ESP8266 (NodeMCU) as Wifi-Repeater

Hi, i want to install some NodeMCU (ESP8266) around my house for a better wifi coverage. I have found some tutorials in the web, but there i always can see, i have to enter the wifi-ssid/wpa2-code of my current network and the esp8266 will make a new wifi with another ssid.

Can i do that with the same ssid/password too?

I have cat.7 cable all around the house and can install access-points in every floor of my house. There i would give the same ssid/password to all of the accesspoints and i can go with my smartphone from floor to floor and will always get the strongest network.

Can i do that with the esp8266-way too? Or do i have to use different ssid´s for every accesspoint?

I strongly recommend a proper wifi solution. You are asking for trouble with repeaters and even more so with using a microcontroller as your repeater. ESP’s aren’t known for throughput so they would be a HUGE bottleneck. They have been tested to a max of 303 Kbps. Not the speed you are likely looking for especially since it would be cut in half to repeat.

Wireless systems are far more complicated than people realize. The common solution to poor coverage is to use extenders or additional AP’s.

Extenders are the worst. They suck off of the existing AP making it slower instead of introducing more capacity to your network. Often they have a new SSID_2 network or something. This confuses people and devices. They won’t naturally transition from one ssid to the next. I would avoid extenders until they are your absolute last resort. Since you have a robust wire network, definitely not a good choice for you. ESP as extenders is the ultimate in worst IMO. They are cheap chips built for simple wifi connectivity.

Additional AP’s are the way to go BUT it must be done correctly. The common path people take is to go out and buy an additional (or more) residential grade ap’s and pepper them around their house either with the same ssid or SSID_2 (same applies to repeater here about device/human confusion). There are two major issues with this:

1, residential grade devices aren’t very good. They are built cheaply because consumers don’t want to pay what a quality AP costs (another reason why a cheap esp is a BAD idea) as well as they are usually a router, switch, ap and gateway in one even though you only need the ap and switch portion.

2, they don’t talk to each other.

Without getting into nitty gritty, each AP needs its own channel to broadcast on. I’ll stick to 2.4ghz (US, I don’t know German channels) for now. There are only 3 channels for 2.4ghz that don’t interfere with each other (1,6,11). That means you can have a maximum of 3 AP’s in range of each other and set on 1, 6 and 11 without them causing each other to slow down from interference. If you have a super large area, you can have many more AP’s than 3 so long as an ap set on channel 1 isn’t within range of another ap set to channel 1. Many people think setting your multiple ap’s to all use the same SSID and Channel is the proper answer. It is not. Trust me :slight_smile: Oh, and don’t forget your neighbors. If you live in a rural residential setting, you probably will see one or two of the channels used. In an apartment… good luck, they are all used, definitely use 5ghz.

Back to the not talking to each other part. Say you setup 2 ap’s on non-interfering channels both on SSID1. You connect your laptop to SSID1 upstairs and it gets the upstairs ap. You then move downstairs. Your laptop is now sitting inches from your downstairs AP but since it can still see the broadcasting upstairs ap it already negotiated with, it stays connected. You could theoretically walk to the curb and still see the upstairs ap so it is going to fight tooth-and-nail to stay connected to that upstairs AP. With a proper mesh network, the two ap’s would talk and a hand off from the upstairs ap to the downstairs ap would be seamlessly carried out.

OK, enough boring stuff. My recommendation… entry grade pro IT wireless. I personally like Ubiquiti. It looks as if they are available in Germany. There is a community post on the forum about a guy’s setup in Germany…

You can grab a Unifi UAP-AC-Lite for 80-90 USD. So for about $160 you could have 2 ap’s that will cover 3000 sq ft very well. The controller software is free and can be installed on anything you like as it only needs to be on when you make changes. I see you run esxi so slap it in a debian vm… The ap’s come with poe injectors so you can power them from your DMARK. I have a large UPS that holds my AP’s when the power blips.

Hope this helps.


There you go. If you have the cabling already there, I would not bother with anything else than an actual commercial AP. ESP8266 as a repeater will work but you are truly limiting your self. If you plan to use the ESP as a repeater to another iot, I think you’ll be fine but as a repeater to another bandwidth hungry client, let’s say, a laptop, an actual commercial AP is your best bet.

The idea was, that i have wifi on my frontyard. When i come home, i want to open my garage door with openhab, but i only have wifi directly on my frontdoor, not in my car on the street in front of my house.

So no bandwith hungry apps, only openhab android app.

Now i have a AVM Fritzbox 7490, the plan was to deactivate its wifi and buy an ubiquity. I already use an ubiquity loco m 2,4 to get my internet connection from my parents house about 50m away. Slightly oversized for that, buit it works very good.

