Powerline adapters for full WiFi coverage of home and property?


Old 08-12-19, 10:05 AM
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Powerline adapters for full WiFi coverage of home and property?

I am looking to blanket my home and a good chunk of my property (the backyard and porch/patio area immediately adjacent) with seamless WiFi coverage (same SSID and password) as I have a couple of different uses for it. First, we spend a lot of time on our patio and deck in nice weather so I have an Alexa Input connected to an old Pioneer amplifier and speakers in my tool shed which has electric via an underground feed from the house-I also tend to play music over the speakers whenever I'm working outside. Right now the Input gets a WiFi signal from the WiFi router provided by our ISP (CenturyLink 10Mbps DSL-we are out in the sticks so that's the best we can get) which is fine most of the time, but every one in a while the signal drops out for some unknown reason. Usually a reset of the router, Input, or both will fix the problem, but its annoying and I think a stronger signal would likely fix it. Next, I recently picked up a set of Bluetooth ear protection headphones so that I can still listen to music when I'm mowing, blowing, weedwhacking, etc...so it would be nice to stream Pandora or Spotify via WiFi while doing so. Finally, we have a chicken coop in the back which I am considering adding a WiFi camera to so that I can easily monitor for predators, etc...without actually going out there. The chicken coop, like the toolshed has an underground electrical feed from the house. The following is a sketch of the property showing the orientation of the various buildings and distances between them:

Obviously the best way to create multiple access points would be to locate maybe two different WiFi routers (one being the ISP supplied router/modem) in the house connected by Cat5 cable, and then by locating WiFi routers in the tool shed and chicken coop (connected by Cat5 as well), but running the Cat5 underground would be a PITA that I'd like to avoid. The electrical lines that run to those buildings currently seem to be just direct-bury wire, so its not as if there is a conduit I could just fish another line through. I did find some direct-bury Cat5 online, but again, if I could avoid digging a trench, laying wire, filling it all back in, fixing the grass, etc...I'd like to. To that end I've been researching powerline adapters quite a bit and the reviews seem to be all over the place with regard to speed and reliability. I've also heard a lot of conflicting information about how much speed degradation results from the signal having to travel through a circuit on one leg of the panel to a circuit on the opposite leg. Some users report no issue whatsoever, and some report speeds so slow that the network is unusable. I'd love to see some real world accounts here since I have built-in electrical infrastructure. Another thing that I haven't been able to figure out is that assuming I go with a powerline adapter system and end up installing two different access points in the tool shed and chicken coop, will I be able to use the same SSID and password for each in order to create a seamless network? I know that there are a few other settings that need to be tweaked so that the access points do not conflict with each other.

Finally, with regard to speed degradation, it should be noted that the network I'm looking to create will really only be used to stream music and so that I can do email while sitting outside and having a drink after work. Its not as if I'll be trying to stream 4K TV or game online. That said, since I'm starting with 10Mbps I don't have a lot of speed to lose...
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Old 08-12-19, 10:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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I have done a few multi-building wifi systems, one of which is my home.
The drawing is a big help especially with measurements.
A few things to consider are the number of wireless devices and the bandwidth required for everything to work as expected.

As much as you'd prefer not trenching... I would strongly encourage to wire your bridge between buildings. Wires fail a whole lot less than the electronics attached to them do.
At all costs, avoid using multiple wireless routers unless you are going to setup manual frequencies for each, adjust the levels and make sure the frequencies from each is not interfering.

What I would suggest is go with something like the Ubiquiti Unifi access points and the controller. These can be configured to work with the controller and provide proper hand off, similar to cellular towers with our phones and frequency preference where it pushes devices capable of doing 5GHZ to the 5GHZ channel if their signal strength is good enough. They also load balance and will move devices between devices if load capacity on one is getting tight in high density areas.
In cases like yours, without knowing enough info, I would say two APs in the house, one at each end near exterior walls, one in the building behind the tool shed, and maybe an external on that same building pointing towards the chicken coop.

You can do wireless point to point shots between the buildings, but then you are limited by their bandwidth.
I know you said you only have limited internet today, but it would be a shame to get faster internet and be stuck with slow equipment. Also need to keep in mind if you are doing file sharing within the home or media streaming within the home, this will need to be considered.

There are other products similar on the market. I like the ubiquity equipment as it's commercial grade stuff, but not over the top expensive.
Old 08-12-19, 10:40 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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If you are a bit tech savvy, the equipment I am using that would give you the best horsepower for the dollar is;
Ubiquiti Edgerouter X (Firewall Router, under $100)
Ubiquiti Unfi AP Lite access points (they look like oversize smoke detectors)
TP-Link managed network switches (example TL-SG108E, under $50).
Old 08-14-19, 07:41 PM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
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Use the copper that's already there-
I'd use powerline ethernet adapters to add WiFi access points.
Many old routers which you can get for cheap or free; Westell 329, Actiontec MI424WR, Linksys) can be repurposed to run as WiFi "access points" for use with powerline adapters.

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