Best Wi-Fi Router for Large Home

Hi All,

My parents in law have had NBN installed recently and have had issues with the signal across their house. The house is solid brick and 350sqm in size. They tried a wi fi extender but the signal/speed was pretty poor in the bedrooms and living room. The current router sits in an enclosed office near the back of the house which I’m sure is not helping.

Wondering if anyone else has had the same issue and how did you rectify it? Was thinking a new router with some beefy aerials may help, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Comments

  • Have you looked into a mesh system?

    Eg
    https://www.asus.com/microsite/AiMesh/en/index.html

  • I would go for a WiFi 6 mesh system with backhaul if your budget allows.

  • Anything mesh with high max number of satellites.

  • Definitely a Mesh system. I recently purchased the Google Nest WiFi and it's great. Not feature packed, pretty simple, but it works great. DHCP reserved IP, family features, priority devices, probably about it. The hubs double as a Google Assistant, the router does not.

    There are heaps of different ones available though. Orbi, Deco, Eero, etc.

  • +7 votes

    IT guy here, not a huge fan of most consumer grade mesh systems but if you can't run cable and aren't technical enough to configure something more complicated they might be your best option.

    The best bet would be to run cable to a couple of central points in the house and add some access points, cabling isn't expensive and it's going to be a much better experience than mesh and probably cheaper provided your house isn't a nightmare to cable. Once the cabling is run you can use just about any half decent access point and max out an NBN connection.

    • How much is cabling approximately?

      • Depends on single / double story, how long and how much your cabler wants to charge.

        Have a call around in your area and describe what you want to them to get a ballpark price.

        • Even with cables, you still need mesh nodes right? Just wired instead of wireless backhaul.

          • +4 votes

            @fredblogs: idk what constitutes a 'mesh node' since it's all just marketing gibberish.

            You could just have 2 APs, that is anything with a wireless radio even an older router(with dhcp functions disabled of course) wired up back to your router with the same ssid. Devices would choose the AP based on the signal strength.

            The downside with this is they might not renegotiate so you could be on a suboptimal AP. Unifi and others get around this by forcibly disconnecting you when signal is below a certain threshhold if I'm not mistaken.

            You could also just have 2 different SSIDs so you know which one you're connected to.

            • @knk: Wi-Fi roaming is determined by the client and not the station. Force dissociation only helps but roaming is still not guaranteed.

            • @knk: Also a IT pro, for me and the guys I work with we define a "mesh node" or "mesh access point" as a access point that uses a dedicated radio to back haul client data. So a mesh AP would have a minimum of 3 radios, 1 x 2.4Ghz & 1 x 5Ghz broadcasting the client facing SSID's and typically a 5Ghz that is the back haul and this can choose the optimum path or a controller does.

    • Can u please give an example of access point. Like brand and model that can work fine with a standard router

      • Any will work fine with a standard router.

        The unifi gear gives decent performance, requirement for a controller is a bit shit though.

        • Controller only necessary for configuration and running advanced guest Wi-Fi functions like charging for access.

          • @alvian: Until you want to change your ssid, and have to install all the software and factory reset the devices if you didn't keep the config file.

            Come across it all too often lol

            They do work very well though.

            • @knk:

              if you didn't keep the config file

              If you as an IT Pro didn't tell your clients to keep multiple copies of the config file then you're not one. If your clients ignored your advice and removed the config file then all the better: charge them more.

              • +1 vote

                @alvian: See as an IT professional I don't tell my users to keep anything, I manage infrastructure for them. I don't have clients I don't manage on an ongoing basis (I only deal with businesses, not residential). If you're telling people to backup config files, you're not a professional or you're at the very least offering an unmanaged / subpar service.

                We're talking about residential users, I guarantee you people forget to backup this shit or they lose it.

                Anyway, something like a rogue AP with no controller would be discovered in the onboarding phase where you find random shit people have installed, it'd then be rectified. I'd never run a site without an active controller, if a client were to not want a dedicated controller be it hosted or on-premise I'd use different hardware. I only use Ubiquiti where we require things like wpa-eap with radius vlan tagging otherwise I don't touch it. It's also worth noting that as a routing platform I'd rather stick hot needles in my eyes than ever try to administer that shit again. There is no granularity or control, absolute garbage. (in their unifi line, I have no experience with their other lines).

                Regardless, the requirement for say a single AP site to have a controller is a little ridiculous and its the reason I don't usually recommend ubiquiti gear.

                In almost every instance I use Mikrotik hardware, however there's a stupidly high learning curve and no hand holding which is why I did not recommend it.

                • @knk:

                  I don't tell my users to keep anything, I manage infrastructure for them. I don't have clients I don't manage on an ongoing basis

                  didn't keep the config file… Come across it all too often lol

                  If you take on infrastructure management for ongoing regular clients, then why "all too often you have to install all the software and factory reset the devices" because the config file is gone? Surely it will be an irregular occurrence that you would encounter once per new client?

                  If you're telling people to backup config files, you're not a professional or you're at the very least offering an unmanaged / subpar service.

                  Advising clients to backup files critical to their infrastructure is unprofessional and subpar? Okay, if you say so. If you mean an IT Pro should be backing up the clients' files as a routine part of the job without having to tell them first, then that is a security breach. But the question is, once again, why all too often do you have to install the controller and reset the WAPs for your clients because the config file is gone? Aren't the WAPs under your ongoing management? Didn't you back up the configs?

                  We're talking about residential users, I guarantee you people forget to backup this shit or they lose it.

                  I only deal with businesses, not residential

                  So your guarantee is based on a guess?

