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Thread: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

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    Default Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Ok guys I'm tearing my hair out on this one. I have a TP link WDR3600 dual band router in the back bedroom. My laptop in the living room is having a bit of issue picking up the signal, but overall works pretty smoothly. We mainly use it for streaming.

    It seems the router comes with 2-3 dBi antennas. Which option would be the best one to get good signal to my living room. a.) Get higher dBi antennas? If that's the case, do both antennas need to be dual band or would one be a 2.4 antenna and the other a 5 antenna? How much dBi should I look to get? Just 5, 9, higher?

    b.) Grab a wall plug in range extender. I saw one from TP Link that looked pretty good on newegg, but would the middleman device cause weird latency issues? Could I have connection issues?

    Running cable is out of the question since I have a slab foundation and I wouldn't mind having the better reception in the living room anyways for cell phones. I researched this for a while and felt like I came up with more questions than answers. I'm hoping to stay around 10-20 bucks. I do have a single level house though so no upstairs or basements to worry about. Please help me!
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    1) placment
    antenas can be moved through attic access to the center of the house
    as i hack everything i own, my routre has an extended antena hacked into it, this unit has 3 antennas, and neodium magnets to stick to anything
    run the line up, centered on your house & your done

    2) if you have attic access you can also run hardlines that way

    3) signal boosters
    they work, and are extremly cost prohibitive
    as it is a basic wifi emitter stunts plant growth, and causes medical problems for some people
    you sure you want to amplify that in yor home?
    not to mention the guy in a old beat up ford van stealing your signal & doing unspeakable acts with your accountability


    as for me and my house cat5 is the only way. period.
    find an electrician and ask them to tell you how to do it for free.
    you do the work, all you need is the instruction
    learning is good .....understanding is better .....pleas teach with wisdom............................................ ..............calemus

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Quote Originally Posted by calemus View Post
    1) placment
    antenas can be moved through attic access to the center of the house
    as i hack everything i own, my routre has an extended antena hacked into it, this unit has 3 antennas, and neodium magnets to stick to anything
    run the line up, centered on your house & your done

    2) if you have attic access you can also run hardlines that way

    3) signal boosters
    they work, and are extremly cost prohibitive
    as it is a basic wifi emitter stunts plant growth, and causes medical problems for some people
    you sure you want to amplify that in yor home?
    not to mention the guy in a old beat up ford van stealing your signal & doing unspeakable acts with your accountability


    as for me and my house cat5 is the only way. period.
    find an electrician and ask them to tell you how to do it for free.
    you do the work, all you need is the instruction
    That sounds like a good option in the attic, but I won't be running wire up there. I'd still rather go with either the antenna or range extender. If I was gonna choose between the two, what would likely be the best for performance? (Main rig is wired in so it's no problem.)
    Last edited by joshjaks; 08-11-2015 at 20:54.
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Quote Originally Posted by joshjaks View Post
    That sounds like a good option in the attic, but I won't be running wire up there. I'd still rather go with either the antenna or range extender. If I was gonna choose between the two, what would likely be the best for performance? (Main rig is wired in so it's no problem.)
    I've used Extenders, Powerline Networking and running Gig-E everyplace.

    A good extender is (relatively) easy to set up, and relatively inexpensive. I think the last one I used was an older version of one of these: NETGEAR EX2700 N300 WiFi Range Extender Essentials Edition - Newegg.com

    The thing with extenders while it's relatively easy to do, they're sometimes a little fiddly to set up, and sometimes they lose their mind. Having said that, I've found that they're generally pretty reliable, and once you get it set up, they just work (most of the time).

    Powerline networking is pretty solid as well these days. I used Powerline to bridge from my router to my Media Center Cabinet, and popped a switch into the media center cabinet for all the devices in there.

    It worked. I was able to stream 1080P, listen to my Sonos, whatever.

    However, talk about fiddly. I think I used some TPLinks, and the configuration software only ran on Windows (and was kinda strange). Once I had them configured, they worked pretty well. However, they are crazy sensitive to ground noise. I added an in-wall USB charger/outlet to my electrical system, and these things use an AC -> DC adapter (built in) that is just crazy noisy. Once I installed the USB outlet, my Powerline Networking was all but dead (in that room).

    I still have the Wireless Network Extender, and it gets used every day to ensure my various iphones/android phones/Sonos, etc get a solid signal throughout the house. Powerline is gone, but I would use it to bridge connections if I needed to.

