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I need advice regarding Nest Wifi - multiple questions

TrisRaven
Community Member

Hello,

I'm researching Nest wifi in an effort to help My elderly dad who is having health issues. Let me start by saying a few things that can not and will not be changed.

1. He uses broadband DSL through his phone company AT&T and will not be changing that, so if that isn't going to be compatible, please lead with that because it's a deal breaker and I don't want to waste anybody's time. 

2. The house is about 2100 sq ft, and is an older home with brick walls, including one wall that has brick on the interior (in the great room) it's a single story, small rooms for the most part, but the 2 rooms we NEED to be connectable are at literal opposite ends from each other. The DSL modem is in one end, his bedroom the opposite end, and not in a straight line. I also want to connect my google home mini in the spare room (about midway through the house which I have a direct very long DSL cable line connecting to it and the mini works connecting from my bedroom to my PC, and possibly from the router to my bedroom to my PC (I genuinely have no clue how it works but it does.)  /  where I do work and sleep. So, I was *hoping* a router could go in next to the DSL router, and maybe an access point halfway through the house, my mini and hoping to get him (for his bedroom) either a mini or something that is loud enough for him to hear and can be used like I am able to use my mini and am hoping that we could accomplish this without *too big* of an expense, as we would likely also be buying a handful of smart plugs as well.

3. We are looking into nest wifi for the potential for him to use the google assistant features. He really likes my google home mini (which we would like to also connect to the nest wifi network) and so far this is the only tech he seems interested in learning because it is so simple to ask, what time it is, or turn on the lights, or what is the temperature, etc.) he really can't even text etc.

4. I would prefer to manage it through a website because it's much easier for me to see things on a larger screen than on the android cell phone so if that's possible I would prefer that, or both or just android only if I absolutely have to.

Here are my challenges / questions.  First, Will nest wifi even work with his DSL? Next, because of the brick walls and the rooms we need to connect, will the connection work or be spotty because I need it to be reliable. Once we tried a regular wifi extender and it did NOTHING to boost the wifi signal through the house at all. Next the reason we are looking into this is also in the hopes of being able to use the assistant devices as intercoms between rooms as he is not always mobile, depending on the day and how much pain or difficulty moving he is having. So I want him to be able to call me from further away if I am working on cleaning or things in rooms further away from him if he needs my help. I know that I could easily use a baby monitor for this because it is similar but he likes the mini features and he could feel a bit more independent if he does need help he can ask or if he can get the answers he wants from the assistant by just asking.. say to turn on his light, etc. If this is possible it could be a major game changer for him, BUT I am NOT willing to order all this expensive stuff only to get it, find out it doesn't or won't work for our house / situation and then have to ship it back and wait for a refund. We plan on buying through amazon because I am now his 24/7 caregiver so leaving the home for non urgently needed things is just not really possible right now. Also, I'm very tired so I apologize if I have been less than clear, or have made dumb typos.. I'm just running on fumes at the moment. Thank you in advance for any info you might be able to offer 🙂

1 Recommended Answer

MichaelP
Diamond Product Expert
Diamond Product Expert

Hello @TrisRaven 

Fiber is not a requirement for Google/Nest WiFi. I use my Google WiFi system on a Comcast/Xfinity coaxial cable connection, for example. It just needs a typical Ethernet connection to your internet equipment. Your existing router should provide that.

Yes, if you have an Ethernet cable already run from where the DSL modem/router is to your office, I would try to use that to feed a new WiFi solution rather than running a new cable. It sounds like the biggest issue is that brick wall, so getting your WiFi system started on the other side will be a big help, even if it isn't in the exact center of the home. Something like a Google WiFi or Nest WiFi unit in that location will have another Ethernet port on it that you can use to connect your computer to the internet. Technically, it will be on the "inner" network created by Google/Nest WiFi rather than the "outer" network created by your DSL modem+router, but that shouldn't be a problem for most people.

