WiFi in our mid-century split level home has never been pleasant. Built with heavier framing and flooring materials than are used today, compounded by a massive brick chimney that acts like a blockade across the middle of the home, WiFi signals have a hard time getting around.
We are Xfinity broadband customers, and the service has been highly reliable. We have used a mid-grade Linksys access point on 2.4 and 5 GHz, with Linksys repeaters at each end of the home to get signal into the entire home. All these are on the main level; downstairs suffers a bit but it’s not too bad.
I have a detached home office out back, connected by a hard Ethernet line and an Apple Airport Time Capsule for WiFi and backing up my three Mac computers.
Back to the main house. The real problem with WiFi was that we have to connect to different access points depending on where we are in the house. WiFi signals overlap, so often we’d be on one access point with a really weak signal and poor throughput, and would have to manually reconnect to a closer access point for better performance. I was growing weary of this.
I’ve been reading reviews (such as this one, and another from PC Magazine) of Grid WiFi systems for months, and put my money down on a Linksys Velop system.
I unboxed the system yesterday and started to set it up. I put the first one in the upstairs hallway on a table, where I could run an Ethernet connection back to the Xfinity modem and where there was power nearby. I downloaded the mobile app (which you must use for setup).
I ran into what is apparently a bug in the setup program, the access points, or both. The Linksys unit should have received a DHCP address from the Xfinity modem, but it didn’t know that it did, and it complained that it did not have an Internet connection. I struggled with this for over an hour. I finally assigned a fixed IP address to the first Velop unit, and confirmed on the Xfinity modem that it was indeed connected. However, the Velop unit bitterly complained that there was no Internet connection. Frustrated, I finally decided I was going to ignore this for the moment and proceed with configuration of the Velop unit anyway. I configured the SSID, guest wireless, and other settings. The mobile app was really great for this, and made it really easy.
So here was the surprise. After setting up the first Velop unit, its LED glowing bright red, meaning, no internet connection. But I thought, what the heck, and I connected to it anyway. I went to my favorite speed test site, fast.com, and voila, I was in fact connected to the internet and was getting great throughput (82Mbit/s on my 80Mbit/s service). The Velop unit’s red LED says one thing, although the mobile app did say everything was fine.
I proceeded to set up the other two Velop units. The mobile app guided me through this and it was a breeze. Each unit took just 5-10 minutes, including downloading the latest firmware updates automatically.
The LED unit on each unit glows bright red, but the system is working pretty well.
I configured two of my Macbook Pros to use the new WiFi, as well as my iPhone. My wife reconfigured the master bedroom television to use the new system as well. Our downstairs guests are using the guest access, and they told us that it seemed faster than what they were using before.
Our Ring doorbell does not seem to like the Velop unit. But to be fair, I probably should have reconfigured the Ring in the location where it is used. For now, we can’t get a live view but it does send alerts. I will try again tomorrow.
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