Saturday, February 4, 2023

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Simple Network Adjustments that Strengthened my WiFi Mesh

Before diving into this article’s content, I will put upfront the two adjustments that greatly improved my Asus ZenWiFi mesh reliability.

  1. Increased the distance between the Asus router and Asus node.
  2. Changed the mesh’s backhaul from the default secondary 5.0 GHz band to an Ethernet connection via power-over-Ethernet.

Read on for the details!


Several months ago I wrote about how I fixed the flashing blue light problem on my new Asus ZenWifi. While that easy fix solved one problem, I had other issues shortly thereafter that almost made me reconsider the mesh setup. My WiFi connections began dropping much more frequently. Though the interruptions were brief, they were still annoying. Further, connectivity to my outside lights and security cameras seemed degraded from my old AC router with repeater.

First, on the outside connectivity, I had the new Asus mesh node in approximately the same location as the old repeater. Signal strength had always been weak to the outside, but there were noticeable connectivity issues, like in Apple HomeKit, interacting with the garage lights.

The overall WiFi drops were happening mainly on my Windows desktop, but also on other devices. For example, streaming SiriusXM from my iPhone to an Apple HomePod had intermittent dead air spaces.

I had placed the mesh node as close as possible to the outside devices. This put about 40 feet between the router and node, with almost no walls between them. So I wondered, were the router and node too close to each other? I read a few suggestions online (unfortunately I cannot recall where from) that the WiFI bands might be interfering with each other when the nodes are close. The connecting devices get confused, in a way. When I would look at the device connection distribution in the router’s portal, almost no devices were connecting to the node, even though many (in my office) were close to it.

So I decided to move the node farther from the router, a room over and actually away from most devices, include the outside lights and cameras. Amazingly, this did the trick! Outside connection were immediately better, with almost no drops in HomeKit. And about a fourth of all my home devices started connecting to the “remote” node instead of the router.


But there still seemed to be connection drops with my desktop. I have never used power-over-Ethernet, but decided to give it a try for the backhaul between the Asus router and node. I purchased the TP-Link AV2000 Powerline Adapter to set up a “real” Ethernet connection between my Asus router and Asus node.

My house is over 30 years old. I had no idea if power-over-Ethernet would work for a relatively older house not designed for it. But to my surprise, the TP-Link has worked fabulously. I have had no more WiFi disconnects! And overall speed and reliability of both the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands seems much better, using this power-over-Ethernet as the Asus mesh backhaul.

Giving the mesh nodes sufficient distance and switching to a physical backhaul has provided better speeds and reliability for my home WiFi. Are you having connectivity issues, or solved similar problems differently? Let me know in Comments below!

4 thoughts on “Simple Network Adjustments that Strengthened my WiFi Mesh

  • December 26, 2022 at 11:36 am
    Permalink

    I have been curious about these devices and since my AX6600 node is acting weird this might be the fix. When the node is connected wifi life is great, but the intermittent drops are excruciating. Thanks for the review and the heads up on the TP Link.

    Reply
    • Paul
      January 5, 2023 at 9:40 am
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      You’re welcome, DEL, take care!

      Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 3:06 pm
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    Nice one, I do have a cable from up to downstairs that I’m considering using for my AX backhaul but the cable was potentially damaged and unreliable, hence me getting a mesh to replace it!

    What kind of speed do you get via the adapters?

    Reply
    • Paul
      January 5, 2023 at 9:40 am
      Permalink

      Hi Mauler,

      On the powerline ethernet adapters, I have seen, through the Asus portal, speeds of a few Mbps. I checked just now and currently it’s at 2.41 Mbps. It’s not great but I have had no any stability issues anymore with all devices simply dropping frequently. FWIW, I have the adapters plugged into separate circuits, I don’t know if that makes a difference in speed.

      Regards,
      Paul

      Reply

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