                  • +1 vote

                    @alvian:

                    Surely it will be an irregular occurrence that you would encounter once per new client?

                    Correct, during the takeover / onboarding phase. There have actually been 2 instances where it's more expensive to retrieve and factory reset it than replace because you'd need a cherry picker (I think?) to get to the top of a warehouse. Certainly out of ladder territory anyway.

                    If you mean an IT Pro should be backing up the clients' files as a routine part of the job without having to tell them first, then that is a security breach. But the question is, once again,

                    No I never said that. In my case it's not a security breach because these are services I'm contracted for, without an agreement for ongoing work - I don't perform work. Regardless of this, backups for infrastructure should be automated (in a business environment) and not left up to a manual process. People make mistakes, automated backups can at least be systematically monitored for failures / misses.

                    why all too often do you have to install the controller and reset the WAPs for your clients because the config file is gone? Aren't the WAPs under your ongoing management? Didn't you back up the configs?

                    Once again, it's in the onboarding phase which I have mentioned a couple times already. Config backup is all automated these days on my end, so yes everything is appropriately backed up so it can be swapped out in event of failure.

                    So your guarantee is based on a guess?

                    Personal experience, but yes a guess if you want to call it that.

            • @knk: You don't need to run a controller these days. Only if they were setup with a controller will they prevent you from changing their config. You can now setup WAP's & switches just using the UniFi app on iOS or Android and do simple changes that way. Of course it's nowhere near as good as running a controller. For a more keen home user that wants the bells and whistles of running a controller but not the hassle of running a Cloud Key or it on a PC or NAS then a UDM is perfect as that has the controller built-in.

              • @Rockets84: That's actually good to know, how is ownership of the AP handled then? I'm guessing via an account on unifi's end?

                I'd still much rather a damn web interface though!

                • @knk: They aren't owned at all. You can scan the network or use QR code for the first time setup. Only very basic options like SSID name & key per radio and power & channel settings. I don't think they have a username & password at all. Haven't really played with them in that mode but perfect for a home use with a basic config.

    • Why are you not a huge fan of most consumer grade mesh systems?

      • Lack of consistency and granularity basically.

        If I were to actually do this for a client I'd get something with 3 radios and use 2 devices or sacrifice the 5ghz channel as a bridge and rebroadcast on 2ghz if that were suitable.

        It also depends on how the 'mesh' is implemented. I have less of an issue if its a proper layer 2 mesh, if its using WDS its hot garbage in my opinion. While WDS will work for most things, you have weird issues with broadcast discovery etc - consistency is an issue in a business environment here. These things might be perfectly acceptable for someone running a home network.

        To be fair - there's not really a good solution here, particularly an easy to configure consumer one. As it currently stands wireless networks aren't made to do this and WDS is the kludge to do it in a semi-consistent / vendor agnostic way. What you end up with vendors implementing their own sort of layer 2 / eoip tunnel in order to facilitate this, which is exactly what I'd be doing in my 3 radio thing above. (Mikrotik with EOIP tunnel on 1 5ghz interface).

        I'm fairly sure this is being addressed in whatever the next wireless standard is, I don't keep up to date / look into this stuff until it's stable and available in the products i'll be using.

        Honestly however, it's not often I need to use these methods.. Cabling is usually been more cost effective and reliable / consistent so it's usually used. I'd love to do more long range piggy backed wireless deployments though, good fun.

        • Fair enough.

          I have the TP Link Deco M5, it works great in all the rooms where a single router used to struggle.

          • @BuyOrNot: Yeah, like I (think I said) above I don't have direct experience with the TPLink gear. Their managed switches are great value for money though in smaller businesses.

            It might be amazing and doing exactly what I'd normally do, and taking the hard/complex part out of it. I imagine those TPLink things are probably doing this the proper Layer 2 bridge way.

  • Orbi with backhaul. No need for Wifi 6.

  • Mesh it bro (mesh system will be perfect if you are not after 1GB speed )

  • Ubiquiti Edgerouter X with proper access points (bonus points for Unifi APs).

  • +1 vote

    Another vote for mesh.
    Netgear Orbi is a solid choice.

  • Thank you all for the help, I’ll have a look into the mesh systems.

  • Where are you putting the wifi extender? Is it halfway between the router and where the internet needs to be? In my house, my wifi router sits at the back of the house, I have to put a wifi extender in the middle of my house so that the front of my house can get reception.

  • Use powerline adaptors between rooms, then plug the wifi extender to it.

  • Get a few unifi APs and position them evenly around the house. With PoE you'll only need to run one cable to each AP. 2-3 of those will easily cover 350sqm house. I have two very old ones (the aren't even supported anymore) in my 120sqm house and it's an overkill.

  • If it's a solid brick house you may be disappointed with any mesh systems that isn't hard wired for back haul as they still have to deal with the tough RF environment. For my parents large split level 2 story all brick house, which is essentially 3 stories from a RF perspective, I setup the ISP supplied NBN Wi-Fi modem is one area where the FTTN phone line is and we then have 2 access points in the other two areas that are hard wired back to the NBN modem. I was lucky in that my parents house was wired for phone points through out the house back to a small RJ45 patch panel with CAT5e that I was able to easily convert to network cables. I used two Apple Airport Express Gen 2 in access point mode in other rooms with the same SSID & PSK as the NBN modem. Got full coverage and the devices roam without interruption. They are moving house soon and the new house is 3 stories again but the main living area floor is much bigger so I'll probably use a Ubiquiti Dream Machine and 2 or 3 FlexHD access points.