Why do I need a dual-band router?

Dual-band routers are all but standard nowadays (Tri-band routers even exist now), but many people don’t stop to think “why is a dual-band router is worth having?”

Some history

The FCC (and most communications authorities worldwide) have set aside certain frequencies for local area high speed wireless transmissions, aka Wi-Fi. These frequencies are 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

The original Wi-Fi standards released in 1999 – 802.11b and 802.11a (now also known as Wi-Fi version 1 and Wi-Fi version 2) only operated on single bands. 802.11b operated at 2.4GHz and 802.11a operated at 5GHz

As technology matured and Wi-Fi become more prevalent, it become obvious that using additional frequency bands was an effective way to provide additional bandwidth, support additional devices, and reduce interference.

Starting with the 802.11n (Wi-Fi version 4) standard released in 2009, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands were included in the standard, paving the way for the first dual-band routers to be produced.

radio channel frequency

Benefits of dual-bands

Prior to the ratification of 802.11n, we had two standards (802.11b and 802.11g) using the 2.4GHz spectrum, and one standard (802.11a) using the 5GHz spectrum.

802.11b/g ended up being much more popular and widespread, likely due to the fact that it was cheaper. As a result, the 2.4GHz spectrum was much more crowded.

Compounding the issue, the following non-WiFi devices also operate (or create interference) in the 2.4GHz spectrum:

  • Microwave Ovens
  • Wireless Microphones
  • Bluetooth
  • Car Alarms
  • Baby Monitors
  • Garage Door Openers

This resulted in the 2.4GHz band being really crowded. Having the ability to use the 5GHz band with the newer 802.11n and 802.11ac standards really alleviates this congestion issue.

wifi logo

Differences between 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Aside from the obvious difference (Look, different numbers!), there are some technical differences between the two spectrums.

Range

The first difference, is range. Lower frequencies can penetrate objects better than higher frequencies, so the 2.4GHz spectrum generally results in better range than 5GHz. The difference, although noticeable, is not huge.

Speed

5GHz can generally transmit data faster (better modulation schemes) than 2.4GHz.

Number of channels, channel width

2.4GHz only has 11 channels in North America, only 3 of which are non-overlapping. Non-overlapping basically means they are channels don’t have as much interference from nearby networks, assuming everyone is playing by the same rules.

5GHz has 23 channels in North America, and all of them are non-overlapping. This makes it much easier to avoid interference in dense environments. Less interference = better speed and reliability.

Bringing it all together

So what exactly is a dual-band router?

A dual-band router is a device that is equipped with two radios operating simultaneously – one that operates at 2.4GHz, and another that operates at 5GHz.

Devices connecting to the router will then have the choice of which band to use. Some devices only have a 2.4GHz radio equipped and thus will have to connect via 2.4GHz, while others can use either band and will generally choose the 5GHz band due to the fact that it is less crowded and has more clear channels.

The main point is this: offloading some devices onto the 2.4GHz spectrum and others onto the 5GHz spectrum increases the performance for everyone.

Make sure your next router or access point is dual-band!

Best WiFi Booster for RV

rv plus antenna

 

Camping in an RV is a great way to relax, vacation, and see the countryside. Let’s be honest though – most of us want to stay connected to the outside world, even while we are camping.

After all, people buy or rent RV’s because they want to enjoy some of the comforts of home while they camp. Those that aren’t interested in having creature comforts usually opt for backpacking and tent camping instead.

While many RV parks, campgrounds, and marinas offer Wi-Fi to their customers, accessing this service from your RV can sometimes be a challenge. Many times, the Wi-Fi facilities may be sub-par – perhaps the campground only uses a single wireless router and doesn’t have any outdoor access points deployed.

Maybe your campsite is just too far from the office or clubhouse. Or, perhaps the campground didn’t intend for Wi-Fi to be accessed from the campsites and their only goal was to cover the general areas around the clubhouse, pool, picnic areas, etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to utilize campground Wi-fi reliably from the comfort of your RV? We think so to. Interested? Read on.

Alternative means of accessing the Internet

There are, of course, other alternatives to relying on campground Wi-Fi – with the main one being mobile 3G/4G cellular data. This, however, is not always reliable, and can also be quite expensive – since you can quickly burn through your mobile data allocation.

Satellite Internet is another possibility, however it can also be slow and expensive, and usually requires an annual contract.

Fixed Wireless through a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) is a good option, except for the fact that most RV’ers are moving between campgrounds regularly and thus setting up a permanent fixed wireless solution isn’t really an option. If you tend to stay in one place most of the time in your RV, I’d definitely recommend checking out WISPs in your area.

