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Cheap option for use as wifi extender

So I’m trying to improve my wifi signal, for a few years I’ve used a tplink range extender (cheap kind) to boost the network from the floor above me to downstairs. There is 0% possibility I can get a wire down here so I have to live with it. For a while I used the extender near my PC (desktop) with a wire running from it to the rj45 jack on my pc. Doing that I get about 25 mbps. Full net speed should be 50mbps. Recently I moved the tplink extender closer to where the AP is upstairs (right below it), so it’s resting up near the ceiling connected to an extension cord. Using a really old usb wifi N stick, I got maybe 15 mbps, and that’s after aligning the antenna on both ends to get the best signal (using wpa-cute to check the db level). So, I got a gigabyte wifi card with an external antenna, using an intel 8265 chipset and after aligning the antenna I get about 35 mbps consistently.

Now I am wondering if I can use something better to replace that tp link extender. I have an old router that supports ddwrt but I don’t know if it supports AC wifi. Would something like using an old desktop pc with that same 8265 card as a repeater work, with pfsense? Would using a cheap wifi router like I have work, with ddwrt? or maybe a new cheap router that supports ac wifi, or somthing else.

What is the upper limit of what you consider cheap?

Maybe 50 bucks or so, but if there’s something that’s more expensive I wouldn’t mind knowing about it.

I see you have antennas on things, what directions do you have them pointing, and is it only 1 floor above you?

I have the antennas on the wifi adapter (desktop side) and extender (intermediary) pointing towards each other to get the best db reading (about -47 to -50 db). The original AP is right above the extender or about that, and yes only one floor above.

so the thing above you is the range extender not the main wireless ap, if I am understanding you correctly. If so does the main AP support multiple SSIDs, if so make a 2nd one for you only and have the extender only extend that one and see how the performance is, you might be sharing that extender with other people.

Oh, the thing on the upper floor is the main AP. On my floor right below the main AP is the extender, which is pointing at me. The extender has a separate SSID already which I use instead of the main one, so I already got a setup like that.

How far are you from the extender?

maybe 10-15 feet, and it’s behind a corner, I think next I will use a double sided pad to the wall and find the best spot for it.

WiFi extenders are know for cutting your bandwidth up to half. They are made for getting you more distance on your WiFi but as a result of lower speeds.

While these are more expensive. I’d check out a mesh setup, or look at power line or Moca adapters.

Maybe check out some ubiquiti APs

Yeah I found another thread from way back talking about the ubiquiti lite APs, but from a search online it seems iffy to set up in repeater mode. Still need to look into it more but those seem really nice but bit much $.

And to @jacarroll417 I can’t change the setup of the lan with powerline or mesh, house is probably way too old for powerline anyway.

Make sure your repeater has two radios or you will get disappointing results. Wifi is already half-duplex in the regular AP mode, but if you add repeater it first has to get data from your main router and then stop and transmit that data to your laptop or cellphone. So, its like half-half duplex. With two radios (2.4 and 5ghz) you can use 2.4 to receive and then 5 to transmit. That way you eliminate that second half duplex bottleneck.

Well if you were getting half your speed before, then that’s probably the best you can do. Most cheap repeaters have only one radio, and that radio can only communicate with the router or the device, not both at the same time.

Unifi AP’s work great, when purely used as access points only. But last I checked when You try to use them for anything else is either an awkward hacky work in progress (making a mesh/bridge) that requires buying more into the “ecosystem” with that unifi controller or simply not an option (acting as a client).

I’ve heard of using the various 2.4ghz (nonstandard protocol, won’t act as WiFi) point to point outdoor antennas to travel floors, but I’ve no experience with that.

I’ll also throw out that Ethernet over powerline is sometimes viable, but even for the “2000 mbps” models you’re gonna be at 300mbps if your lucky, and ~120mbps for most people. The lower end models only have 100mbps eth ports because there’s so much noise to deal with. They also like to get disconnected for a few seconds or minutes several times a day. Better latency than WiFi though.

Any option other than a dedicated shielded cat cable or fiber is basically awful.

Was suggesting the use it as an ap not extender

I also want to ask the same thing . Does anyone know any solution to it . Please reply here if you could help me.

Forgot about MOCA. It’s a viable solution. You can get 800+Mbps on the right adapters I have read. Much better than power line. Just sucks that adapters can be a bit expensive.

After testing for a while the best I can get is 35-40 or so tops. No better. However with a better location I found I can get 80 with a wire running from the repeater. Can’t be helped I guess. Thanks all for the suggestions. Still plenty enough for me.

WiFi Boosters take only a few minutes to install and can give you complete home WiFi coverage. It’s best to place the extender halfway between your router and the dead zone. Your signal strength and bandwidth will be immediately boosted and directed to the WiFi trouble spot.

For optimal performance you should at least match the WiFi speed of your new extender with your existing router’s WiFi. For example, if you have a dual band AC1200 router, choose a dual band AC1200 extender to maximize the boost in performance and range.