What should I buy to build a system that requires bridged ethernet in multiple locations?
I have a moderately sized space to cover (2200 sq feet) but
- It is a smarthome, with 50+ wifi connected devices.
- There are 3 locations in the home that have devices that must be connected via ethernet. I need a node that acts as a wireless bridge here.
I'm currently making do with an Eero system, using some of the mesh nodes mostly as wireless bridges. Unfortunately having this many nodes in this small a space is causing interference node-to-node resulting in slow/dropped connectivity.
I'd like to switch to a wifi 6 AmpliFi solution but I don't see how best to make that work. The Alien MeshPoint looks like it has a single ethernet port, but it doesn't look like I can connect 2 Alien Meshpoints to the network. What would you suggest?
@Dave-Chandler I think the issue is that the Meshpoint can only be acquired as part of a dedicated pair (and you should know before you buy one that it can only be paired with the serial-numbered Alien router with which it's shipped. However, if you have the budget, you can buy multiple Alien routers and mate them to one as the primary router, and that will give you FOUR LAN ports per device. As to whether that's the ideal setup, I cannot answer that.
@jsrnephdoc I would be willing to do that, but I'd like to know if I'll run into the same problem that I'm hitting with this Eero system: Will they interfere with each-other and cause poorer than expected functionality. What I really need is a set of high quality wifi6 bridges, but I can't seem to find anything like that. Bridge mode for AmpliFi isn't what I'm looking for. That requires an ethernet connection FROM an existing router.
@Dave-Chandler (just hoping to keep the discussion going on your behalf) if you're in a "smart" home with > 50 IoT devices, I'd assume you have Ethernet running to most places in your house, and you can use the non-routing AmpliFi Aliens as RAMP (router as Mesh Point) with Ethernet backhaul that so far as I understand it can all be routed from the individual RAMPs to an unmanaged switch, and ostensibly that will prevent the IoT devices Wi-Fi signals to the closest RAMP from interfering with each other, but that's all based on reading advertisements, not on knowledge or experience.
@Dave-Chandler Would a device like this be more appropriate (and more affordable) for those devices that need a RJ45 connection? Rather than using a mesh device for those locations, using a client device should eliminate node to node interference.
Dave Chandler last edited by Dave Chandler
@jsrnephdoc No, I do not have ethernet running to most places in the house. Far from it. That is the problem I am trying to solve. I explicitly cannot use Ethernet as the backhaul, it's not available where I need it.
The smart home items are all entirely wifi. Completely separate problem unrelated to the Ethernet requirement. They aren't the problem other than the load they place in on the access point. They aren't even the cause of the interference.
It's the Eero's own backhaul protocol interfering with itself in such a small space.
The problem are other items that require RJ45 in places where that is not available.
Dave Chandler last edited by Dave Chandler
@Matthew-Leeds I actually have one of those devices. Tried it out, connected it to a switch. Didn't really work as well as I needed it to. Surprisingly low speeds and seemed to lose connectivity a lot in an area with strong signal.
But yes, something similar would be ideal. Preferably something with at least 2 RJ45's out. All I -really- need is a device that connects to my wifi and then acts as an ethernet switch. I've tried a number of products, even re-flashing a router using DD-WRT, with various levels of success. Still nothing as solid as I'd really like.
@Dave-Chandler Hmmm..., what about a Powerline adapter to each location, connected to a switch?
If you've really a situation with multiple devices in each of these locations that need ethernet connectivity, it might makes sense to have an electrician pull Cat5e or Cat6 to each of these locations and connect up a switch. In the long run you'll have better performance and fewer headaches, even at the higher upfront cost.
@Matthew-Leeds Tried TP Links too. Our electrical is too noisy for them to work well. They fall out of sync with eachother every time we ran the vacuum.
Can't run cable, house is on a slab and there's no attic over any of the affected areas. We would have to pull drywall across the entire house and run it through the studs horizontally. The cost was astronomical and the impact to the home was something the wife wouldn't tolerate.
Matthew Leeds last edited by Matthew Leeds
@Dave-Chandler Run it over the roof in either conduit and/or gel-filled cable. Drop down at walls with just a small penetration for installing jacks. Cost should be less if you can find a contractor who knows how to do it.
@Matthew-Leeds Thank you for the suggestions but what I really want is to know if there is an AmpliFi solution to this problem. I have exhausted the home altering ones we are willing to take on.
