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  • FIRST POST
    • mamazaac
    • By mamazaac 15th Mar 17, 8:38 PM
    • 639Posts
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    mamazaac
    Wi-fi extender or powerline?
    • #1
    • 15th Mar 17, 8:38 PM
    Wi-fi extender or powerline? 15th Mar 17 at 8:38 PM
    Have been doing a bit of research into boosting our internet signal around the house. To give you an idea of setup, our router (which does have 5GHz) is in our living room (only working phone socket in the house). Separating the router from our main pc is an internal wall, then a hallway approx 1.5m wide, then another internal wall and signal isn't great most of the time. Above this room containing the main pc, is my son's bedroom and he also struggles with slow speeds when connecting to the wi-fi from there.

    Cost is a factor to a certain extent, though also of course need to spend enough to get the job done. Having referred to some reviews, I think I have narrowed it down to a choice of either this extender:

    http://www.trustedreviews.com/best-wifi-extenders_round-up_Page-3

    or the TL-WPA8630P model of this powerline:

    http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/review/powerline-adapters/tp-link-av1200-gigabit-powerline-adapter-review-3610443/

    On the basis that the powerline (which has its own wi-fi hotspot) would plug in by the main pc, my thinking is that my son could connect to this from his room rather than the main router, so in theory signal should be stronger as only one ceiling in between.

    From what I have read, it wouldn't do much good putting an extender in either the pc room or son's room because the extender itself would need a better signal than that. It would therefore need to go in the bedroom above the lounge I think and I wonder if this would just create the same issue we currently have in reverse.

    On that basis, I am thinking the powerline might be the best way to go, but would appreciate the views of people a little more technologically advanced than me. Thank you everyone in advance who offers their advice.
Page 1
    • SouthUKMan
    • By SouthUKMan 15th Mar 17, 8:51 PM
    • 168 Posts
    • 122 Thanks
    SouthUKMan
    • #2
    • 15th Mar 17, 8:51 PM
    • #2
    • 15th Mar 17, 8:51 PM
    Out of your two options I would go for a powerline adapter any day. In my experience these are robust and give a solid connection, where as I've always had trouble with extenders. In my opinion extenders require a decent signal to start with in order to transmit on a decent signal, and they also add a level of complexity when needing to troubleshoot. Another idea you might want to consider is upgrading your wifi router. If yours is a basic one supplied as part of your broadband contract, then you are very likely to get a much stronger signal by replacing it with a 'brand name' router. Google 'replacement router test' - the top result is a link to a 2017 review by PC Advisor. I can't paste the link though.
    • mamazaac
    • By mamazaac 15th Mar 17, 9:51 PM
    • 639 Posts
    • 162 Thanks
    mamazaac
    • #3
    • 15th Mar 17, 9:51 PM
    • #3
    • 15th Mar 17, 9:51 PM
    Out of your two options I would go for a powerline adapter any day. In my experience these are robust and give a solid connection, where as I've always had trouble with extenders. In my opinion extenders require a decent signal to start with in order to transmit on a decent signal, and they also add a level of complexity when needing to troubleshoot. Another idea you might want to consider is upgrading your wifi router. If yours is a basic one supplied as part of your broadband contract, then you are very likely to get a much stronger signal by replacing it with a 'brand name' router. Google 'replacement router test' - the top result is a link to a 2017 review by PC Advisor. I can't paste the link though.
    Originally posted by SouthUKMan
    Thank you SouthUKMan. I have had a look at the PC Advisor article. It is interesting that the MU-MIMO article cross-referred to says "Given that most people have a phone and a computer, that's already two devices. If you happen to have a laptop and a tablet, then you've already maxed out the amount of MU streams you can benefit from. This also means if you have friends or older non MU-MIMO devices connected to your router, then you'll again be throttling your bandwidth". The router I current have - specs here https://www.thephone.coop/media/588217/Router_TG589vac.pdf says that my router has MU-MIMO, so I wonder if that is what the problem is, that my old devices are incompatible and therefore throttling my bandwith.

    £100 is really my limit and the only semi-decent one they refer to under that price in the article is the TP-Link Archer C7. Do you think this would be better than getting a powerline adapter?
    • were
    • By were 16th Mar 17, 12:18 AM
    • 300 Posts
    • 179 Thanks
    were
    • #4
    • 16th Mar 17, 12:18 AM
    • #4
    • 16th Mar 17, 12:18 AM
    Both, you get powerline adapters which you can wire the other end, and it can transmit wifi too.

