Upgrade a wireless network



  • I recently moved into a bigger home (from a one-room apartment) and now things on the other side of the house connect too slowly for what I do.

    I guess we have like 10 devices. I just want to be able to stream 2-3 simultaneous streams from the media server, and have low latency for things like browsing and SSH sessions. Right now, rsync is pushing 3Mbps to the media server, but I'd like to see 30Mbps. Actually, my internet is supposed to be 25Mbps, so let's aim for 50+ Mbps in the network.

    I'm looking for a cost effective way to upgrade my wireless network. What is the best option? A wireless extender? Powerline over ethernet? Something else?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Captain said:

    Powerline over ethernet

    Assuming you mean powerline Ethernet
    You don't want that if you're looking for speed, it's only marginally better than WiFi if you're lucky IME



  • I use Powerline adapters for this.

    @sloosecannon said:

    it's only marginally better than WiFi if you're lucky IME

    Where the WiFI is good maybe. He's using them to extend to places the WiFi is shit. How could they not be significantly better?

    My 5-year-old cheap Powerline adapters manage at least 80Mbps, which isn't even close to possible on WiFi at the front of the house. I keep meaning to upgrade them. A colleague got some decent ones to take the network up 2 floors of his house and they manage way more than what mine do.


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    @loopback0 said:

    I use Powerline adapters for this.

    @sloosecannon said:

    it's only marginally better than WiFi if you're lucky IME

    Where the WiFI is good maybe. He's using them to extend to places the WiFi is shit. How could they not be significantly better?

    My 5-year-old cheap Powerline adapters manage at least 80Mbps, which isn't even close to possible on WiFi at the front of the house. I keep meaning to upgrade them. A colleague got some decent ones to take the network up 2 floors of his house and they manage way more than what mine do.

    Maybe my power lines are noisy or something. We had trouble maintaining any kind of link, and when we could get it the speeds maxxed at like... 1-2mbps tops.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    If possible, run Ethernet across to the other side and set up a secondary Wi-Fi access point.

    I did this and have not regretted it, after doing Powerline adapters and repeaters both.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @sloosecannon said:

    You don't want that if you're looking for speed, it's only marginally better than WiFi if you're lucky IME

    I use that and while it's definitely not perfect, it's hugely better than wifi. Even with high-power wifi routers, the old brick load-bearing walls in the core of my house were more than a match for anything I could send out, so powerline is much better. I think the UK tendency to use (otherwise clearly overengineered) ring-main configurations for domestic power distribution helps.

    I suppose could run an ethernet cable, but that's way more work and I'm lazy.


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    @dkf Yeah it sounds like this is a UK vs US thing - I've never gotten powerline to work well reliably (and neither has @Tsaukpaetra apparently) but you and @loopback0 have...



  • I use Powerline to create an ethernet connection between my router and my set-top boxes, as I have IPTV. It's a mixed bag at best: sometimes the HD channels work fine (25 Mbps bitrate), at other times the SD channels (7 Mbps) just look like shit. Stuttering, lagging, dropping frequently...


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @dkf said:

    ring-main configurations

    Yep, we don't do that in the U.S. Instead, we Uhmericans do branch wiring from a central panel. On top of that, we do split-phase service, where the panel will have two hot buses that are 180 degrees out of phase to each other. That makes it easy to wire high-powered stuff to 240V (phase to phase) and everything else to 120V (phase to neutral); however, powerline Ethernet has a really hard time bridging the two buses.



  • @Tsaukpaetra Indeed. Cabling is not that expensive anymore.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Rhywden said:

    @Tsaukpaetra Indeed. Cabling is not that expensive anymore.

    Cabling isn't the biggest problem for me though - it's the difficulty of where to run the wires...



  • @sloosecannon said:

    Cabling isn't the biggest problem for me though - it's the difficulty of where to run the wires...

    This. I've had weak wifi problems in my bedroom in the past, luckily a better wifi router solved the problem. Though as I'm thinking on it, I do have a phone socket in the bedroom, so that's 2 wire-pairs, and I know that a different phone wiring segment uses twisted pair (as it carried adsl over 20 meters without signal loss).


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @sloosecannon said:

    difficulty of where to run the wires...

    I literally ran the Cat5e around the side of the house. Like, on the brick wall (well, the wood sitting on top of the wall, but visualization is key).
    If you're going to stay all internal though... It shouldn't be that difficult, depending on whether you have a true attic or not.

    Before that I had it winding around corners and snuggling floorboards.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Tsaukpaetra Fine, because of :pendant:...

    Cabling isn't the biggest problem for me though - it's the difficulty of where to run the wires without looking jankity as fuck...


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @sloosecannon said:

    without looking jankity as fuck...

    Oh. Well if you want it to look nice maybe get a contractor? :trollface:



  • Yeah, Ethernet over powerline is going to be a crapshoot, depending on how clean your power is, how good the lines are, etc.

    I would NEVER recommend doing a wireless range extender / repeater type setup. Even assuming the repeater has enough signal to get max data rates (which, given your clients apparently don't, isn't likely), just adding a repeater in the house reduces the total wireless bandwidth available by 50%. And that stacks multiplicative if you have to have more than one repeater.

    Run an Ethernet cable. Show some leg, compliment @blakeyrat, do whatever you have to in order to get the cable run.