As for Google WiFi vs Nest WiFi, it is true that Nest WiFi is a bit newer. But it would be more difficult to describe one as being "better" than the other. They have some different capabilities, but also many similarities. Both support connecting secondary units as mesh extenders from a "primary" (router) unit – the one connected to your internet service via Ethernet. The Nest WiFi Router has a bit more advanced WiFi implementation than Google WiFi. But the Nest WiFi Point units are about the same on that score. All of the Google WiFi units are the same hardware as each other, so they all have Ethernet ports, and this is what enables them to be connected to each other via Ethernet instead of the wireless mesh. The Nest WiFi Router unit has two Ethernet ports, but the Nest WiFi Point units don't have any Ethernet ports at all. So, they have to be placed close enough to the primary to get a strong wireless mesh connection. They do have smart speaker functionality, though (but the Nest WiFi Router and Google WiFi do not). Whew. I know this is confusing (and getting even more confusing now that the newest "Nest WiFi Pro" product was just announced – it's conceptually more similar to Google WiFi than Nest WiFi despite the name!).

I think I would try to take a minimalist approach to improving things to start with. I would probably pick up a Google WiFi 3-pack and set it up with the primary connected to that Ethernet cable you already have run. Then, I'd set the other two up one or two rooms away from there in any direction. Don't try to build a "daisy chain" of them – that is going to be counterproductive. Then, I'd start testing how well the result works. Use a new WiFi name and put some devices on it. See how well they connect from various parts of the house. You just may find this is sufficient to get acceptable connectivity everywhere you need it, and a Nest Mini or two can be added where you want. Do keep the packaging and receipt in case you end up deciding it's not the right solution for you. You should be able to make that decision soon enough to take it back.

I wouldn't dig into running more Ethernet or connecting secondaries back to the primary via Ethernet to start with. It's possible that will end up being required, but I wouldn't spend money and effort on that until you can be sure it really will be necessary.

View Recommended Answer in original post

12 REPLIES 12

MichaelP
Diamond Product Expert
Diamond Product Expert

Hello @TrisRaven 

It sounds like you and your father are facing some significant challenges. I will try to advise as best I can. First, an existing DSL connection should not be an issue. Just about any WiFi solution should connect to it via an Ethernet cable and work fine. If it currently provides WiFi, it might be best to disable that once you have a better WiFi solution in place, but that isn't critical day one.

Second, having the modem at one end of the house is not ideal at all, and neither is dealing with interior brick (or other solid material) walls. WiFi is quite low power, and it has trouble penetrating materials. The more solid the material, the more trouble it will have. This results in a loss of range, especially at the higher 5GHz band (this is important when considering most mesh solutions like Google/Nest WiFi, since they use the 5GHz band to talk to each other). There may be a common solution to both issues, but it involves some work. Basically, at a minimum, I would get an Ethernet cable long enough to stretch from where the modem is at the end of the house to a more central location where you can place a new WiFi router (either a Nest WiFi Router or a Google WiFi router). Having this primary unit in the center of the home will be key to improving coverage, especially in a home with brick interior walls. Obviously, you don't want that cable running through doorways, etc., so that is where the work comes in. Running it through a basement or an attic will provide better results, but the point is to get that primary WiFi unit as close to the center of the home as possible.

Next, once you have a primary WiFi router closer to the center, you can think about where you might be able to place the secondary mesh units. Optimal placement advice for those is typically one or two rooms away from the primary. But, if brick interior walls are in there, you may find one room is the most you can get away with. From those locations, they should provide 2.4GHz and 5GHz coverage to more distant clients (but, again, brick walls are going to be a problem – at least for 2.4GHz, though, it will have a little better chance of getting through more walls, albeit at a lower speed). This may take some experimentation. You want to optimize WiFi coverage, so rather than thinking about where the best place to put the Nest WiFi Point unit for its smart speaker feature is, you want to put it where it will provide the best WiFi coverage and deploy Nest Mini speakers in the optimal locations for those features. This is sort of the minimum I would consider, and not too different from what I've done for my parents' house.

But, if you are willing to run a little more Ethernet, you can do better. Instead of looking at the Nest WiFi products, look at the Google WiFi products. They all have Ethernet ports, and that would let you build a bigger Ethernet network by running some more cables and including at least one inexpensive Ethernet "switch" to branch the network out from the primary in the middle of the house. Once that network is in place, you can connect other Google WiFi units to it as wired secondaries. This is particularly effective in something like a brick home since that means they no longer need to use the 5GHz WiFi mesh network to talk to the primary, which means you can place them further out and still get good coverage everywhere. This is definitely more work. But, you can start with the first step (one Ethernet cable run from the DSL modem to the center) and use Google WiFi secondaries connected via the wireless mesh network) and see how it goes before trying to improve things further.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this – good luck!

