Mesh versus Range extender

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Topic Author
jeanpierremelville
Posts: 90
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:34 am

Mesh versus Range extender

Post by jeanpierremelville »

Hi Bogleheads,

I am having wi-fi issues at home.

Home was built in the 60s, 2 floors (including basement) and is about 2500sq ft. The cable modem is located in the basement and I cannot move this. I have an Apple airport extreme next to it.

This setup was adequate but about one year ago, we noticed difficulty connecting to Wifi in certain areas of the house. Also our baby cam in one of the kids' rooms stopped working. Our devices are mainly Apple products with a couple of Kindles. The Kindles and an iPad seem to have the most difficulty connecting.

Our ISP was not helpful. I am currently in the process of getting a new cable modem to stop my leasing of the cable modem.

My next step is to either get a range extender or establish a mesh wifi system. If I opt for the range extender option, it seems like I might have to get a new router also in which case the costs become very close to a mesh system. If I opt for the mesh system, it looks like it's a simpler setup although more expensive upfront.

1. What would most Bogleheads do given the circumstances above?
2. Are certain mesh networks more compatible with Apple Devices?
3. What is better for setting up and maintaining good network security?

Thank you for the suggestions.
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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by FrugalInvestor »

I first tried an extender, it worked but my devices had problems with it particularly if they were moved back and forth between the the areas primarily served by the router and the extender. After much frustration we bit the bullet and purchased a Google Wifi 3-pack and have had zero issues since. It's simple and it's reliable and our coverage has been expanded far beyond what it was before.....to the entire house and yard and beyond!

My advice is don't fight it, just install Google Wifi.

FYI, Costco currently has a member special on a Google Wifi 4-pack for $299.
Have a plan, stay the course and simplify, but most importantly....Ignore the Noise!
bob60014
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by bob60014 »

The cable modem/airport is in the basement, a terrible location. Can you run a network cable from there, there is outdoor grade cable if it needs to be run outside, to the wifi router on a higher floor? We did this a few years ago and solved our issues. It was easy and quick to do.
shorty313
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by shorty313 »

We had the same experience as Frugalinvestor. Had a range extender for a few years, just switched to mesh and it’s so much better. Our router is main floor and basement service had been abysmal, as well as the fat upstairs corner, which is our bedroom. As an added bonus, it has given me good tools as we are entering the tween years with kids to limit their surfing.
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Cosmo
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by Cosmo »

bob60014 wrote: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:39 pm The cable modem/airport is in the basement, a terrible location. Can you run a network cable from there, there is outdoor grade cable if it needs to be run outside, to the wifi router on a higher floor? We did this a few years ago and solved our issues. It was easy and quick to do.
This.

Cosmo
Topic Author
jeanpierremelville
Posts: 90
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:34 am

Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by jeanpierremelville »

Yes, the modem and the connected router are in a bad location but it was the only place that the technician who installed it many years ago thought was suitable because it is fairly central in location.

Also, I think running the cables through walls indoors (leads directly into kitchen, not ideal for me) or outdoors would leads to increased costs.

I was concerned about maintaining security and compatibility with Apple products.

JPM
onourway
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by onourway »

There is nothing special about Apple networking products other than they typically were well made, easy to configure and reliable. Apple products are compatible with any brand network equipment because they all operate on the same standards.

Mesh networking like the Google Wi-Fi would likely be the easiest to set up and may well solve your issues. Running a hard-wire Ethernet cable or two to better locations around the house and connecting Wi-Fi access points off those cables would be the best solution but harder to implement.
rich126
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by rich126 »

Wifi extenders generally cause a lost of speed. Moving the router (cheapest solution) or getting a mesh system (most effective) are the better solutions.

https://www.lifewire.com/mesh-network-v ... er-4148022
https://www.repeaterstore.com/pages/wif ... ifferences
dsmclone
Posts: 450
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by dsmclone »

I'll 4th Google Wi-Fi. Everyone I know with them, including myself, love them. Over the years I tried everything including internet through electrical, extenders, etc.
arf30
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by arf30 »

I wasted lots of time and effort messing with extenders - once mesh came out I switched (Google WiFi) and haven't had to touch it since. Covers the entire house seamlessly, both floors, garage, backyard, etc.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Look into the unloved red-headed stepchild of WiFi: MoCA if you have, as you probably do, coax in the house.

