Author Topic: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?  (Read 886 times)

Steve

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Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« on: May 04, 2019, 05:47:02 PM »
My AirPort Extreme with Time Machine occasionally acts up, not talking to my Mac, but still functioning as a wifi router. A couple of years ago, I replaced the hard drive in it. Now that seems to run extremely slow. I can't even delete an old backup from my daughter's old computer off of it. So I know that one of these days, It is going to have the same fate as John's did recently, with a complete failure.

I've looked at Mesh Networks before, but not too seriously. Now the have come down in price, and I might need to get something one of these days. So I thought I'd ask my fellow WeatherCatters for any advice. One advantage that I see right way is having a node nearer my wifi outside camera. So I might be able to increase the quality settings on those. I could also get my network printer, scanner, and Philips hub out from under my desk, and parked in another room, plugged into a node.

Who's got one. or who's looked at them and can offer their thoughts?

Thanks,
Steve
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elagache

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Two reviews (Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network? )
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2019, 10:20:21 PM »
Dear Steve and WeatherCat sys-admins,

Sorry to hear that you are having problems with your network as well.

. . . . .
I've looked at Mesh Networks before, but not too seriously. Now the have come down in price, and I might need to get something one of these days.
. . . . .

Unfortunately, I certainly cannot help you since I didn't even know what these things were until a few minutes ago!  However, in my attempt to be a quick study I found these two reviews from respective computer magazines.  Here is one from TechRadar:

https://www.techradar.com/news/best-wireless-mesh-routers

Here is one from PC Magazine:

https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/350795/the-best-wi-fi-mesh-network-systems

I do hope another WeatherCatter can provide you with some personal experience, but here is some information.  At least I learned something!  ;D

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

xairbusdriver

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2019, 10:47:37 PM »
I'll check your linkz, Edouard. Hopefully I can learn how this is something other than marketing speak for WIFI repeaters.

Steve

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2019, 10:48:41 PM »
Thank you, Edouard.

I had already read the PC Mag review (as well as a bunch of other "best" reviews. I hadn't seen the Tech Radar one, yet. Only enough, although all have been written in the last three to four months, they all have drastically different order of "best." For instance, the Google version is #1 on the Tech Radar list, but at or near the bottom in others. Eero isn't on most of the reviews, but has Amazon's highest user rating, and is the one most oft listed by people in comments. (Eero was what Apple sold in the Apple Store until Amazon bought them. Many folks thought Apple was "this" close to buying Eero to replace the Airport.)

In addition to the occasional Airport Extreme problems, this is a good time to at least look at updating our network. I have to move all of my network and computer hardware elsewhere in the house by next Monday. We are doing a complete kitchen remodel, knocking out a couple of wall, and blowing the end of our house out 8 feet. So where I am sitting right now, will soon be completely open to the outside, only protected by a sheet of plastic while construction is happening. So, while everything is torn apart on my system, I might as well look at options. I'm even considering going with a network connected option for the Davis console.

(As an aside, I am in competition with John for the blithering idiot award. I didn't discover until about an hour ago that I could plug my older model AirPort Extreme in upstairs in an empty bedroom, and then plug my network printer and Philips hub into it. I've had the new one since 2013, and could have done this all along without having to have that big printer on the side table in our dining room...)

Thanks for the input!
Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA


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Blicj11

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2019, 11:54:34 PM »
Good input guys.

Steve, this topic has taken up quite a bit of my time recently. And I almost bought one to replace my Apple hardware network. I really liked the Netgear Orbi system, did lots of homework on it, talked to their pre-sales dept, and got very close to purchasing. There is a lot to like about mesh. They are simple and each mesh device is part of a single wireless network that shares the same SSID and password. By the way, the pre-sales call was ok. The agent I got was knowledgable, and spoke excellent English, but he had a very hard time understanding my English. In the end I decided not to go with a mesh solution, primarily for two reasons:
  • You are a bit limited in what you can use the ethernet ports for on the nodes. You can plug in a printer or a game console but not every kind of drive and often not a NAS device. They had no idea if a Davis WeatherLink IP data Logger would work in the port or not, but I suspect it would. I love wireless, but for now, cabled ethernet is still the fastest way to do some things.
  • The company that installed my home security system and entertainment center has had enough trouble with mesh networks, they are still advising people to go with rock solid enterprise-light wireless.
For what I want to do, and for a bit of future-proofing, I took their advice and went with a Ubiquiti solution (router rather than mesh). I'll share some details with you via email.
Blick


Steve

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2019, 12:22:39 AM »
For what I want to do, and for a bit of future-proofing, I took their advice and went with a Ubiquiti solution (router rather than mesh). I'll share some details with you via email.

