After having been in the Tiny House for a bit there is one thing that still isn’t up to par….the WiFi….wow it sucks. Initially we’d thought it was because the park’s WiFi hadn’t been upgraded yet. Once it had we lost that as our reason to blame for our WiFi not working right. We know that a RV park’s WiFi will never be as fast as one that you’d have in a typical home for several reasons: lots of people streaming media in a small area over long distances with a limited amount of bandwidth. However, it should at least be possible to stream Netflix from time to time. Unfortunately in our current set up…this isn’t possible.
The more I researched and thought about it….the more I realized that the commercial grade WiFi in the park just wasn’t up to the task of going long distances and THEN penetrating a thicker wall like what we have in the tiny house vs a camper wall. I needed a range extender. I’m a technical guy (I work at a tech company) but even so there are so many options/difficulties in what I wanted/needed.
I knew it would need to grab the park’s WiFi (which requires you to reset a password about once a week) then I wanted to rebroadcast that signal to devices within my house. Not horribly difficult but also easy to get wrong and I didn’t want to buy multiple devices while trying to figure it out. I figured that others in other parks would have had this same issue at some point and stumbled across this amazing link. Outside Our Bubble is the blog and wow they have some great content…so make sure to check them out. In this link they cover all the in’s and outs of how to set up this system.
The only real issue I’ve had with the initial set up is that in our experience in our park our signal completely stops about 2-3 times/day. Initially we’d reset the router (unplug and plug it back in) and viola…we were back in business. But that whole maneuver is a pain. Then I found a setting within the router portal that would enable you to have it automatically reset itself if it detected the signal dropping. Unfortunately signal dropping 2-3 times/day still isn’t ideal and the auto reset still takes a bit to kick in.
What I found in my research was that this is usually caused if the transmission/receiving broadcast strength from a repeater like mine is set to high…it causes an imbalance. In fact…right from the router’s own help pages here:
The high transmit power (TX power) of UniFi APs is great for single-AP installations, but can be problematic in enterprise/multi-AP deployments. The high TX power will extend the range for slower TX rates only, as faster rates are transmitted at a lower TX power, which is normal for ALL APs and devices. This eats up air-time for faster rates in multi-AP deployments, slowing down the entire network and potentially causing packet loss.
High TX power also causes an imbalance in the WiFi link budget between the mobile client and the UAP, because most mobile clients have a TX power between 14 and 18 dBm (and a hand around the antenna, etc.!). Mobile clients will stay connected (and show full WiFi bars) to an AP with a strong signal from the AP to the mobile client, even if the signal from the mobile client to the AP is not sufficiently strong.
Lowering the TX power on the UAPs to 18 dBm or so will establish a more symmetrical link-budget for most devices and deployments. This can easily be done in the controller UI.
That last bit there is the important bit. As soon as I did it it mostly fixed the problem. Now my router only restarts about once every couple of days. I might play with some other items in that link above…but for the most part I’m good with the balance right here. Below are some pix of the outside set up but really…check out the first link above to Outside our Bubble as their walkthrough is far more detailed than I’ll go into.