful router not only broadcasts farther and with a cleaner signal, it also listens better too. If it doesn't? Simply return it and try something else.

But better hardware (higher performance processor, more ram, more NVRAM, better RF design and power amplifiers), better software (firmware, WiFi drivers, etc.) is the reality from newer designs. Sure, not all of them. But the latest Asus routers along with RMerlin's firmware (or the forks thereof) give us the best performance with the most (usable) features available today.

The RT-N66U can still be used as an AP if a new router is purchased. But I would suggest it be used in wired AP mode only.
 
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Nerre

Senior Member
There are regulatory limits to the power that a wireless access point is allowed to transmit with, a newer router will not change the regulations, thus the output power would not be different unless you intentionally violate the rules.

Newer equipment may have a receiver with better sensitivity, but there is no guarantee.

Look at how corporate wifi networks are built. Do you see them use large antennas and high power access points? They usually place POE access points all over the place, because that is the most efficient solution.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
A 'more powerful router' is not necessarily one that operates at higher output nor one that intentionally violates the rules.

All it has to do is give a better quality signal within the scope of the regulations it operates in.

AP's 'all over the place' is not the most efficient solution for a home. Particularly when that home is in a densely populated area with other WiFi routers operating in it to.

True, there is no guarantee that newer is better. That is why you buy with a return option. :)

The link in post 3 above shows that in the case of an ISP supplied router and extender combo or my own RT-AC68U, the RT-AC3100 is the 'much' better choice.
 

dlandiss

Very Senior Member
I have a rt-n66u installed with Merlin firmware installed.

Depending on the version of Merlin's firmware you are using, you may get significantly more range with John's Fork. Some versions of Merlin's firmware used some radio configurations provided by ASUS that proved less effective on the RT-N66, while John has made a useful fork off of Merlin's firmware that combines the older radio drivers with recent security updates. I have found the useful range of my RT-N66 with John's Fork to be about the same as my RT-AC68.

Somebody else will have to tell us when ASUS (and therefore Merlin) went to radio firmware that did not have the interim deficiency.

If your house is single-story better antennas will help. Be advised that they extend coverage at right angles to the antenna axis by redirecting power that would otherwise be sent above or below the prime direction, so they will be less useful on higher or lower floors.

9-dbi-7dbi-6dbi-2-dbi-range.jpg
 

CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
I have a rt-n66u installed with Merlin firmware installed.

I will be moving to a 3000+sq ft house and in Canada, houses are mainly made of drywall and wood (I'm sinplifying it ;)

I want to extend the range of my wifi so that I can ensure there is wifi across the house. I'm planning to have internet directly hooked to the tv because I use chromecast and android tv for all my tv consumption.

So problem is the router will be in a corner of the house on the main floor and to extend wifi using a cost effective method, which approach should I use aside from increasing the transmitting power:

1) replacing more powerful antennas (if so, any recommendations?)
2) buying a wifi extender?
3) replace with a more powerful router?

I'm not sure which is a more cost effective approach... I'm open to suggestions!

Thanks!

Your best solution is none of the above. Hire someone to pull and install several Ethernet drops so you can connect heavy data use locations using wired connections or at the very least install WiFi APs where you need them.

If you can't or won't do this then consider powerline or MOCA solutions.

Ethernet is the way to go. It works all the time. The options you have selected will plague you from the day you move in to the day you move out.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Your best solution is none of the above. Hire someone to pull and install several Ethernet drops so you can connect heavy data use locations using wired connections or at the very least install WiFi APs where you need them.

If you can't or won't do this then consider powerline or MOCA solutions.

Ethernet is the way to go. It works all the time. The options you have selected will plague you from the day you move in to the day you move out.

Did you read the title of this thread? Wired isn't the problem here. And AP's for a mere 3000 SqFt home is also overkill, ime.
 

CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
Did you read the title of this thread? Wired isn't the problem here. And AP's for a mere 3000 SqFt home is also overkill, ime.

