cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Using a wifi range extender

maranello
Pro
Posts: 1,020
Thanks: 96
Fixes: 1
Registered: 11-01-2008

Using a wifi range extender

In an attempt to get a better wifi signal at the rear of my house and on the patio, I have tried using a range extender. I bought a Belkin model F9k1015, this is a single band device, but since the Plusnet supplied Thomson TG582n router is also single band I didn't see the point in spending more on a dual band extender.
The extender works pretty well when it is working, but does seem to suffer from frequent random disconnection. I'm wondering if this may be due to the router setup, as there is a power saving feature which I believe reduces the signal broadcast strength when not in use, and I'm not sure if the extender is seen by the router as a connected device. Is it worth me switching off the powersave option to see if this helps?
Secondly, I have been using the Wifi Analyser app on my tablet to see how the signal strength varies throughout the house. I have noticed that the wifi channel seems to change periodically, usually between channels 6 and 11. I thought the tg582n would check neighbouring signals and select the least used channel when powered up, and keep using that channel unless either changed manually or if rebooted, but it seems to change between 6 and 11 quite frequently. Can I force the router to use a particular channel, and if so can I choose one other than 1, 6 or 11 which it appears are used by many of my neighbours?
My other car isn't a Ferrari
10 REPLIES
Acassim
Grafter
Posts: 1,075
Thanks: 1
Registered: 11-06-2007

Re: Using a wifi range extender

Hi maranello,
While I'm no expert in the of Wifi range extenders it does sound a lot like the channel switch on the Thomson could well be causing the drops in connectivity with the range extender. There is an option in the Thomson to manually set the channel so it could well be worth using the analyser you mentioned to find a quieter channel and then manually set the Thomson to this and see if the drops continue.
I suppose this all falls to the way in which the range extender manages a change in channels so as I say, I'm not that confident where the range extenders are concerned however it would be worth checking it with this simple test and hopefully it should help.
maranello
Pro
Posts: 1,020
Thanks: 96
Fixes: 1
Registered: 11-01-2008

Re: Using a wifi range extender

Hi Adam, thanks for the advice.
I checked the router settings yesterday evening. The Powersave facility was not active, and since I haven't changed it I can only assume this is the default. The channel section was set to automatic, but even so I was not expecting the channel to change unless the router was rebooted. Can you confirm whether or not when automatic is selected the channel will change in response to any interference from other router wifi signals?
In any event, I changed it to manual, selected channel 13 as this seemed to be the least used. So far, the range extender seems to be more stable, and I'll keep an eye on it and see if I can configure the Wifi Analyser app to record a log. The signal strength is measured in units of dBm, ranging from -10 to -80, and typically getting around 50-60dBm peak for the signal from the Thomson router and the Belkin extender, depending on location. When I get home I'll see if I can locate specifications for signal strength for both devices.
I'm hoping this would be an effective method of getting a better wifi from the TG582n without spending on a new router. The range extender was only £15. Another option would be to get homeplugs for around £20 and use one of the spare routers I seem to have collected. My ADSL version of the TG582n seemed to perform better for wifi, and I also have a Technicolor 585 which has an external antenna.
My other car isn't a Ferrari
Acassim
Grafter
Posts: 1,075
Thanks: 1
Registered: 11-06-2007

Re: Using a wifi range extender

Hi againmaranello,
I've just had confirmation that the wireless channel should only switch on a reboot so this may not be the cause of the issue however a shift to a fixed channel could possibly help if the channel is more stable and there is then no chance of this being changed on a planned/unplanned powercycle of the equipment.
Let us know how you go with this and we can investigate further if you start seeing the connection dropping again.
maranello
Pro
Posts: 1,020
Thanks: 96
Fixes: 1
Registered: 11-01-2008