Other alternatives such as dial-up, T1, Cable/DSL, etc are not really an option due to the permanent nature of their installation and the fact that they are not designed for mobility.

Using campground Wi-Fi is still one of the best bets for most people. Luckily, there are improvements that can be made to your RV to increase the accessibility, reliability, range, and performance of these wireless networks.

Different ways to increase nearby Wi-Fi signals

rv with antenna

There are two parts to the process of increasing the usability of nearby wireless signals:

  1. Access the nearby signal using a high gain omni or directional antenna located on a high point of your RV such as attached to a window or on the roof
  2. Make this signal available for use inside the comfort of your RV

Utilizing products currently on the market, there are two main ways to accomplish this:

  • Access the external signal directly with your laptop by use of a remote antenna
  • Access the external signal and re-broadcast it inside your RV by means of a booster, repeater, or range extender

Each of these methods involve different twists on the same basic idea – position a high gain omni or directional antenna in a place to optimally receive and transmit data to the campground Wi-Fi network, and then make that signal usable inside your RV.

Differences between Remote Antennas and Boosters/Repeaters/Range Extenders

Remote Antennas

Using a remote antenna is the cheaper option, because it is less complex – one end (the antenna) goes in an elevated area, preferably with line of site to the Wi-Fi source. The other end connects directly to your laptop via USB.

The antenna can be placed on the roof or attached to a window inside of your RV.

The advantage of this solution is simplicity and price. With the remote antenna plugged in, your laptop simply has better access to the wireless signal than it would on it’s own.

The remote antenna includes it’s own wireless adapter in addition to the antenna, but it’s integrated into one device – simply plug in the USB cable into your laptop and you are ready to go. There are no additional devices to configure or power.

Installation is also simpler in some cases – many remote antennas are designed to attach to a window versus permanently drilling a hole in the roof of your RV and mounting an antenna externally.

The disadvantage is that it will not work on tablets or smartphones, it cannot be shared with multiple devices inside the RV, and it’s user will remain tethered to the antenna cable.

Side Note: In some cases you CAN share the internet connection through the laptop with other laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the RV. This depends on several factors, including the type of computer and operating system. Check here for more info.

Best Wi-Fi adapter Remote Antenna for RV

We like the Alfa Network antenna:

2000mW 2W 802.11 G/N High-Gain USB Wireless Long-Rang WiFi Network Adapter With Original Alfa Screw On Swivel 9dBi Rubber Antenna and Suction cup Window Mount dock
  • 802.11 b /g and "N", 2000mW of power which is more powerful than ANY other WiFi adapter on the market
  • Includes a 4 inch 5 DdBi Screw-On Swivel Rubber Antenna that can be removed and upgrade up to the include 9dBi antenna
  • Very Secure with wireless data encryption with 64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP,and AES and is Compatible with IEEE 802.11n, 802.11b/g/n wireless standards
  • Supports driver for Windows 2000, XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Windows 7, Linux (2.4.x/2.6.x),and Mac (10.4.x/10.5.x)
  • The Mount designed for easy clinging on Notebook, Netbook and Window.

Boosters/Repeaters/Range Extenders

travel trailer

Boosters, Repeaters, and Range Extenders do exactly what their name implies – they boost/amplify incoming and outgoing signals. An antenna on the roof of your RV is connected to a cable that is ran inside of your RV and connected to a router and an omni-directional antenna located inside. The original, boosted signal is then ready for use inside your RV where your laptop, tablet, or phone will be readily able to connect to it with a stable signal.

Think of it as plugging in your own wireless router between the campground Wi-Fi and your computer. You get a strong signal from the source connection and maintain mobility of Wi-Fi  access inside the RV.

In this scenario, the signal is actually being re-broadcast – you will have your own wireless network name (SSID) and password (to keep other campers off your network). This method provides additional security, since your devices will be located behind an additional router/firewall from the rest of the campground network – but this benefit also comes with the drawback that it is more complex (your traffic will pass through one additional routed “hop” on it’s way to/from the Internet).

The other main benefit of this solution is that you can share the connection with multiple devices such as other laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Installation is also more complex, however.

If you are looking for a long-term solution, we generally recommend using a booster/repeater/range extender over a remote antenna as it will generally give better results.