    Buying better antennas isn't necessarily a bad choice either. I wouldn't expect miracles though. Chances are the reason the signal is weak in the Living room is more due to placement than gain. Refrigerators, Air Conditioning Ducts, Sheetrock, studs, etc, etc, all attenuate , block or reflect (or all of these) the signal. Boosting your antenna gain very likely will overcome some of the attenuation issue, but it won't necessarily make the signal visible in blocked areas. Calemus would appear to appear to resolve the blocking problem by locating his Router up high and central to his house, optimizing the use of his antennas. Remember, WiFi antennas are Omnidirectional. So, (theoretically) you get the same amount of signal power (dBm) transmitted out in ALL directions, although there is likely a null directly at the antenna end because routers tend to have dipole antennas. So, by elevating it, you ensure that you take advantage of the entire pattern. This is also why it is largely irrelevant what orientation your antennas are in, straight up, straight down, cockeyed...whatever.

    When buying antennas, remember that dBi is logarithmic, so every 3 dBi doubles your gain (but not necessairly transmitted power, a lot of that depends on your amplifier). A 6dBi antenna is twice the gain of a 3, and a 9 is twice the gain of a 6.

    Another choice might be to buy a better WiFi router. Some of the newer ones have significantly better transmit power, and thus larger areas of coverage, not to mention things like MIMO and probably adaptive antenna & channel utilization. I've also found that downloading one of those WiFi visualization apps on your Mobile Phone or laptop, can help you select better WiFi channels in your house if you find that you have a horde of neighbors all defaulting to the same WiFi channel you're on. I moved my channel up to 11 or 13 because my endless number of neighbors were all on two channels, both of which my WiFi router/extender wanted to default to.

    Good Luck!

    S.

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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    I think I'm gonna start out with some 7 dBi antennas. Gu3, your answer helped quite a bit. I noticed that that 9 dBi don't seem to be reviewed as favorably as the 7. I'm just guessing but I bet 7 dBi is the sweet spot for typical single level homes that have a decent stretch. Unfortunately my router is placed almost as far as you can possibly go from my TV laptop. I bought the TP Link WDR3600 router which has been great, but what I noticed it lacked compared to more expensive routers was slightly higher dBi antennas. The 2.4 Ghz band my laptop uses is only operating at 2 dBi, with only 3 coming at the 5 GHz range. Just the 7 should be a pretty significant boost without overshooting my house too much.

    I figure if it doesn't work, I can always go the extender after since antennas are pretty cheap. I guess I wanted to know there was a reasonable chance of antennas working from some experienced folks I trust since the internet answers were too confusing! =D

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00..._detailpages00
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Quote Originally Posted by joshjaks View Post
    I think I'm gonna start out with some 7 dBi antennas. Gu3, your answer helped quite a bit. I noticed that that 9 dBi don't seem to be reviewed as favorably as the 7. I'm just guessing but I bet 7 dBi is the sweet spot for typical single level homes that have a decent stretch. Unfortunately my router is placed almost as far as you can possibly go from my TV laptop. I bought the TP Link WDR3600 router which has been great, but what I noticed it lacked compared to more expensive routers was slightly higher dBi antennas. The 2.4 Ghz band my laptop uses is only operating at 2 dBi, with only 3 coming at the 5 GHz range. Just the 7 should be a pretty significant boost without overshooting my house too much.

    I figure if it doesn't work, I can always go the extender after since antennas are pretty cheap. I guess I wanted to know there was a reasonable chance of antennas working from some experienced folks I trust since the internet answers were too confusing! =D

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00..._detailpages00

    Let us know! I expect the reason the 9's aren't as favorably reviewed as the 7's is very likely what you suggest. Once your WiFi card gets enough input to achieve it's highest modulation rate, anything extra is gravy, and too much can force the input amplifier into compression (which may reduce your data rate). So, I'd say the 7's are a good choice!

    S.

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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Good news! The antenna thing worked, but not drastically. Basically, it increased my connection strength just enough that my speed tests and streaming are completely solid now, but I don't see a consistent full bars either. It was the perfect choice though for my situation so at $8, I'm perfectly happy.
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    1)higher up on a shelf?

    2)on the inside wall of the room VS. out side wall? (closer to the center of the house instead the outside)

    these combined also might kick it up a bar
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Quote Originally Posted by calemus View Post
    1)higher up on a shelf?

