Hi, I’m using Nest Mesh Wifi on my farm, and was wondering if the below could work. I somehow ended up w 4 routers and 5 points (long story) so getting units isn’t a limiting factor. My goal is to be able to walk from one end of the farm to another and be able to use the same wifi network. (I can't seem to figure out how to attach a picture, so I'll do my best to type it out my plan)
NR= Nest Router, NP= Nest Point
Starting from the house...
ISP -> Modem -> NR -> Unmanaged Switch -> NR (Tool Shed, 100 ft away)
-> NR (Workshop/Garage, 300 ft away)
-> NR (Barn, 300 ft away)
The Unmanaged Switch to the 3 locations would be Cat 6 (via underground conduit)
Since these buildings are large, I'd like to add Points as well. The end result would be:
House: 1 NR + 2 NP
Tool Shed: 1 NR + 1 NP
Workshop: 1 NR
Barn: 1 NR + 2 NP
Total: 4 NR + 5 NP (9 total)
Worth noting: I understand that Google recommends a maximum of 5 points in a network, but I think the “why” matters. (Can someone educated me on the why?). If it’s density (too many pts in a small space causing conflicts), then perhaps it doesn’t apply here? If it's some other reason, I'd love to understand this better.
This is my first post for the community, thanks in advance for anyone willing to help!
The why could be a few things. If you are not using wired back haul your using up bandwidth at each jump. It may also be the limitations of the Nest router. I know more advanced wifi mesh system use a separate wired controller to oversee the mesh.
The first part of your plan here is definitely possible (adding Nest WiFi Router units as wired secondaries in outbuildings). Here's a support page with some more do's and don't's: https://support.google.com/googlenest/answer/7215624?hl=en
But, the short version is, get those secondary units set up in the main house as wireless/mesh units first so they're part of the same network and they get a chance to do any firmware updates, etc. Once each unit is working that way, connect it to the switch while still in the house and verify in the Google Home app that the secondary's connection type switches from "mesh" to "wired". I would put another (small) unmanaged Ethernet switch on the far end of each inter-building cable run for electrical isolation, and I'd test those runs using a laptop or something. When you're confident they work and can negotiate a 1Gbps connection speed, move the Nest WiFi Router secondary from the house to the outbuilding and plug it into Ethernet out there before connecting it to power. It should "just work" at that point. Repeat for each outbuilding.
Here's the part of your plan that won't work: adding Nest WiFi Point units in the outbuildings. These can only be connected to the WiFi mesh network, and that doesn't run over Ethernet. When you wire up a secondary like this, it disables the WiFi mesh interface (under most conditions), so a wired secondary can't act like a mesh base station for a more distant wireless-only mesh secondary.
I don't know what "breaks" when you get too many units in a network, but they do all share a single 5GHz WiFi channel that is used for both the WiFi mesh interconnect and for client-facing traffic. In your case, it doesn't really matter, since you won't be able to use those Nest WiFi Point units in any of the outbuildings anyway. If you're willing to run more Ethernet inside those buildings, you may be able to install more Nest WiFi Router units (or the less expensive Google WiFi units) as secondaries out there by connecting them to the small switches I recommended having in each outbuilding (just get those secondaries set up inside the house first). I would start to worry about the Google Home app starting to have issues with too many at some point, though – either now or at some time in the future.
So, all of this said, I have to wonder if a system that is designed for larger footprint installations might be a better fit for you than Nest WiFi. They can be more difficult to install and manage, but they are designed to work with multiple buildings like this and don't rely on any mesh networking technology.
I hope some of this helps!
Michael, thank you for your thorough response! It’s very helpful, and encouraging.
If you wouldn’t mind clarifying a few points:
1) I should still be able to use points in the house (where the primary google router is), but just not in the out buildings?
2) how do I verify on google home that it switched from “mesh” to “wired”? I see that wifi->devices do show “wired” or wifi (“great connection”, “OK connection” etc), but I can’t find that in the wifi -> points.