    And then make sure the wireless APs are spread relatively far (extremes of the house) and on different channels (1 and 11 in 2.4GHz land) to minimize cross-interference.



  • @izzion said:

    Run an Ethernet cable

    I went with Powerline because I rent the house so can't go drilling holes or whatever to run ethernet cable all over the place.



  • Yeah, there're obviously cases where running a cable is not a readily available option. And, YMMV on exactly how good or shat-tastic PowerLine networking is going to be. but as a general recommendation & matter of principle, I will always recommend using the cabling designed for networking to do your networking.

    And really, given how small a network cable is, you could probably swing running the wiring and then tearing it out and spackling over the holes if the landlord gets sticky when you move out.



  • @izzion said:

    And really, given how small a network cable is, you could probably swing running the wiring and then tearing it out and spackling over the holes if the landlord gets sticky when you move out.

    Yeah but then it's not hidden away all neat and tidy.
    Powerline works perfectly for me, so I don't need to consider an alternative.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @loopback0
    One solution with ethernet cabling might be to run it along where the wall meets the ceiling, and using tape or something to keep it up there. Maybe not perfect, but still more out of the way.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Erufael said:

    where the wall meets the ceiling, and using tape or something to keep it up there

    Yeah, that was my previous implementation before I ran it outside.
    Doesn't need to be the ceiling either, but very few people look in the cracks for wires.
    And if you happen to get creative, you could even make it look natural!


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @sloosecannon said:

    You don't want that if you're looking for speed, it's only marginally better than WiFi if you're lucky IME

    If you're getting shit Wi-Fi far away from where the router is, your best bet may be powerline Ethernet. My son's computer--I've mentioned this several times on the old forum--got shitty signal; 10Mbps on a good afternoon with our 100Mbps cable--and when I got powerline Ethernet, he instantly got 50Mbps, which is more than enough for him. I got some inexpensive TP-Link thing or something, and it was really easy. Plug one of the units into an outlet near the router, then plug in the Ethernet, and wait for the lights to stabilize according to the instructions. Then you plug the other box into the other outlet, wait for the lights to stabilize--that node has to notice the other one, basically--and then plug in your Ethernet. That's it. Takes like a minute total, not counting furniture moving, if any. The model I got, you can buy additional adapters to extend the network.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Another thing--you can find fairly cheap stuff and then return it if you have to. I tried 3 different wireless network adapters in my son's computer, including ones with relatively large external antennae, and they didn't help at all, so I returned them right away. The powerline networking stuff I think cost about $40 for the two boxes, and extenders were another $20 each or so. That means you can buy just the first pair, and return them if they don't work, but if they do, you can buy an extra one or two.

    If I were really ambitious, I could run Ethernet in the walls--my apartment complex doesn't mind that kind of stuff as long as you either leave it in--and it doesn't look like shit or is unsafe, of course--when you move out, or undo it. But the powerline stuff was a hell of a lot less work and $.



  • @Captain said:

    A wireless extender? Powerline over ethernet?

    Why not both? I used a Powerline to Wifi thing at my mother's house to extend the wifi into the garden. It's a powerline adapter with a build in wifi extender.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @FrostCat said:

    your best bet may be powerline Ethernet

    That may depend on the local electrical code and the quality of the wiring. If your house is wired with multiphase, or if the wires are just crappy, it may not work well at all.

    WIMH YMMV



  • @dkf

    My wiring is old, and some of the old part of the house is still on 2 prong US outlets (so they're not grounded). But I don't know of any reason the wires would be bad.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Captain said:

    But I don't know of any reason the wires would be bad.

    It depends on the quality of the insulation on the wires. For old wires in the wall, that can be quite horrible. Some of the stuff I've ripped out of the wall when renovating has been wrapped in waxed string, for goodness' sake…



  • @dkf

    Ok, I've seen the wiring in the attic. It's basically thick lamp cord, wrapped in plastic.



  • @dkf said:

    Some of the stuff I've ripped out of the wall when renovating has been wrapped in waxed string, for goodness' sake…

    When I moved into my house (20yrs ago), it still had some remnants of knob-and-tube aluminum wiring.



  • @Captain
    Another thing to consider is interference / channel used.

    If you have an Android tablet / phone, you can use Wifi Analyzer to debug it.

    Use it where you get bad reception, maybe you just have lot's of neighbors on the same channel hitting that area.
    It's free so it's worth a try :smiley:



  • @TimeBandit said:

    If you have an Android tablet / phone, you can use Wifi Analyzer to debug it.

    inSSIDer for Windows works well too.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @loopback0 said:

    inSSIDer for Windows

    Ooh! Adding to toolbox!



  • I ended up getting a TPLink 600Mbps powerline ethernet kit, and a TPLink 450N wireless access point (with gigabit ethernet). I'm happy with it so far. Definitely fast enough for the biggest HD streams I have. I'll do a real speed test tonight.



  • @izzion Buy some of these:

    0_1459465312147_41GumfglnDL.SY355.jpg

    Fish the ethernet along the existing power paths; shouldn't be too difficult without drilling holes.

    When you move out, just replace the plates with the originals.



  • @dcon said in Upgrade a wireless network:

    When I moved into my house (20yrs ago), it still had some remnants of knob-and-tube aluminum wiring.

    My house still has live knob-and-tube. 15 amps.


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