Author Topic: Best mesh WiFi?  (Read 1211 times)

valkyrie

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    • West Lothian Clarion
Best mesh WiFi?
« on: 28 March, 2021, 08:00:37 pm »
Just moving into a new house so I’ll need to get a WiFi network set up. It’s an old stone building 3 storeys, with a long narrow extension sticking out of the back. I need a good fast signal in rooms at all extremities of the house and I can’t see any options for cabling. Mesh WiFi systems seem the way to go but what’s the best one? I’d rather spend the money and buy the right thing once rather than buying something that nearly works but needs other stuff bolted on.
World Class Excuses for Piss-Poor Performances

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #1 on: 29 March, 2021, 08:57:31 am »
I'm a fan of Ubiquiti Unifi stuff. Loads of APs both internal and external to chose from and a nice interface.
You don't need to security gateway and the WLAN controller application will run on a Raspberry Pi quite happily.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
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Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #2 on: 29 March, 2021, 08:59:59 am »
I went with BT discs, admittedly they were free but easy to set up, great signal over 3 floors and good signal to detached garage. In the house we can stream Netflix simultaneously on 3 devices or 3 different Teams calls etc..

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #3 on: 29 March, 2021, 12:09:34 pm »
I'm a fan of Ubiquiti Unifi stuff. Loads of APs both internal and external to chose from and a nice interface.
You don't need to security gateway and the WLAN controller application will run on a Raspberry Pi quite happily.

Unifi stuff is great (we've just gone from one UAP-AC-PRO not quite covering the whole house to two at diagonally opposite corners, which we should probably have done years ago), but you do have to know what you're doing to configure it.  I believe you only actually need the controller for configuration and monitoring; once set up the access points will just get on with it.

Disclaimer: I've never used wireless uplink mode.  The APs are linked by wired Ethernet, like god intended.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #4 on: 29 March, 2021, 12:18:02 pm »
TP Link Deco Mesh M5, dead easy to set up. I've got three, one of which is some 30m line of sight from the one on the back bedroom wodowsill to the one in the man cave at the bottom of the garden, to run my Sonos and laptops there.  The third is, as in Kim's case, diagonally opposite the first, downstairs in the loung at the front.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deco-M5-Coverage-Replacement-Antivirus/dp/B071241G3R
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #5 on: 29 March, 2021, 01:09:24 pm »
Disclaimer: I've never used wireless uplink mode.  The APs are linked by wired Ethernet, like god intended.

Mine too!
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Beardy

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Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #6 on: 29 March, 2021, 05:13:16 pm »
Another vote for the BT discs. Depending on your building limitations you can wire them up with Ethernet or just have the one connected to Ethernet.
Sorting my life out, one shed at a time.

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #7 on: 29 March, 2021, 08:20:29 pm »
I have Deco M5 thing and three hubs throughout the house (a four-bed detached made out of asbestos and bad dreams, completely impervious to wifi, there's also a hatch to Hell under the hallway floor). I had years of stupid wifi issues. Now I don't. I get as many bytes as BT will throw me anywhere in the house or at the bottom of the garden.

Cheap and stupidly good.
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TimC

  • Old blerk sometimes onabike.
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #8 on: 30 March, 2021, 04:14:10 am »
I have the addon BT discs, with the sender disc working on a Powerline connection to the Hub 6 router. That gives me 100mbs+ in the garage and office/shed about 50m from the house (the main connection is 200mbs).

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #9 on: 30 March, 2021, 10:28:17 am »
I used to have the tiny Mikrotik AP's which were nice as you barely noticed them. Alas the roaming didnt' work very well and we lost connections often as they dualled for the devices.

I've switched to the TP link Omada devices which are very nice and the software is clearly a UniFi rip off, but at half the price. Problem is they are slightly bigger than a unifi AC.


On the subject of powerline, there are a few people around here using it as it's ruins some of the HF bands I like to play radio on. You make their TV go wobbly once with 400w of CW and the world bloody ends but they screw up your hobby constantly with their poorly designed RF noise generators and you just have to suck it up.

Whoever invented powerline should be bloody shot, using unshielded cabling FFS.
Somewhat of a professional tea drinker.


Morat

  • I tried to HTFU but something went ping :(
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #10 on: 30 March, 2021, 11:40:03 pm »
Disclaimer: I've never used wireless uplink mode.  The APs are linked by wired Ethernet, like god intended.

Mine too!