First, let me thank you for taking the time to read through all of that and writing me a reply. We definitely are facing some challenges. I'm not super tech savvy with regard to all of this so I'd like to maybe explain a little more detail and ask a few more questions just to be sure I am understanding correctly.

It sounds like I can possibly set this up using the existing DSL Router we have and that is great because it was our main hurdle in my mind. This is our router:  https://www.amazon.com/Motorola-NVG510-modem-U-Verse-DSL/dp/B00WTQZEPO and we are only using 2 of the ethernet connections on the back. I'd read somewhere that for either google wifi or nest wifi, fiber was a requirement, and fiber is not available in our area so we have been stuck on DSL for years. I was very tired last night though so I may have gotten something wrong with regard to fiber.
Next, it sounds like you're saying we can use the current DSL router, connect an ethernet cable to it and run that cable from the area we are stuck having the current DSL router at, to a place more central in the house, which technically is possible. I'll elaborate some here. The only interior wall that has brick is between the room where the router is, and the center of the house where I am thinking we might be able to put the main nest / google wifi. One of the cables connected to the DSL router already runs from the room where the router is, to the spare bedroom where my PC is, cause I could not get wifi to work from the other room through that interior brick wall to the room I am in. So.. here is a couple of questions. With that cable already running to the room I am using which is just behind the kitchen (which I consider the middle of the house really) but is still 3 rooms away from Dad's bedroom.. Would it be better to a get a smaller cable, connect the line already running to the room I am in to a nest or google router and leave it in my room, or would it do better possibly in the kitchen, and I'd need to run another long line to it from the other room? And could I still connect my PC to the main DSL router through the main nest / google wifi unit?
The issue with attic space and basements is that there is no attic in the "big room" which is just off of the room where the router is currently and we have no basement in this area. So the cables do have to run along the baseboards or up and over door frames but not many as they are more archways out in that part of the house, but the current one is mostly hidden and out of the walkways. However, I would love to not have to run a second long ass line through the house. But could potentially use the current one to my room and get a smaller line to connect from the nest / google wifi kitchen to my room? I'm not sure which would be best. So that's kind of "part one" of Am I getting this correct.

You mentioned a switch, and spoke a little about the nest mesh vs the google mesh. And this is where I get a little confused. My understanding, from tired reading is that nest wifi is newer and better than google wifi, so I am hoping you can elaborate on that. Also, This is where my confusion about mesh and fiber come into play, I had thought that I'd read that something mesh related required the fiber connection. So maybe you can also clear that up for me also (I hope lol) again I was pretty exhausted last night. Also, I'm assuming that nest wifi, does not have ethernet connections and works only using wifi from your explanations, am I correct?

Which brings me to part 2. I'm guessing I would need a second google or nest wifi router, connected to the ethernet, that I could also run a smaller line from the kitchen / the room I am in, through the dining room into  the living room, which puts that one only 1 room away from his bedroom, and then possibly we could get him a home or nest mini speaker for the assistant like I already own. I think this would be fine, because for some reason, my current mini seems to do great in my room which is the same distance as the distance from my pc to the current router, but the pc is closer to that interior brick wall.. so maybe that's why the home mini works? because it is further away from that interior brick wall, and right next to my door which opens to the hall and kitchen and i assume has less "stuff" to bounce off of to get the wifi signal to the mini. The laptop we use in the kitchen also seems to do pretty well on wifi which is maybe 10 feet from where my mini is around the corner. So.. I am *hoping* that a second wifi thing in the living room would be able to push that wifi to his bedroom and get another mini working in there, they would be approx 18 feet from erm second router? to his mini. There is however a brick fireplace in the corner of the living room which may be problematic unless there is a cable running from kitchen to living room if I am understanding right.

