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it:network_extending

extending your home internet network

Introduction

  • most people have a home network setup consisting of a broadband modem connected to a phone line to access the internet and then this modem will either have a built-in WiFi and ethernet switch router or you connect an ethernet cable from this modem to a WiFi router.
  • The WiFi Router performs the following basic functions:
    • accepts the broadband signal via its WLAN ethernet input port
    • provides IP addresses for devices connected to the router on that network
    • allows these devices to access the broadband and the local network via direct ethernet cables or via WiFi
  • This generally leaves most houses with areas of poor access to the network due to many factors such as:
    • no ethernet cabling throughout the house
    • factors that impair WiFi performance:
      • distance from the WiFi router
      • positioning of the WiFi router - ideally should not be on the floor, or in the sun, and should be in the centre of a room, preferably ceiling mounted in an office area, and should be at least 2m from WiFi devices
      • the router's WiFi output
      • the router's antenna - a long hallway or corridor will most likely need an indoor semi-directional antenna for coverage as opposed to the usual omni-directional antenna.
      • the WiFi frequency affects transmission signal strength
      • the user device's antenna efficiency
      • interference with other radio frequency devices:
        • avoid using multiple WiFi access points within 100m of each especially if using the same SSID (unless using MESH systems)
        • 2.4GHz range:
          • 2.4GHz cordless phones, microwaves, flourescent bulbs, Bluetooth, other nearby 2.4GHz WLANs
        • 5GHz range:
          • 5GHz cordless phones, radar, perimeter sensors, nearby 802.11a or 802.11n WLANs
      • blockage of the WiFi signal (in general thin wooden walls and glass are not a problem)
        • water is a big issue
          • people are made largely of water so avoid people being between the device and the router
          • rain, snow and even wind
          • bathrooms, kitchens
          • trees
        • kitchens full of metal appliances block WiFi
        • some walls or floors block WiFi - especially:
          • thick walls
          • reinforced concrete (metal obstructs WiFi)
          • brick, plaster, cement, double-glazed windows may all present issues
        • other metal objects such as elevators and some tinted glasses
  • There are several ways to address these “black spots”:
    • use your phone and mobile service
      • this is obviously the simplest option and you can generally set up your phone as a personal WiFi hotspot
    • if your black spot will not have a WiFi blockage:
      • place a WiFi range extender where it can still get a good signal from the router
      • use a WiFi Mesh system to create a new WiFi network (router may need to be compatible)
    • if your WiFi signal will be severely blocked or your device requires an ethernet connection:
      • run an ethernet cable - this is the most reliable method but needs extra elements:
        • add another WiFi router as an access point but this will require logging onto a different WiFi system
      • use an AC powerline ethernet extender
        • much easier to install than cabling but potentially much less reliable and much slower
        • still need to add another WiFi router as an access point

Simple WiFi 5 Range extenders

  • these plug into a AC powerpoint and detect the main router's WiFi signal and re-broadcasts it at a higher signal strength and thus acts as a WiFi booster but you now need to log onto a different WiFi network
  • the extender MUST be within the wireless range of the wireless router and preferably in a spot with reasonably good WiFi signal from the main router
  • can be problematic to configure if you need multiple extenders

MESH WiFi 6 systems

  • these plug into a AC powerpoint and detect the main router's WiFi signal and re-broadcasts it at a higher signal strength and thus acts as a WiFi booster
  • MESH WiFi is a new system based on WiFi 6 (802.11ax) which adds OFDMA, uplink MU_MIMO, Spatial frequency reuse, dynamic fragmentation technologies
  • each node or satellite extender communicates with one another to amplify your WiFi signal and to extend its WiFi coverage. This allows you to add a number of WiFi satellite extenders into the system whilst retaining the MESH WiFi SSID and password for easier access to the system as one moves from one part to another
  • they can allow for faster speeds, smoother reliability and greater wireless coverage
  • generally require a MESH compatible main WiFi 6 router and each node must have WiFi access to another node
  • it replaces the WiFi 5 main router's network system with its own MESH system
  • easier to setup than multiple extenders
  • better performance and better redundancy
  • more expensive but you no longer need your main router as one of these will replace it
  • probably only needed for larger homes
  • if you need a system to get through brick walls or have a weathersealed outdoor option, or you need a ethernet direct connection to a node for gaming, the Netgear Orbi is better than Google Nest or Linksys Velop for these needs
  • if those needs are not important, the Google Nest is better for a small home or unit, and the Linksys Velop is better for a larger house as it is far more consistent than the Google Nest although the app is problematic 1)
  • for those who are a bit tech savvy, consider an industrial PoE Mesh access points although these generally require connection to a PoE ethernet cable at each access point (or IP camera or IP phone) but this makes it much easier to install access points in ceilings where the WiFi will be more optimal and IP cameras on external walls.
    • these are powered by direct ethernet cable using Power over Ethernet (PoE) and thus you may need a PoE Injector or a PoE Switch to provide this power

