Help with designing house wifi network

=adrian=

Member
Hi all,

I am looking for a bit of help designing a wifi network around 200m2 house.

At the moment I have 2 random routers serving wifi around the house. It barely covers it.

Fibre cable is going to the attic, where it is connected to a small device which ISP left (which I don't have access to), I presume it is a modem of sorts, but my networking knowledge is very limited. Then I have router 1 connected which acts as main router. Signal from there is going into a large switch and then to all the rooms.

On the 1st floor I have no wifi network devices, as signal from the attic covers most of it.
On the ground level I have router 2 which acts only as wifi access point. However, the way it is all configured I have 3 wifi networks in the house.

Wifi network 1 is wifi 6 (5GHz) network from the router 1 in the attic (which only covers the 1st floor)
Wifi network 2 is 2.4Ghz network from router 1 in the attic (which only covers 1st floor
Wifi network 3 is wifi network from router 2 in the living room downstairs (i'm not sure is it 2.4 or 5Ghz) which covers the downstairs.

As you can imagine it is a bit of a mess and we have to manually switch wifi networks while moving upstairs or downstairs.

I would like to fix that issue and create just one wifi network that covers the whole house. Plus I want to get rid of the router 1 (main router) as it is poor and I am not even able to do port forwarding on it.

I have done a bit of research, but my knowledge is very limited when it comes to networking.

Here are solutions I came up with

Solution 1:
buy this router and use as main router: ASUS RT-AX86U. It has very good reviews. Then buy one of these to use as wifi access point / extender and put it downstairs to replace router 2 in the livingroom to create a single wifi network using ASUS AiMesh

Solution 2:
Buy this router to use as the main router and use the existing D-Link router I have downstairs (router 2) to extend the network. However, I think I will still have the same problem (3 wifi networks) with that solution, but at least I will be able to do port forwarding finally.

Solution 3:
Buy one of these mesh system, here is one just as an example. However, the problem with them is that they have a very limited number of Internet ports and most of my AV devices are hardwired.

Which one of these would be best and make most sense. I don't mind spending money to sort the issue, but on the other hand I don't want to be just throwing money around and buying unnecessary equipment.

I would be very grateful for your help, because it slowly starts to drive me mad and the network subject is not the most logical one there is.

Thank you
 

rpr

Active Member
I tried various things before settling on a couple of Ubiquiti access points hard wired to my router. Since installing them the wifi is seamless across the whole house with no hicups while moving between them.

 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
It would be useful if you cited who your ISP is.

It would also be useful if posted up some floorplans of the premises. Otherwise we can only guess at how many hotspots would be best and where to deploy them. It wouldn't be worst idea to give us and indication of how many Wi-Fi client devices you typically have and where they spend most of their time.

If you want to avail automatic "roaming" (as it's known) between Wi-Fi hotspots and/or wavebands, all you have to do is ensure that the SSID name and passphrase are the same - whatever solution you use. But note it is the client devices, not "the system" that determine if/when to instigate a roaming assessment. Wi-Fi clients are not constantly "hunting for the best signal" - some clients are pretty dogged about hanging on to "working" link even is there are much better options available. iSomethings used to be notorious for it. There's not much we can do about that as most clients offer no control over roaming behaviour and we are in the hands of the device's designer.

I suggest you decouple your thinking a bit and consider your aims as two different issues:

1.) Your router doesn't offer the Port Forwarding required, so you need a new router that does.
2.) You want to make some improvements to Wi-Fi provision.

The two are unrelated, albeit that most SOHO "routers" have Wi-Fi Access Points (AP's) built in alongside all the other stuff the terminates your Internet connection. Whist it is convenient to use a router with a built in AP and thusly it is convenient to have that "integrate" with the rest of your Wi-Fi provisioning, it's not absolutely necessary. So when selecting a replacement router, attach more weight to the routing (ie port forwarding etc.) functionality it offers than it's Wi-Fi features. Wi-Fi can always be "fixed" with an alternate/additional Wi-Fi solution downstream of any router. If you can find a solution that does both, then great, but if you find yourself having to trade of Wi-Fi features versus Port Forwarding in a router, prioritise the Port Forwarding feature you desire to inform your router selection.

