2 routers or 1 router and 2 extenders?

Totally off topic, but here goes. So many intelligent people in these forums with knowledge far beyond those of mortal ..wait.. that is Superman,

When trying to increase WiFi range, is it better to have 2 routers, on at each end of the house, one upstairs at one end of the house, and one downstairs at the other end or have 1 router in the middle upstairs, and one extender at the end of the house upstairs, and another extender downstairs at the other end of the house?

Extenders are not great unless they are tri-band with a dedicated band for backhaul communication. Otherwise the available bandwidth will be greatly affected.

Two routers is preferred - I have tried it. But I found devices will not “roam” nicely while there is a hint of the signal coming from the first router they attach to. This caused many complaints from the family unit.

I don’t know how big your house is, but I relocated my router to the top of my entrance closet and I can now get full house coverage including front yard and backyard with 5g from just one router - well it’s actually configured as an access point.

Whose your provider? I have AT&T and have three AirTies SmartMesh 4920s extending the range of my Pace 5268AC modem. Having tried everything over the years, including access points and double routers, this finally works very well to provide a stable WiFi over a very long house. But as @steve.maddigan said, these are all wired to my cat8 LAN to provide a back haul to the modem. They auto transfer clients based on strength. They may auto switch frequency, but I don't remember. Honestly though, I try to get everything I can off WiFi and on wired ethernet if I can, because even the best WiFi isn't as good as ethernet.

100% agree. And I love it how the cable companies are pushing wireless tv. I had to run cat to the bedrooms shortly after that crap was installed. I couldn’t get cat to the main floor above the gas fireplace and had to use MoCA. Geesh.

That was a rant. Apologies.

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Lots of opinions on this subject - First, I absolutely hate extenders. the whole concept of them is ridiculous - they spoof macs, have horrible range and. just. dont.
Access Points are the solution. So many good choices, and not even expensive relatively speaking. I agree with a previous post that I prefer hardwire whenever possible but sometimes you've got no choice - like an LED strip for example.
In well built homes - and they are terribly hit or miss, you could extend with Powerline to get where you don't have any cable and then drop an AP, it's not pretty but a 2Gb netgear set (or more can solve some problems for 80 a pair off ebay.
Routers within routers - are not for the weak at heart. I'm a supposed network specialist and I scurry away if I can when that what I'm faced with - they are hard to manage correctly.
2 recent nets I built were > 8000 sqft homes. In one case it took 6 AP's to get the coverage necessary to have saturation that was spec'd. (and the garage/workshop was 150' away). The other had 5 floors - and was a beast to get coverage correct - there are still some dead spots.
5G wifi doesn't have the penetration - it'll do distance but hates interruption. 2.4G is still best - but can get conflicted with HA networks (see other threads here on this great board). so multiband AP's like (I'm cheap) TP_Link EAP245's(v3's) or the ultra rich peoples purchase - Ubiquiti's - but a) they got hack a few months back and b) I hate cloud stuff and their central management stank (when I looked at it last).
Nay my good man - I say centralize your router as best you can and 'spider' out 3-4 AP's staggered by floor. Normally that will do it. And sync all your SSID's so both your 5 and 2.4 are on the same so you get float ability with your devices.

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I would recommend two routers, the second router in bridge mode set to the same wifi ID and password as your primary router.

Otherwise try a mesh router, preferably with hard-wire ethernet backhaul for best results. I assume the 2nd router plan you propose has hardwired backhaul to your primary router.

There are many mesh routers which can also help solve the issues. I personally have Plume homepass. I've had them for 4-5 years and am extremely pleased, customer service is outstanding. Then they offered a lifetime membership, which doesn't appear to be the case any longer. However the monitoring and services which come with the membership are top notch and it includes full warranty support.

Lol this is the first thing that I disable. Your Alexa’s will consume your 5g that should be reserved for your mobile devices.

We have three buildings and a dock spread out over a few acres. For that, I tend to like one router and multiple access points, and moved away from consumer grade to prosumer/enterprise gear. I was a Peplink fan but am less enamored with them of late, but that's primarily because I don't care for their marketing dept's recent actions wrt their forum, etc. Their gear remains solid, but it's largely designed around the needs of those who need a mobile backup, which was our original need given our remote location. If you have gigabit internet coming in and no need of mobile backup, I think there are likely equal or even better options. My IT consultant likes Ubiquiti (the Dream Machine Pro for the router), as do some others here. Prior to going the Peplink route I did use the Asus mesh to connect two buildings and it worked reasonably well, but I would have to reboot once every month or so to keep it working between the two buildings, and the two units were in line of sight of each other.

I do have a couple of friends who have used Google's wifi mesh or Orbi mesh, and they seemed happy, but are more recently reporting problems that sound like overloaded wifi to me. All in all, if you can run ethernet to some distant points, I'd go with one router and hardwired APs connected to it.

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I have found that what works best in our house is a Wifi mesh with all APs wired to Ethernet. I currently use Google Home in that setup and it works great! Have them setup at in about the center of all halfs of the house and on all levels.