Best WiFi repeater for RV

We like the Halo Wi-Fi Extender System:

Halo Long Range Marine & RV Wi-Fi Extender System
  • Get marina or RV Wi-Fi service from farther away than with your mobile device alone
  • Wi-Fi connect multiple cell phones, tablets or computers on your boat or RV at the same time
  • Marine-ready stainless steel connector for 14 TPI 1" wide mounts; includes 10M cable
  • Durable marine grade materials withstand harsh conditions at sea or extended outdoor RV use

Best WiFi range extender for RV – runner up

If the Halo isn’t a good fit for you, we also like the Alfa Wi-Fi Camp Pro:

Alfa WiFi Camp Pro long range WiFi repeater kit R36/Tube-(U)N/AOA-2409-TF-Antenna
  • FREE HD CHANNELS: antess HDTV antenna lets you save cable fee without giving up your favorite HD channels! Antech Picks up all over-the-air programming in your area, free FULL HD Channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, PBC, Fox and SO MUCH MORE. With amplified tv antenna start to access all of the news, sitcoms, kids and sports programs!
  • 4K HD TV CRYSTAL TELEVISION & HD SOUND QUALITY : The smart tv digital antenna adopt 2019 newest signal amplifying booster technology to picks up signals within 60-120 miles range, filters out cellular and FM signals, resulting in clearer picture, high voice quality, low noise and access to more free broadcast TV signals with enhanced gain, range and frequency performance.
  • 60-120 MILES RANGE : The indoor HDTV antenna can reach up to 60-120 miles and can be placed almost anywhere in your Home. 360° design pulls in signal from all directions. If a signal cannot be received with the amplifier, remove the antenna amplifier and try again. You can flexible to position for the optimal signal reception, especially for a TV sits distant from the window.
  • EASY SETUP : Connect one end of a coaxial cable to the antenna and the other end to your TV. Scan existing channels using your remote control.Try several locations to find the best reception and remember to scan for channels in each location.Enjoy all your favorite local programs and shows in full HD 1080.
  • WORRY FREE GUARANTEE : We work hard to create the best TV Antenn on the market which is why we're confident in offering a worry free guarantee for satisfaction. 100% moneyback guarateed quality.

Regardless of which option you choose – a range extender versus an antenna, you will definitely notice a large improvement compared to simply using a laptop or tablet to connect directly to campground Wi-Fi – the antenna in those types of devices is simply not designed for the range needed in this situation.

Now get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

Best router for 200Mbps Internet

For people with a 200Mbps connection to the internet, congratulations. That is a pretty fast connection. It is definitely not the quickest, with services from some cable and fiber to the home based providers clocking in at 1Gig or 2Gig service, but it is also much quicker than the 2017 national average broadband rate of 18.75Mbps.

For most people, 200Mbps is plenty of bandwidth, even for large households. However, you’ll want to make sure you select the right router to go along with your new service to ensure that your router doesn’t hold you back and thus prevent you from geting the speeds you are paying for.

What to look for

Here is a short checklist of features you should look for for use with your 200Mbps Internet. The RT-AC68U supports all of them.

  • Stable Operation
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 802.11AC Wi-Fi Support
  • Dual-core CPU or better
  • Monitoring capabilities (optional, but nice to have!)
Our Pick
Asus AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Router with MU-Mimo, Aimesh for Mesh WIFI System, Aiprotection Network Security Powered by Trend Micro, Adaptive Qos and Parental Control (RT-AC68U),Black
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AD
802.11AC
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
1.7GHz Quad Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
AD7200
AC1750
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-
Our Pick
Asus AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Router with MU-Mimo, Aimesh for Mesh WIFI System, Aiprotection Network Security Powered by Trend Micro, Adaptive Qos and Parental Control (RT-AC68U),Black
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AD
CPU
1.7GHz Quad Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AD7200
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1750
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-

Our Pick

Our recommendation for a router for 200Mbps Internet service is:

ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U
  • Dual band with the latest 802; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data; Network standard: IEEE 802; 11a, IEEE 802; 11B, IEEE 802; 11G, IEEE 802; 11N, IEEE 802; 11AC, IPv4, IPv6
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web based interface; Dual band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS router app
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides multi stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data; Please refer the installation manual and the user manual before use which is highly essential; Dc output: 19 Volt with maximum 1; 75 a current; Guest network: 2; 4 GigaHertz x 3, 5 GigaHertz x 3

What we like about the ASUS RT-AC68U

Asus AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Router with MU-Mimo, Aimesh for Mesh WIFI System, Aiprotection Network Security Powered by Trend Micro, Adaptive Qos and Parental Control (RT-AC68U),Black

The RT-AC68U has proven itself as a flagship router that can route packets at line rate (1000Mbps) without issue. This router will easily work if you end up upgrading to a Gigabit service in the future. This is good for people that like to make future-proof electronics purchases.

It is also a very stable router – It doesn’t need to be rebooted all the time, like some routers.

