Setting up new home, planning to expand WiFi, will this mesh setup work?

  • I have a single AmpliFI Router HD (Black) that was purchased as a stand-alone router a while back. I'm in the middle of moving from my small apartment to my new townhome (first time home buyer woo), and will need to expand my coverage. I was originally planning on just buying one or two stand-alone AmpliFi MeshPoint HD devices and placing them throughout the home. However I'm also aware of the AmpliFi Instant devices now.

    I have the following questions then:

    • I know I can just add an HD mesh point for sure, should I consider the instant though?
    • Would the instant work better since it has an ethernet backhaul and the mesh point doesn't?
    • Will the instant work with my HD router and "mesh" correctly, or am I trying to glue two systems together that shouldn't be?

  • @peter-urda Congrats on the new house!! 🙂

    Please let somebody else verify, but these are my thoughts/answers:

    1. Depends on your needs. Meshpoints are great for just slapping down on a wall without any tables or cables. An Instant or another AmpliFi HD router will work, too.
    2. This is correct. The LAN port can be used for backhaul or as a "remote LAN" for a Smart TV or something. (source)
    3. Yes, these are compatible.

    In general, I think the only main differences between the AmpliFi HD and the AmpliFi Instant are lower bandwidth WiFi and fewer physical features (ports, screen, etc. - the obvious stuff).

  • @shane-milton Thanks for the quickly reply, let me see if I understand this then!

    Right, I have the option for both there is ethernet available that will backhaul from my office to my Amplifi Router, which will be acting as my network edge device to the WAN. So it sounds like I could:

    • Buy another HD Router or Instant Router and do the following:
      • Connect HD router, or Instant Router WAN --> main HD router LAN 1-4
      • Enable "backhaul" on the selected device.
      • Main Router should now control SSID's for both, and I'm presented with my singular WiFi network(s) I had before.
    • Buy a HD Meshpoint
      • Add that to the router as-is.
      • It meshes, and broadcasts my existing WiFi as-is.

  • @peter-urda I understand that is all correct. The only thing to add is that the Instant or another Router could have the wireless backhaul just like the Meshpoint, if you needed flexibility.

    If it were me, honestly, here's what I'd do:

    1. Can I run ethernet to the second remote location? If so, I'd get another AmpliFi HD router unless the physical form factor of an Instant is important to you. My understanding is that the HD supports higher wireless speeds plus you have the option of having both ethernet backhaul PLUS multiple remote LAN ports. Sure, it costs $40 more but that's worth it to me to have my entire house covered by "full speed" wireless. If that $40 isn't worth it, then go Instant.
    2. Do I plan on using wireless backhaul? If so, then I'd 100% base this on your LAN port needs. Need none? Meshpoint. Need one? Instant. Need many? HD. Technically, I think the HD is faster but by going with a wireless backhaul, you're already sacrificing speeds in parts of your house. So just call the ~100mbps (not sure how accurate this is but seems close to what to expect, depending on client capabilities) you'll see wirelessly good enough, because it probably is, and save some money.

    These opinions might differ for some others, but those are my thoughts. Anything where I need blazing fast speeds has ethernet providing the data.

    EDIT: For clarification, going an extra hop over wireless (via a wireless backhaul) will impact your speeds much more than going with an Instant with an ethernet backhaul. So from a speed standpoint, it should look something like this:

    HD (ethernet backhaul) > Instant (ethernet backhaul) > HD (wireless backhaul) > Instant (wireless backhaul) >= Meshpoint (wired client on Instant is faster but I think wireless client on Instant is same speed as Meshpoint)

  • @shane-milton

    I had not thought about that, yup a wiredback haul point would mean the mesh point isn't "hopping" data from itself to an available AP.

    Sounds like I might grab just another router then, and let it backhaul to my main router. Using this setup, the AmpliFi app and tech stack should manage all the wifi from a single point, and I will be presented with a common SSID throughout my home yes?

  • @peter-urda Yes, unless you choose to have additional SSIDs. By default, just the 1 SSID.

    If you have stationary IoT devices in your home, it's sometimes beneficial to create additional SSIDs so you can easily dictate which node it connects to 100% of the time without interruption or hops. Some devices, especially IoT devices, don't handle the hop very nicely, and which node to connect to is ultimately driven by the client. It's possible that it might think the far node is better for a few seconds while the microwave is running or somebody is standing in a certain spot while touching their nose - the additional SSIDs can prevent this pointless hopping around.

  • @shane-milton

    I get that (and in fact I am using two SSID's from AmpliFi. One for humans and one for IoT 🙂 ), mostly just confirming that all the wireless settings will be uniform when in bridge mode.

  • @peter-urda said in Setting up new home, planning to expand WiFi, will this mesh setup work?:

    just confirming that all the wireless settings will be uniform when in bridge mode

    You won't actually be putting the second one into bridge mode (that would be a very different configuration). You'll just add it to the network and it'll show via a unified interface for both with synchronized SSIDs and all.

  • @shane-milton

    Ok great! Sorry I think I just explained my thought process incorrectly, but yes I understand the process of adding a new 'node' to the network via AmpliFi's mechanisms.

    Fantastic, looks like I just need another HD point 🙂

  • Hi @peter-urda - always use Ethernet backhaul if you have the option available (AmpliFi does not have dedicated wireless backhaul links)

    A standalone HD Router is the superior mesh point option

    Instant Routers do make very good mesh points if they meet your needs:

    • lower cost
    • WAN port for Ethernet backhaul
    • additional LAN port for network expansion

    However, Instant Routers are only 2x2 MIMO, so if you have devices that can truly access 3 MIMO streams, they will be speed limited, but the real world impact isn't as noticeable as the numbers might seem

    On paper, the Instant Routers also have a lower antenna transmission power than the HD's (Router and MeshPoint)
    However, in real environments, I have found the Instant's antenna performance to be in between the HD Router and the MeshPoint HD

    MeshPoint HDs are fine if the wall outlet location meets your needs and you want to avoid using a power chord
    But wall outlets are usually closer to the ground, which isn't typically as ideal for mesh point placement of table height or above

    IMHO the "3D Super Antenna" of the MeshPoint HDs has never proven itself and at the locations that I was personally using them I have replaced them with HD Routers and Instant Routers, and both options have provided a superior experience as wireless mesh points

    The other item to tip in the HD Router's favor, the Instant Router does not have HW NAT capability
    So in the future if you ever need to re-purpose a mesh point as a router, the HD is more future proof

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