    Extenders/boosters need a good signal to start with. Powerline is the way to go and the ones with wifi are a bonus.
    • takman
    • By takman 16th Mar 17, 9:40 AM
    • 2,145 Posts
    • 1,758 Thanks
    takman
    • #5
    • 16th Mar 17, 9:40 AM
    • #5
    • 16th Mar 17, 9:40 AM
    You would get a better connection and it would also be cheaper to run an ethernet cable from the router to room with the PC. You could then connect it to a network switch and have the PC plugged into it and a Wireless Access Point.
    • Chrishazle
    • By Chrishazle 16th Mar 17, 10:05 AM
    • 384 Posts
    • 225 Thanks
    Chrishazle
    • #6
    • 16th Mar 17, 10:05 AM
    • #6
    • 16th Mar 17, 10:05 AM
    Like you, I also have only 1 phone point in the house - under the stairs - so until recently had both our PC's, plus our phones and the Sky thingy for catch-up connected via wireless. In changing from Sky to BT TV I got BT's mini connectors (gigabit powerline adapters) - 2 for £20 with the BT TV gear, another 4 for £25 off Ebay. They work really well, each has 2 ethernet connections, and were easy to set up. Only problem for me is that we have a 3 phase electricity supply, the router is on one phase and the living room on another, so there was a bit of pfaffing, but it all works, running 2 BT TV boxes (streaming HD BT Sport!), 2 PC's and our phones. After the fun I had with the wireless, even with BT's latest hub and dual band wireless dongles, the powerline adapters are great - I'd recommend you go for them!!
    • psychic teabag
    • By psychic teabag 16th Mar 17, 11:21 AM
    • 2,561 Posts
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    psychic teabag
    • #7
    • 16th Mar 17, 11:21 AM
    • #7
    • 16th Mar 17, 11:21 AM
    Can you give a little more details about your requirements ? eg what kit does your son upstairs use (desktop pc / laptop / tablet /...). Downstairs, is it just the pc, or also phone / tablet (or do they get sufficient signal from the main router) ? Do you need to stream video, or is it just for surfing the web and a few emails ?

    Does poor wifi signal mean dropouts, or just low speed ?

    Is the downstairs pc always on (and so could take part in the solution) ?

    Ideal setup might be three powerline adapters : simple wired ones downstairs plus a wifi-enabled one upstairs.

    Not sure I'd believe the ,anufacturers hype about all that mimo channel stuff. If you're happy with the bandwith you get from wifi when it's working (and it's just dropouts that are the problem) then it doesn't seem necessary. If all devices are connecting to the internet, the broadband is likely to be the limiting factor, not the shared bandwidth within the house. If there's a lot of internal streaming (eg from a media server in one room to multiple devices around the house) then internal channel usage would become more important.

    I think I read that 5GHz wifi is great with strong signals, but the signals get attenuated more strongly by barriers. (So presumably you're not benefiting much from this ?) I wonder if it's worth trying an experiment of turning off the higher frequency channel, just in case things work better in a more stable simple configuration, rather than it repeatedly retrying to use the higher frequency ?

    (I was lucky enough to find a bunch of powerline adapters in a charity shop, which vastly simplified my network. Previously had various subnets connected with re-flashed openwrt routers from freecycle.)
    • buglawton
    • By buglawton 16th Mar 17, 2:06 PM
    • 6,646 Posts
    • 2,840 Thanks
    buglawton
    • #8
    • 16th Mar 17, 2:06 PM
    • #8
    • 16th Mar 17, 2:06 PM
    This thread made me fish out my old WiFi repeater and check if it had an Access Point option. It does and Maplin still sell it, a few left at £15:
    http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/maplin-300mbps-universal-wi-fi-range-extender-a24lf

    So if you had a point-to-point poweline extension, plug one of these APs on the end remote from the router, you have 'local' Wi-Fi. It has it's own channel (so no need to interfere with your main one) and it's own Wi-Fi password. 2.4 gHz only on this cheapie. Would make a good solution for a home office at the end of the garden.
    Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too. –Steve Martin
    • S0litaire
    • By S0litaire 16th Mar 17, 3:28 PM
    • 3,280 Posts
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    S0litaire
    • #9
    • 16th Mar 17, 3:28 PM
    • #9
    • 16th Mar 17, 3:28 PM
    Anyone use Powerline Adapters on short (1m) extension cord compared to a adapter with a 5m or 6m cat6 cable?

    The layout of the 3 sockets in my living room makes it very hard to fit a pass through adapter and a plug in 2 of them.

    One is behind my sofa and the space is just enough to fit a standard plug.