We also like the monitoring capabilities that can be accessed  from the ASUS app on your smartphone. You can use the app to see what is going on on your network and who/what is using bandwidth.

Finally, we like that the router supports the ASUS AirMesh feature, which allows you to connect multiple ASUS routers to your network in order to increase Wi-Fi coverage in your home. This is helpful for people with large homes or people that have issues with dead spots in their home.

Think twice before you use that old router

Make especially sure that you get a router with Gigabit Ethernet ports. Many of the older Wireless-N (802.11N) and Wireless-G (802.11B/G) routers are only equipped with 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports.

This means that the WAN port on the router can’t pass data any faster than 100Mbps. This would mean that you could only get half of the speed you are paying for if you end up using one of these routers with your 200Mbps service!

Many people think that they can just re-use an old router and it will work fine. That may be true, but in the current environment, broadband speeds are exploding.

No one used to show any concern about using a router limited at 100Mbps because broadband speeds were only in the 25-50Mbps range. Now that broadband speeds are quickly surpassing 100Mbps, you need to pay special attention to the maximum speed of the equipment on your local network, since it could quickly become the bottleneck instead of your internet connection.

This rule also applies to other devices on your local network. If you are using switches to distribute wired Ethernet to other parts of your home or to simply expand beyond the 4 wired ports provided by your router, you need to make sure that those switches also have Gigabit support.

Otherwise, you will max out at 100Mbps on any devices that connect through them.

What is the best Router for Google Fiber?

linksys gaming routerThe need for speed

If you are part of the small percentage of Americans that are lucky enough to live in a Google Fiber coverage area, you may be wondering, what is the best router to buy for use with your new Google Fiber service?

After all, if you are going to be getting an ultra high-speed direct fiber service to your home, you want to make sure that there are no bottlenecks in your internal network, right?

This is excellent thinking, and as a network professional, I had the same thoughts when considering Google Fiber.

Traditionally, we’ve been exposed to slow internet connections such as cable and DSL services. Typically, these services run at speeds of 25Mbps to 50Mbps, or maybe something closer to 100Mbps if you are lucky.

The speed of your internet service is limited by the slowest link in the chain. Traditionally, this was always your broadband internet connection, but that is changing.

Today, with Google Fiber and similar fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services, you can get up to 1000Mbps (1 Gig) service at your home. Suddenly, the slowest link in the chain can easily become a device on your internal network, such as your router.

Some people still run routers that max out at 100Mbps. They literally don’t support Gigabit. And many people don’t realize it.

Google Fiber includes a router

Here’s the rub for Google Fiber subscribers: Their service includes a Wi-Fi router whether they like it for not. So, some people may not wish to buy a router for their Google Fiber service. After all, you technically already have everything you need.

When Google Fiber is installed at your home, there are at least two pieces of equipment provided. A “Fiber Jack”, which is really just a micro ONT (Optical Network Terminal) which terminates the GPON signal coming from the OLT (Optical Line Terminal) port at the nearest hut, outside plant cabinet, or data center.

Your Fiber Jack then connects to a little black box which Google has affectionately dubbed a “Network Box” (who named these things?). The network box acts as your router, terminating the service and allowing you to share the connection throughout your house.

It also supports WiFi, has a firewall, allows basic port forwarding, etc. Many of the features of your average consumer-grade router are supported by the Network Box.

What’s the problem?what chat bubble

The problem, is that per Google, the Network Box is required. Unfortunately, you can’t just plug your shiny new Netgear/Linksys/TP-Link router into the Fiber Jack and get online. You must use the Network Box – which is why the selection of a new router may be unnecessary (your traffic still goes through the Network Box, regardless of what you plug in).

So, for some users, there is no real need to use a regular router with their Google Fiber service – the Network Box is enough.

What if I want to use an aftermarket router?

Google says that you can still plug your router into the Network Box and use it, and indeed you can. You can unbox your new aftermarket router and install it just as you would with any other type of broadband internet service from Comcast, Cox, Centurylink, etc.

We should note that installing a router behind the Network Box will create a scenario where all of your traffic is getting NAT’d twice. This means that your traffic is getting translated from one type of IP address to another, twice. Usually this is only done once, but most users won’t notice a difference with their traffic being double NAT’d.

What to look for in a router to use with Google Fiber

Since you are buying a service that is high-speed, low-latency, and highly reliable, we recommend that you don’t skimp if you decide to purchase an aftermarket router. Specifically, you want a router that supports a Gigabit WAN port, the newest WiFi standard (802.11AC), and has a dual-core or better processor.