Maybe one single ubiquity is enough, i would install it on a central place in my house on ground floor. Now i have only little wifi in the cellar and a little bit more in the first floor.

Anybody can compare the wifi range/coverage of a fritzbox 7490 and a ubiquity accesspoint?

A long range ubiquity accesspoint will not be needed? I have seen on ubiquity forum, that it only can send stronger, but reception is still the same as with the normal versiomn? So no better wifi?

Use LoRa. I built one and able to access my garage door within 1 mile :slight_smile: no WiFi necessary. A simple 433mhz with a powerful transceiver should also work

I want to have wifi in front of my house, to open the garage door. When i´m away i can use gsm connection to do this, no need for 1 mile range. 50m around my house would be enough.

If that’s the case then you don’t even need a repeater. Just get a simple ESP8266 and set itself as the AP. Connect to the AP and send command that way. Seems very expensive to buy an ubiquiti AP just to be able to open the garage. Hehehe. The best solution that I could think of is a 433mhz receiver, which should be good for more than 100 feet on a simple 17cm antenna. My sprinkler uses a diy 433mhz tranceiver controlled by an attiny85 while my openHAB instance, also w a tranceiver, is in my office pretty much at the other end of our property. Keep us updated what route you actually took…

I already have a garage door opener which comes with my garage door. It has 868 mhz and it has a great range. But this is placed inside my car and when i´m away by foot or with my bike or with another car, then i don´t have the opener with me.

So when i use the esp8266, i have to open a new network with ssid_2? This would be better then open a network with the same ssid i already use inside the house?

The ubiquity is not for opening the garage door, it is for better wifi coverage inside the house. My fritzbox is placed on a central place onthe ground floor, but i don´t have good wifi coverage in the cellar and in the first floor. I´m in germany and have a new house, made with concrete (iron-forced - is this the right word for this?) floors.

So the wifi signal will not go through the floors and walls very easy.

Lucky you. Our homes here in California are made of wood and just drywall lol.

Anyway, when you use the ESP, here’s an example from git

After setting up the ESP as an access point, you can create a web server on the ESP itself. You can define your endpoints just like you can define any REST API:

server.on("/garageopen", HTTP_GET, [](){
   // from here, you can send a GET request to openHAB using WiFiClient
   // Or directly from the esp, wire a relay to your garage terminals and do:
   // digitalWrite(yourGPIOforTheRelay, HIGH or LOW)

BUT that’s too much bouncing here and there since this is basically what’s happening:

  1. You connect to ESP AP
  2. You Connect to it’s web server
  3. ESP will send POST to openHAB
  4. You garage will open

But you can do a shortcut (this is how I wired mine):
Same concept, except I use a SSR (solid state relay) to actually open the garage from the ESP. I only POST to openHAB to update the state.

Ok, but my main question is, if i should use a ssd_2 or i can use my main ssid for the new network, created by the esp.

So like explained in a post before, the better way would be to make a ssid_2 and connect my phones to both network?

But then i expect the following:

I´m inside my house and the ssid_2 is still reachable, so my phone never connects to my faster main-ssid…

Ahh. I think we’re both probably overthinking this.

Just get a GL-MT300N access point. It already runs openwrt. There’s a configuration there to setup wireless roaming. Set the threshold to somewhere it will drop your connection past a signal db level. Make sure you use same SSID and security settings as your main router. This way, you will automatically connect to GL-MT300N but if your past the signal threshold, like let’s say your x feet away and your signal is -50db, it will kick you out of that AP and your device will automatically connect to the next strongest signal (your main router). I use GL-MT300N when I go to hotels… but since it’s openwrt, you’ll have a lot of features, such as the roaming stuff. And since you can set it up as a repeater, your still in the same network.

I still think you are asking for trouble. A proper solution will definitely cost more but it will be reliable and give bonus functionality.

That GL-MT300N isn’t exterior grade so you have to weather enclose it. If you are going to bother to do that, why not just weather enclose a proper AP or better yet, get an external grade ap and mount it someplace high like on your roof peek. It would probably cover your whole cleared yard if it isn’t too big.

I think trying to find a sweet spot dbi dropoff is not going to be reliable. Signal strength is very dependent on the environment. Weather, atmosphere conditions, objects in yard, phone brand, phone battery level… any of these things could change it. Slap a free signal analyzer on a laptop like netspot. Go stand a few feet from your current AP and watch as the signal fluctuates significantly from sample to sample and that’s with nothing changing. Now factor in weather changes. Humidity and pressure will drastically change that level. I guess phase 2 of the project is getting OH to send weather to your repeater so that it can adjust its threshold on the fly? :thinking:

I mean, you can definitely do what you like, I’m just trying to save you the frustration. I’ve been there. The best thing I ever did for my home network was replace consumer grade ad-hoc garbage with purpose built enterprise gear.

