In this post I’m going to suggest how to improve your home WiFi network by strengthening your WiFi signal around the house and garden. I’m a network engineer and I’ve been working in IT for over 20 years. I specialise in WANs (Wide Area Networks) and of course what I’m about to talk about are LANs (Local Area Networks), so if anything I’m about to say can be improved upon in any way feel free to comment below with your suggestions.
Working From Home
Many of us are working from home more often than not and even though we may have thought this was a temporary arrangement (during the Coronavirus pandemic, for example) we may find that it has become permanent once companies realise that they don’t need as many people occupying their expensive offices.
So it’s really important that we make the best use of the WiFi networks we have at our disposal at home.
That said, it’s worth remembering that what I’m about to explain is how to boost your WiFi signal around your property. It won’t do anything to increase the bandwidth from your home to the internet.
If you’re lucky then you may have a fibre optic cable from the nearest green telecommunication junction box in the street to your home, but many of us still have only a copper cable. Copper cabling severely limits your bandwidth in comparison to fibre optic cabling. So you may have to wait until they upgrade the network in your area or until 5G is available to you.
How to improve your home network
Anyway, here’s how to improve your home WiFi network by strengthening your WiFi signal.
My existing broadband router creates a WiFi network with a limited range, given all the walls and ceilings in the house and I wanted to install a pair of Reolink security cameras on the opposite side of the house and found the usual options for connecting to the router were not practical.
- It would be too expensive to install a cable from the camera to the router
- The WiFi signal was too weak on the other side of the house
- Using a pair of powerline plugs didn’t work because the two plugs were on different electrical rings. For other connections this idea works well enough e.g. connecting the TV to the router.
So I considered the fourth option which is to boost the WiFi signal.
At first I tried a simple plug-in WiFi range extender in the form of a NETGEAR Wi-Fi Booster Range Extender EX3700. This works well enough in terms of boosting the WiFi signal from my existing router but the boost didn’t extend far enough into the garage area where I needed it for the security cameras.
Then I wondered if I should put another router in the garage and bridge from the new (TP-Link) router to the existing router, but that proved unsuccessful too due to the poor signal strength.
So then I found the TP-Link Deco M5 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System I bought the pack of three (there are other options with fewer or more units) and put one next to my existing router, another in the kitchen (where I had previously plugged the range extender), and the third in the garage, which I then cabled to the second router.
I then attached the two security cameras to a PoE (Power over Ethernet) hub and attached that to the TP-Link router. The TP Link Deco units form a new WiFi network so I was able to bridge this network across to my existing network by configuring WDS bridging on the new TP-Link router. No changes were needed on the existing router.
The net result of all this is that I have two WiFi networks in the house, the second of which is for my security cameras and for use by any other device that’s out of range from the first network. The only disadvantage I’ve found so far is that the printer is only accessible if my device is connected to the first network but that’s a minor hitch.
If all this sounds a bit complicated then that’s because it is a bit fiddly if you haven’t done it before and there may be a neater way of doing this. Feel free to suggest a way below.