    The other is next to the Desk which my TV/Media PC is sat on and again the clearance between the socket and the table is just enough to fit a standard plug.

    The last is on the other side of the room which would require at least 5m+ network cable to be routed around the room.
    Laters

    Sol

    "Have you found the secrets of the universe? Asked Zebade "I'm sure I left them here somewhere"
    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 16th Mar 17, 3:53 PM
    • 2,204 Posts
    • 1,409 Thanks
    AndyPix
    Hi, It will work - However you can expect some performance drop.


    How much is impossible to say until you try it ..


    Some people actually turn their wall sockets upside down to fit the oddly shaped powerline adapters in
    Running with scissors since 1978
    • buglawton
    • By buglawton 16th Mar 17, 7:05 PM
    • 6,646 Posts
    • 2,840 Thanks
    buglawton
    It will make little difference, the biggest losses are converting it over the mains and back. I've had one on the end of 15m of Ethernet cable and was still able to get 25 MB download speed.
    Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too. –Steve Martin
    • mamazaac
    • By mamazaac 16th Mar 17, 8:03 PM
    • 639 Posts
    • 162 Thanks
    mamazaac
    Can you give a little more details about your requirements ? eg what kit does your son upstairs use (desktop pc / laptop / tablet /...). Downstairs, is it just the pc, or also phone / tablet (or do they get sufficient signal from the main router) ? Do you need to stream video, or is it just for surfing the web and a few emails ?

    Does poor wifi signal mean dropouts, or just low speed ?
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    My son uses a laptop upstairs. My other son and husband may at any time also be using a tablet/laptop/mobile downstairs. Only streaming that takes place really is youtube now and again. Though will of course slow down even more if we're all on something, speed can be an issue even when only one device connected. Drop outs are very rare, but sometimes can be sitting here for up to a minute or so waiting for a page to load quite regularly.

    Is the downstairs pc always on (and so could take part in the solution) ?
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    Is on most of the time, though have been trying to remember to turn it off overnight. What did you have in mind?


    Ideal setup might be three powerline adapters : simple wired ones downstairs plus a wifi-enabled one upstairs.
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    So, does this mean that you think having the TL-WPA8630PKIT receiver in the pc room (so the pc would be plugged in via ethernet), thus creating a wi-fi hotspot directly under my son's room, would not be adequate?

    Not sure I'd believe the ,anufacturers hype about all that mimo channel stuff. If you're happy with the bandwith you get from wifi when it's working (and it's just dropouts that are the problem) then it doesn't seem necessary. If all devices are connecting to the internet, the broadband is likely to be the limiting factor, not the shared bandwidth within the house. If there's a lot of internal streaming (eg from a media server in one room to multiple devices around the house) then internal channel usage would become more important.
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    Sorry, not sure I made myself clear. The PC Advisor article suggests that it is NOT always a good thing to have MU-MIMO as, when using older non MU-MIMO devices connected to the router, it can throttle the bandwidth. When looking up the specs yesterday, I see that the router I have been given with my broadband package DOES have MU-MIMO and most of our devices are old and unlikely to be compatible. I was therefore wondering whether this could be the problem and if it would be sorted if I got a router without MU-MIMO built in?

    I think I read that 5GHz wifi is great with strong signals, but the signals get attenuated more strongly by barriers. (So presumably you're not benefiting much from this ?) I wonder if it's worth trying an experiment of turning off the higher frequency channel, just in case things work better in a more stable simple configuration, rather than it repeatedly retrying to use the higher frequency ?
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    You're presuming I can work out how to do that! As it happens, my pc is not compatible with the 5GHz, so when I first got the router I was connected to the lower frequency and was still slow. In the hope of speeding it up, I plugged a dual band dongle into the pc to make it compatible. When I first got it, it seemed to make it a lot faster for the first day or so, but then it went back to being sluggish again. When I click on the icon in the toolbar that shows what internet you are connected to, weirdly the pc is connected to both the low frequency and the 5GHz, BUT only two bars on the 5GHz compared to three on the other one so, yes, the walls are definitely having more of an adverse affect on the 5GHz.

    Hope the above helps you to help me. Your assistance is very much appreciated
    • psychic teabag
    • By psychic teabag 17th Mar 17, 11:58 AM
    • 2,561 Posts
    • 1,511 Thanks
    psychic teabag
    My son uses a laptop upstairs. My other son and husband may at any time also be using a tablet/laptop/mobile downstairs.
    Originally posted by mamazaac
    Would that be in the same room as the main router (and so using its wifi), or in the same room as the desktop pc ? You only described the relative placement of the router and the desktop, IIRC.