3) do you think the “max of 5 points” applies here? In my example, I’ll have 1 primary router (in the house) hardwired to 3 more routers in the outbuildings, and it sounds like those 3 will have the mesh interface disabled, so basically nothing’s really using the mesh functionality. Do you think I can only do one additional point in the house, or since nothings really using mesh, that the system could handle more? (I guess this goes back to the “why” question again)
4) if the routers are hardwired, do you think I could do more than 5 if I hardwire them all? (Sorry, this is a similar question to above,
5) do you have any recommendations for systems that would accomplish the original proposal? Basically I will hardwire what I need to and then put points to expand as needed, all under one network login.
I administrator a Unifi system at work. I'm currently covering 5 acres with 5 "points". The cost is a little higher than you consumer systems because you need a controller (cloud key), bit it is worth it for the flexibility, and coverage. Oh their Unifi Mesh "points" can be placed outside as long as you can get power to them. Might be worth a look.
I'll try to answer your questions one-by-one as best I can.
1. Yes, the mesh-only Nest WiFi Point units will still work in the main house. I would still follow the placement guidance for that building (primary Nest WiFi Router as close to the center of the house as possible with any mesh units one or two rooms away from the primary for optimal performance).
2. There is a list of "Wifi devices (#)" in the Google Home app. If you tap that, then tap one of the "Nest Wifi points", then tap the gear icon in the upper right corner and take a look at the "Connection type:" under "Wi-Fi Information", it should show "Wired" for Nest WiFi Router units that are properly connected to the primary via Ethernet. If it shows "Mesh" there, it isn't working via Ethernet.
3. I just don't know if the 5-point maximum will apply or not, because I don't know how that is enforced or checked – and it is entirely possible it could change to be more strictly enforced in the future. What you're doing is pretty far out from the kind of thing this system was designed to do, so while it may be something you can get to work, it may not be supported in the future.
4. See #3, above. In short, maybe? But it might stop working at some point in the future.
5. For something of this scale, I would look at gear from someone like Ubiquiti. But, that's just based on reputation and talking to a friend who uses it in his home. It will definitely be more complex to set up and maintain – but I am a lot more confident you can make it work for your use-case, and that it will continue to be supported. This is really not a "home" environment – it's an "enterprise" environment, so using a more business-oriented solution makes sense.
Thanks MichaelP and Kiltguy. I may well need to consider unifi/ubiquiti, but since I have these units, I’d love to see if I can make it work.
I’ve implemented this solution for just two hardwired points. my setup is: NR1 -> switch1 -> switch2 -> NR2 (all via Cat 5E)
Switch 2 also has a computer hardwired in, and I have 2 NPs (2 rooms away) to mesh w my NR1
NR2 keeps going offline.
Michael, I agree that my initial proposal is some distance from “typical” usage, but the above setup seems somewhat simple and I’m hoping at least this will work. I’ve tried resetting NR2 multiple times, to no avail. The Google home app does note that NR2 has a “weak” connection. Is it possible that this hardwired NR is still ALSO trying to mesh, and that’s causing the issue? (In the app, the connection type explicitly shows “wired”.)
It's hard to know what might be causing NR2 to go offline. I would run a mesh test, and then look at the details for a wifi device that's connected to NR2. That will show you what the tested speed is between NR2 and NR1 via Ethernet (in the "Info" tab for a WiFi device you're sure is connected to NR2, scroll to the bottom and look at the "Device speed" section – the first number will be how fast NR1 can talk to the internet, but the second number will be how fast NR2 can talk to NR1 via Ethernet during the most recent mesh speed test). This should be between 300Mbps and 400Mbps if the Ethernet connections are all working properly / reliably. If it's 100Mbps, then one of the connections isn't managing to hold a 1Gbps Ethernet connection, and the wiring will need to be checked to diagnose the issue.
I just wanted to jump in real fast to see if you saw MichaelP's reply and to see if you still needed some help on this or if you were able to get it sorted out. If you are still needing some help, just let us know and we'll be happy to continue helping.
Just one quick final check in here since activity has slowed down. We'll be locking the thread in the next 24 hours, but if you still need help, I would be happy to keep it open. If there's more we can do, just let me know.