@Dave-Chandler sorry I made incorrect inferences about the basic infrastructure in your home. If you create a 3-Alien MESH network, you'll have 4 LAN Ethernet jacks per device (which of course you could expand with unmanaged switches). Whether the MESH nodes would help or hurt each other in terms of overall efficiency I can't say (no experience). There are AmpliFi employees who read these posts, and I'm a bit surprised you've not received their input yet. Many people here have reported single AmpliFi Alien routers providing adequate coverage in 2000 square foot single level homes, but that wouldn't solve your need for Ethernet connectivity. I'd go to the AmpliFi support forum and ask there.
@Dave-Chandler So I will point out I have a 2,600 sq foot two story recent construction home. I have a HD kit (yes I know, didn't know better at the time). The single HD router, placed in the garage covers the entire house, although not with great signal at the most distant locations. I've placed one of the wireless mesh points on the ground floor distant from the garage, and the second mesh point on the second floor, fairly close to being over the garage. Coverage is excellent everywhere in the house and in both front and back yards on an overall 6,000 sq foot lot. I will note that we've about 10-12 devices on the network, with a mix of wired and wireless connections as the home came pre-wired for phone, ethernet, and cable (we are also on slab so what came with the house it it). You might consider the HD or even the Instant and add additional Instants in RAMP mode and use the ethernet jack to connect a switch. That should work depending on construction of your home.
I of course, defer to any of the staff or more experienced users on this forum who may have other perspectives. I did see your mention of WiFi 6 as a requirement so if that's non-negotiable, then this approach will not work. I've no experience with an Alien so I can't speak to it.
I don't use 'smart' devices so I can't speak to those either.
@Matthew-Leeds Wifi Coverage isn't really the problem. I have good wifi throughout. It's getting wired coverage in the locations where it's needed that is giving me heartache. RAMP solves the opposite problem: If I had ethernet everywhere RAMP will help me connect the routers via wire.
I want to do the opposite: Connect the routers via wifi and provide small pockets of wired connectivity.
Derek Saville last edited by
Hi @Dave-Chandler - how is the signal strength throughout the premises?
Is your home fairly WiFi friendly?
Or is there signal interference/blockage from the design/construction materials?
Is one of the 3 locations also where the ISP gateway/modem drop is located?
In a similar situation as what you are facing, I have utilized the US model Alien's Additional 802.11ac 5GHz radio to create a dedicated link for bridging AmpliFi HD cubes placed in 3rd party router mode
(note that this is not possible with the European spec Alien)
But in my case, one Alien can cover the premises with 5GHz 802.11ax, so I don't need an additional Alien as a mesh point
I am using AmpliFi HD's because I happen to have them available from older installations that were replaced, but any device that supports wireless bridging (becoming less common) or I believe DD-WRT supports it, should work
The downside of using AmpliFi HD's in 3rd part router mode as wireless Ethernet bridges is that they will create some additional 2.4 GHz signals, but you can set them to their own channel to avoid interference, and the HD's need to be managed separately, but I rarely if ever need to touch them and firmware updates can be initiated from the LCD screen
Since no other clients will know the SSID of the Additional 5GHz radio, that channel and link can be exclusively used for the backhaul without interfering with any other WiFi activity
You can of course let a selective client (such as camera) know the SSID, and I actually did so for some 2.4GHz only devices, which connect on the HD's 2.4GHz repeated signal instead of using the Alien's 2.4GHz radio
In your case having a second standalone Alien as a mesh point may be a benefit as long as it is far enough away (signal wise) to avoid interference with the main router, which may be the problem you are having with Eero
It is really hard to predict what will or won't work until you actually test in situ
My recommendation would be to first purchase a single standalone Alien and install it in its location as the primary router and do a site survey of coverage, making sure you can return the Alien if it doesn't meet you needs
Then decide if additional standalone Aliens are worth trying meshed at any of the 3 locations where you need Ethernet ports, again making sure you can return them if they don't meet your needs
At the same time you can enable the Additional 5GHz radio with unique SSID and try a standalone HD router in 3rd Party mode as an Ethernet bridge (used or make sure you can return it), or another WiFi Ethernet bridge of your choice
Note that the Alien also lets you create Additional SSID's on a per access point basis if you want to try bridging with a shared radio, it just depends on your needs
Finally, if you haven't done so, the folks over in the Small Net Builder Community Forums are also pretty helpful for advice...
@Dave-Chandler You are correct, I misspoke and meant using these additional devices as bridges from WiFi to ethernet.