    Only streaming that takes place really is youtube now and again. Though will of course slow down even more if we're all on something, speed can be an issue even when only one device connected. Drop outs are very rare, but sometimes can be sitting here for up to a minute or so waiting for a page to load quite regularly.
    It's definitely the wifi rather than the broadband, say ? Does the laptop behave fine when downstairs and connected to the router with an ethernet cable ?


    (PC)
    Is on most of the time, though have been trying to remember to turn it off overnight. What did you have in mind?
    Well, the thing I had in mind was using a wired (via powerline adapters) connection from pc to router, and then the pc could itself act as a wifi hotspot, serving the upstairs and forwarding the traffic.

    So, does this mean that you think having the TL-WPA8630PKIT receiver in the pc room (so the pc would be plugged in via ethernet), thus creating a wi-fi hotspot directly under my son's room, would not be adequate?
    Not necessarily. Just seems that if upstairs is where it's needed, that would seem the obvious place to put it ?


    Sorry, not sure I made myself clear. The PC Advisor article suggests that it is NOT always a good thing to have MU-MIMO as, when using older non MU-MIMO devices connected to the router, it can throttle the bandwidth. When looking up the specs yesterday, I see that the router I have been given with my broadband package DOES have MU-MIMO and most of our devices are old and unlikely to be compatible. I was therefore wondering whether this could be the problem and if it would be sorted if I got a router without MU-MIMO built in?
    Sorry, cross-purposes... I was talking about the MIMO features on the powerline adapters you were looking at (AV2 - using all 3 wires for communication). This would be independent of anything the router is doing, since it would all be handled by the powerline adapters themselves. I'll admit I don't know a lot about the technology, though. But there doesn't seem to be much point massively overspec-ing the speed of one part of the link if there are slower paths (specificlally, your broadband speed). Of course, if you have a fibre connection, maybe it is your internal network.

    I'm afraid I don't have any experience with 5GHz wifi, so can't be of any help there.
    Last edited by psychic teabag; 17-03-2017 at 11:58 AM. Reason: mention AV2
    • psychic teabag
    • By psychic teabag 17th Mar 17, 12:13 PM
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    psychic teabag
    Anyone use Powerline Adapters on short (1m) extension cord compared to a adapter with a 5m or 6m cat6 cable?
    Originally posted by S0litaire
    A couple of my powerline adapters are plugged into 4-way extensions with about 0.5m cables, despite the manuals recommending against it. Not aware of any problems, and the LEDs indicate a full-speed connection.

    The last is on the other side of the room which would require at least 5m+ network cable to be routed around the room.
    I treat ethernet cable as pretty much lossless - it's spec-ed for tens of metres of cable run (and IIRC the limit of 100m is more to do with ensuring that collisions of the shortest packets can not go undetected, rather than because the signal would be attenuated).
    • psychic teabag
    • By psychic teabag 17th Mar 17, 12:26 PM
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    • 1,511 Thanks
    psychic teabag
    So, does this mean that you think having the TL-WPA8630PKIT receiver in the pc room (so the pc would be plugged in via ethernet), thus creating a wi-fi hotspot directly under my son's room, would not be adequate?
    Note that I do tend to be a bit of a luddite. I think my thinking is that you might be better off buying three older-generation AV1 (or AV500) adapters, rather than two AV2 adapters. (Can possibly get them relatively cheap if they're being replaced by AV2 - this is a money-saving site, after all !)

    But I'm sure others will advocate always buying the best spec you can.

    (For reference, my pcs and laptops are all well over 5 years old too... I still use 100Mb ethernet, etc, etc.)
    Last edited by psychic teabag; 17-03-2017 at 1:56 PM. Reason: add AV500
    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 17th Mar 17, 12:48 PM
    • 2,204 Posts
    • 1,409 Thanks
    AndyPix
    I treat ethernet cable as pretty much lossless - it's spec-ed for tens of metres of cable run (and IIRC the limit of 100m .
    Originally posted by psychic teabag

    ^^ This .. Or most office buildings networks wouldnt work.
    The actual internal cable run should be limited to 90M if possible though as the 100M figure has to take into account the patch leads in the cabinet and from the socket to the desk.


