EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations

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EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations

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EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-20 19:55:56 - last edited 2020-04-21 15:43:21
Model: EAP225  
Hardware Version:
Firmware Version:

I am the IT manager at my work and I deployed a complete TP-LINK Omada system 2 years ago with several EAP225-v3 + the Omada controller and this system is absolutely fantastic especially considering it low price. I am now considering to deploy the a similar system at my home with two EAP245 to fix some issues I have with my internet provider (Bell Fibe Canada) wireless router with the signal and the overall stability.

 

My house is a modern cottage (2 stories) all made of wood with a narrow 27x27 feet square floorplan and it have a basement level where I have my IT room with my actual wireless router. So if I want to place a first AP in the basement (wired) and a second at the highest level of my 2nd floor, I need to be able to establish a wireless (mesh) link between the 2 APs, if that's possible. I was told that the EAP245 isn't supporting *officially* the mesh network feature yet but that TP-Link have a stable BETA firmware for that. The other option would be to purchase EAP225 except they are lower speed that the EAP245... I don't actualy understand why the EAP245 seem to be depricated (sort of) when the lower-end model the EAP225 is still fully maintained??

 

I would like to have your recommendation/advices regarding mesh networking with the TP-Link Omada APs. If mesh isn't the optimal layout, a second option would be to run an ethernet cable in-wall to my 1st floor, which is accessible from the basement in opposite to the 2nd floor where it's not possible to run ethernet cables. So I could place a first AP in the basement to cover the basement level (wall made of concrete) and the second AP would be on the 1st floor (wired) to cover the 1st and 2nd floors and also cover the exterior of the house (such as my pool's deck) I assume. My current setup with a single wireless router located in the basement (concrete) offer a decent signal to 1st and 2nd floor but signal is dead as soon as you exit from the house to the deck (attached to the house) which is one of my problem, if for any reason the signal is still poor outside, I guess that one option could be to add a 3rd AP outdoor like the EAP225-OUTDOOR...

 

I hope my question/concern is clear enough, if not, please ask me more about it! ;-)

 

Thanks!!

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Re:EAP245 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-20 21:12:21

Hello @SimonC.,

 

I have a pretty similar setup to you here at home (OC200 & 2xEAP225V3).  I live in a bi-level / raised ranch style home which is also two stories and "long and skinny."  My setup sounds very similar to what you are looking to do.  My broadband router (Verizon Fios) is in my office on the first floor at one end of the house, but most of our commonly used living space is on the second floor at the other end of the house.

 

My first EAP is hardwired (Ethernet) to the router in the office and I have it on a table facing up (first floor).  The second EAP is at the other end of the house, and is connected via a MOCA bridge with the AP facing down (ceiling mounted -- 2nd floor).  While I normally use a MOCA 2.0 Bonded Ethernet bridge to connect this EAP to my router (which offers ~400-500 Mbit of usable speed) occassionally this connecion flakes out, and I have this second EAP set to failover to Wireless MESH.

 

I suspect the EAP225 and 245 use slightly different chipsets and that is why firmware tends to lag on the 245.  Additionally, I would expect that TP-Link probably sells a whole lot more 225's vs 245's and so this may also drives their firmware development priorities.  But you are correct in that there is a stable beta firmware for the 245 which supports MESH.  It's supposed to have been released into prod for several months now.  But still hasn't been released yet.

 

But keep in mind that the 245 may not really be any faster under most circumstances.  Theoretically, it can be as it offers 3x3.  But the vast majority of Wifi clients (STA's) are 1x1 and 2x2 so most clients won't see any speed improvement from the 245.  In theory there might be better concurrency / reception using a 3x3 or 4x4 AP if you have a lot of clients >30 or if you have many clients simultaneously transferring larger files.  But most of the time, most Wireles clients are just idle.  I have ~37-45 devices at any given time on my home network. But this added concurrency depends on MU-MIMO working (and being supported by the AP and clients) and this new capability seems to be given multiple vendors a variety of challenges.

