Mesh versus router/extender

Mike Miller

New Around Here
I am looking for advice on the following:

I live in a 3500 square foot house, half finished basement, first floor, and second. Next door 80 feet away I have a cottage. What is the best way to cover all of this. I have been discouraged about using nodes for a nesh network at the cottage(too far), but maybe in the house I could. I was thinking about mesh in house and extender in the cottage?

My network guy keeps talking about a "pass through modem", but I have no idea what this is or the utility of it.

Ideas?

Thanks

Mike Miller
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Is that 3500 SqFt on one level? What construction materials are used? What are you using now and what limits are you facing?

Are there trees/bushes or other obstacles between the main house and the cottage?

What is your ISP speeds?

Can you dig a trench between the homes?
 

Mike Miller

New Around Here
No, 1700 feet or so on each floor. Straight shot from house to cottage.
I cannot dig a trench.
Speeds at the router 200Mbps. In cottage from router maybe 10.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
With 200Mbps speeds, if you can have the main router at/near a window in the main home, on the cottage side, and an AiMesh node at/near a window, on the main home side of the cottage you should be happy with the results, depending on the local WiFi environment around you.

The main router I would recommend would be an RT-AC86U (or better, an RT-AX88U) and the AiMesh node would be either another RT-AC86U (to match the main) or an RT-AX58U if you went with the RT-AX88U as the main router.

If the locations are possible, this would be a very easy test to see if this will work for you. Consider running an Ethernet cable or two to put the main router at this critical location.

Of course, I would also recommend RMerlin firmware on both routers too, no matter which model(s) you choose to test with. For the AX routers, the latest Alpha builds are suggested for the maximum responsiveness of the network.

With RMerlin firmware installed which includes amtm since v384.15_0, you will also have many scripts to choose from to enhance security and other aspects of your router too, with the simple addition of a spare USB drive which you may have lying around.

https://www.asuswrt-merlin.net/features

https://diversion.ch/amtm.html

Also, be sure to look at the link in my signature below for the M&M Config and ideally, the Nuclear Reset guides too to make sure the routers are working at a good/known state and with the defaults that have been proven over many years too.

HTH. :)
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
No, 1700 feet or so on each floor. Straight shot from house to cottage.
I cannot dig a trench.
Speeds at the router 200Mbps. In cottage from router maybe 10.
What do you currently use?

You may want to look at using wireless APs. It is getting expensive to buy multiple routers when you only need one. Plus using more than 1 ASUS is asking for issues.
 

Tech Focus

Regular Contributor
Do you have wired infracture? If so, I second @coxhaus. If you have not dig into AP based systems yet, there are many other venders you have not come across yet eg Aruba, Aruba Instant, Cisco, Cisco Meraki, UniFi.

I personally now use UniFi which has outdoor AP. It’s not the cheapest certainly compared to consumer router config but far cheaper for its class. There are others does the same. With your sqft, you will need minimum 2-3 but if your need is 5GHz everywhere you may need more APs. So in home you could make multiple AP network then have one AP wirelessly placed on cottage connecting wireless uplink (what others may call mesh). For 80ft, I think this is all you need as long as good line of sight and uplink node is wired/highest speed. If you could build system like this, whole system is seamlessly integrated.

There are also devices like below (I don’t have any experience).

https://dl.ubnt.com/datasheets/LiteBeam/LiteBeam_AC_Gen2_DS.pdf
 
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Klueless

Very Senior Member
Hoo boy ...

It sounds like your paid for Internet Service Speed is 200 Mbps x 20 Mbps? And ... that's what you're getting?

What kind of WiFi system do you have now? And, save for the cottage, what speeds are you seeing throughout the house? If you're happy then all we have to worry about is the cottage, if not then we've a lot more to look at.
My network guy keeps talking about a "pass through modem"
I'll make a guess but I could well be wrong. Sometimes the Internet provider will install an all-in-one wireless modem/router combo unit. If you want to run your own router (which is likely if you're thinking about buying into a MESH system) you may well want to turn off the ISP combo's route functions
  • You might have the ISP replace the combo unit with a modem only unit
  • or ... you might set the combo unit to "bridge" or "pass through" essentially turning off duplicated functions like firewall, DHCP, DNS and NAT.
    • (If they can't or won't I don't think it's all that big a deal. I've had to run that way before and never had a problem.)

Now if everything is happy in the main house I would simply look at a pair of extenders for the cottage.

If it's not a honey moon in the main house a MESH system might well be the right mistake. I've never done a MESH system myself but I'm hearing good things about Eero. In the main house you might well be able to hard wire a couple of the nodes. (It would be great if you could.)