Wireless uplink works on the AP-Pro and their brethren, but it's my second choice.
The disc-shaped APs aren't really great as true Mesh units. They work best with wired backhaul and fixed, surveyed locations. The two types of Unifi Mesh APs that I've used are the outdoor units (big flat one and teeny double twig antenna one) and they work very well indeed for temporary/mobile locations. They automagically sort out their backhaul and routing between multiple units. They usually make a decent job of it, but you can tweak the setup manually.

If you're using multiple backhaul links with the mesh-aps, it's possible to create an inadvertent network loop/broadcast storm (on multiple VLANs, just for added fun). The Mesh-APs will sort it out but it can take a couple of minutes. Oops!  :-[ Now I rate-limit ICMP on the backhaul switch ports just in case.
Rookie error, but that's what you get when you rush.
Tandem Stoker, CX bike abuser (slicks and tarmac) and owner of a sadly neglected MTB.

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #11 on: 31 March, 2021, 09:59:50 am »
I just plugged mine in and went to do something else (I might have pressed a few buttons in the app, but can't have taken more than 5 minutes).
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Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #12 on: 31 March, 2021, 07:24:51 pm »
Three Linksys Velop nodes provide fast and reliable Wi-fi throughout our solid-walled split-level house. Also in the garden and detached garage.  The system was very easy to set up

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #13 on: 01 April, 2021, 11:42:15 am »
I'd imagine a wifi network would be be useful for an efficient smart home so I have sent for a Deco M5. And Mrs A's tennis keeps freezing at crucial moments.
Sic transit and all that..

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #14 on: 02 April, 2021, 09:18:19 am »
Worked a treat but pinup boy Tsitsipas still played like a Tsit I hear.
Sic transit and all that..

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #15 on: 03 April, 2021, 11:13:27 am »
I'm a fan of Ubiquiti Unifi stuff. Loads of APs both internal and external to chose from and a nice interface.
You don't need to security gateway and the WLAN controller application will run on a Raspberry Pi quite happily.

Unifi stuff is great (we've just gone from one UAP-AC-PRO not quite covering the whole house to two at diagonally opposite corners, which we should probably have done years ago), but you do have to know what you're doing to configure it.  I believe you only actually need the controller for configuration and monitoring; once set up the access points will just get on with it.

Disclaimer: I've never used wireless uplink mode.  The APs are linked by wired Ethernet, like god intended.

Aside: Unifi are now scooping up data and advertising their wares in their controller application. They have also seriously down played a massive security breach in January in which the keys to their kingdom were purloined in a Lastpass brute force attack (no 2FA). Which is an awful shame. Especially as I've just bought two Unifi 6-lite APs to replace the older UAPs which they end-of-life in March. Another bugbear with Unifi equipment.

The only thing that comes close on features/price is TP-LINK's Omada. Works in the same way. But you can also use the access points in the old fashioned way without a controller.

OP, If you are just moving in, I would install a couple of runs of CAT6 before you move your stuff in. Future you will thank you for it when you for it when you have rock solid WiFi. You can also use any old access points then. I suspect there are some ways to route it which will cause minimal disruption? I suspect it might be easier in an older house then it is a newer one.
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #16 on: 05 April, 2021, 09:45:42 am »
Not sure they are collecting data. The ads appear in the controller app where the widget that displays the status of a device you don't have would go. So if you don't have their gateway you get the ad for that in the position where it should be. They aren't pulling the adds from the net either they are inbuilt to the controller software. Annoying but not so bad.
The breach is a different thing though and potential serious. Shouldn't have an impact unless you are running a cloud based controller. A local controller should be fine.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

frankly frankie

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Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #17 on: 05 April, 2021, 12:08:25 pm »
I just plugged mine in and went to do something else (I might have pressed a few buttons in the app, but can't have taken more than 5 minutes).

[Satisfied older-generation TP-link user here - but looking to extend range]
I've just had a look at this TP Link Deco stuff, downloaded and read the User Guide.  I think there must be some parallel universe where one person's "very easy" is my "baffling" - and vice versa of course.  I guess basically I really dislike stuff that 'just works' - I want, and expect, a setup and configuration process after which the gear behaves in the way I want it to.  At the very least, I want a setup process that does not absolutely require the use of a touchy-feely interface, and the creation of Yet Another Login.
you only live but once, and when you're dead you're done, so let the good times roll

Morat

  • I tried to HTFU but something went ping :(
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #18 on: 05 April, 2021, 12:56:40 pm »
Here's an interesting link (and comment) https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/03/ubiquiti-breach-puts-countless-cloud-based-devices-at-risk-of-takeover/

The Summary is: Use a local controller.
I do anyway because I'm allergic to unnecessary Cloudiness and like to have anything I need to trust running locally. Maybe I'm just old. I can see this being a PITA for anyone who is managing multiple sites or has another use case that makes a cloud controller worth doing.