 

Wireless MESH can work well in a home environment because the AP's are usually not that busy, and generally there are only a small handful (often only one or two) of STA's actively receiving / transmitting / streaming at any given time.  Thus the AP's are largely idle and have sufficient spare bandwidth to "repeat" the information from a STA on the MESH connected AP back to an Ethernet connected master node.  But wireless MESH is not a panacea and is largely a marketing term / buzzword focused around convenience and low cost.  Namely that you don't have to run Ethernet cable to all of your AP's.

 

Since AP's tend to have better antennas (Tx and Rx sensitivity) and higher transmit powers, the wireless connection between AP's is generally more reliable/consistent than the mobile STA to AP communication chain.  But it's not fool proof.  Some vednor's MESH solutions have a 3rd wireless radio, sometimes with 3x3 or 4x4 chains, dedicated to the wireless backhaul.  The TP-LINK EAP's do not.

 

But, I think what you are proposing could work just fine.  If it were me, I'd probably go with the EAP225's instead since they have better MESH support (multiple rounds of firmware revision so far), and are cheaper.  If you have coax cable throughout your home definately check out the Actiontec MOCA products.  I use them for all of my "multimedia centers" together with a small Ethernet switch.  This keeps all of my streaming AV equipment off of the Wifi to free up bandwidth for work and my kid's mobile devices (-:

 

-Jonathan

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Re:EAP245 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-21 12:57:39

@JSchnee21 

 

Hi Jonathan! Thank you so much for this very complete answer to my questions. I totally agree with you that I should first order the EAP225 because the price difference with the EAP245 don't worth it and also because of the unclear future support on the EAP245. One thing clear.

 

Now, I should have asked this question first, but how did a residential mesh product such as TP-Link Deco M5 compares to the Omada business line? At the first glance, the residential Deco M5 (2 PK kit) is roughly 30$ more expensive than 2x EAP225. They also appears to have the sames wireless specifications (speed) and the M5 don't have a dedicated backhaul channel for mesh like the Omada line. Only the Deco M9 series appears to have a dedicated backhauld channel but it's A LOT more expensive than Omada or Deco M5 serie. So did the M5 serie could be a better option for any reason that the Omada EAP225 system?

 

Another thing that is perfectly clear. In my residential application, I can't really install EAP225 roof mounted, they will probably end flat on a table or something like that. When you look at the install manual, the EAP225 are clearly designed to be roof mounted, while the Deco M5 residential serie are intended to be sitting flat on a table. Is there any physical difference that can explain this difference in the installation recommandation or did the EAP225 will work just fine sitting flat on a table? 

 

And finally, regarding the mesh -vs- wired connection for the 2nd AP, I have some coax cable on the 2nd floor, however MOCA adapters are way too expensive for my budget, so the question remain... is it better to install my 2nd AP wired on the 1st floor or to use wireless mesh on the 2nd floor?

 

Thank you again!

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Re:EAP245 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-21 13:22:31

Hi @SimonC.,

 

My appologies as I don't have any experience with the Deco product line and I've only been reading the Businesss Wifi boards so I don't see folks comments on this product line.  I don't know which chipset, amplifier, antennas the Deco line uses vs. the EAP's.  I've seen/read a few reviews on Amazon (for whatever that's worth) and the reviews for the Deco products don't seem to be nearly as good as the EAP line.  But, I also suspect that these products are purchased by two completely different user bases, with different skills and expectations.

 

But I can say that the EAP's are a very solid and highly performant product.  The wireless MESH capability of the 225 series is a relatively new feature, but from all of the firmware updates and user comments I've seen it seems like they are pushing it hard and there is a lot of user interest.  There are a number of case studies on the TP-Link Business Community website as well (https://community.tp-link.com/en/business)

 

For years I had my second EAP (on the 2nd floor) sitting on my bedroom beureau facing up as well and it was fine. I've only recently moved it since beeing stuck at home for 6 weeks given the recent Covid19 pandemic.  I can definately see an improvement once moving it to the ceiling, but it wasn't earth shattering.  This is because of the design of the antennas and their effective radiation pattern.  Unlike other vendors, TP-Link tends to keep their radiation patterns a bit more under wraps.  Most other vendors put them on their spec sheets.