For Fios, MoCA is organic, just need receivers connected to WAP of your choice. For others, you might have to put a device on the modem end also. I did it in my house where the reception was horrible (fieldstone walls), and get > 100Mbps.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
Hug401k
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by Hug401k »

I had a repeater and an extender and I could not get wifi in most of the house. We have a 187 year old house, 3800 Sq ft, full of horse hair plaster, bricks, chimneys, stairs and giant wood beams. After wasting a lot of money, I switched to the google mesh and it's been almost perfect since. One of those things where you decide it was worth the money after about 30 seconds of having it hooked up. I'm sure with Black Friday approaching, you might find a few deals!
02nz
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by 02nz »

I've used a few extenders, they kinda sorta work, but not great. Your network connection speed will be at most half the theoretical limit, because the extender has to spend half of its "time" talking to the main network. In reality I found that I lost even more speed than that, so that when connected to the extender I got less than was provided by my ISP. By all accounts (and my own experience with the Google Wifi) the mesh networks are much better for providing a seamless, reliable network. Google Wifi is cheap and easy; Orbi is probably the fastest but the units are much bigger and rather expensive. Eero and Ubiquiti Amplifi are the other two big players. All should work well with iOS devices - I've experienced no problems with iPhones on Google Wifi.

Since you cannot move the cable modem in the basement (and assuming you don't have Ethernet wiring in place), you'd have to put one unit of the mesh network right next to the cable modem. You'd want to put another unit directly above it on the main floor. That's likely to provide more than enough coverage for the whole house.
bloom2708
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by bloom2708 »

dsmclone wrote: Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:14 am I'll 4th Google Wi-Fi. Everyone I know with them, including myself, love them. Over the years I tried everything including internet through electrical, extenders, etc.
+ another

1. Personally have a 3 hub Google Wi-Fi system
2. Parents have a 1 unit
3. Wife's parents have a 2 unit
4. Oldest kid has a 1 unit at college

I'm the tech guy. I install what works. Years of "unplug, wait 10 seconds, plug back in" gone in a poof. :wink:
"We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you." Unknown Boglehead
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gunn_show
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by gunn_show »

dsmclone wrote: Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:14 am I'll 4th Google Wi-Fi. Everyone I know with them, including myself, love them. Over the years I tried everything including internet through electrical, extenders, etc.
+1 for Google Wifi. Installed in my ~2500sqft multi-level home, with home offices for remote tech worker (thus consistent high speed internet is a must) and have zero issues with dead spots anywhere in my home, garage (home gym in there), back or front yards. Buy the 1GB Arris modem on Amazon and Costco has Google Wifi 3 or 4 packs for cheapest, and be done with it, set and forget for years to come.
"The best life hack of all is to just put the work in and never give up." Bas Rutten
dsmclone
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by dsmclone »

Another big plus for the Google Wi-Fi is the ability to get a signal to outdoor wireless cameras.
PFInterest
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by PFInterest »

jeanpierremelville wrote: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:13 pm Hi Bogleheads,

I am having wi-fi issues at home.

Home was built in the 60s, 2 floors (including basement) and is about 2500sq ft. The cable modem is located in the basement and I cannot move this. I have an Apple airport extreme next to it.

This setup was adequate but about one year ago, we noticed difficulty connecting to Wifi in certain areas of the house. Also our baby cam in one of the kids' rooms stopped working. Our devices are mainly Apple products with a couple of Kindles. The Kindles and an iPad seem to have the most difficulty connecting.

Our ISP was not helpful. I am currently in the process of getting a new cable modem to stop my leasing of the cable modem.

My next step is to either get a range extender or establish a mesh wifi system. If I opt for the range extender option, it seems like I might have to get a new router also in which case the costs become very close to a mesh system. If I opt for the mesh system, it looks like it's a simpler setup although more expensive upfront.

1. What would most Bogleheads do given the circumstances above?
2. Are certain mesh networks more compatible with Apple Devices?
3. What is better for setting up and maintaining good network security?

Thank you for the suggestions.
Yes mesh but likely your router is dying if it used to work but now isn't...
TheOscarGuy
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:10 pm
Location: Where I wanna be.

Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by TheOscarGuy »

jeanpierremelville wrote: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:13 pm Hi Bogleheads,

I am having wi-fi issues at home.

Home was built in the 60s, 2 floors (including basement) and is about 2500sq ft. The cable modem is located in the basement and I cannot move this. I have an Apple airport extreme next to it.