Even if you pick a (so called) "Mesh" system, you can always deploy ethernet switches alongside it (if you have suitable cabling in situ, or are prepared to install it) - the two are not mutually exclusive.

There is no useful definition of what a "mesh" system is. Some of them, for example, are designed to be a replacement router alongside all the Wi-Fi providing. The tell tale is that there will be some "magic" "first" or "king" node that needs to be wired to your incoming ISP link. Some "mesh" systems are "just" a Wi-Fi infrastructure. Some can be switched between the two operating paradigms and have things with names like "bridge mode" or "AP mode." To know for sure what any given system does, it's a matter or reading the datasheets (or better still, the user manual) I am afraid. Often, the user guide can be downloaded for a read before pulling the trigger on a purchase (indeed, a lot of vendors don't provide printed use guides any more.)

There's a "block diagram" of what's (conceptually) inside a typical SOHO "router" attached to the "Using Two Routers Together" FAQ pinned in this forum you may find useful.
 
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MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
If you want to avail automatic "roaming" (as it's known) between Wi-Fi hotspots and/or wavebands, all you have to do is ensure that the SSID name and passphrase are the same - whatever solution you use.

My current favourite cheap AP is this:

Netgear WAC124

Ok it's not wifi 6 but it is reliable and simple to administer (don't buy used ones as they'll probably still be linked to someone else and it's a pain to sort out). With an AC device I typically get 850-900 Mbps from them with decent coverage and at this price you can buy plenty.
 
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=adrian=

Member
I tried various things before settling on a couple of Ubiquiti access points hard wired to my router. Since installing them the wifi is seamless across the whole house with no hicups while moving between them.

Thank you! Is there any Ubiquiti device you could recommend?


It would be useful if you cited who your ISP is.

It would also be useful if posted up some floorplans of the premises. Otherwise we can only guess at how many hotspots would be best and where to deploy them. It wouldn't be worst idea to give us and indication of how many Wi-Fi client devices you typically have and where they spend most of their time.

If you want to avail automatic "roaming" (as it's known) between Wi-Fi hotspots and/or wavebands, all you have to do is ensure that the SSID name and passphrase are the same - whatever solution you use. But note it is the client devices, not "the system" that determine if/when to instigate a roaming assessment. Wi-Fi clients are not constantly "hunting for the best signal" - some clients are pretty dogged about hanging on to "working" link even is there are much better options available. iSomethings used to be notorious for it. There's not much we can do about that as most clients offer no control over roaming behaviour and we are in the hands of the device's designer.

I suggest you decouple your thinking a bit and consider your aims as two different issues:

1.) Your router doesn't offer the Port Forwarding required, so you need a new router that does.
2.) You want to make some improvements to Wi-Fi provision.

The two are unrelated, albeit that most SOHO "routers" have Wi-Fi Access Points (AP's) built in alongside all the other stuff the terminates your Internet connection. Whist it is convenient to use a router with a built in AP and thusly it is convenient to have that "integrate" with the rest of your Wi-Fi provisioning, it's not absolutely necessary. So when selecting a replacement router, attach more weight to the routing (ie port forwarding etc.) functionality it offers than it's Wi-Fi features. Wi-Fi can always be "fixed" with an alternate/additional Wi-Fi solution downstream of any router. If you can find a solution that does both, then great, but if you find yourself having to trade of Wi-Fi features versus Port Forwarding in a router, prioritise the Port Forwarding feature you desire to inform your router selection.

Even if you pick a (so called) "Mesh" system, you can always deploy ethernet switches alongside it (if you have suitable cabling in situ, or are prepared to install it) - the two are not mutually exclusive.

There is no useful definition of what a "mesh" system is. Some of them, for example, are designed to be a replacement router alongside all the Wi-Fi providing. The tell tale is that there will be some "magic" "first" or "king" node that needs to be wired to your incoming ISP link. Some "mesh" systems are "just" a Wi-Fi infrastructure. Some can be switched between the two operating paradigms and have things with names like "bridge mode" or "AP mode." To know for sure what any given system does, it's a matter or reading the datasheets (or better still, the user manual) I am afraid. Often, the user guide can be downloaded for a read before pulling the trigger on a purchase (indeed, a lot of vendors don't provide printed use guides any more.)

There's a "block diagram" of what's (conceptually) inside a typical SOHO "router" attached to the "Using Two Routers Together" FAQ pinned in this forum you may find useful.