The problem is wireless and having a router located in one corner of the home. Wireless is always a problem or at least a problem waiting to happen.

How many posts do you read on the site complaining about issues with hardwired Ethernet connections?

Until there is some quantum leap in wireless technology a hardwired Ethernet connection will usually be fastest and for sure the most reliable.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
I think part of the problem is that the demarcation for most broadband providers - e.g. the "regulated side" and the "unregulated side" is a problem at large for many - it's normally not in a good location for wireless - it's at the edge of the property, and there's sometimes a short run from there.

And many times it's convenient for the provider - whether it's dropping a short coax run into the house, or an ethernet run from the NID/ONT/Etc...

In my direct/personal case - the modem is a short run from the demarc, about 20 feet, so I have Coax to the Cable modem - but outside of my office (I work at home), the rest of the time, we're on the other side of the house, so yes, I have an AP in the office, along with ethernet to support the home "backbone", and ethernet over to the other side of the house with another AP...

The advantage here is that I have taken the effort, time, and cost to run ethernet to multiple points...

I've got a MOCA like (is DirecTV truly MOCA, some say yes, run over RG6) and I do keep a PLC connection active so that I can understand and help out folks that depend on PLC.

So I get it - it's sometimes hard - but the effort put in for getting wifi where the people are is worth it...
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The problem is wireless and having a router located in one corner of the home. Wireless is always a problem or at least a problem waiting to happen.

How many posts do you read on the site complaining about issues with hardwired Ethernet connections?

Until there is some quantum leap in wireless technology a hardwired Ethernet connection will usually be fastest and for sure the most reliable.

I'm not arguing any of your points. But you are not addressing the issue of this thread.

Did you see the link in my post above? A single router easily covers a 5000 SqFt home. Multiple AP's not required (at least for most modern home construction).
 

Nerre

Senior Member
All it has to do is give a better quality signal within the scope of the regulations it operates in.
Being a radio amateur I wonder what you mean with "better quality signal"? When it comes to a transmitter, the quality of the signal is more or less covered by the regulations. When it comes to a receiver, higher sensitivity may help, but only in one direction. Better S/N ratio may also help, but also only in one direction.

AP's 'all over the place' is not the most efficient solution for a home. Particularly when that home is in a densely populated area with other WiFi routers operating in it to.
No, but maybe one AP located in a central location, because the router is located in a corner?

Oh, wait, that is just how we have it in out house! RT-AC66U in a corner of the basement (WiFi even turned off), where the fiber comes in, and then in the middle of the house another "router" configured as a plan access point (and connected to the router with ethernet cable).

On the other hand, if there are a lot of other routers, having more access points would most surely be the better solution. Each client would get a shorter distance to the desired access point than the neighbour's access point, giving a better connection.
 

vincom

Regular Contributor
if a 5ooo sqft house had no walls then maybe wifi routers would have no problems.
topography, construction type/materials and local interference sources never seems to be considered
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Nerre, the quality of the signal a router can transmit and can extract from it's surroundings is not a given. The RF design, materials and components (including firmware and drivers) in a router all come together to give a better signal both to the clients and the much weaker signal from the clients too. It doesn't work in only one direction. The client is what initiates a connection. If the signal isn't strong enough for it's liking (it decides along with the router what connection rate to connect at), it is not the clients' fault for a poor or non-existent throughput.

After all is said and done though, you are still saying (and doing) what I've said all along here. A single router or AP is enough for most homes. Multiple radios/AP's are not needed in most installations. When they are, that is the exception, not the rule.

vincom, you need to read the link I've provided in post 3 above. This wasn't a hypothetical situation. This was a real customer with specific needs and it clearly shows what a modern, current router is capable of over three year old designs (like my RT-AC68U it was compared to) and the current ISP provided router and extender designed to 'cover your entire home', but didn't.

Again, not all home owners of this size house or smaller will be this lucky to have coverage this good. But the hardware is easily up to it, including walls, floors, pipes and heating/cooling vents being in the way of the signal. All things were considered here and the results were impressive.