My PFY recently updated our whole installation to 6.1.71 without asking, and it has another new interface design which isn't feature complete and includes the ads. You can turn it off and revert back to the older version. I'd recommend that as the new UI is still alpha. Forcing that sort of thing on unsuspecting production sites is wrong, although there is the argument that you shouldn't have auto-update enabled (the default!)
Tandem Stoker, CX bike abuser (slicks and tarmac) and owner of a sadly neglected MTB.

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #19 on: 06 April, 2021, 09:59:12 am »
I just plugged mine in and went to do something else (I might have pressed a few buttons in the app, but can't have taken more than 5 minutes).

[Satisfied older-generation TP-link user here - but looking to extend range]
I've just had a look at this TP Link Deco stuff, downloaded and read the User Guide.  I think there must be some parallel universe where one person's "very easy" is my "baffling" - and vice versa of course.  I guess basically I really dislike stuff that 'just works' - I want, and expect, a setup and configuration process after which the gear behaves in the way I want it to.  At the very least, I want a setup process that does not absolutely require the use of a touchy-feely interface, and the creation of Yet Another Login.

Actually, I did change the default setting (basically, my BT homehub is still the router and manages the IPs, the mesh is a really now a clever set of APs) – that did take about 30 seconds of headscratching but was ultimately painless once I'd found the appropriate option. Regardless of the mode you can change all the settings you'd need in the app. Yeah, it's an app, but it's 2021.
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Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #20 on: 06 April, 2021, 10:56:45 am »
Not sure they are collecting data. The ads appear in the controller app where the widget that displays the status of a device you don't have would go. So if you don't have their gateway you get the ad for that in the position where it should be. They aren't pulling the adds from the net either they are inbuilt to the controller software. Annoying but not so bad.
The breach is a different thing though and potential serious. Shouldn't have an impact unless you are running a cloud based controller. A local controller should be fine.


On Unifi Telemetry: https://www.theregister.com/2020/01/29/ubiquiti_data_collection_policy/
I don't know what the current state of play is, but the consensus has varied between there's no way to optout so you need to blackhole DNS records to the opt-out doesn't work.
A Few Apples Short of a Strudel

Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #21 on: 06 April, 2021, 12:21:41 pm »
Not sure they are collecting data. The ads appear in the controller app where the widget that displays the status of a device you don't have would go. So if you don't have their gateway you get the ad for that in the position where it should be. They aren't pulling the adds from the net either they are inbuilt to the controller software. Annoying but not so bad.
The breach is a different thing though and potential serious. Shouldn't have an impact unless you are running a cloud based controller. A local controller should be fine.


On Unifi Telemetry: https://www.theregister.com/2020/01/29/ubiquiti_data_collection_policy/
I don't know what the current state of play is, but the consensus has varied between there's no way to optout so you need to blackhole DNS records to the opt-out doesn't work.

Or just blacklist the controller and maybe the AP IP addresses on your firewall.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

valkyrie

  • Look at the state of your face!
    • West Lothian Clarion
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #22 on: 17 April, 2021, 10:26:51 pm »
Thanks for all the info. I bought TP Link Deco M5 and it works a treat. Only glitch I had during the set up was of my own making, as I chose a network name with an apostrophe in it. Worked fine for all my newer devices but my old Naim streamer just couldn’t connect to it. Once I removed the apostrophe everything worked perfectly. Interestingly streaming music from my NAS to my Naim works better now than it ever did in my old house with a Virgin hub, even though in the old house it had a wired connector to the hub!
World Class Excuses for Piss-Poor Performances

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Best mesh WiFi?
« Reply #23 on: 17 April, 2021, 11:49:05 pm »
Best to avoid weird characters in your SSID, for that reason.  "┓┏ 凵 =╱⊿┌┬┐" is right out.

(That said, we have one named "💩" for the 802.11b-enabled[1] IPv4-only VLAN-of-shame for low-end wifi chipsets and buggy Androids[2].)


[1] AIUI once there's a 'b'-only device on the access point it drags the performance of all the others down to its level, so best to segregate them.
[2] Some Android builds don't seem to be able to cope with SLAAC while power saving.  They wake up, see the RA has timed out and immediately close all the sockets.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...