    2)on the inside wall of the room VS. out side wall? (closer to the center of the house instead the outside)

    these combined also might kick it up a bar
    Yeah, I forgot to mention somethings. My computer desk is in the back room, on the back wall with no hope of being moved. I don't want cables running anywhere in case I have to move my PC down the road. I also wanted to keep my main rig hardwired into the router. It boiled down to the only two options that I would even consider was antennas or a range extender due to my own personal preferences. I'm not complaining though. The laptop is definitely working much faster, even if the bars drop some when a page or stream load starts.
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Late to the party but I would have said hardwire through the loft and pick up a secondhand access point or router with ap mode. You could probably leave it set up in the loft above the room. not sure about the $20 limit on this though
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpydaddy View Post
    Late to the party but I would have said hardwire through the loft and pick up a secondhand access point or router with ap mode. You could probably leave it set up in the loft above the room. not sure about the $20 limit on this though
    Honestly, late or not, I would say the more suggestions, the merrier. The thing is, sure, what I got is working great now and I'm not looking to do anything more at the moment, but this is a very hard thing to research on the internet. If people stumble on this thread, it could be hugely helpful for them. Not many people are offering advice to get $200 router performance at the $50 budget, but I feel like I've come pretty close to that here now.
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Quote Originally Posted by joshjaks View Post
    Honestly, late or not, I would say the more suggestions, the merrier. The thing is, sure, what I got is working great now and I'm not looking to do anything more at the moment, but this is a very hard thing to research on the internet. If people stumble on this thread, it could be hugely helpful for them. Not many people are offering advice to get $200 router performance at the $50 budget, but I feel like I've come pretty close to that here now.

    helping other people
    thats what makes all you nerds the best community around
    learning is good .....understanding is better .....pleas teach with wisdom............................................ ..............calemus

  14. #13
    Gu3
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Quote Originally Posted by joshjaks View Post
    Good news! The antenna thing worked, but not drastically. Basically, it increased my connection strength just enough that my speed tests and streaming are completely solid now, but I don't see a consistent full bars either. It was the perfect choice though for my situation so at $8, I'm perfectly happy.
    Excellent! You know, if you get some sexy flat ethernet cords and some way of hanging it on the wall behind your desk, by lifting it up above furniture level, you might get a couple more dB of improvement. It's hard to say.

    And if you want to do a crazy science experiment, finding a nice piece of flat sheet metal to place _behind_ the WiFi router on the outside wall, _might_ effectively reflect some of the signal back throughout your house. There are about a million factors that might make this not work at all, but it _could_. Heck, the side of your computer case might do the job too! Just make sure the sheet metal is on the side of the router you don't care about any signal getting to!

    S.

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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    if your willing to spend some time setting this up, this would be the device you would need for the whole house.
    a bit expensive and once set up would in my opinion be well worth it, and its no bigger then a smoke detector.

    Check it out

    Reviews 75% of the reviews are excellent

    Pros: Terrific features and reliability, excellent value. Everyone connects and stay that way. They even include the T-bar clips for mounting to a suspended ceiling.


    Cons: None at this price point.


    Other Thoughts: You want at least the 1.6.8 firmware (newer versions not yet tested). The 1.5.x release had an issue where the 5GHz radio would periodically decide it simply wasn't going to pass any kind of traffic at all. Since Macs seem to prefer the 5GHz band (this is a good thing), this would manifest as a pile of Mac users with no broadband access. No issues after upgrading.


    I'm using four of these, powered by an EnGenius PoE switch, to provide wifi access in a small conference centre environment. I'm very happy about the fact that nobody ever has problems connecting. These seem to be able to handle several dozen associations each with no issue. In controlled performance testing (few associations, ~30 ft. away, through one partition wall) these have no issues passing 90+ mbps of traffic in both directions when tested on our 100mbps fibre pipe, consistently.


    The webUI is not pretty and not spectacularly well-documented; others have complained that you have to specifically save/reload configuration before it takes effect, but honestly, that's a feature not a bug, because you can stack your changes and then reboot once. Much easier.


    Associating tagged VLANs to SSIDs is something I've been testing recently; while I haven't used it extensively, it works exactly as you'd expect.

    EnGenius EAP600 N600 High-Power Dual-Band Gigabit Indoor Wireless Access Point



    EnGenius EAP600 N600 High-Power Dual-Band Gigabit Indoor Wireless Access Point - Newegg.com

  16. #15
    Gu3
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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    Nice Find Vinny.

    Wonder if they have an AC Version....

    S.

    I just found this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-138-_-Product

    I'm remodeling my house here soon, and it seems like one of these with a POE injector mounted somewhere on my middle floor would be a really elegant solution for providing a solid WiFi signal throughout the house. With POE, all I need is a Jack where I want to place it, and the injector someplace near my network rack. Very nice.
    Last edited by Gu3; 16-11-2015 at 10:17.

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    Default Re: Are Antennas or Range Extenders better?

    I have a simple ubiquity ap wired to router.

    The nice thing about ap's is you can throw a long ethernet lead on it and then try out different locations for best signal
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