AC Powerline ethernet adapters / extenders

  • Some houses are just not suitable for these AC powerline ethernet systems - read below!
  • how do they work?
    • they piggyback the household AC power system by sending a high frequency DC signal along the AC power circuit
  • simple to install:
    • just plug one of the kit adapters directly into a wall AC power socket near your main router and connect to the main router via an etherent cable into one of the router's switch ports
    • plug the 2nd one directly into a AC wall power socket and connect to your ethernet device or, preferably a second WiFi router set up as an access point which you will need to purchase separately
  • this requires BOTH adapters to be plugged into the SAME power circuit
    • it may work even if it is on a different circuit in the house as long as they circuits were installed at the same time and thus are connected at the switchboard, but expect to see a significant drop in speed!
    • unfortunately, it is likely that in parts of the house that WiFi is blocked from accessing, are also probably on a different power circuit
  • most come with an encrypting system
    • this is usually simple to set up and is designed to ensure 3rd parties can't access your network by plugging a compatible device into the same power grid (eg. if you live in units - not usually an issue for houses as transformers severely degree the signal as does long distances > 200m)
  • factors that affect performance speed and may cause drop outs
    • long distances of power line - but can work up to 200-300m from 1st adapter plug
    • receive-end noise matters more than transmit
    • plugging the adapter into a power board/strip, a surge protected system or UPS
    • plugging devices into the other power point of a twin power outlet
    • using certain high frequency generating devices on the circuit such as:
      • USB charger adapters
      • phone and laptop chargers
      • plasma TVs
      • flourescent lights
    • use of dimming switches especially for halogen globes
    • other sources of high frequency electromagnetic interference (EMI - most of EMI is high frequency)
      • computers
      • power cords
      • telephone lines
      • appliances such as vacuum cleaners
    • use of certain types of circuit breakers (specifically some types of ACFIs) in your switchboard which have capacitors instead of inductors in front of the power supply bridge
      • ACFIs are used to prevent electrical fires
        • Square D and Moeller/Eaton AFCIs apparently have a friendly design
          • at least this applies to Square-D/Schneider HOM120AFI and the Eaton CL120AF AFCI breakers
        • Siemens and Murray AFCIs apparently have capacitors which severely disrupt the signal as these capacitors block DC currents
      • in Australia, since 1991, all houses have Safety Switch which is a residual-current circuit breaker (RCCB) (ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in US terminology) and act as earth leakage circuit breakers (ELCB). These should not affect the ethernet signal except that a maximum of three subcircuits may be connected to a single Safety Switch.
  • tips for improving the network signal and hence speed
    • use a faster adapter kit which uses at least AV2 type adapters
    • use the same vendor adapters to ensure optimal compatibility (specifically you need the same chipsets and these are generally either Broadcom and Qualcomm Atheros chipsets)
    • where possible use power outlets on the same electrical circuit and these should not have unfriendly circuit breakers
    • do NOT plug into a power board/strip - this is likely to drop speed by at least 15%
    • do not plug into a surge protector device this may severely reduce the signal
    • avoid interference of other high frequency generating devices (especially at the receiving adapter end) as above by filtering them out such as by:
      • plugging these other devices into a 2m extension cord, or,
      • plugging these other devices into a low pass filter compatible with Powerline, or,
      • plug into the adapter's rear pass-through power point if it has one, or,
      • put everything except the powerline adapter on a battery-backed Uninterruptible power supply (UPS), but the UPS itself can generate noise, so you may end up needing to plug it into a line filter, too
  • see also:
it/network_extending.txt · Last modified: 2020/04/19 16:29 by gary1