Cheap OpenWrt mesh


I was looking at using OpenWrt to make a cheap mesh. I was looking at the TP link RE200 since they’re super cheap ($20 pretty much anywhere).

Does anyone have any experience/recommendations with the RE200 (or any other cheap extender) with OpenWrt in a mesh configuration?

My main router is a Netgear XR500 (haven’t converted it to OpenWrt yet) if that makes a difference. I’m guessing that means Wifi 6 compatibility isn’t really that important since the Netgear can’t do it.

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You should run all of your mesh nodes on the same platform. You should plan to upgrade to OpenWrt if you're going to run the others with OpenWrt.

These are fine, but not that great. The performance of these is significantly lower than that of your main router. Not all versions are supported, too.

Also, if you run into issues with these devices (such as a failed firmware flash / brick situation), they are difficult to fix because you must open the case which can expose you to potentially lethal voltages. You need to be extremely careful and ideally experienced in working on live mains powered devices to fix these things and avoid serious injury or death.

Read all the info here:

Not sure what this means -- Netgear does have some Wifi 6 devices. But the importance of Wifi 6 is related to the use-case and performance requirements of your network.

Also, to be clear about this... if you have the ability to run wires between your main router and whatever additional devices you deploy, that is always preferable to running a wireless backhaul (i.e. mesh). Mesh specifically refers to way that multiple devices form a network using a wifi based backhaul -- it has nothing to do with the client devices on the network.


For all it’s worth: In case you do go for a re200, this one has the same hardware as my d-link Dap-1610 and it runs mesh like a champ with a Netgear R7800 as a main router.

Expect about 90-100 mbits duplex speed when used as a node in a mesh. (And about the same when used as a wireless AP since it only supports 100mbs wired)

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I should have clarified. I will put the Netgear xr500 on OpenWrt. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Also, the only wired backhaul I have is powerline Ethernet. I’m not sure that’s better than a wireless backhaul, tbh

There are currently good offers on Wifi 6 devices. The DAP-X1860 is sold on offer, the WSM20 (not an extender plug) seems also attractive.
Got a RE200 myself. Works, but limited by it’s ethernet port….

There are also the D-Link COVR-P2502 (set of two P2500), they are QCA9563 + AC1200 Wave 2, with Homeplug AV2 (1300Mbit) Powerline built-in, in case you want to reduce the number of devices running at the same time (you could also just extend your existing powerline installation).

They are quite cheap on ebay, pack of two is around € 30 - 40, there is an OpenWrt image here:

and a pull request is currently open for adding official OpenWrt support:

I would not recommend the RE200 as it's becoming old and there are many reports of bad WiFi performance at 5GHz. The RE210 is slightly better with a GBit LAN port.

The ZyXEL WSM20 is very cheap and has a faster SoC along with better WiFi.

As an alternative, you could go for a TP-Link TL-WPA8631P or similar device which has the PowerLine controller already included (although it's limited by its low amount of flash memory, see here).

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At least in the US, I am seeing the TP-Link Re-450 (AC1750) for only a few dollars more than the RE200/RE210, but still an 8/64 device.

I have been using the TP-Link AV2000 (TL-PA9020) for a while now in some challenged locations and they run close to 200Mbps, but no wireless component. That said, you can use any of these POE's, stock, for wired back-haul with any router.

Here you can also get a Linksys EA8300 (AC2200) triband for under $30, and have a real mesh with a dedicated wireless back-haul, if that's what you really want.

If your in Europe you may be dealing with stone\concrete or other walls making wireless challenging in general, so it's probably worth asking, what is the size and general construction of your dwelling?
Is "Roaming" a requirement or just multiple APs (ie What are your Goals)?

Actually, I don’t really need roaming that much. The Netgear gives a good 2ghz signal almost all over the house, with the exception of a few dead spots.

I mostly need a boost on the 5ghz band.

I have a powerline network, but it doesn’t get great speeds, so I don’t think putting multiple APs will help. And there aren’t many combo extender/powerline adapters supported by OpenWrt.

I want to put OpenWrt on the Netgear so I can have fail-over since my ISP (Xfinity) is awful.

So unpacking some of this

Xfinity => so you are in the US and probably have 2x4 with sheet-rock construction. I expect that you have already set your Xfinity Gateway to Bridge mode or have supplied your own modem. At this point the low end service is about 150\12 rural and probably 200\20 in better service areas, but generally irrelevant for configuring your LAN.

Your Netgear XR500 is an AC2600 DUAL band device.

Lets be clear that you have 2 issues. Speed and service. So depending on what you want for speed at the distant locations, then you may not want to use the POEs that you have. While not a quantitative answer, experience with some of the older POE's suggests that your probably getting 30-50 Mbps. You can easily test this with this free tool. I suggest the 1.3 Lite portable version.

A 4K video stream will generally run on 25Mbps, and a 1080 stream less than 10Mbps.

So, I will again suggest you look at the Linksys tri-band as you can use one of the 5G for back haul to talk to your Netgear's 5G front end. This should eliminate any of the aggravation with the OpenWrt
extender / repeater / bridge setup as you have the extra radio. Any triband should work, but these seem cheap, plentiful and reasonably documented. Even though its an AC2200, they cheat the nos, as they are adding both 5g bands together (867 ea) and I am not suggesting to use them that way.


Leave the POE's as is and get some TP-Link Archer A7 or C7, which are cheap and use them as wired APs. Probably easier to flash and less config.

I would guess either of these should get you 100+ for speed for short money.


As mentioned above a better deal is the quad core Linksys EA8300 tri-band. Dual 5Ghz radios. As low as $30-40 USD delivered on eBay if you are living in America.

Easy web gui install. I tried meshing a few on early v22 (before the memory reorganization) and they were getting 300Mbps on iperf3.

WIfi6 devices seems a little unstable right now. These are wifi5 devices. Rock solid performance. You can retire them as dumb AP's or 250Mbps wireguard VPN routers.

TBH ap-sta (WDS client) is slightly better for single hop home based routing due to the fact that it is easier to configure and faster than mesh.

Try ap-sta WDS client f you want it to work within 5 minutes. Try mesh if you want to have more fun and/or be able to cover a larger area on one LAN.

I have several map ac2200 here in a mesh. My experience with those is not great. When everything works, speed is okay, but they tend to freeze or lose connectivity from time to time, so that I need to reboot them manually.

Sadly those Lyras/map2200 are kinda shitty. I have 6 that I got for pennies. Thought they should be perfect for mesh because of that tripe radio but not really. The 5ghz both suck, at least the range,
one of them a little more than the other. Even when using cranked up to 300mw.
And wifi saturates one of the cores real quick.
It might do a little better if each band their own cpu, I don’t think I tried that since the range wasnt good at all.
Performance wise it wasnt better than just 1 radio using r7800 and re-650v1 in batman mesh.

(All qca radios used non-ct firmware at the ct firmware just isnt stable when using mesh)

So in summary, avoid mesh if you can, avoid extenders if you can. Use multiple APs with a wired backhaul.

My house is wired with coax, and MoCa adapters have gotten pretty cheap, so I might go that way.

Now, multiple SSIDs or a single one?

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Single one for fast roaming (arguably only when using 802.1x). Otherwise it’s a matter of preference