This isn't magic or a one off event. This happens all the time for customers I serve. KISS is what drives my recommendations and like I always tell my customers, if the suggested 'solution' doesn't work, we'll go from there. ;)
 

CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
WiFi may be simple to install but not so simple to keep working at peak rates.

All it takes is for one of your neighbors to buy a new router, set it up on channel 4 using wide channels and they have impacted everyone else using channels 1 or 6. Other users then may need to scan to see what has happened and then change the channel they are using.

Repeat for old cordless phones, microwaves, baby monitors, etc and it can be a never ending process to keep the WiFi going.

Even though I don't use WiFi for anything except mobile devices I scan the WiFi environment I live in monthly and change my Primary router and APs channels when necessary to steer clear of neighbor's networks.
 

Nerre

Senior Member
After all is said and done though, you are still saying (and doing) what I've said all along here. A single router or AP is enough for most homes. Multiple radios/AP's are not needed in most installations. When they are, that is the exception, not the rule.

We may be talking around eachother here.

What I said was that the best solution (when your router is located in a corner of the building) is to add access points in more central locations. I think maybe you interpreted this as that I said several access points are needed, but my key point was "keep your router where it is and use access points to manage wifi coverage". If one central access point can provide coverage, fine. But if one access point can't manage it, using two is a way better solution than trying to find a "better" access point. (see my paint drawing)
WiFI coverage.png


What I interpreted that you said was "Keep the router in corner of the building but buy a better router". And while a "better" router may provide better coverage in the building, placing it in the corner will be a waste of coverage (because at least 3/4 of the coverage will be outside the building, unless you use directional antennas). (see my paint drawing)
WiFI coverage1.png
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
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Marc66

Regular Contributor
I'm planning to have internet directly hooked to the tv because I use chromecast and android tv for all my tv consumption.

If you want reliable TV, my only suggestion, as stated by others, is to go wired (cat 6e or cat 7 if you can).

In my house, I rely on wired cat 7 connections for everything (PC, Macs, NAS, Media Players, Satellite receiver, CCTV, SIP phone) and leave WiFi (which shares its bandwidth BTW) to mobile phones and tablets.

To accomodate all required wired ports, I have 2 small Cisco switches and one Time Capsule connected to my RT-AC66 router. WiFi is provided by the Time Capsule as it is centrally located. WiFi is completely disabled on the router as it is at the end of the house. My 4th router port is used by the NAS, the other 3 ports by the above switches. STP is disabled on the router. Everything working great and very quick.


Sent using Tapatalk
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
We may be talking around eachother here.

What I said was that the best solution (when your router is located in a corner of the building) is to add access points in more central locations. I think maybe you interpreted this as that I said several access points are needed, but my key point was "keep your router where it is and use access points to manage wifi coverage". If one central access point can provide coverage, fine. But if one access point can't manage it, using two is a way better solution than trying to find a "better" access point. (see my paint drawing)
View attachment 7331

What I interpreted that you said was "Keep the router in corner of the building but buy a better router". And while a "better" router may provide better coverage in the building, placing it in the corner will be a waste of coverage (because at least 3/4 of the coverage will be outside the building, unless you use directional antennas). (see my paint drawing)
View attachment 7330

You're assuming a lot of things and ignoring the OP's question and limitations and the fact that the customer I had also had similar limitations but a single 'new' router was better than one with even an 'extender' attached to it (ISP supplied) at the same, non-ideal location and totally contradicting what I told them about the router working best with being in the center of the home, at least 10' above ground level and not in a closet or other small space/enclosure.

And yet? 8' below ground, in a very small room with plumbing, furnace and electrical wiring and ductwork everywhere, the single RT-AC3100 provided much, much better performance (whole house and particularly in the 5GHz band) than a router plus AP the ISP had supplied weeks earlier.

Theory only takes us so far. Reality is what I see actually working. ;)
 

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