 

From what I have seen both products (EAP and DECO, in fact most Wifi products these days) have a generally "spherical" or "omnidirectiona" radiation pattern.  But this can vary between being ball shaped vs. bering more flattened into a elliptical or donut type shape. The antenna array on the EAP series is designed to radiate "down" (or up) and out.  So if you are on the same plane as the device (ie laptop on table 3 feet high, EAP on table 3 feet high, but say 10 feet away) the signal intensity (and receive sensitivity) won't be as strong as it would have been if the EAP was above (facing down) or below (facing up) the plane of the laptop.  But it will still work fine.

 

I would suspect that the Deco series antennas are designed to radiate more "sideways" because of their table top design, but I've never see pictures of the internals or the it's radiation pattern.

 

As an IT professional (as I am) I think you will be much more pleased with the combination of the EAP and OC-200.  You really get a lot for your money and the reliability, performance, and value are very good.  Plus there are lots of bits to fiddle with if you're so inclined.

 

MESH wise, I would expect the 225's to be every bit as performant (if not more so) than the lower end Deco series.  Also, FYI, while I love the OC-200.  If you're looking to save some funds you can download the software version of it for free and run it on a spare PC/linux box, docker container, some have even gotten it running on Raspberry Pi.

 

All the best,

Jonathan

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Re:EAP245 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-21 14:00:00 - last edited 2020-04-21 15:41:15

@JSchnee21 

 

Thanks again for these clarifications! One last option to mount/connect the 2nd AP would be in my staircase going from the basement to the 1st floor. I have ethernet wires running into the wall I can catch and connect to the 2nd AP that I can roof mount in the staircase roof. So the 2nd AP would be more or less at the level of the 1st floor ceiling but inside the staircase and it will not perfectly bee flat mounted to the ceiling as it's a stairway so the roof is 45 degrees inclined. Did a 45 degree inclined ceiling mount would be a problem for any reason? And if this 2nd EAP225 is ceiling mounted on the 1st floor, what will be the signal on the 2nd floor? Did the signal of the EAP225 will only face down to the 1st floor in this case? Nothing is better than a image... LOL

 

 

So in conclusion since I have no wired option to the 2nd floor, my 2 options are :

1. Ceiling mount the 2nd AP on the 1st floor staircase (45 degree, ethernet wired)

2. Ceiling mount the 2nd AP on the 2nd floor but using wireless mesh

 

ONE LAST THING... and what about a SINGLE EAP225 ceiling mounted in 1st floor staircase (like on the photo), because in reality, the 1st AP in the IT room will be located only like 15 feets away from the 2nd AP... so I am not sure how well they will "load balance" between the two............

 

As for the OC-200, in my corporate environment I put one a well, but at home I have 2 mini-PC that are online 24/7 for administrative tasks where I can install the Omada software controller 

 

 

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Re:EAP245 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-22 00:33:33 - last edited 2020-04-22 00:38:15

@SimonC.

 

245's have two versions ther original EAP-245 and the newer EAP-245 v3. The newer model has many more positive reviwes compared to the older model. And the newer model is on sale at Amazon for CAD 89 at the moment.

 

From what I read, you do not have any ethernet cables running up to the 2nd floor correct? My question to you would be, how hard would it be for you run a cable upstairs? If it is not that hard, i would go for that option as you can piggy back off the AP on the 1st floor (EAP-245 v3 has a 2nd ethernet port).

 

Alternatively, you could do what I did wink and do a janky setup using cable clips. I ran my wire close to the upper edges of the ceiling/walls and used these clips. If you wire has a similar colour to your paint it's barely noticable.

 

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Re:EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-24 13:40:13

@SimonC. 

 

Hi folks. I finally ordered 2x EAP225-v3 from Amazon Canada tuesday and received them 2 days later as per yesterday. I immediately installed them and I finally decided to made the test of using mesh function and install my 2nd AP on my 2nd floor (I temporarely put it on a cofee table, but plan to ceiling mount it later).

 

I temporarely monted my 1st (wired) AP into my basement in my IT/electrical room on the ceiling, however I plan to move it in a more center position (ceiling) later in my basement livingroom as my basement ceiling is a suspended ceiling, so I can run cable anywere I want and move the AP easily.

