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How setup wireless in large house

Posted on 2012-12-29
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Last Modified: 2013-01-15
I have a 10,000 sqft house and my old wireless router doesn't cover the entire house.  What are the building blocks I can use to get excellent coverage throughout the house?  I have wired connections scattered throughout the house.  Multiple wireless routers? Are there repeaters?  Do the newest bands have improved ranges?  How to set it all up so there is one seamless network including network printers?

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Question by:SAbboushi
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themrrobert earned 63 total points
ID: 38729845
You need Access Points. These are basically repeaters.

Probably best to get them all from the same provider, and be sure that they are compatible with each other (although they pretty much all should be)

Most wireless routers can also function as a simple AP, but you need to disable the routing software (dns, dhcp, etc) on the extra access points or they will fight and screw up the network.
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by:themrrobert
ID: 38729849
Sometimes they call them range extenders, or repeaters: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=1194486
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by:avcontrol
avcontrol earned 125 total points
ID: 38729964
Best way, is use 24/48 port swtich at one central location and run CAT5/CAT6 to many or all  big rooms.
As long your set access point with different channels, they will work well not interfere each other signal.
Advantage , that you will have strongest signal possible (about 80% of wired LAN).
Any repeaters and range extenders, while increasing signal, would reduce throughput about 50% every time those devices used.
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by:gmbaxter
gmbaxter earned 63 total points
ID: 38729967
If you have some wired connections throughout the house, then this makes it easier. Simply use one router where the internet connection comes in, and also let it do dhcp. Then use access points connected to the wired points where the signal strength is too low. Configure the APs with the same ssid and password and you'll have a seamless network.
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 125 total points
ID: 38730360
They don't have to be dedicated "access points" - you can turn most routers into access points by disabling their DHCP server and connecting to one of their LAN ports instead of the WAN port. That will typically leave 3 other wired ports available in the same room, so you can use those ports to hard wire other devices like DVD/BD players, TV's, Tivos, satellite receivers, et cetera. There are also 8-port wireless routers such as the D-Link DIR-632 if you need more hard wired ports in one location where you're adding wireless coverage (such as on top of the media center in the living/entertainment room).
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by:kode99
kode99 earned 62 total points
ID: 38730431
I would suggest trying higher powered units.  Something like the Engenius units,

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833168097

These do give better range.  Also stick with 2.4 GHz equipment as it has better penetration than 5 GHz gear.  The Engenius units also can be used for any role as needed so you don't have the 'wrong' unit for the job - router/AP/repeater etc.

Since you have some wiring you likely would be able to easily setup extra AP's without the need for repeaters.   Since these unit are repeater or AP you can also test either configuration.  Using repeater's does lower the throughput as avcontrol mentioned.  If your network is not being used for anything demanding it may not matter.

Depending on the layout and construction of the house a single unit might be enough.  I've had good results with Engenius high power units.  Does not hurt that the cost is pretty reasonable as well.

Also routers and AP's with detachable antenna can be setup with higher gain antenna to up the range a bit as well.  It's a possible quick fix in some cases.
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by:ScottCha
ScottCha earned 62 total points
ID: 38732429
For WiFi I have the perfect solution.  It's a company called Ubiquiti and they make what they call their UniFi discs.  These discs look like flying saucers and come with a super easy to use and setup software.  You plug them in in your locations then go to a computer and install the software then it finds them and pulls them all in so you can make one giant network without having to set up multiple access points.  You can create a guest account in less than 10 seconds.  They are super affordable and run great.  I think they cost somewhere between $120-150 for a 3 pack.  

Check them out here:  http://www.ubnt.com/unifi
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Expert Comment

by:avcontrol
ID: 38732564
Looks like decision will comes down between two option:

- wired AP, cheap(all wireless AP cost more then wired), reliable, but will require more effort to install.

or

- wireless AP/repeaters/extenders, more costly, less reliable, but will require less effort to install.
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 125 total points
ID: 38732935
Since the asker said there are already wired connections in various locations in the house, it makes the most sense to me to use wired routers as access points.  Because of the volume made, most wireless routers are less expensive than dedicated access points... the 8-port router I linked to in http:#a38730360 is also DD-WRT compatible, which can add many features not available in stock firmware.
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by:avcontrol
avcontrol earned 125 total points
ID: 38732994
Having dedicated AP, can allow you maximize $/per box value.
While even you maybe can find "cheap" wireless router, I doubt it will give you better performance from RF/antenna stand point.
When dedicated AP would be utilizing to max it is RF transmitting and receiving capability with its specific design.
Of cause you would need to review tech specs, but overall wired AP should be the best solution.

You should be able find AP with PoE, this way you would not need run 120V to supply power to AP, which also give you huge advantage.
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by:Darr247
ID: 38733431
Nearly any router or AP can be adapted to PoE using a kit such as this one from TP-Link
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833997236
Linksys also made them (you can find them on ebay and craigslist),
as does D-Link...

Ubiquiti appears to make injectors, but not the breakout boxes, so the device has to support PoE natively to use their units. Same with Engenius, which injects the 802.3af 'standard' 48VDC.

Some routers have removable antennae (e.g. the D-Link DIR-632 has RP-SMA jacks), if you want to use different antennae... however, if you place multiple units in different locations, you should get good coverage with the stock antennae... just stick to channels 1, 6 and 11 in the 2.4GHz band, and with 802.11n you should get sufficient speed with 20MHz channels instead of (40MHz) wide channels.
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Author Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 38733515
Thanks to everyone for your posts.  Am travelling right now, but hope to review next week.  Happy New Year!
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by:avcontrol
ID: 38733803
Happy New Year!
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by:Garry-G
ID: 38735697
Also, please do give more information on the type of use ... e.g., if you only do data access, placement of APs is slightly less important (unless you need optimal and high speed throughput). If you want to do VoIP over WLAN, requirements as to overlapping reception areas as well as backhaul (controllers) go. Depending on what you actually need, hardware requirements may also differ greatly. e.g., do you need multiple SSIDs, Guest SSIDs, etc. ... quite many points to take into account ... otherwise you'll spend a lot of money and end up with something lacking maybe the most important features ...
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Author Closing Comment

by:SAbboushi
ID: 38779885
Thanks again to all - lots of info
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