Wifi Extender Suggestions

wifi

#1

I’m just a few days out from getting my golden email (hopefully), and of course that gets my gears turning even more about the upcoming fun that I’ll be having with the Glowforge.

I have planned to put the Glowforge on a window seat in my bonus room where I have my office upstairs, so it can vent right out that window, and that room’s AC is controlled separately from the main house.

My wifi has been spotty up there recently, and it has me worried. I have Comcast, so there might be nothing I can do. (jaded much?) Downstairs, where my modem is, I get some pretty consistently good speeds…usually around 65-70Mbps down. Upstairs though, it is just really hit-and-miss. Sometimes, I’m getting like 15-20, which is fine. Then, other times, my iPhone and mac struggle to get a signal or it is something like .5Mbps down. That won’t work!

It is a pretty good distance from the modem, and I’ve tried putting an extender upstairs, but even that doesn’t seem to be grabbing the signal well enough. I would say it is probably 60+ feet from the modem to where the Glowforge will be. The modem is not right by windows and not right against a wall. I feel like it should be projecting better than it is.

Ideas for boosting this? Any extender you’ve used recently with great success in this type of a situation? Any help is appreciated.


#2

Are you testing that on 5ghz or 2.4? 2.4Ghz should be a little better at penetrating walls.

I’m no WiFi expert so no great suggestions on equipment; have you tried the extender in a different area? Does the signal vary in strength anywhere upstairs - maybe stronger in a certain area? The extender won’t do much with an already weak signal, beyond extend a weak signal further.


#3

Would your modem happen to be a combination modem/wifi router?
I ask because when I upgraded from DSL to cable, I thought I would spring for a $50 combo, and had intermittent drops in the wifi signal. A friend who was the senior network admin told me he had a similar issue, and bought a standalone wifi router and it solved his problem.
So I bought a TP-link unit for around $25 and haven’t had that issue for 2 years now.


#4

That kind of what I thought too. The signal doesn’t seem to recover much until I go about halfway down the stairs, which is a 90 degree turn. Maybe that wall is the culprit? Also, I really have no idea why it comes in waves like it does. Sometimes, it will be just fine all night. Other times, very spotty. It is cable modem where I am, so I know some of that depends on who else near me is using it. I have an older iMac, and sometimes, if I restart it, it will catch the signal well. Almost like when it is on for a while, it uses up the RAM of wifi signal. I know that doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t to me either, but just trying to explain exactly how it acts. I just figured that was because of an older wifi antennae on the iMac, but that should either be a connection or not…not having a connection and then gradually losing it.

Yes, it is a combo unit (gateway, I’ve heard it called). That’s funny that you mention that, because I had heard the same thing. I bought one of the top 10 standalone routers rated by PC MAG or one of those, the TP-LINK C7Archer (I believe). It seemed to work fine for a while, but I had signal issues still. Enough that I finally had to get a Comcast agent to my house…they ran a heavier cable from the street, and recommended that I use the gateway again. It is just really confusing. The TP-Link is now setup as an extender, but I’m just not satisfied.


#5

You definitely need to shoot for overlap if you can.

For example, if you put it on the outer fringes, getting a weak signal for the extender at say 10mb, and the attached device at 100% strength signal, that 10mb is your max throughput. Finding a location that maybe you get a 50% signal on the extender and a 50% signal on your device. Say that equaled 37.5mb throughput at the extender, it be would be 18.5 at the device. These numbers are for illustration only before someone comes back and says those aren’t link speeds lol.

I haven’t used them but the whole house “mesh” type systems seem to get good reviews. Google makes one. Orbi, I think is another. Netgear. Etc.


#6

And to add - definitely get the connectivity sorted out. I think a lot of problems that pop up here are due to bad connectivity.


#7

Yeah, that’s why it struck me last night that this might be an actual problem soon. Right now, it is just a frustration and irritation, but it could mean the difference between using my Glowforge and not.


#8

My understanding with WiFi repeaters is that their signal halves the speed from the source.

Haven’t read up on whether the new crop of Mesh Networking devices mitigates this. They’re pricey tho’ according to those who’ve deployed it.

IMO, the best way is to anticipate and fix the weak signal from the start by hardwiring ethernet across the house. Near the modem, a WiFi router resides blanketing 2/3rds of the house with a reasonably strong signal. Ethernet runs out from this main router to one of the weaker rooms where a spare (old) router is connected and set to BRIDGE mode. This overlapping coverage has the same SSID & password login.

Obviously those in rental units, condos, etc won’t have the luxury of drilling through baseboards to run ethernet, but for homeowners, it’s the first thing I’d recommend before using other band-aid solutions.

This might also be an issue of placement:


#9

I forgot to answer this…I’ve been testing on 5ghz. I knew it was capable of higher overall speeds, but forgot that about 2.4ghz being able to penetrate walls better.

Yeah, I looked at one that started at about $350 and went up from there.

I might end up having to do this. I could pretty easily run through the attic.


#10

I would recommend to try testing with the 2.4 Ghz…:grimacing: especially since the GF doesn’t have 5Ghz.


#11

And 2.4 range is quite a bit better…
I picked up a set of plume pods, and while not the fastest, they work quite nicely for my setup. Able to bounce a signal out of the main house over a concrete wall and through the door in my little adobe workshop and to the GF :slight_smile:
While I really would have liked a hardwire option, Wi-Fi was much easier to set up


#12

I recently had to put up a repeater in order for the Sensi smart thermostat for the heater in our garage (it is awesome), and ended up using a NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Desktop WiFi Range Extender (EX7000-100NAS) that I had previous purchased but never used. It has been great, and I may end up using the same access point for the Glowforge.

Their EX6200 model looks similar and also has good reviews, for a lower price.


#13

I purchased Samsung Connect Home AC1300 Smart Wi-Fi System (3-Pack), Works as a SmartThings Hub to redo the wifi to a mesh.

It has done a good job bringing the the house, a shop off the garage(glowforge location) and an outbuilding wood shop together under a single ssid. It also give you the ability to have SmartThing devices anywhere.

Works very well for me.


#14

Whoa! How have I never seen this? Seriously? Glad I’m going through this now.

I’ll look into this one. Thanks!

I’m not that familiar with these types, but thanks for the info. I’ll look into it. How far are your outbuildings?


#15

I have one of the units on the inside of the closest wall to the woodshop. Wood shop is about 100 feet away across the driveway.


#16

Years back I had a mother-in-laws quarters that could not read the signal from the main house. I installed the jumper in the garage that still got a good signal and it solved the problem.

However it was years ago and would be buggy-whip technology by today’s standards so I am not sure how it helps except to say that if the jumper is close enough to get a good signal then it will be able to send a better signal, rather than have it try to boost a bad signal.


#17

Google wifi and call it done.


#18

Well, that’s impressive.


#19

That looks really slick! Do you have it?


#20

I do, I bought the 3 pack. It’s a bit pricey, but simply works and does constant speed tests and has simple management.