 

BTW, I had some issues making the mesh function to work out of the box. I followed the instruction to "adopt" AP wirelessly but it fails all the times. I finally found that the appropriate way to do it is to adopt the 2nd AP on the wired network first, give it a convenient name, perform any pending firmware update and then click on "Forget AP" and then reboot it, disconnect network and THEN, make the wireless adopting as mesh network and BAM! It worked.

 

My only last question/concern is while everything is working perfectly fine sor far, when I go into the advanced mesh settings from my Omada controller, I notice that the uplink between my wired AP (root AP) and my mesh AP (2nd floor) is actually -64db, which considered as per IT best practice as "very good" signal (higher than -67 dB) but still very far from "perfect/maximum" signal (-30 dB). So what do you think about that? My house is all wood floors and both APs are located in a pretty straight vertical line from basement ceiling to 2nd floor AP with an overall 18 feet distance between both. Do you think I should do something to improve my uplink signal or leave it like that?

 

I am not sure what my options to improve uplink signal would be, maybe to purchase a 3rd EAP225-v3 and install it on 1st floor (wired) and make it root-AP for the mesh network? I am just worried that 3 AP becomes a bit of too much signal as the 3 APs will be located in a straight line with only 8 feet (and wood floor) between them???

 

Thank you for you help on that!

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Re:EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-24 15:30:35 - last edited 2020-04-24 15:32:30

Hi @SimonC,

 

Indeed, and therein lies the folly that is wireless MESH.  Queue the flames (-:

 

Seriously though, not all is lost.  There are a number of reasons / ways in which a wireless AP acting as a client (aka STA) in a MESH configuration can still outperform / assist a mobile STA.

 

The wirelessly MESHed AP:

 

1) Usually has larger / higher gain antennas -- translating into better receive sensitivity and much higher transmit power than the mobile STA

2) Usually has a better Wifi chipset, amplifiers, etc. than the mobile STA which should translate into better SNR and higher connection and data rates given the same signal levels

3) Some wireless MESH solutions (not the EAP225's) support additional transmit and receive chains (e.g. 3x3, 4x4) additional radios (e.g. 2x 5.8GHz radios) and/or additional frequency support (e.g. DFS) which can mean higher backhaul throughputs than might be possible between the AP and the mobile STA.

4) MESH AP's are stationary.  It's much easier to establish and maintain high link and throughput rates when the MIMO / stream diversity signals are not moving with respect to one another.  With a hand held device, the signal paths and attentuation factors (like your body, walls, etc.) are always changing/moving this translated into constantly changing link rates.

 

But despite all of this.  Hardwired (Ethernet) is always better than MESH, and even many non-traditional "hardwire" bridges (e.g. MOCA, maybe powerline (though many of these underperform)) are usually better than MESH as well.  I use MOCA for one of my EAP225's rather than MESH and I get the same throughput as I would as if it were Ethernet connected (~300-500Mbit/sec).  (MOCA 2.0 Bonded).  But this adds cost and complexity to my solution (which I'm willing to accept).  But for most home users they want an all in one solution that is simple to setup and which "manages itself."

 

Wireless MESH is easy.  No muss no fuss, nothing else to buy or maintain.  Easy to deploy, no wiriing.  And for most home users, WiFi 5 (and certainly WiFi 6) supply sufficient additional bandwidth in excess of what your ISP offers that the rate limited factors are generally:

 

1) Mobile STA transmit power back to the AP (not the AP transmit power to the STA)

2) Broadband connection speeds overall

 

So having multiple distrubuted AP's throughout the house is really about ensuring that the mobile STA's transmissions get heard reliably and quickly (without re-transmission) and then repeated/transmitted back to the master node which is connected to your router/ISP.

 

What will be really exciting, IMHO, is when Wifi 6 and 6E come into their stride in a year or two.  The 6E spectrum opens up a whole new band of possibility for enhanced wireless backhaul.  Less RF interefernce (for the first few years at least), wider channels, separate radio from the client facing radios, etc.  Ethernet will always be the best, but a MESH system with 6E backhaul could be a very close second.

 

-Jonathan

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Re:EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-24 22:49:47 - last edited 2020-04-24 22:54:57

 

SimonC. wrote

BTW, I had some issues making the mesh function to work out of the box. I followed the instruction to "adopt" AP wirelessly but it fails all the times. I finally found that the appropriate way to do it is to adopt the 2nd AP on the wired network first, give it a convenient name, perform any pending firmware update and then click on "Forget AP" and then reboot it, disconnect network and THEN, make the wireless adopting as mesh network and BAM! It worked.

