Wifi extenders - do I need a mesh?

I’m in a house where the cable modem/router is on the second floor. I am in the basement. The wifi was iffy at best but I did get it. I then put a very old Airport Express on the first floor and extended the network. That seemed to be working decently but not great.

Recently, the Airport Express seemed to have an issue but I suspect something else happened to the main modem so I just rebooted it. But I wasn’t getting any reception in the basement EXCEPT for my 2012 Macbook Pro. My iPad Air 2 and my iPhone Xr got nothing.

I just completely reset the Airport Express but I happened to be at Best Buy today and noticed that Netgear has some mesh wifi extenders. It was very confusing. I could get one unit for about $140. But then I saw some non-mesh wifi extenders for a lot less money. It seems on Amazon, I can get the non-mesh for $30ish.

I’m wondering if I’ll see any difference between a mesh unit or not. I obviously would love to same some cash.

My Airport Express has always had issues in my mind so I’m willing to scrap the thing.

Curious if people have any thoughts on ways to extend a network that works well without spending tons of cash. I always thought I would have to get a full blown Eero or something.

I went with the Eero because my house is very hard to blanket with WiFi - L shaped 2 story with the cable modem at the top of the L. I was able to hardwire all mine together which I prefer.

Extender can help but each one cuts your available bandwidt( in half. A mesh that uses separate backhaul frequencies will not have that issue.

Can you run Ethernet cable from the router to the basement? Sometimes easier than people think if you can use closets over each other. Then you only need an access point like the airport express or similar.

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Interesting about cutting bandwidth. Good to know. I also can’t run Ethernet.

Thanks for the info. I just looked at Tplink and Amplifi. I saw a 3 piece tplink mesh for about $160 on Amazon. Looks very easy to setup. I may try that.

Can anyone recommend a wifi range extender? I am not looking to go Eero or mesh, I just need to boost the signal to a computer in my basement like the gentleman who posted in 2018. Is the cutting of the bandwidth a big issue? We stream a lot of video content thru our Apple TV, and I don’t want to affect that. If it is a serious problem, I will spend the money for mesh, but . . .

Could you look at Powerline as an option? May nit be viable where you are, but works well for this purpose. And cheap

Seconding this. We did powerline, and for TV streaming it was more than fine. Powerline throttled us down to about 25Mbps, which was more than sufficient for streaming.

The issue we had was that a computer doing online backup was on the other side of the powerline - and getting it on a mesh wi-fi was much, much faster.

But powerline is stupid-simple to set up, it doesn’t create even more wi-fi signal to cause congestion, and it’s great unless bandwidth is critical. :slight_smile:

How does powerline work? I’m not familiar with this. Do I have to have something on either end? Something from my router on one end and an outlet on the other end in the basement?

Let’s say you have a router upstairs and a computer downstairs, and you need to connect them. You buy something like this:


Upstairs, you plug one powerline adapter into an outlet near your router, and run an Ethernet cable from the router to the powerline adapter.

Now you go downstairs, and plug the other powerline adapter in near your computer. You run an Ethernet adapter from the powerline adapter to your computer.

The powerline adapter uses the power lines to send your Ethernet signal, and it’s like the computer was plugged into the router directly via Ethernet.

It’s slower than Ethernet, because power lines weren’t really designed for the job of hauling data. And sometimes there can be problems if there are weird wiring issues, etc. But it’s a very viable option for situations where absolute speed isn’t a requirement. Streaming video to a TV should be fine. :slight_smile:

Yes! Pretty inexpensive solution. I just have to be sure that both outlets are on the same circuit. There’s always that.

Same circuit is optimal, but anything on the same panel can theoretically work. Rather than stressing about finding the optimal outlets / same circuit stuff, I’d just buy the things and do some testing to see what your speeds are.

Worst case scenario, you return the powerline stuff. But I’m betting you’ll be okay. I guarantee my last powerline setup was on different circuits (same breaker box though), and it worked fine. :slight_smile:

That’s what I get for reading stuff online (Powerline adapters pros and cons - Home Network Solutions Berkshire). One of the cons stated: “If your home has more than one circuit due to an extension or any other reason, then you may have problems.” Also, the listing for the TP-Link starter set on Amazon states: “Make sure all powerline devices are on the same electrical circuit.”

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I used power line adapters (TPLink) for a while principally to connect a CCTV system That worked fine because bandwidth was never an issue. It worked so well I bought a few more and tried to distribute WiFi round the house- it was brutal to use as they don’t auto switch when devices move around the house. It caused literal tears when my children tried to use it gaming on consoles.
EERO pros to the rescue (Pro’s because of the Ethernet ports to plug in consoles directly). It made my eyes water to spend the money … but… they are seamless. They have 100% removed any conversations about WiFi from my life. That is worth every single penny of the cost. I have thrown money at the problem to make it go away and it’s glorious.
Are they the best, are they the fastest? Don’t know but they work for me. Other mesh systems will probably work just as well.

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I wonder how they are defining the word “circuit“ as they talk about “if your home has more than one circuit“. How many homes would only have one circuit, if we were talking about devices on a single breaker? Most homes would, however, only have one circuit breaker. Wondering if that’s what they’re talking about?

I have several circuits in my home:

  • kitchen (stove, refrigerator) it’s own
  • washing machine+dryer it’s own
  • don’t recall right now what the others are…
  • outlets are on one circuit

So, if I use power-line, going from the washing-machine outlet to an outlet in my living-room might not work, because they are separated circuits. All “normal” outlets are on the same circuit.

That said: as a radio amateur, I oppose PowerLine because of the huge interferences.

I really don’t understand this statement at all: “For most homes this won’t be a problem, however if your home has more than one circuit due to an extension or any other reason, then you may have problems.” [Emphasis mine]. I can’t imagine there are many homes with only one circuit, and I have no idea what the author means by an “extension.” Maybe these terms are common in the UK?

@lars says “All “normal” outlets are on the same circuit” but this is not common in the US.

FWIW, I tried powerline adapters a few years ago and they were terrible.

Extension in this sense will be an extra section of building onto the original structure

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My guess to the single circuit would be a single panel and no sub-panels. I have two panels, the main one no one with circuits powered from the transfer switch fed from the generator. That is potentially a problem with power line adapters.

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To clarify: in MY apartment all normal outlets are on the same circuit/breaker. Makes sense since nothing with high watts/amperes is connected to them. My lights OTOH are on another circuit/breaker.

I think I might borrow two PLC and test if it even matters.

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I was looking to upgrade my wifi system and to replace my Virgin Media (UK) Super Hub and Airport Express extenders. Which had dead spots around the house.

On Black Friday I noticed the Eero 3 pack had dropped in price and grabbed them. They have worked a treat and I now have 200Mbps wifi throughout the house now.

Keep an eye on Amazon, the older Eero’s often drop in price for a few days.