The following routers are our picks for use with Google Fiber. Any of them will work well with the service, though some are pricier than others.

Great performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
-

But surely there is a way to bypass the Network Box?!

If you are a power user and feeling ambitious, there are supposedly ways to use Google Fiber’s service without a Network Box. This typically involves use of a Ubiquiti Edgerouter or setting up a PFSense box, and is completely unsupported by Google.

That information is beyond the scope of this article due to it’s advanced nature, so I’m not covering it here. But you should know that it is possible.

How to access my router from the Internet

How to access my router from the Internet

Have you ever been away from home and needed to access something on your home computer or router?

It sounds convenient, right?

It sure would be easier than driving/flying back to your home, or asking a friend or family member to go to your house to retrieve what you’re looking for.

Well, never fear. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up your router for accessing it remotely via the Internet.

Here’s how to access your router from the Internet:

  • Change your router’s Administrative password to a secure password (don’t leave it at default!)
  • Enable login capability to the router’s web interface from WAN (the Internet)
  • Enable Logging/Notifications (optional)
  • Determine your public IP address, or set up Dynamic DNS (preferred)
  • Test it (optional)
  • Log in!

If you aren’t very tech savvy, be sure to stick around until the end of the article where I discuss an alternate method that works just as well, but is easier to setup.

The need for remote access

There are many reasons someone would want to access their router from the Internet. Perhaps they need to change their Wi-Fi password for a roommate, set up remote access into their home network (called a VPN), or access files on a hard drive connected to their router.

Some people may not have a specific need to access their router from the Internet today, but they want to have the flexibility to do so in the future – since they know that they may well have the need at a later date.

Procedure:

Change your router’s admin password

A Wireless-N Access Point

Most routers have two different passwords – your WiFi password (which pretty much everyone is familiar with because they need to know it on a regular basis) and your admin password.

The admin password is what grants you access to the router’s management web interface, which is where you go to make changes to the router such as change/set IP addresses, change/set your WiFi network name (SSID), change/set your WiFi password, and much much more.

Most routers come out of the box with either a default password of something like ‘admin’ or ‘password’, which is very insecure. Some routers even have a blank admin password by default!

This isn’t a huge deal, because by default, the management interface is generally only accessible from a computer inside your network. However, we are about to enable access from the Internet, so you better believe it is important to change the password to something secure.

  1. Find the private IP of your router and enter it into a web browser. This is usually 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, 10.0.1.1, or something similar (depends on the brand of your router). See here for help in identifying your router’s private IP.
  2. Enter your admin username and password. If you didn’t change these when you originally installed the router, they are likely still at the defaults. The username is usually ‘admin’ or ‘administrator’ and the password is usually ‘admin’ or ‘password’ by default. Again, this totally differs depending on the router manufacturer and model. If you can’t find it, I recommend searching Google for “[router model] default password”.
  3. Once you are logged in, you need to find the password setting. Usually there will be a “General”, “Admin”, or “Administrator” area of the settings, so try looking there. You may be able to change the username in addition to changing the password. This is recommended as it will greatly increase security. Just make sure you record it somewhere – if you forget it, you will have to reset the router to defaults to get back in.

Enable login from WAN

While you are still logged in to the router’s management interface, let’s enable remote login capability:

Person using a laptop

Generally the setting will be called something like “Allow login from WAN” or “Allow login from Internet”, but it differs widely between routers. This setting will usually live in the Advanced Settings area of the management interface.

Again, if you can’t find it, try searching Google for “[router model] login from wan”.

Enable logging and notifications

This step is entirely optional and your router may or may not support this feature. While still logged in, look for “logging”, “notifications”, or a similar section. It will likely appear under the “Advanced Settings” area or the “Admin” area.

Enable any logging you desire. This will cause the router to log events, such as when someone logs in to the management interface. You may even be able to have the router email you a notification when someone logs in – again this varies wildly by model and manufacturer.

This type of information is helpful from a security standpoint – so you will know if someone else manages to log in to your router over the internet (which would be bad!).

Determine your public IP address

I say “public” IP address, because your router actually has two IP addresses, and we are looking for the public IP, not the private IP.

Your IP address is exactly that – an address. It’s like your mailing address on the Internet. Your IP address is used anytime you want to send data to, or receive data from the Internet.

Since you are wanting to access your router from the Internet, you will need to know what your IP address is.

There are a couple of ways to figure this out:

Look on your router

One way to find your public IP address, is to log in to your router and have it show you your public IP address.

Once logged in, look for a screen or tab labeled “Status”. Every router is a little bit different, so you may have to look around a bit.

