Update on WiFi access points

Yep, they work! We now have around 60Mb/s through WiFi rather than the 5Mb/s we had previously! I have replaced both of the old TPlink 801ND.

When we originally moved into the property, we were on a slow broadband connection so the bottleneck was the broadband connection and not the WiFi access points. Now we are on Superfast Broadband, the bottleneck isn’t the broadband anymore, but the access points. It was time to change.

The property is large so we need multiple WiFi access points to ensure that every room is covered. Because we have ethernet access points everywhere, it is straightforward to install individual WAPs connected to a central switch. There is no need for an expensive Mesh network.

Plus, these new access points look much neater than the old ones!

WiFi throughout the building

tp-link

There are wired Ethernet sockets in all of the rooms throughout the property.  The home network is provided by two Netgear Gigabit switches (one in the old part of the property and one in the plant room in the new extension connected via a CAT6 cable).  These are then connected to the Internet via a BT Home Hub 4.  Longer term, we will probably replace this with something more sophisticated. Since we are in a rural area our broadband is not the fast – 13Mbps download and around 1Mbps upload.  It works fine for us – just as well since there isn’t much we can do about it.

Additionally, the BT Home Hub 4 provides WiFi access (both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz) in the older part of the property.  However, this quickly drops off once you get to the new extension.

The answer is to install a second WiFi access point in the new part of the building and to use a wired connection to connect the access point to the internal network.  If you set up a second access point with the same SSID and password (and security settings), client devices (e.g. iPads, laptops, etc) will connect to the home network using whichever access point is providing the strongest signal.  Furthermore, if you connect via one access point and then move to a part of the building where the signal from another access point is better, the client device should change access points (and without dropping the connection).  To test this out, I stream BBC2 to my iPad in the old part of the property (using the BT Home Hub WiFi) and then walked to the furthest part of the new extension.  The iPad swapped from one access point to the other and didn’t drop a single frame.  There is a good article here that summarises how this works.

So what did we use for the second WiFi access point? I have been looking for attractive looking access points, but haven’t had a lot of success.  So in the interim, I decided to buy a TP-Link TL-WA801ND.  The reviews looked good and at under £30 it doesn’t matter if we replace it with something more attractive later.

The TP-Link access point is a reasonable piece of kit, particularly for the price.  However, the process for setting it up is a bit convoluted.  It defaults to an IP address of 192.168.0.254.  This isn’t really too much of an issue, except that the BT Home Hub defaults to setting up a 192.168.1.* network.  So none of my devices that were connected to the BT Home Hub could connect to the TP-Link device at the same time.

To get it to work:

  • I turned off the BT Home Hub.  You could alternatively turn off the WiFi on the Home Hub;
  • I then connected to the TP-link access point using the 192.168.0.254 IP address;
  • I logged in and set up the device as an access point.  This involves entering the SSID, password, and security settings so that they were the same as the Home Hub (you might want to write these down before starting this process);
  • Do not reboot the device until you have changed it’s IP address to something in the 192.168.1.* range.  This means that it can be seen at the same time as the Home Hub.  In my case, I changed it to 192.168.1.252.  My Home Hub is set up for 192.168.1.254 (the default).
  • I left all the other settings on the network tab the same.  DHCP needs to be turned off on the Access Point, but this is the default anyway.
  • Save and reboot the access point.  You are done.  You should be able to access the TP-Link device using 192.168.1.252 (or whatever IP address you entered).  This will then provide you with the login page. You can access your Home Hub via 192.168.1.254.

If you leave the TP-Link device on the default IP address and set up the access point with the same SSID/password, you will get a DNS error when a device logs into the access point – it will connect to the WiFi network, but will not connect to the Internet.