So.. it sounds like.. first I have to figure out what / how best to connect the cable from the DSL router to the main google / nest wifi router. Then I have to decide between nest and google wifi, or that first maybe LOL. And then I likely will need 2 possibly 3 (if the one in the living room can't connect to the mini in his room or from the kitchen can't connect to the one in the living room.) more wired wifi routers or secondary mesh units (I'm not recalling what the difference is for those) for the best connection, another mini, and possibly some ethernet switches one of those switches might need to have 2 or 3 connectors? one to connect to my PC direct rather than direct to the DSL router as it currently is, one that connects the dsl router to the new google / nest wifi, and another to connect to another unit in the living room? Also can you elaborate about the switches, what they do and what type I should be looking at?
If I have all of this correct, that should provide pretty much the entire house with better wifi possibly direct connections and would allow for the assistants to connect and we could accomplish the use of them as semi intercom units. Am I right? oh and some ethernet cables. So now if I have all of this right, I just have to look into pricing and see what all this will run us, and decide between nest wifi and google wifi. But I would greatly appreciate your input on this and to have a little more clarity and understanding if I'm understanding this all right or not. My 2nd biggest concern / fear is something "not working together" and having to deal with wasted money or having to sends things back, so I'm trying not to get overly hyped up about all of this just yet but it does sound possible. 🙂  and thank you again, so much. Looking forward to seeing your added input. Apologies for over-explaining rooms but I was thinking and visualizing the connections out as I was trying to sort how it could possibly be done as I was replying.

One last thing.. Would it not be easier to just run another line from the DSL router all the way through the house to his room and get him some sort of google / nest unit that has the assistant feature? it'd be a heck of a long cable but likely less cost for units, and cords and switches, especially since it sounds like I'd be having to get more cable and run it practically the same distance but also splitting the connections up and having multiple units to pass thru.  I just don't know.. and now my brain is swimming again. HAHA. Anyway, I look forward to your input and thanks again!

MichaelP
Diamond Product Expert
Diamond Product Expert

Hello @TrisRaven 

Fiber is not a requirement for Google/Nest WiFi. I use my Google WiFi system on a Comcast/Xfinity coaxial cable connection, for example. It just needs a typical Ethernet connection to your internet equipment. Your existing router should provide that.

Yes, if you have an Ethernet cable already run from where the DSL modem/router is to your office, I would try to use that to feed a new WiFi solution rather than running a new cable. It sounds like the biggest issue is that brick wall, so getting your WiFi system started on the other side will be a big help, even if it isn't in the exact center of the home. Something like a Google WiFi or Nest WiFi unit in that location will have another Ethernet port on it that you can use to connect your computer to the internet. Technically, it will be on the "inner" network created by Google/Nest WiFi rather than the "outer" network created by your DSL modem+router, but that shouldn't be a problem for most people.

As for Google WiFi vs Nest WiFi, it is true that Nest WiFi is a bit newer. But it would be more difficult to describe one as being "better" than the other. They have some different capabilities, but also many similarities. Both support connecting secondary units as mesh extenders from a "primary" (router) unit – the one connected to your internet service via Ethernet. The Nest WiFi Router has a bit more advanced WiFi implementation than Google WiFi. But the Nest WiFi Point units are about the same on that score. All of the Google WiFi units are the same hardware as each other, so they all have Ethernet ports, and this is what enables them to be connected to each other via Ethernet instead of the wireless mesh. The Nest WiFi Router unit has two Ethernet ports, but the Nest WiFi Point units don't have any Ethernet ports at all. So, they have to be placed close enough to the primary to get a strong wireless mesh connection. They do have smart speaker functionality, though (but the Nest WiFi Router and Google WiFi do not). Whew. I know this is confusing (and getting even more confusing now that the newest "Nest WiFi Pro" product was just announced – it's conceptually more similar to Google WiFi than Nest WiFi despite the name!).

I think I would try to take a minimalist approach to improving things to start with. I would probably pick up a Google WiFi 3-pack and set it up with the primary connected to that Ethernet cable you already have run. Then, I'd set the other two up one or two rooms away from there in any direction. Don't try to build a "daisy chain" of them – that is going to be counterproductive. Then, I'd start testing how well the result works. Use a new WiFi name and put some devices on it. See how well they connect from various parts of the house. You just may find this is sufficient to get acceptable connectivity everywhere you need it, and a Nest Mini or two can be added where you want. Do keep the packaging and receipt in case you end up deciding it's not the right solution for you. You should be able to make that decision soon enough to take it back.

I wouldn't dig into running more Ethernet or connecting secondaries back to the primary via Ethernet to start with. It's possible that will end up being required, but I wouldn't spend money and effort on that until you can be sure it really will be necessary.