This setup was adequate but about one year ago, we noticed difficulty connecting to Wifi in certain areas of the house. Also our baby cam in one of the kids' rooms stopped working. Our devices are mainly Apple products with a couple of Kindles. The Kindles and an iPad seem to have the most difficulty connecting.

Our ISP was not helpful. I am currently in the process of getting a new cable modem to stop my leasing of the cable modem.

My next step is to either get a range extender or establish a mesh wifi system. If I opt for the range extender option, it seems like I might have to get a new router also in which case the costs become very close to a mesh system. If I opt for the mesh system, it looks like it's a simpler setup although more expensive upfront.

1. What would most Bogleheads do given the circumstances above?
2. Are certain mesh networks more compatible with Apple Devices?
3. What is better for setting up and maintaining good network security?

Thank you for the suggestions.
I should ask : is your internet speed you pay for sufficient? What is the up/down rate you are paying for? It could be you have more devices connected to internet now?

I am kind of in your situation. I see buffering while streaming more than one devices in home. I have gotten latest router/modem from FIOS, and that helped some. I am currently in the process of deciding between google WiFi and netgear Orbi. I also have extender: it doesn't help that much.
Oddball
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 9:35 am

Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by Oddball »

We switched to Google WiFi about 5 months ago, well worth the cost and we have had zero issues.
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heartwood
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by heartwood »

TheOscarGuy wrote: Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:32 pm

I should ask : is your internet speed you pay for sufficient? What is the up/down rate you are paying for? It could be you have more devices connected to internet now?

I am kind of in your situation. I see buffering while streaming more than one devices in home. I have gotten latest router/modem from FIOS, and that helped some. I am currently in the process of deciding between google WiFi and netgear Orbi. I also have extender: it doesn't help that much.
I'm also interested in Google wifi and Netgear Orbi.

I'm in the same boat as many above, but I suspect some of it is due to the number of connected devices we have. I'm guessing up to 30 at peak times: a couple of TVs, couple of cell phones, several Sonos systems, a bunch of google home and home minis, several smart plugs, etc.

I was going to do the google setup via the Costco package, but read some in comments on Amazon that it can be extra work to setup with FIOS if it includes cable, tv and phone. Then I checked the Wirecutter https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best- ... king-kits/
which recommends the Netgear Orbi and mentions google in the "competition" but no longer recommends them?
Other questions I have are do I need a new router and modem? I currently have the Verizon G1100 Gateway. Verizon warns "Warning: The WAN Coax Port is intended for connection to Verizon FiOS
only. It must not be connected to any exterior or interior coaxial wires not
designated for Verizon FiOS."

Add to the mix that my FIOS contract just expired and they want to charge me $10 a month for the Gateway that was included in the previous package.

So, after all that, any experiences with the Netgear Orbi? Any with using Google on a FIOS system with TV, internet and phone?
9liner
Posts: 213
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:03 pm

Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by 9liner »

heartwood wrote: Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:19 pm
TheOscarGuy wrote: Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:32 pm

I should ask : is your internet speed you pay for sufficient? What is the up/down rate you are paying for? It could be you have more devices connected to internet now?

I am kind of in your situation. I see buffering while streaming more than one devices in home. I have gotten latest router/modem from FIOS, and that helped some. I am currently in the process of deciding between google WiFi and netgear Orbi. I also have extender: it doesn't help that much.
I'm also interested in Google wifi and Netgear Orbi.

I'm in the same boat as many above, but I suspect some of it is due to the number of connected devices we have. I'm guessing up to 30 at peak times: a couple of TVs, couple of cell phones, several Sonos systems, a bunch of google home and home minis, several smart plugs, etc.

I was going to do the google setup via the Costco package, but read some in comments on Amazon that it can be extra work to setup with FIOS if it includes cable, tv and phone. Then I checked the Wirecutter https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best- ... king-kits/
which recommends the Netgear Orbi and mentions google in the "competition" but no longer recommends them?
Other questions I have are do I need a new router and modem? I currently have the Verizon G1100 Gateway. Verizon warns "Warning: The WAN Coax Port is intended for connection to Verizon FiOS
only. It must not be connected to any exterior or interior coaxial wires not
designated for Verizon FiOS."

Add to the mix that my FIOS contract just expired and they want to charge me $10 a month for the Gateway that was included in the previous package.