I may not be fully understanding what you’re wanting to do, but I’ll tell you what I just did, and i was about to make a post about it when I found this.

Using an esp8266 + mqtt. you wire the ESP to an ignition-switched line in your car. When you turn your car on the esp comes on and connects to your wifi. it sends a message to your broker and you use that to open and close your door. it also gives a LWT so that when you drive out of range you get an off state on that topic. i lifted it from a hackaday thing i saw in my google feed the other day and i just put a couple ESPs together last night and tested it all out.

My esp connected about 100’ or so from the front of my house as i approached and quickly sent the mqtt message. my garage door was fully opened before i even pulled in the driveway.

is this what you’re wanting to do?

This is a cool idea.

His main issue is that he doesn’t have good wifi coverage outside of his house because his house is made of dense rock unlike us non-hurricane or seismic load zone stick built Americans :slight_smile: My ubiquity AP’s reach a solid 150-200’ outside of my house at a usable rate. His apparently doesn’t reach past his perimeter walls.

The issue at hand is getting wifi coverage outside. From that point he could use whatever wifi based technology to trigger the door that he chooses.

got it, yeah my ubnt (at the front of the house) has some good range out front. too bad. if all the author needs is wifi enough to trigger stuff an esp repeater would work. might be just as easy to buy an old router on ebay (probably less than 10 bucks) and use that. better chance at being reliable.

Yeah, there are a lot of options on the cheap but they all need to be outside of his house otherwise they will suffer the same loss of the inside AP.

Given the apparent severe drop in signal strength from out to in, he may be able to get away with same ssid AP’s as they will be virtually isolated from each other by the concrete. If that is the case, he can use pretty much whatever he chooses but a repeater by definition wouldn’t work well given the terrible signal out there. You have to have decent signal at the repeater to repeat it. Perhaps one mounted to the outside wall would be strong enough to reach inside and then able to broadcast freely outside. But, if it can reach in to get signal, it can reach in to repeat it… back to the old interference points I outlined.

Outdoor ap’s definitely raise the price point so it becomes much harder to justify but if he spends any quality time in his yard (I love to stream music while I mow), $160 later you have your full yard covered by a high mounted outdoor ap.

1 Like

He mentioned he has no problem hooking up an AP:

Hence my suggestion (and others’) to just get a cheap AP. The problem is now is that his device might stick to that AP even when the good (main) router is available. That’s why I suggested GL-MT300N (with openWRT) where a configurable threshold to disconnect a client is much easier to achieve than other non-open source router firmwares

Well, details have changed here and there over this thread. The original question was using esp’s as repeaters “around my house for better wifi coverage”… still not a great idea.

Then we learn the real issue is wifi coverage at his driveway for garage door operation when on foot.

Also that his house is concrete and struggles to get a signal out.

There are two approaches to solving the issue.

  1. Put low cost AP someplace in a sweet spot and try to configure it to not reach inside the house / actively drop connections if they are weaker and hope the device is cool with this abnormal tactic.
  2. Put another mesh capable AP and let the protocol do what it is designed to do.

Method 1 has the pros of cheaper and the cons of potentially (I feel inevitably but I’m trying to be objective) less reliable and more complicated to configure and maintain(possibly… maybe not). It also needs to be weatherized in some capacity and requires power to its location.

Method 2 has the cons of cost and definitely requires a cable run and the pros of reliability, hand off as you move around your property, can be purchased directly as outdoor ready, POE out of the box and many other “enterprise” features like vlan and guest network that may or may not be available in a dd-wrt hacked ap.

To me, the idea of buying a cheap device, hacking it and then trying to rig its firmware to do something atypical to save a buck doesn’t make much sense. The UBNT gear isn’t THAT expensive and implements wifi as it is designed with no “ugly hacks” to signal strength. Reminds me of when I sold computers back in the late 90’s. People would buy the cheap laptop without built in wifi and then buy a pcmcia card for it… then they would promptly loose it or snap it off and end up spending more time and money getting a new one then they saved in the first place… let alone that the better laptop had more memory that they now don’t have. I digress.

My UniFi UAP-AC-LR sits in the basement and it covers cellar, basement, 1st floor, 2nd floor, garden. Except for the ceiling between 1st and 2nd floor(which is made from wood), everything is built from reinforced concrete (I live in Germany too :slight_smile:).
YMMV, but I’d suggest the LR from Ubiquiti. Never looked back to Fritz!Box.