Thank you so much! Future-proofing is always the best route (r) ;) When the kitchen is getting done, I'm running a peice of pvc through the base of the cabinets, from the dining room (where the phone/internet modem is located) through two walls, to the family room, where the Apple TV is located. Then run Cat 5 to the ATV for future 4K feed.
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jennajon

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2019, 11:32:33 AM »
Blicj11 and all mesh wireless WCers:

I currently use an ORBI wireless mesh network with absolutely NO issues. Has been in service for over a year; updated regularly and works perfectly. Now with prices falling? It is TOTALLY worth the outlay.
I have my 27in MAC running on it with zero problems, WeatherCat is seamless. We have a whole house generator, so even if we lose power? The modem and ORBI stay up. Mine is the main unit with two satellites and it covers
the entire 2300 sq ft house, the garage and just about all of the 3 acres of land we have.

I can not say enough good things about it and highly recommend it.  Internet service is 100mbps with Charter and will be upgrading speed to 400mbps soon.

Feel free to ask me any questions and I will answer as best I can!

Jenna


Steve

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2019, 02:54:31 PM »
Thank you, Jenna!

Question: Have you ever had your cable service go off since having the Orbi? If so, did everything else work properly? I'm asking, because on an Eero review, a guy had his cable cut by a contractor, and all functionality of his Eero network stopped. Apparently the internal network relies on having an external connection! That's just bizarre to have as a requirement. His Ring doorbell didn't work, his thermostats, streaming from his computer to Apple TV didn't work, nothing, for apparently several days.

We have Time Warner Cable Spectrum, and on occasion it goes out for a few minutes to a few hours at a time. With my current (and any logical) network setup, everything inside my house is still connected to each other.

Yank your cable off of your modem and see what happens. ;)

I'm sure I'll have questions as I investigate further, and see what John sends me. Thank you,
Steve
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jennajon

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2019, 03:41:41 PM »
Thank you, Jenna!

Question: Have you ever had your cable service go off since having the Orbi? If so, did everything else work properly? I'm asking, because on an Eero review, a guy had his cable cut by a contractor, and all functionality of his Eero network stopped. Apparently the internal network relies on having an external connection! That's just bizarre to have as a requirement. His Ring doorbell didn't work, his thermostats, streaming from his computer to Apple TV didn't work, nothing, for apparently several days.

I can verify this; we lost power and everything stayed connected-however there was a hiccup as the generator does not kick in for 45 seconds of no power. We have lost Spectrum Internet service a total of ONCE in the year we have been here in the hinterlands of Downeast Maine, and yes, it all went down, even though there was power to the house.

We have Time Warner Cable Spectrum, and on occasion it goes out for a few minutes to a few hours at a time. With my current (and any logical) network setup, everything inside my house is still connected to each other.

Yank your cable off of your modem and see what happens. ;)

I'm sure I'll have questions as I investigate further, and see what John sends me. Thank you,
Steve

Pleasure is mine and finally glad to offer something that may help others on this forum. Countless times others have spoken up or helped me solve an issue. Glad to reciprocate!

Jenna

xairbusdriver

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2019, 03:45:24 PM »
Finally found a link that explains the major difference between our 'normal' (ad-hoc) wifi networks and a mesh one. How-to Geek: What Are Mesh Wi-Fi Systems, and How Do They Work?
Quote
Traditional Wi-Fi extenders can only communicate with your main router, and if you set up multiple Wi-Fi extenders, they usually can’t communicate with each other. However, mesh Wi-Fi units can talk to whichever unit they want in order to provide the best coverage possible to all of your devices, which is a huge benefit.

This site lists several "advantages" of a mesh network, very few of which seem pertinent to a single-family home, in my opinion, anyway. How Stuff Works

The main problem I see is the widely varying decisions by all the manufacturers and the problems that may cause the unwary purchaser. The wide variety of port number and types may be especially important for WC users. Perhaps the problems reported by WC users could become a topic in the WC Wiki?

elagache

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Dear X-Air, Steve, Blick, Jenna, and WeatherCat faithful,

. . . . .
Pleasure is mine and finally glad to offer something that may help others on this forum. Countless times others have spoken up or helped me solve an issue. Glad to reciprocate!

Thanks Jenna!  Everybody contributing is what makes a forum work!  ThU5:-)

Finally found a link that explains the major difference between our 'normal' (ad-hoc) wifi networks and a mesh one.

Thanks for the link X-Air.  I had imagined something like this,  but the explanation tied up all the loose ends for me.

This site lists several "advantages" of a mesh network, very few of which seem pertinent to a single-family home, in my opinion, anyway.

I think that for the vast majority of homeowners and apartment dwellers you are on the mark.  It requires a relatively large space before a mesh WiFi router becomes worthwhile.  However, if you are like Jenna  and Steve with the need of that amount of coverage, the mesh design is clearly superior to trying to use WiFi repeaters.  At our house a single WiFi station is more than adequate.  That's true in part because we have a substantial Ethernet network.  So most streaming happens over Ethernet instead of WiFi.

As is true all over the world: Different strokes (and gadgets) for different folks!  :)

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]


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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2019, 05:49:02 PM »
This is all good feedback everyone. Thanks for taking the time to share. There is a lot to like about mesh networks. I'll share with you a few more thoughts to consider.