Re: Using a wifi range extender

Hi Adam,
Thanks for the clarification. I don't understand why the wifi analyser appeared to show changes in channel when the router hadn't been rebooted, but this may be an artifact of the app itself. If I find out any more I'll update the thread. It is apparent that changing to a manual channel selection and selecting channel 13 has improved the stability of the range extender.
Looking in more detail at the signal strength plots/dial of the wifi analyser app, I don't really understand the units or what is being measured. The units are negative values of dBm ranging from -10 to -100, where the strongest signal is the least negative. The difference in readings between the router and the extender is at most around 10-15 dBm, with a peak of -45dBm, depending on where in the house the readings are taken. The difference seems smaller than you would expect when next to either device, but I believe that there is a logarithmic element to the units. I'm sure there are contributors on this forum with much greater knowledge than mine who could clarify these results.
My other car isn't a Ferrari
st1967
Grafter
Posts: 26
Registered: 02-11-2012

Re: Using a wifi range extender

I've always found wireless extenders a bit limited.  Tried a couple for work and results were always quite poor.
We've always had a dead spot in the kitchen and as I was using Devolo homeplugs I bought one of these and it's been superb.
http://www.devolo.com/en/Products/dLAN-500-WiFi
Obviously you need a Devolo homeplug near the router with a cable to get the broadband into the power-circuit but the unit is so small it just sits in a plug socket.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,412
Thanks: 4
Registered: 29-01-2009

Re: Using a wifi range extender

I'm with st1967 on this - it seems strange to try to use a wireless backhaul when the range (and thus speed) is already limited.
I chose a slightly different product: dLAN 500 AV Wireless+ for the 5GHz access; I'm in the process of trying things out with that, but I have to be careful not to disrupt the daytime working environment for SWMBO.
Plusnet Customer
Using FTTC since 2011. Currently on 80/20 Unlimited Fibre Extra.
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 26,540
Thanks: 1,542
Fixes: 101
Registered: 14-04-2007

Re: Using a wifi range extender

Someone I visit has the main router, a TP-Link in the living room and a Netgear in their bedroom acting as a wireless hotspot.
The problem is their front door is near their bedroom and as you enter, your phone connects to the Netgear.
Then you walk down the corridor to the living room where you expect a good signal from the TP-Link but the phone is still hanging on for dear life to the weakening Netgear signal.
You, therefore have to manually connect to the TP-Link which drops the Netgear.

Customer and Forum Moderator.

maranello
Pro
Posts: 1,020
Thanks: 96
Fixes: 1
Registered: 11-01-2008

Re: Using a wifi range extender

Since setting the wireless channel manually, the wifi extender appears to have maintained a stable link with the router. I have a stronger signal next to the extender than next to the router, so I assume the extender also amplifies the signal. The reception upstairs could be better, I haven't yet tried moving the extender to a different location for overall better reception throughout the house.
Thanks for the advice/recommendation for the homeplug devices. I'm sure these are excellent products, but the extender seems to work satisfactorily and fulfils my needs. If the situation changes I'll be able to review this thread for advice.
Thanks for all the help.
My other car isn't a Ferrari
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,238
Thanks: 1,130
Fixes: 3
Registered: 06-11-2014

Re: Using a wifi range extender

I find that if you keep a router central in your property, you get a much better signal range through the house without the need to have additional range extenders (be they dedicated units or a 2nd router set up as an extender), this is where a data extension is handy as you can move all your hardware from near the master socket to a centralised location of your choice, I have this presently with my soon to be ditched ADSL connection using a home-made extension (using twisted pair telephone cable, essentially the same as Cat5, but only 3x pairs) and plan to do the same with the FTTC modem after the BTO guy leaves, so everything is located by my computers in my bedroom, and is central in the house to get an even spread with the minimum of losses and no need for any extensive use of Cat5/6 cables... Smiley
maranello
Pro
Posts: 1,020
Thanks: 96
Fixes: 1
Registered: 11-01-2008

Re: Using a wifi range extender

A week on since setting the wifi channel manually, and the extender appears to be stable. It is a cheap and simple solution to the problem of poor wifi signal strength from the TG582n, but it may not work for everyone. The major advantage of the range extender over homeplugs is that it is truly portable - in theory I could use it to boost poor wifi signals anywhere, for example when on holiday if wifi is available. I could also move it to any location in the house to boost the signal, which I could also do with homeplugs but not if I was to use a spare wireless router as an extender.
Only £15 in Argos, and if it doesn't work you can take it back for a refund within 14 days. Got to be worth a try.
My other car isn't a Ferrari