Thank you! Very useful information and some things I didn't think about like using switches for example.

Yes, these are two separate problems, but preferably, I would want to find solution to both together. I am thinking buying main good router and using the two I have as access points should be OK. Or buy two Asus routers and using them with their AiMesh.

Previously I thought that you can open / close ports on just about any modern router, but it looks like I was wrong. The current one I have, given to me by an ISP, is just junk.

I've read good things about that ASUS Ax86U router and am considering it. It is pricey and most likely I won't use 99% of its feature, but it seems like it will be solid.

I don't have floor plans at hand (I'll look for them), but at the moment the 2 routers cover most of the house, apart from my office, which is kind of to the side above the garage. Signal there is sketchy.

Most of the devices I have are hardwired. Like LG oled tv's, ps5, main pc, TV boxes, etc. The only things using wifi are mobile devices, like mobile phones, tablets and laptops. I would say there are about 10 - 15 devices using wifi at home. Not a massive amount.

I'm not sure why, but the dedicated mesh system is kind of last on my list as possible solution. They are expensive and don't seem to offer as many features as good dedicated router. And reading reviews, people seem to have problems with them.


My current favourite cheap AP is this:

Netgear WAC124

Ok it's not wifi 6 but it is reliable and simple to administer (don't buy used ones as they'll probably still be linked to someone else and it's a pain to sort out). With an AC device I typically get 8500-900 Mbps from them with decent coverage and at this price you can buy plenty.

As I have 300mb connection at home (considering upgrading to 500), I would prefer wifi 6 for the future proofness and the speeds 🙂
 

rpr

Active Member
Thank you! Is there any Ubiquiti device you could recommend?
I use two of these connected via one of these for poe. I found it very straightforward to set up and I'm not a networking expert.
 

=adrian=

Member
I use two of these connected via one of these for poe. I found it very straightforward to set up and I'm not a networking expert.
So, just to understand the setup a bit better, you have a router first and then the two Ubiquiti devices acting as wifi access points set up around the house, is that correct?
 

rpr

Active Member
So, just to understand the setup a bit better, you have a router first and then the two Ubiquiti devices acting as wifi access points set up around the house, is that correct?
Yep, router is wired to the poe switch, which in turn is wired to the two access points and which alleviates the need to use poe injectors on the access points so only need Cat6 cable to the access points and no separate power leads.
 

neilball

Well-known Member
If you go down the Unifi route you may want to consider using a Unifi switch too (would be managed from the same console that you use to configure the access points) - US-8-60W. This has 4 POE ports and 4 non-POE ports, all are gigabit.

Some people like Unifi as it offers the ability to manage their entire setup from a single console, rather than separate individual web server pages, and if you go all-in with a Unifi router too you get lots of system-wide analytics etc. But cost and complexity can also build quickly this way!

It’s also possible to just use the access points with no other Unifi gear as detailed by rpr above, and once you have the APs configured/working you can just leave them alone to do their job.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
It’s also possible to just use the access points with no other Unifi gear as detailed by rpr above, and once you have the APs configured/working you can just leave them alone to do their job.

Yes although the APs won't get any automatic software updates afaik.
 

neilball

Well-known Member
Yes although the APs won't get any automatic software updates afaik.
As a long-time Unifi user and installer, the first thing I’d recommend to any Unifi user is to switch off all automatic upgrades anyway, and only uodate when there is a security patch, bug fixes, or new feature you particularly want to use. Also make sure you’ve downloaded backups of your configuration so if you have to factory reset the kit you can quickly attempt to restore from a backup.

Once you’ve had a working Unifi system taken down by an automatic update you soon learn to make sure you are in control of the process and have everything as prepared as possible before hitting the update button. You also need to make sure you have time available to deal with any issues the update creates. Having a system update when you are offsite, then find out it’s all stopped working and needs on-site attention makes you more than a bit wary of the process!
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
As a long-time Unifi user and installer, the first thing I’d recommend to any Unifi user is to switch off all automatic upgrades anyway, and only uodate when there is a security patch, bug fixes, or new feature you particularly want to use. Also make sure you’ve downloaded backups of your configuration so if you have to factory reset the kit you can quickly attempt to restore from a backup.