Each mesh manufacturer has its own proprietary tweak so nobody's stuff plays with the other guy's stuff. Remind you of Apple? Anyway, if you go the mesh route, you need to buy from a larger company and one more likely to stay in the game, like Netgear, Eero, or Linksys. Although, Apple's exit from home networking reminds us that this large company route is not always the best way to go.

The main reason I ultimately decided to go with a non-mesh installation is that I have ethernet cabled back to my router from each level of the home and a cabled wireless network leaves all of the bandwidth available for my wireless devices. And the Ubuquiti hardware I used is not a traditional router extender network. The router doesn't do anything but route. The wireless network is created separately by access point devices that create a wireless network that eliminate dead spots in the home and extends outside just as Jennajon described is provided by the Orbi. They also do not require separate device names or passwords like the traditional router/extender networks. I have most of the advantages of a mesh network without any of the disadvantages and I have retained a fully functional router for things like port forwarding and DHCP reservations and other things that only a router geek could love.
Blick


oldcolonel

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2019, 12:43:41 AM »
I use google wifi and it seems to be working well for me. I am using 3 nodes. It replaced 2 apple xtreem routers

Felix

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2019, 10:13:38 AM »
Here's a very Mac-like brand (except the hardware looks like something out of a si-fi movie).


Synology RT2600ac  (extremely capable router all by itself)
Synology MR2200ac (add-on mesh router) for increased coverage


Available at the superb B&H with free shipping and no tax (www.bhphotovideo.com)


https://9to5mac.com/2017/02/28/synology-rt2600ac-router-airport-extreme-replacement-top-15-features-video/


https://9to5mac.com/2018/10/12/synology-mr2200ac-mesh-router-launch/




Edit: A reader just pointed out I had a typo on the nomenclature of the add-on mesh router.


Steve

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Re: Is anyone using a Mesh Network?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2019, 03:49:03 PM »
A long overdue update!

John and I had several offline conversations about his Ubiquiti setup. I really wanted to go that route, and had all of the components in my Amazon cart not once, but twice. But I didn't pull the trigger. It is an expensive option (well, they all are), and I was overwhelmed reading through the manuals, user forums, and help sections. Ubiquiti has a stellar customer service reputation, but I felt similar limitations as I had when comparing tuning my 1958 MG with mechanics tools and then finding tuning my 2002 Subaru WRX required a teenage kid with a computer...  [banghead]

So, I didn't do anything. Then, on Amazon Prime Day, the Eero was on sale at 50% of regular price. So I bought three Eero Pro units.

As noted above, I was already running Cat 6 cable while our walls were opened up for our remodel. On the Airport setup, I had the base station hardwired to the modem, and *everything* else was on wifi. That included three Macs, two iPhones, two iPads, Deb's Watch, Apple TV, Ring doorbell and chime, two Sonos speakers, three Echo Dots, Philips Hue Hub (and it's 8-10 bulbs), GE Range, four Sharx IP WebCams, an HP printer, a Roku, an Amazon Fire Stick, and a Withings scale. Probably something else, too.

Now, the first Eero is connected to my ISP's Modem/Router/Telephone combination unit (with the router in *bridge* mode.) The Apple TV, and second Eero are hardwired to the first, and myiMac, HP printer, and Philips Hub are hardwired to the second Eero. Once the electrical is finished in our remodel, the third Eero will be hardwired to the first, as well.

I have wiring in place to power at least two of the Sharx cameras via PoE, and an option to add a fourth hardwired Eero (or a PoE switch) and then hardwire the Fire Stick and one more of the Sharx cameras. Plus wiring to switch where the Spectrum cable comes in, and move the first Eero there, if we turn the downstairs bedroom into an office. So, a lot less relying on wifi than previously.

Setting up the Eero system was a snap, as was adding the second and third unit. I had all three up and running in under 30 minutes. I set up the Eero network using the same network name and password as the Airport network, so almost all of the wifi devices recognized the new network right away. A couple devices required a reboot, and then connected without a hitch. I did forget to open a port for accessing SecuritySpy from outside my network, and one of the four Sharx cameras isn't accessible from outside the network for some reason.(Oddly enough, it was the only one that I messed with it's settings, so I'm blaming it on something I did and haven't sorted yet.)

Our internet connection has been flakey for the past few weeks, with occasional outages of a few minutes. I sure hope it isn't something of mine behind a new wall! But it was doing this, albeit less frequently; before switching to the Eero. And, as noted in previous posts, when the Eero unit loses access to the Internet, the internal network also stops working. This is a stupid way to have a network operate! The Airport network continued internally when the Internet was off, so there shouldn't be a need for an outside connection on the Eero (and its ilk.) Hopefully, this won't be problematic and something they can change in a firmware update down the road.

I'll add to this as I continue experimenting. Thanks to all of you for your input and suggestions, and a huge thank you to John for the long emails and phone calls helping me better understand what I was trying to do.

Steve

(The Living Room Eero is offline right now, because they are cutting flooring in there, so I moved it for the day.)
Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA


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