The status page will usually show your router’s status, including the “WAN” or “Internet” IP address.

Ask a website

The other easy method for determining your public IP, is to query a website.

There are many “What is my IP address?” type websites out there that will examine the traffic that your computer sends to it when the page is loading, determine the IP address your traffic is originating from, and display that address for you.

Google will tell you if you simply run a search for “what is my ip”. IP Chicken will also tell you:

ipchicken screenshot

Write it down

Once you have obtained your public IP address, write it down somewhere or email it to yourself. You will need it later.

Your IP address may change

It is not uncommon for your IP address to change from time to time, or even daily. Most residential providers use DHCP instead of static addressing – this means they can change your public address allocation at any time.


Usually, this isn’t a big deal and most people don’t even notice that their IP has changed. However, when you are going to be accessing your router from the Internet, it is important to be aware that your address could change.

I’ve seen some ISP’s using DHCP and your IP address doesn’t change for months or even years. I’ve also seen some ISP’s change your address every day.

My current ISP is like this – my IP address changes every 24 hours like clockwork. Dynamic DNS is absolutely critical for me because of this.

Thus, if you are leaving for a trip and hoping to access your router from the road, it is best to record your public IP just before you leave the house to maximize your chances that that will still be the IP assigned to your router when you attempt login.

Just be aware that if your IP address changes between the time you recorded it and the time you attempt to login remotely, you will not be able to login.

Professional Router installed in a Data Rack

For this reason, it is suggested to set up Dynamic DNS (DDNS), which will update automatically when your IP address changes. Thus, you will connect to your router using a hostname like “andrewshouse.no-ip.com” instead an IP address such as 73.48.231.17.

The DDNS server will automatically update the IP address that “andrewshouse.no-ip.com” resolves to every time it changes.

DDNS is an advanced topic and is only recommended to dabble in if you are a bit of an advanced user or if you are at least feeling adventurous!

Test it

If you want to be sure that remote login will work once you are away from home, it is best to test it beforehand.

To test, you will need to access a secondary internet connection other than your regular home broadband connection. This could be a neighbor’s house, using your internet connection at work, etc.

You could also temporarily enable the hotspot on your smartphone and tether your computer to it.

Sticky note with "run a usability test" written on it

Once you are on a different Internet connection:

  1. Open a web browser and enter your router’s public IP address (or DDNS fully qualified domain name) in the address bar, then press the enter key.
  2. You should be presented with a login prompt. If you are not, try entering “http://” or “https://” before the address and press enter again. If it still doesn’t work, you may also need to append a colon and port number behind the address, such as “:8443”.
  3. Once prompted, enter your management credentials and log in!

Log in

You are now ready to log in remotely. Regardless of where you travel to, as long as you have an Internet connection, you should be able to log in.

Hopefully you already tested your ability to login as shown above. The procedure for logging in when you are actually away from home will be the same.

An easier way

If you are less techie and are simply looking for a solution that works, you may also want to research setting up remote access to a computer at your home via a service such as TeamViewer.

Teamviewer Windows App Screenshot

TeamViewer and similar services can be set up for free to access the computer in question over the internet.

The downside, is that the computer has to be left on and connected to your home network at all times in order to work.

The upside, is that it requires no special configuration on your router, and Dynamic DNS doesn’t need to be set up. Simply connect to the remote computer via the TeamViewer app on your smartphone, PC, or Mac, and TeamViewer takes care of the rest.

If you still needed to access your router, you could launch a web browser on the remote PC using TeamViewer, and then login to the router’s private IP address normally as if you were at home.

This solution is simpler, but also relies on TeamViewer to be working in order to function, so there are pros and cons for sure.

Regardless of which method you choose, Good luck!

Best Wireless Access Point for Home

One of the best  ways to improve your  Wi-Fi’s coverage, speed (throughput), and reliability, is to add a wireless access point (AP) to your home network.

What is a wireless access point anyway?

Simply put, a wireless access point is a device that connects to your wired network and makes your network available wirelessly. It consists of a network port and one or more Wi-Fi radios that are used to serve wireless devices.

Think of a wireless access point as having a second router in your home that can be used in order to extend the coverage of your wireless network. In fact, all wireless routers include an access point – it just happens to be built into the router, so it isn’t called an access point in that case.

A wireless router is like a swiss army knife – it performs several core functions within your network. Not only does it route traffic (thus the name “router”), it also acts as a firewall, a switch, an access point, a DHCP server, and sometimes a modem.