 

The trick is to link the mesh node with the uplink node when the mesh node changed to »Isolated« state after an unsuccessfull adopt:

 

 

If it doesn't work for any reason, you can pre-set the EAP by configuring it over a wired connection to the controller as you wrote. But you do not need to »Forget« the EAP. Just disconnect it and reboot the EAP, it will come up as »Connected« after some time, no re-adoption necessary. But for me wireless adoption works flawlessly if no Mgmt VLAN is defined.

 

I am not sure what my options to improve uplink signal would be, maybe to purchase a 3rd EAP225-v3 and install it on 1st floor (wired) and make it root-AP for the mesh network? I am just worried that 3 AP becomes a bit of too much signal as the 3 APs will be located in a straight line with only 8 feet (and wood floor) between them???

 

Definitly no good idea to use three EAPs on such a small area! If you use mesh, both EAPs and the root mesh node will use the same 5 GHz channel (required for the mesh). This increases interference and creates the »Hidden Node Problem« for 5 GHz client connections to one of the two mesh nodes.

 

Usually it's recommended to trim down signal power if distance between two neighbored EAPs < 15m (45 ft?).

 

For perfect maximum RSSI of -30dBm you need an almost free line of sight. -64dBm is pretty good given the obstacles between the EAPs.

 

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Re:EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-29 12:33:47 - last edited 2020-04-29 12:42:16

Hey folks! Few days gone by after installing my 2x EAP225-v3 AP and I am experiencing not a poor signal performance, but let say a dissapointing signal performance. As you remember my house have a small footpring and it's built upright instead. My root (wired) AP that is ceilign mounted in the basement give me some dissapointing signal. You remember the square floorplan of my house is only 27x27 feet and the AP is pretty much in center position. However both of my iPhone 8 Plus and also my Google Home Mini (v1) that are located right in a corner of the basement in the moment (the GH-Mini is stationnary and my iPhone 8+ is mobile as well) and both are actually having -68 dB signal which is overall pretty poor when you consider that they are no more than 10 feet away from the EAP225 and only a wood wall between each other (standard residential wall 2x4 wood studs with 1/2 inch drywall each side). Yesterday my Google Home Mini even drop signal completely at some point durig music playback on Spotify... Considering my very narrow house, I would surely not expect that much low signal.

 

I am experiencing pretty much the same behavior with my 2nd EAP225-v3 on the 2nd floor (mesh). The mesh itself is pretty solid, however the peripheral all around the AP experience pretty disapointing signal. For example my daughter iPad 10.2-in 2019 which is located like 8 feet away, straight line, from the AP signal is only -75 dB!! Only a drywall wall to cross again.

 

Obviously this is all on the 5 Ghz band, I see no real issue with the 2.4 Ghz band as all of my IotT devices are 2.4 Ghz only.

 

Maybe I did something wrong by enabling some advanced features in the Omada Controller like "band steering" and "fast roaming"?

 

Any suggestions?

 

 

 

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Re:EAP225 deployed in mesh (residential application) advices/recommendations
2020-04-29 13:01:23 - last edited 2020-04-29 13:13:14

@SimonC.,

 

what you see as RSSI is the signal strength of the client device, not the signal strength of an EAP. There is not much you can do on the EAP to improve a client's signal strength except changing the location of either the EAP or the client device.

 

iPhones are known to have a weaker signal strength than other smartphones (I love Apple products very much and have many of them since more than 20 years, but I would never buy an iPhone for private use, albeit I have several iPhones in the lab for tests of our WiFi hotspots).

 

However, -68 dBm for the 5 GHz band is not that bad if there are several obstacles in between and the noise level is far below this RSSI value (5 GHz is more attenuated by obstacles than 2.4 GHz). What matters is signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), not the absolute value of RSSI.

 

Thus, much more important is SNR or – if you can't determine the SNR at your location - the following checks: can you use the wireless link for communication? Is the link stable? Can you achieve a reasonable goodput?

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