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If you can do two routers wiring wise, I would recommend using a couple of unifi AP AC-PRO's instead. They are poe (and usually come with their own POE injectors if you don't have a poe switch) These can be set so you roam better, you can segregate your 2.4ghz network better as well as they do well with vlan. This would ultimately be a better solution and more configurable. (IMHO). In my own home, I have one in the attic, one on the 1st floor and one on the back of the house. This gives great coverage and it's great when we bring chromcast devices outside for music. While it's great to hard wire where you can, wi-fi is still a necessary evil and I like maximizing my bandwidth...

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Avoid extenders. Two routers are ok but a meshed system with wired backhaul is better. Avoid Linksys - I found the system to be too unstable.

I just spent a week removing my old Linksys Velop mush network and replaced it with Ubiquity UniFi. It’s not without its flaws and gaps but I am really impressed with the system so far. The coverage and speed are 5-10x what I was getting with Linksys (in fairness I also switched from wireless to wired backhaul). The system can also be implemented with security that’s leaps and bounds above what is available with consumer grade products, should choose to do it that way. The downside is it does take a reasonable knowledge of network fundamentals to do it yourself, especially if you want to take advantage of some of the more advanced features.

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I too moved to mesh based routers years ago when I got my first Orbi, It was fine until IoT devices started to move into the mix. For example Alexa devices that may connect to different satellites won't group together if you create zones due to the devices being on different AP mac addresses. And many times IoT devices would lock onto to a AP that wasn't where it was originally attached to and stop working for example SimpliySafe cameras and base station. There was nothing worse then coming home and finding something that wasn't working.

At the end of 2019 for a holiday project I decided to go into Unifi so I could isolate IoT traffic and also create SSID networks that would pin IoT devices to AP's to solve many issues. I have 3 FlexHD's AP in my home wit one network for roaming devices (Phones, Tablets, and laptops), and then a Iot network per AP (IoT-Fam, IoT-Upstairs, IoT-Basement). Once I did this I have yet to have a devices not roam that should roam and devices that are pinned don't randomly disconnect any more.

It takes a bit of work and there are some great instructional video's on YouTube that I reviewed before I set this up.

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I just did an install for a client that was very "cost efficient".

It so happened that he had a relatively modern Asus router, which wasn't covering all his house.
Asus has a mode called "AiMesh" which allows an existing router to be used as a Access Point. Presto - I got another Asus router (with AX), and used it in place of the existing router. The existing router I placed a sizeable distance away. I was fortunate to connect it via ethernet (as a backhaul). Presto: mesh network with great radios, with great coverage, very inexpensively, and very quickly.
(It also can be connected wireless.)

Client very happy.

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Another consideration if you don't have ethernet wiring, try an ethernet power line adapter. I used these in a rental house I lived in a few years back and they worked great. Even allowed me to push ethernet into a detached garage. I can't give you any speed comparisons over mesh/wireless, but there are many options available through Amazon that can give you even 1GB speeds over your home wiring. Need to purchase in a pair to get started, then just add another port for each remote location. TP Link 1GB starts at $60 for a single port option, or $90 ea for a dual port adapter. There are slower adapters that are about half that cost. When I used it, 300MB was the norm, and they were just coming out with 600MB adapters.

I see @jshimota also mentioned power line. Highly recommend if you don't have wired backhaul. That is a 'must' for my future retirement home, minimum of 2 cat 6 in every room, double that in central offices/media etc, all wired to a central location (star configuration). I've already put that in another house I own, and in the in-laws house on a smaller scale.

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Nice post from @bobbyD with a link to wirecutter

Wow so many great replies!

I have about 30 Wyze cameras, all using an IP. Talk on the Wyze forums state Wyze does not play well with mesh. Most of the feeds are great, but others drop a lot. Bought 2 Tenda A18 extenders (sorry @jshimota - bought these about a week before this post) and still have range issues for the farthest cams

Older home built in 1969. No aluminum wiring, but the bedrooms have no grounded outlets. Really hard to run ethernet cable everywhere.

Aggregating all this information, I should get another router with a built in access point?

The Tenda A18 extenders have an ethernet port, so if I connect to that, it will become an access point. Too much for this old mind to absorb!

I would try a powerline adapter set as discussed. Even in a home with older wiring (ungrounded), they still should work. I used them in an older home with ungrounded wiring.

They have a port to use as an access point as you mentioned. The main one goes near your router to 'inject' the ethernet into your powerline. Then you put one (or more) adapters where you want the access points. To set up, they usually have a pairing function to link them to the primary adapter.

Then get a second router, put it in bridge mode with the same WIFI SID/password as your main router, and connect it to the powerline adapter.

Hate extenders lol They never work properly.

I use 3 Asus RT68u routers in a Mesh setup. The mesh network support form asus works surprisingly well. Did need to tinker a bit with some settings so client devices not flip from one AP to the other in certain positions of the house/garden. But still great stuff for home usage and dirt cheap these days

Also consider MoCA adapters too - coax is still pretty common in houses today.

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