@MichaelPGosh thank you SO much for all this added info, I know my situation makes it all  bit more tedious with that brick interior wall. I really appreciate the help with the clarifications and info. I apologize if I seemed to be pushing for a quick reply, I wasn't really, I just wasn't sure if I was supposed to do the @ thing and so I felt I maybe should add it after the fact in case it notifies you somehow. I'm very grateful for your help in getting this sorted to my understanding. I think we will be all set with all the info you've given me. I plan to pick up the setup in the next few days and will let you know how we come out with everything in case it may help others with a similar issue to mine.

Jhonleanmel
Community Specialist
Community Specialist

Hey folks, 

Thanks again for helping here, @MichaelP
@TrisRaven, I hope you've got the answer you're looking for. If you're still in need of any assistance, feel free to let us know. 

Best,
Mel

@MichaelP  Hey there, I just thought that I'd give a quick update. I picked up a 3 pack of Google Wifi, a Nest Mini, and we decided to get a Nest Hub as well. I wound up getting 2 ethernet cords, one that was 50ft (just in case the distance between the kitchen and back of the house would need to be wired, as well as a smaller 15 ft ethernet cable to connect my PC to the kitchen which is where I put the 1st wifi router. So. We only wound up using 2 of the routers, My original cable that had been going to my PC past that brick wall now goes to the 1st Google Wifi Router. I direct connected my PC to that 1st router's secondary ethernet port. The Hub, we placed in the Big Room (next to Dad's recliner, now he can see the date, ask the time, weather, and call my brother with super EASE!) which is next to the kitchen and on the one side of that brick wall. Luckily connected just fine to the 1st router on the opposite side of the brick wall, but there is a nice wide open archway between the rooms so all went well there. Then we set up a second point (Wifi router) in the living room, 2 rooms away from the kitchen, and put the Nest Mini in Dad's Bedroom, and I reset my own (old) google home mini and linked it up as well. Everything has linked up fine, with good connections! We have one spare extra point, which we may save in case one dies, or find a use for later, but for now all is well. I will be returning the 50ft ethernet cable I bought since we don't need it 🙂

I still have to link up our tv's and the laptopbut those are in rooms that already have devices that linked up well so I think we are good!.

I just want to say a HUGE Thank you to you Michael, your help made it possible for us to set him up to be able to get my attention much faster and easier in the middle of the night if he needs me, by helping me get this sorted out as well as allowing him some independence and giving us all a little more peace of mind with regard to Dad. I really was at a loss about if it would work out for us, you really know your stuff in my opinion, so Thanks loads 🙂

Now if only I can convince Google to add some sort of quick Help or Alert command rather than broadcast in case he is having trouble getting all the "hey google broadcast to big room, message blah blah" message out, then we'll be golden LOL.

So I'll sign off now and hope that adding how my situation came out, that the info may help someone else trying to do something similar. Take care and thank you again!

MichaelP
Diamond Product Expert
Diamond Product Expert

@TrisRaven 

Yay! I'm so happy this is working well for you and your father!

Jeff
Community Specialist
Community Specialist

Hey TrisRaven,

 

It looks like MichaelP was able to work with you to get things working. That's great news! Before I mark this as resolved, I wanted to check in to see if there was anything else you might need or to see if you had any additional questions. If so, just let us know.


Thanks,

Jeff

TrisRaven
Community Member

Nope! No questions, today we got the last 2 devices connected and we are figuring out all the hub features but everything has been great since I got it all hooked up. I'm very relieved, and having the products have given us both some peace of mind. Honestly it's a great resource for folks in my situation with an ailing relative and so many of the features are helpful. For example, the calendar integration for allowing Dad to check his appointments and times if he is curious or forgets, or to call family members without having to reach for the phone, or to even just see the date and time easier. So thank you all again and I wish you all well 🙂 feel free to mark me as resolved. I am very grateful for the help. Take care!

Jeff
Community Specialist
Community Specialist

Sounds great, TrisRaven. I appreciate your patience as we got this sorted out with MichaelP helping.

 

Thanks,
Jeff

@MichaelP  Sorry not used to this @ing people just wanted to make sure you'd gotten to see my reply. Thanks 🙂

MichaelP
Diamond Product Expert
Diamond Product Expert

I did see it and I'll try to read through it tomorrow morning. Just so you know, all of the product experts here are volunteers. We enjoy helping, but we don't work for Google. So response time may be variable.