Once you’ve had a working Unifi system taken down by an automatic update you soon learn to make sure you are in control of the process and have everything as prepared as possible before hitting the update button. You also need to make sure you have time available to deal with any issues the update creates. Having a system update when you are offsite, then find out it’s all stopped working and needs on-site attention makes you more than a bit wary of the process!

I don't disagree, however, it does require a certain amount of discipline to go back and check to see if there are vulnerabilities or patches that are required and take the necessary work. It's a bit like switching Windows Update in to manual only mode, it places all the responsibility back on the installer\user to do so. That's balanced against the risk of a patch breaking stuff, as we have seen in the past.
 

=adrian=

Member
Thank you all, I will look into the Ubiquity system to see if that would work in my case. I need to watch a few YT videos to see how the system operates in real world scenarios.
 

gal79

Novice Member
Hope OP wouldn't mind if I ask related question in his topic.

I'm planning to deploy a guest wifi network in small B&B hotel and wondering if Ubiquiti Unifi AC Mesh access points connected to PoE switch will do the job?

What other products you may suggest for this type of installation?

The building consists of 5 floors with small outdoor area and a basement.

Thanks.
 

captain morgan

Active Member
Hope OP wouldn't mind if I ask related question in his topic.

I'm planning to deploy a guest wifi network in small B&B hotel and wondering if Ubiquiti Unifi AC Mesh access points connected to PoE switch will do the job?

What other products you may suggest for this type of installation?

The building consists of 5 floors with small outdoor area and a basement.

Thanks.
With respect, I suggest that is worthy of its own thread.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
I used to work for a university and deployed a "guest" network there - certainly a larger scale than a B&B, but the use case is basically the same.

The "technical" stuff is (relatively) easy in terms of how many AP's, where to put them, how to keep the traffic separate from any other networks, (VLAN's is the best way.) In terms of Wi-Fi planning, it's no different for a "guest" network that anything else. AP count and placement is dictacted by number of users you anticipate, structure of the building, how much you are prepared to pay, yada, yada.

The "legal" stuff is an absolute nightmare, mostly in terms of the Internet access one avails.

Firstly you will need to ensure that your ISP permits using their service in this way. Many "domestic" ISP services specifically prohibit it. You'd have to get "caught" of course, but if you did you'd be in breach of contract.

Worse still, if it's an ISP contract in "your" name, you are vicariously liable for anything illegal that your guests get up to. So if the local pedophile chapter moves in, or a terrorist cell take advantage of your facilities, the excuse of "nothing to do with me gov" won't wash and you'll be liable at least in part.

This is why almost all public Internet services that are facilitated by a competent system builders have a robust set of terms and conditions and insist that users are individually identified (have to "login" with credentials if you will) whenever they connect and we will both police what they can access and track who does what and keep records for some time so that if we get our collars felt, we can demonstrate we did everything we could to prevent any illegality. That's more kit and more expertise required.

Alternatively, you could do what I did at the aforementioned university, and get in a service provider that carries all the risk and liability and completely unburden yourself of it. Have chat with the likes of Sky, Virgin, BT, your ISP (if it's not one of them) or "The Cloud" (if it still exists as a brand - Sky bought them ages ago) who are in the business of providing such services.

Depending on who you go with, may then dictate what kit you need, what is will cost you and how much you stand to make out of it. Some of the Service Providers have products designed specifically for the B&B use case.

In my university example, because I'd already got the AP's in place and VLAN's available, all I had to do was create a "guest" SSID named as required by the Service Provider, (beware a lot of cheap SOHO AP's cannot do multiple SSID's and VLAN's,) deliver that to a room on site where we had an incoming phone line. The Service Provider installed their own router and connected to my "Guest" VLAN and availed the connection back to their datacenter (and thence the Internet) via ADSL on a phone line (it was decade or two ago.) Incidentally, this paradigm also worked using wired ethernet ports for anywhere we wanted to deploy them.

The Service Provider I selected also provided things like 24 hour telephone support, (to both me and the end users,) "marketing collateral" such as "how to get connected" leaflets, and one time use "scratch cards" for us to sell (for a profit) if we wanted them. And we got a financial kick back for any time someone used their service at our facilities on a PAYG of monthly contract basis. We used to make about 5K a quarter, though of course a University campus has a much bigger footfall than a B&B!
 
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