Improving Range

  • We just received and set-up our new AmpliFi HD WiFi System. We elected to go this route instead of Orbi for a variety of reasons, but the stated range and ability to transmit through walls were the greatest influence on our decision. We are looking to cover roughly 8k sq ft space that includes two building and an outbuilding. The outbuilding has wifi cameras, which is the main reason we need wifi there.

    The coverage in the house (first building) appears to be great, even without the mesh points for the most part. The mesh point placement in the second building is roughly 80 ft from the router (which is on the first floor) and just under 70ft from the mesh point we located on the second floor. Line of site, the signal has to travel through three walls from the router and two walls from the second floor mesh point. We're getting ~32% on the mesh point (at 2.4 GHz) in the second building (is there a way to know if it's connecting directly to the router or hopping?).

    Our major problem is that the signal is not reaching the outbuilding from the mesh point in the second building. The distance is roughly 75 feet from the mesh point in the second building to the outbuilding. There are two walls through which the signal must pass. We were reaching this outbuilding with a Netgear AC1200 Wifi Range mounted in the second building connected to a Netgear N600 Wireless Double Band Router, but it was relatively slow. Now we can't reach it at all.

    Would it help to mount the mesh point in the second building on the second floor (it's currently on the first floor), where it would only need to pass through one wall to reach the outbuilding? Does the elevation help to improve the signal range?

    Would it help to switch out the mesh point in the second building for a AmpliFi router used as an access point?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • So if I understand correctly, you need WiFi in two buildings and an outbuilding, which the latter has WiFi cameras and not getting an signal at all.

    Where is the main router located in the first building? Ideally I would put the main mesh router as centralized as you can in that building, that way you avoid hopping from mesh point to mesh point. The goal in placing mesh points is to have then connect to the mesh router, rather than other mesh points then to the router. I know, sometimes it’s not easy depending on where you cable line comes in. You will get better range using a second standalone mesh router and wirelessly or via Ethernet connect it to the main router. Sometimes mesh point placement to close or too many can be problematic.

    I.e.; my cable comes in on one end of the house where I have my mesh router. On the other end of the house, I used a mesh point. In the app, you can tell how good the signal is to the main router. I would get 100% signal but not the best range. I then swapped that out and connected wirelessly a second mesh router where now I get 84% but range to two houses down and across the street.

    Since I had the extra mesh point lying around, I played that in my basement and it actually crippled my speeds. Not a lot, but enough to notice, so now I only use two routers.

    I would definitely as a mesh point in the out building, and you may need an additional mesh point. Also, via the app, in the family tab, select the device,then client details and there you can see if that particular device is connected to the router or the mesh point.

  • Thanks so much for the response. Here's a visual.

    0_1540387976289_Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 9.31.40 AM.png

    The main house is on the left, the middle building is the "second building," and the outbuilding is on the far right. The router is located on the first floor at the far left point of the line. The middle point in the line, the one in the second building, is about 80' from the router and is the approximate location of one mesh point. The third point in the line is the outbuilding where the wifi camera are located. The second mesh point is on the second floor in the corner of the main house closest to the second building.

    We both work from home and our offices are on the second floor at opposite ends of the house. I want to move the main router to the second floor, which will then put it in the same room as the NAS and my wife's studio where most of the big files are handled. Moving the cable will prove a little challenging. I was thinking about a second standalone mesh router in the barn, and I think you confirmed that was the way to go. Then I'd put one of the mesh points in my office at the other end of the house and maybe the other in the outbuilding?

  • Updated Plan:

    0_1540394062560_WiFi Mesh Plan.jpg

    I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  • @Ret-Talbot Thanks for posting in the community! From the sounds of it you have a decent idea of what you want to do with your system. From what I can see the setup that you depicted would have some issues with connection strength. The distances are just too far. Moreover, if you do decide to go with what you have proposed, as I said, the connection strength will not be great. One product that you can try using is our UniFi Mesh AP ( Where this isn't a perfect solution because it doesn't act like a true mesh, it is great with far distances.

    Please direct message me if you have questions.

  • @ubnt-kevin Thanks. I am surprised to hear that given the reviews I read of signals reaching down the street. I'm having trouble getting a good signal in an adjacent building. I'll msg you. I spoke to several people about UniFi Mesh AP first, and they pushed me toward the system we purchased.

  • @ret-talbot All other things being equal, down the street is far easier than through an adjacent building πŸ™‚

    Completely spitballing here, but if I were trying to get your setup working for myself:

    • I would try to decrease the distance as much as possible between BS and mesh, or mesh to mesh. So i would try and make sure that they are roughly on the same plane (i.e. not one on the 1st floor, then one in the attic in the next building etc.) I would probably try a mesh point in the middle building, on the closest neighbouring wall, on the same floor as its mate. Then a 2nd mesh at the other side of the building, closest to the right building.

    • If you don't have coated windows (e.g. UV, or low-e) line of site through there could have significant gains. But if they are treated, they may be killing your range.

    • I'd try to make sure there aren't any appliances, or electrical panels between the access points.

  • @chris-dunlop Thanks! I get what you're saying when you say: " All other things being equal, down the street is far easier than through an adjacent building," but we're talking about less than a 40' distance between the buildings, and the second building only has 1" wood not really considered an external wall, right? Overall, the entire area I'm trying to cover is well under the 20k sq ft area, which is why I keep thinking that I can get to where I want to be with tinkering rather than investing in a $500+ system for something my under $200 Netgear system did reasonably (sort-of) well. πŸ™‚

    If I can move the line to bring it into the house at the second floor office (instead of the current location on the first floor), I can then have the BS 40' from the mesh AP in the second building with only two walls between them (a regular external wall with blown-in insulation and a wall that is just 1" wood sheathing). They would both be at roughly the same height as well. If I add a second BS router as my AP in the second building, will that buy me a little better signal? That's what some folks are telling me. The cameras on the third building are mounted outside, so no additional wall beyond the 1" wood sheathing of the second building.

  • @ret-talbot I'm no network engineer, so don't treat any of this as gospel. But the type of and the angle that you're going through the wood makes a difference. 1/2" of wood is only 1/2" deep in a straight line; it could be an inch of solid wood between the BS and Mesh point at an angle. I think plywood and drywall attenuate the signal far less than wood. I suspect the same for insulation. And if it's a rainy day, and the wood gets wet, I would expect even more attenuation.

    I like your 2nd floor idea, and I think the Amplifi can handle it, it a matter of optimizing placement and configuration. It might even be something as simple as there's a fluorescent bulb in proximity. Or it could be a cordless phone.

    Another thing to look as is manually setting the channels, and seeing which is best. I got better results manually selecting my 2.4 and 5Ghz channels. It's going to be a lot of trial and error though.

    Edit: Meant to elaborate on the angle comment in the first paragraph.

  • All good advice and I was just going to say. When adding the mesh points, depending on the devices, choose the 2.4 for greater range. The hardlined router transmits both 5ghz and 2.4 simultaneously but the mesh point or mesh router used wirelessly, can only do one of the ghz. My 2nd router is fixed to 5ghz, for computers, tablets, PS4, etc, while my mesh point is st 2.4 for cameras and other smart home devices.

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