So, after all that, any experiences with the Netgear Orbi? Any with using Google on a FIOS system with TV, internet and phone?
Have had Netgear Orbi in two houses for about a year now. Solved all of my connection problems. I have FiOS 100/100 internet-only and consistently get faster than 100 mbps up and down with the Orbi system.
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Tamarind
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by Tamarind »

+1 for mesh because it is just easy. Google WiFi was extremely easy to set up and control, so we got it even though it was overkill for our small house. No regrets.
sparksfly
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by sparksfly »

Big +1 for mesh. Switched to google wifi almost 2 years ago after struggling with extenders. No issues in last 2 years. In my 3000 sqft home, 3 wifi points leave no dead spots (with the primary in in one corner of the home).
TheOscarGuy
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by TheOscarGuy »

heartwood wrote: Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:19 pm
I was going to do the google setup via the Costco package, but read some in comments on Amazon that it can be extra work to setup with FIOS if it includes cable, tv and phone. Then I checked the Wirecutter https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best- ... king-kits/
which recommends the Netgear Orbi and mentions google in the "competition" but no longer recommends them?
Other questions I have are do I need a new router and modem? I currently have the Verizon G1100 Gateway. Verizon warns "Warning: The WAN Coax Port is intended for connection to Verizon FiOS
only. It must not be connected to any exterior or interior coaxial wires not
designated for Verizon FiOS."

Add to the mix that my FIOS contract just expired and they want to charge me $10 a month for the Gateway that was included in the previous package.

So, after all that, any experiences with the Netgear Orbi? Any with using Google on a FIOS system with TV, internet and phone?
You will need to disable FIOS router and google WiFi then is your router (FIOS modem behind it). Your existing quantum/G1100 will work with Google WiFi. Folks have reported problems if they also have verizon FIOS TV -- so if you do, there's more details to the setup.

You can just buy the router/modem, either from them or your own -- make sure it is compatible with FIOS. Yeah they try to upsell and ask for rent. Its ridiculous, but I guess they have some customers paying for it, so they can charge and see if folks will pay up :happy
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snackdog
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by snackdog »

I fought various extenders in a massive concrete apartment for five years. Nothing was fast or reliable.

We moved into a new four-story place with 12 foot ceilings. I went for a Netgear R7000 ($145) and it blasts full strength signal everywhere. I have signal halfway down the block walking the dog. Could be worth a try; you can always return it to Best Buy if it doesn't solve your problem. Have the price and 1/3 the hassle of Google.
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wassabi
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by wassabi »

I had issues with connectivity in my place. I bought an extender and that improved it a little, but not enough. Devices were two (out of three) wifi bars at best. Ran speed tests throughout the house and confirmed I had poor connectivity.

Bought Google Wi-Fi mesh router and it was a complete game changer. Set up is very easy and managed from an app on your phone. I assume you know the difference between mesh and range extenders (if not, definitely research it), but mesh is far superior.

Google Wi-Fi has been flawless for me for the six or so months we've used it. We use three units spread throughout our home. Highly recommended.
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five2one
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by five2one »

I run apple, android, and windows across 20+ devices and would stay away from mesh network if you are a novice. They induce lag which you'll notice on streaming. Like cars, there is no replacement for displacement.

You first need to know how much download and upload speed you are paying for then buy your equipment to handle AT LEAST that much plus about 50%.

My modem can handle well over 300megs and I run a very stout router. The cheaper/convenient systems try to combine these two but the economics just don't work. You are also looking for multiple channels across multiple frequencies to allow devices to deconflict their needs.

You also want device prioritization and easy configuration, usually through a button on the GUI.

That said, I have less than $500 in my router and modem and have no lag on any device....beyond your standard 930pm slow down that usually occurs as parents stream after kids go down.

I get a strong signal on all 4 floors of a brick home and even across the street (double lane road). I typically tell folks to place the device in the middle of the structure.
davehica
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Re: Mesh versus Range extender

Post by davehica »

Google Wifi +1000.

I had a high end router with an extender and had intermittent connectivity, slow speed, etc in some areas of my house. Bought 2 google WiFi units and ALL of my issues are gone. Was also one of the easiest setups I’ve ever encountered. By far one of the best electronics purchases I’ve ever made, and no I don’t work for google.

And, if you buy a 3 or 4 pack and find out you need less, selling the extra one for a very small profit is extremely easy.
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