An access point only serves one purpose – to provide wireless connectivity to devices on your network. You can’t get online with just an access point – you need a router as well.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using an access point versus a wireless router?

hands typing on keyboard

Benefits

Using wireless access point(s) gives you the ability to distribute one or more AP’s throughout your home, which serves to increase the range and signal quality of your wireless network. This in turn makes your wireless network run faster and more reliably.

Speaking of reliability – as with many things in life, devices that are designed to accomplish just one task generally perform that task better than a device that is designed to accomplish many different tasks. This principle also applies to wireless routers versus an access point – the old adage “Jack of all trades and master of none” definitely applies here.

Since access points are designed only to efficiently and reliably connect wireless devices to the wired network, they generally do the job of serving wireless clients better than a router does.

Another benefit of access points is that they can be placed strategically – such as ceiling mounted or installed inside of a network jack gang box.

Drawbacks

Wireless access points are enterprise-grade networking equipment and are not generally marketed toward consumers. Thus, they usually require a bit more technical ability and knowledge of computer networking than a consumer-grade wireless router would.

Access points also require additional wiring work. This is both a pro and a con. Since the AP is usually placed in a strategic area to provide the best coverage, it usually requires running an Ethernet cable from the desired placement location back to wherever your router is.

This can be a lot of work, depending on the construction and layout of your home, and the proximity of the AP to your router. The amount of work also depends on how accessible of a crawlspace or attic your home has, whether or not you own or rent (which means you can’t drill into walls, floors, and ceilings), and the degree to which you wish to hide the wiring versus simply running it in plain sight along the baseboard or ceiling.

Another drawback of using a wireless access point, is price. Since using an AP also requires a router, you must buy an AP and a router, plus additional cabling. In some cases, you also need to buy a switch or firewall as well, depending on your needs and the capabilities of your current router.

The time required to run wiring (or pay labor costs to have someone else do it) should also be considered.

What is the best wireless access point for home?

Some of the best wireless AP’s on the market right now, are the UniFi product line from Ubiquiti. They are extremely popular, and for good reason – they strike an excellent balance of performance, features, ease of use, and reliability – all at an excellent price point. We recommend the UniFi AC LR (Long Range) and Lite models:

About Ubiquiti

Ubiquiti Networks has been around since 2005. They are well known among wireless internet service providers for making quality gear that is easy to manage.

They were originally known for making outdoor, long range fixed wireless equipment that allowed for high speed connections between buildings over long distances. Over time, their product lines have expanded and they have moved into other technologies of computer networking such as switches, routers, and access points.

 

The UniFi Solution

The Ubiquiti UniFi wireless solution consists of several different pieces of technology that can be put together in a customized fashion to build a very robust and feature-rich network solution. We are only reviewing their access points here, but we wanted to make our readers aware that there are several other add-on’s to the UniFi solution that will add features and visibility into your network if you wish to explore that.

The main components in the UniFi solution are the access points, the security gateway, the switches, and the controller (Cloud Key). Most components are optional – you can piece things together however you’d like, using only a single component (like an AP) if you like, or using them all together.

Access Points

The access points serve to connect wireless devices to the wired network and are the main topic of this article.

UniFi Security Gateway

The UniFi Security Gateway (USG) serves as a router and firewall. This is not your typical wireless router that you purchase at Amazon – it only performs a subset of the duties that a typical consumer-grade router does, which is just routing and firewall duties.

It also generally does a much better job of handling these duties than a typical wireless router, which is expected to handle everything. Is it any wonder that most people have to reboot their wireless router regularly?

UniFi Switch

UniFi Switches are Ethernet switches that expand the port capacity of your network and allow you to plug all of your wired devices into your network reliably and at high speed. They also serve as the connection point for the AP’s.

UniFi Controller

The UniFi Controller brings everything together. It is used to configure everything initially or to make changes down the road. It also provides a ton of reporting and security features.

The Controller can be ran on a computer or server in your home, or you can opt for the Cloud Key, which runs the controller software on a self-contained micro device that you simply plug into your network.

What is ‘Prosumer’ gear? A disclaimer:

wireless network layout

By now you are probably saying “OK hold on, this sounds complicated”. You are right.

We wanted to stop here and issue a disclaimer for anyone considering purchasing the UniFi solution.

The UniFi solution is considered “Prosumer Equipment”: it is professional-level equipment that is also suitable for savvy consumers.

This equipment is designed for professional use – it is intended to be used in enterprise environments, where the requirements for speed, security, and reliability are stricter than a residential environment. That’s what makes this equipment so desirable – it is professional grade.

There are, however, tons of people using UniFi gear in their homes. It works very well for home use… as long as you can manage installing it and getting everything up and running.