For the cottage (whether you go extender/AP or MESH) you'll likely have a node sitting in a window of the main house facing a window in the cottage with another node. (I ran like that once, about 50 to 100 feet between windows and was getting about 175 Mbps between nodes.)

If possible, think about dedicated back hauls (from node to router) whether they be wire or a WiFi radio.

Now at least one of our friends is likely to suggest forget about MESH or cheap extenders and use Ruckus APs for all your nodes. I did that once and was quite happy. "New" is pricey, @Trip has reported excellent luck with used.
 
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coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
w
Now at least one of our friends is likely to suggest forget about MESH or cheap extenders and use Ruckus APs for all your nodes. I did that once and was quite happy. "New" is pricey, @Trip has reported excellent luck with used.
You did that once only? Running high wireless APs is such a pleasure. I heard you can add blue tooth on wireless APs which would help me as I need to extend my blue tooth across my wireless APs. That is something I currently can not do on my APs.
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
You did that once only? Running high wireless APs is such a pleasure
Yes. Just once ... so far : -)
  • Price; I paid a few hundred for each AP
  • Selection; It's great that they have a large selection but, for an amateur like me, it's near impossible to pick out the best fit.
But things are running great and, in all likely hood, I'll probably go that way again someday...
 
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coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
Yes. Just once ... so far : -)
  • Price; I paid a few hundred for each AP
  • Selection; It's great that they have a large selection but, for an amateur like me, it's near impossible to pick out the best fit.
But things are running great and, in all likely hood, I'll probably go that way again someday...
So are you still running your wireless router with wireless turn off just in case? You will come around.
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
So are you still running your wireless router with wireless turn off just in case? You will come around.
<LOL> No. (I think I've mentioned before that I'm both cheap and ... klueless : -)

To turn wireless off on my main router would have required buying yet another Ruckus. Something I can always do at some future point but, for now, the Asus AC86U is working great with his two Ruckus neighbors. (If it ain't broke don't fix it?)
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
<LOL> No. (I think I've mentioned before that I'm both cheap and ... klueless : -)

To turn wireless off on my main router would have required buying yet another Ruckus. Something I can always do at some future point but, for now, the Asus AC86U is working great with his two Ruckus neighbors. (If it ain't broke don't fix it?)
If you don't mind me asking how big is your house? I go round and round with the ASUS guys as they stretch their coverage.
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
If you don't mind me asking how big is your house? I go round and round with the ASUS guys as they stretch their coverage.
Actually, thanks for asking.

This installation was at a car lot. Four buildings; Main Office with six offices, three bay garage, two bay garage and then a two story house across the alley. The Asus 86U is in the Main Office and handles that and part of the 1st garage fine. A Ruckus sits in the second garage and handles that and the rest of the 1st garage. The 2nd Ruckus is in the two story house (old house, plaster walls, solid core doors) and covers all of that just fine.

As one walks across the lots the hand offs between the three (Apertus, Ruckus & Ruckus) nodes all seem to work very well.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
@Mike Miller - welcome. I'll try to be as succinct as I can.

First off, having a "network guy" in-play could be useful, presuming he knows what he's doing. I would still make sure you're clear on all this, so you can proceed knowing what needs to be done and why.

In the house, do you have any wired ethernet or TV coaxial cabling between rooms/floors? Either one will allow for a wired network "core" (central router, possibly a switch) plus distributed wifi access points ("APs"), which is way more preferable to an all-wireless mesh setup.

For the garage, it's quite possible a single, well-placed AP would cover your needs there.

For the house/garage interconnect, wire is optimal, but if it has to be wireless, it should be done with a purpose-built, point-to-point directional product, such as the Ubiquiti NanoStation 5AC 2-pack, which will provide up to 450Mb/s and comes pre-paired for plug-and-play bridging. There's medium chance that omni-direction consumer products would work for this, but it's really wrong the solution if you want to ensure resiliency and performance of the link at all times.

Your choice of access gear for the house and garage should be based on however much hard-wiring can be done between rooms/floors in the house (per above). If you can hard-wire, then you want to combine a single wired router (or router + AP combo) of a certain brand with scalable wifi APs from that same brand (ie. UniFi UDM + UniFi APs, or Cisco RV router + Cisco WAP APs, etc.). If you can't hard-wire at all in the house, then a 3-pack of Eero dual-band or Eero Pro tri-band units should be used to form a 2-node or 3-node mesh in the house, plus a single Eero unit in the garage. The theme here is that you want your wireless access layer to be a single product, for smooth roaming and ease-of-management.

That's the correct way to go about this. Especially if you can hard-wire and use small-business grade gear, your network will run more like an appliance and less like a toy
 
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