How To Improve Your Home WiFi Network

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.

Broadband Bandwidth

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 WiFi Network

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.

Here’s a list of the kit I used to test these ideas

WiFi Range Extender Plug

Sale
NETGEAR Wi-Fi Booster Range Extender EX3700 - Coverage Up-to 1000 sq ft and 15 Devices with AC750 Dual Band Wireless Signal Repeater (Up-to 750 Mbps) and Compact Wall Plug Design with UK Plug
  • EXTENDED WIRELESS COVERAGE: Adds Wi-Fi range coverage up to 1000 sq ft, and connects up to 15 devices such as laptops, smartphones, speakers, IP cameras, tablets, IoT devices, and more.
  • AC750 WI-FI SPEED: Provides up to 750Mbps performance using dual-band and patented FastLane(TM) technology.
  • UNIVERSAL COMPATIBILITY: Works with any wireless router, gateway, or cable modem with Wi-Fi.
  • WIRED ETHERNET PORT: Simply plug in game consoles, streaming players, or other nearby wired devices using the one 10/100M port for maximum speed.
  • SAFE & SECURE: Supports WEP and WPA/WPA2 wireless security protocols.

Household WiFi Mesh System

TP-Link Deco M5 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System, Up to 3800 sq ft Coverage, Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa, Antivirus Security Protection and Parental Controls, Pack of 2
  • Seamless Wi-Fi in every room: Covers up to 3800 sq ft with high performance mesh Wi-Fi, get rid of Wi-Fi boosters or extenders and keep 100+ devices connected at the same time
  • Secure Wi-Fi for everyone: Get the most secure whole home Wi-Fi with Homecare protecting every device at no additional cost for 3 years
  • Easy setup in minutes: Download the TP-Link Deco app, plug in your system and follow the instructions to get your home network up and running in minutes
  • Ideal way to find the connection: TP-Link Mesh technology chooses the fastest path for device connections and keeps your network running as fast as possible
  • Compatible with Echo/Alexa: Control your home network using voice commands

TP-Link Router

Sale
TP-Link TL-WR940N 450Mbps Wireless N Cable Router, 4 Fast LAN Ports, Easy Setup, WPS Button, Supports Parent Control, Guest Wi-Fi, VPN, UK Plug
  • Wireless and speed 450 Mbps Wi-Fi speed ideal for interruption sensitive applications like HD video streaming; Far-reaching 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi coverage with 3 high-quality 5dBi antennas
  • Easy Bandwidth Management: Bandwidth control allocates necessary speed of each connected device to ensure quality of multimedia streaming
  • Fast encryption: One-touch WPA wireless security encryption with the WPS button; compatible with IPv6 -the more recent Internet Protocol version
  • Hassle-free Management with Tether App: Network management is made easy with the TP-Link Tether app, available on any Android or iOS device
  • Guest network and parental control: Keeps your main network secure by creating a separate guest network for visitors; restricts the access time and contents for children devices with parental control

Powerline plugs for connecting two devices on the same electrial ring

Sale
TP-Link TL-PA4010KIT Nano AV600 Powerline Adapter Starter Kit, Up to 300 m range, No Configuration Required, UK Plug
  • HomePlug AV standard compliant, providing data transmission over electrical wires
  • Stable and high-speed data transfer rate over electrical wires, ideal for HD video streaming, online gaming and large file downloading
  • Up to 300 m range over the household power circuit for efficient performance through walls or across floors
  • No setup required, simply plug and play. System Requirements: Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP/2000, Mac, Linux
  • Power saving mode automatically reduces power consumption by up to 85 percent

Easy to install PoE security cameras

Sale
Reolink PoE CCTV Security Camera, 5MP Super HD IP Camera Support Audio Bullet Outdoor Indoor Camera IR Night Vision Motion Detection Remote Access, RLC-410-5MP (Pack of 2)
  • 5MP Super HD, 100FT NIGHT VISION: 5MP 1920P Super HD surveillance camera, long-distance night vision range up to 100ft with 18 infrared LEDs, 80˚ wide viewing angle, capture more clearer and sharper images and video, great for driveway, hallways, etc.
  • POE OUTDOOR and INDOOR: PoE with only one Ethernet cable (up to 330ft), no power adapter needed, optional PoE switch or injector, easy setup with plug and play, waterproof camera, fit for indoor and outdoor, residential areas, retail store, business.
  • SMART MOTION DETECTION and ALERT: Schedulable Motion detection, motion recording and real-time motion alert via email, app push notification to mobile phone, FTP upload snapshots and videos, motion sensibility adjustment accurate and smart motion detection less false alarm.
  • FREE and VERSITLE APP, REMOTE VIEW: Free and intuitive Reolink Client and mobile App for iPhone, Android, Windows PC, MAC, no monthly subscription fee. Support at least 8 camera sources, live view, remote view, motion detection, live stream control, and recorded video playback.
  • AUDIO FUNCTION, 24x7 NVR RECORDING: Built-in microphone with audio function. 24x7 HD video recording and storage with Reolink PoE network video recorders (support up to 16 cameras and with built-in 3TB HDD). This IP camera only fully compatible with Reolink NVR and third party Onvif 2.1. Support FTP upload.

MicroSD cards for the security cameras

Sale
SanDisk Ultra 64 GB microSDXC Memory Card + SD Adapter with A1 App Performance Up to 100 MB/s, Class 10, U1
  • Up to 512 GB capacity
  • Operating temperature: -13ºF to 185ºF (-25ºC to 85ºC). Storage temperature: -40ºF to 185ºF (-40ºC to 85ºC). Compatibility: Compatible with microSDHC and microSDXC supporting host devices
  • Load apps faster with A1 performance class
  • UHS Speed Class U1 and Speed Class 10 for Full HD video recording/playback
  • Ideal for Android-based smartphones and tablets

Power over Ethernet (PoE) hub for the cameras

Sale
TP-Link TL-SF1005P 5-Port 10/100 Mbps Ethernet PoE Switch (4 PoE Ports, 58 Watt Budget, No Configuration Required)
  • Five auto-sensing Ethernet ports with four PoE 802.3af ports
  • Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE) ports provide data and power up to 15.4W per port (up to 54W total PoE power across all PoE connected devices)
  • Plug and play, no configuration and installation required
  • Working with IEEE 802.3af compliant PDs, expands home and office network
  • Durable and rugged metal case with fanless design for silent operation - ideal for small office and home networks

Last update on 2020-08-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API