Anyone purchasing UniFi equipment should be somewhat savvy with computer networking. You should also be willing and prepared to Google for help, read forums, watch YouTube videos, and have some patience during the process. If this is you – we say go for it.

If this scares the daylights out of you – perhaps the UniFi solution isn’t for you. Or, perhaps you should consider hiring someone to install and configure it for you if it’s something you really want installed in your home.

It can, after all, be installed and configured very quickly by someone who knows what they’re doing.

Different types of AP’s

There are dozens of different UniFi AP’s SKU’s, however we are narrowing it down here to the UniFi AP AC line, which supports the newest 802.11AC wireless standard. We aren’t discussing any of the older Wireless B/G/N products here.

The four main types of UniFi AC access points are HD, Pro, LR, and Lite. You can explore more about these models here: https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ac/

Since we are looking for the best wireless access point for home, I won’t discuss the HD and Pro models here. Those models are generally geared at larger and more dense deployments than anyone would need in their home, such as a large office, church, or stadium.

The two models that the team here at Infravio recommends are the LR and Lite version. Dare I say, these models are slightly aimed at home users, even though they are enterprise-grade.

UniFi AP AC LRUniFi AC LR AP antenna

The LR model contains most of the features common to any of the AP’s in the UniFi AC line, however is is designed to go longer distances.

It contains an antenna design that allows it to reach further into the corners of your home and yard, all from a single AP. This antenna allows it to not only transmit data further distances, but it also allows for receipt of data from a longer distance – something that a simple high-powered AP can’t accomplish alone.

Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Long Range - Wireless Access Point - 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAP-AC-LR-US),White
  • Ubiquit Unifi AP AC Long range
  • The installer needs networking knowledge to get it to work properly so for people that can’t get it to work.

UniFi AP AC Lite

The Lite model also contains most of the features of the other UniFi AP’s, however it is smaller and more compact than the other models. It is also generally the lowest-priced option of the line, making it an excellent option for home users.

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi AP AC Lite, Dual-Band 24V passive PoE, UAP-AC-LITE (24V passive PoE Indoor, 2.4GHz/5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 1x 10/100/1000)
  • UAP-AC-LITE UniFi AP AC LITE 802.11ac Gigabit Dual-Radio PoE
  • The UniFi AC Lite AP features the latest Wi-Fi 802.11ac technology in a refined industrial design and is ideal for cost-effective deployment of high‑performance wireless networks.
  • Dual-Radio performance, gigabit speeds, the UniFi AC Lite AP delivers 5x the performance of the first-generation UniFi AP while still maintaining Ubiquiti disruptive pricing strategy.
  • Sleek, Ultra-Compact Design, uniFi AC Lite AP features a cleaner design in a reduced footprinthalf the size compared to the standard UniFi AP.
  • Scalable Enterprise Wi-Fi Management, UniFi Controller v4 software is a powerful, enterprise wireless software engine ideal for high-density client deployments requiring low latency and high uptime performance. With its software-based capabilities, the UniFi virtual control plane allows for unlimited scalability under one centralized controller. Remotely access the UniFi Controller to upgrade deployed UniFi APs while in the field.

Pros and Cons

Note: These apply to both the LR and Lite models unless otherwise noted, as they are very similar.

Pros:

  • Excellent coverage from a single access point (especially the LR model)
  • Wireless connections are reliable
  • Great price point
  • Plays nice with other UniFi AP’s (even if they are not the same model)
  • Powered over Ethernet for simplicity – no need to run separate power, just a single Ethernet cable

Cons:

  • Requires controller software (or Cloud Key) to setup initially – needs to be running regularly if you want to see data/reports or any time you wish to make changes
  • AP only – still requires a router to get online
  • Advanced setup requires some networking knowledge and persistance
  • Older UniFi AP units don’t support standard POE – make sure you get a newer one or use the included AC power brick
  • Ceiling mount can be difficult to install
  • Many people report difficultly getting good support from Ubiquiti

Performance all around

Both the LR and Lite versions bring speed and stability to your Wi-Fi network – something that I think most users are looking for. Additionally, they both support advanced features such as band steering and airtime fairness, which help ensure an enjoyable experience.

Your choice

Most people will be happy with the LR or Lite. It’s up to you to choose which one you prefer. If you are needing to cover a greater area, perhaps the LR model is the best choice. If you are more price sensitive and wanting something with a smaller footprint, perhaps you should consider the Lite model.

If you are needing to cover a really large area, you should consider installing multiple AP’s. That is one of the benefits of using AP’s instead of a single wireless router – you can grow your network over time, adding AP’s as your need for a larger coverage area increases.