    Im guessing the OP doesnt want a cable run round his front room though if possible


    Another option would be to run a fibre, which is MUCH thinner, and just use a small media converetor at each end
    Running with scissors since 1978
    • S0litaire
    • By S0litaire 17th Mar 17, 12:58 PM
    • 3,280 Posts
    • 2,068 Thanks
    S0litaire
    Im guessing the OP doesnt want a cable run round his front room though if possible
    Originally posted by AndyPix
    Yup. I can't drill holes to cable directly (I'm renting, the thick stone internal walls and the fact i don't own a drill at present! makes that a no-go.)

    But cable to the other side of the room is acceptable but annoying to route.

    Another option would be to run a fibre, which is MUCH thinner, and just use a small media converter at each end
    Originally posted by AndyPix
    Was thinking of this but again it's the holes through walls issue. I might get away with routing it around the flat along the walls but I'm on a budget

    So good quality powerline is looking the best bang for the buck
    Laters

    Sol

    "Have you found the secrets of the universe? Asked Zebade "I'm sure I left them here somewhere"
    • DCFC79
    • By DCFC79 17th Mar 17, 2:11 PM
    • 29,212 Posts
    • 18,441 Thanks
    DCFC79
    Do you want pass through or not ?

    Pass through are similar to these

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/TL-PA8010P-KIT-Powerline-Configuration-UK-x/dp/B00UTG32TQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1489759772&sr=8-3&keywords=pass+through+homeplugs

    Ones that aren't pass are these

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Powerline-Configuration-Required-TL-PA4010KIT-V1-20/dp/B01BECPIMC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489759820&sr=8-1&keywords=homeplugs

    As you can see the difference is pass through have the 3 holes for a plug so you don't lose say a wall socket.
    Je Suis Charlie
    • S0litaire
    • By S0litaire 17th Mar 17, 2:35 PM
    • 3,280 Posts
    • 2,068 Thanks
    S0litaire
    probably won't need the pass through version.
    Going to use the weekend to rearrange what gets plugged into where, then see what the situation is...
    Laters

    Sol

    "Have you found the secrets of the universe? Asked Zebade "I'm sure I left them here somewhere"
    • mamazaac
    • By mamazaac 18th Mar 17, 12:52 PM
    • 639 Posts
    • 162 Thanks
    mamazaac
    Would that be in the same room as the main router (and so using its wifi), or in the same room as the desktop pc ? You only described the relative placement of the router and the desktop, IIRC.
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    My husband uses a laptop mainly in the same room as the main pc. Tablets/mobiles sometimes in the same room as the main router, sometimes in the kitchen (have dividing doors that open to lounge, so that doesn't have the same issues of walls in the way) and sometimes in the same room as the pc.

    It's definitely the wifi rather than the broadband, say ? Does the laptop behave fine when downstairs and connected to the router with an ethernet cable ?
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    We have fibre broadband and, yes, a speed test with the laptop connected by ethernet to the router shows correct speeds.

    Well, the thing I had in mind was using a wired (via powerline adapters) connection from pc to router, and then the pc could itself act as a wifi hotspot, serving the upstairs and forwarding the traffic.
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    This sounds like it could be the best idea. I didn't realise the pc could be set up in this way. I could then buy a cheaper powerline that didn't have a wi-fi hotspot. Can you tell me how to set my pc up as a wi-fi hotspot please?

    Not necessarily. Just seems that if upstairs is where it's needed, that would seem the obvious place to put it ?
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    I see what you mean, but would prefer to minimise costs, so think making a wi-fi hotspot below his room and trying that is my first option.

    Sorry, cross-purposes... I was talking about the MIMO features on the powerline adapters you were looking at (AV2 - using all 3 wires for communication). This would be independent of anything the router is doing, since it would all be handled by the powerline adapters themselves. I'll admit I don't know a lot about the technology, though. But there doesn't seem to be much point massively overspec-ing the speed of one part of the link if there are slower paths (specificlally, your broadband speed). Of course, if you have a fibre connection, maybe it is your internal network.
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    Yes, think definitely the internal network. Only brought this up as someone recommended I change my router and I can only afford to change to one which doesn't have MIMO, which to my uneducated mind seems would be a backward step to the one given to me by my broadband provider which does have MIMO. However, having read PC Advisor's article, I am wondering if one without MIMO would be better as most of our devices are quite old. Perhaps someone else reading this could advise on that please?

    I'm afraid I don't have any experience with 5GHz wifi, so can't be of any help there.
    Originally posted by psychic teabag
    No worries. So far as I can understand from what I have read on the internet, the only difference is that 5GHz is a less used frequency band so not slowed down so much by other traffic BUT is more affected by walls in the way. In our house, internet is slow on either, slightly faster I think on the 5GHz band despite the walls but still too slow.
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