Access points and static IP addresses

  • 10 August 2023
  • 29 replies
  • 755 views

Looking for some guidance on a non Sonos issue from gurus here: In a TP link access point that is ethernet wired back to a Apple Time Capsule base station, DHCP is disabled, and everything in the served space works fine, including Sonos/Firestick/Phones/Computer, with Sonos in WiFi mode. TP link model WA 850 RE. Now for another device being added in the space, a HomePod mini, I see some recommendations of giving it a static IP address for stability. Question therefore is how/where is this done? By making changes in the app that is used to set up the access point? Or, back in the apple base station?

Appreciate any guidance.

 

I now recall an earlier discussion here, but that was in the context of Sonos compatibilty which also brings me to a follow up question: My Sonos set up is all wired back to the same base station and is rock solid. What do I need to do to ensure that if any new access point device is added as a wired access point to the same base station to serve non Sonos devices in spaces where there is no Sonos, it does not mess up the Sonos wired kit?

 

Moderator Edit: Combined Posts.


29 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +18

Hi @Kumar 

Thanks for your post!

Your IP addresses need to be reserved on whichever device is running a DHCP server (hopefully, there’s only one!) - presumably, that’s your Time Capsule. I’m not familiar with the device, but this page on the Apple forum says to do so from the Network tab of the device’s settings, under DHCP reservations.

Regarding the addition of an extra Access Point, you’d just need to ensure that it does not do it’s own DHCP (creating a new subnet) and that it does not block or convert multicast packets going upstream/downstream (so the app can communicate if connecting via this new AP). Ensuring a sensible choice of WiFi channel may also be important - probably best to put it on the same channel as your other APs (when on the same channel, devices (even when on completely different networks) will negotiate time on the frequency - something they will not do if on different channels).

I hope this helps.

You may be the first person to get nested parentheses from me here on the forum 😁 Congrats!

 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +21

If you have a NAS Drive I’d also suggest giving that a static address.

@Corry P: Yes, I know how to reserve IP address in the Apple TC and I did that ages ago for all Sonos kit, including the WD device used for NAS.

To make sure I get it - if I reserve the IP addresses for the HomePods in the Apple base station/router via the utility, even if they are getting the WiFi service from the third party access point that is wired back to the base station, they will only and always get the IP addresses reserved for them in the base router, correct?

The second part is a bit of a challenge - the existing access points have an option of toggling DHCP to off, which is what was necessary for Sonos to stay stable. But I suspect that many such devices don’t have that option, and their spec does not mention this!

Userlevel 6
Badge +11

What make/model AP are you using?

TP Link WA 850RE/N 300.

Single band, is working without affecting Sonos.

Replacement for one room needs to be dual band, with a toggle off for DHCP.

The DHCP server in extenders / access points is only meant to be temporary, to enable initial setup using a directly connected device (wired or wireless). If left on “auto” it will simply disable in the presence of another DHCP server. “Off” prevents it starting at all.

(Note that in some TP-Link devices turning the DHCP server “off” also disables its DHCP client, so it would need to have a static IP to remain accessible.)

Userlevel 6
Badge +11

That model is a WiFi Extender. I’m looking at the manual here:

https://static.tp-link.com/2020/202004/20200422/1910012794_TL-WA850RE_UG_REV7.0.1.pdf

What device are you trying to disable DHCP on?

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +18

Hi @Kumar 

@Corry P: Yes, I know how to reserve IP address in the Apple TC and I did that ages ago for all Sonos kit, including the WD device used for NAS.

I did think it strange you were asking.

To make sure I get it - if I reserve the IP addresses for the HomePods in the Apple base station/router via the utility, even if they are getting the WiFi service from the third party access point that is wired back to the base station, they will only and always get the IP addresses reserved for them in the base router, correct?

Yes - assuming there is only one DHCP server.

The second part is a bit of a challenge - the existing access points have an option of toggling DHCP to off, which is what was necessary for Sonos to stay stable. But I suspect that many such devices don’t have that option, and their spec does not mention this!

I defer to @ratty:

The DHCP server in extenders / access points is only meant to be temporary, to enable initial setup using a directly connected device (wired or wireless). If left on “auto” it will simply disable in the presence of another DHCP server. “Off” prevents it starting at all.

(Note that in some TP-Link devices turning the DHCP server “off” also disables its DHCP client, so it would need to have a static IP to remain accessible.)

But my main concern for you is now what’s in @craigski’s post:

That model is a WiFi Extender. I’m looking at the manual here:

https://static.tp-link.com/2020/202004/20200422/1910012794_TL-WA850RE_UG_REV7.0.1.pdf

As I’m sure you know, extenders are not supported. Though, if you already have the same model in use on your network elsewhere and without problems, I guess that’s OK.

I hope this helps.

Many extenders can also be switched to wired-AP mode. Every TP-Link with an Ethernet port that I’ve encountered (and I have a cupboard full) can function as an AP.

Many extenders can also be switched to wired-AP mode. 

Correct as can this model of the TP. And it has a toggle DHCP off mode which was necessary for Sonos to not act up.

It serves me fine even now; but in my “all Apple” son’s room, I have to set up HomePod minis and get them to work as a stereo pair, without disturbing my Sonos set ups outside! And he needs dual band, the existing TP is single. So I have to look for that, with a similar way to turn off DHCP.

I think I may need to set up the device a wireless extender if it does not have this DHCP off toggle? Even though I have lan wire up to inside the room.

I can tell you that getting Sonos to work was simpler...

This is making something of a mountain out of a molehill.

Basic access points do not contain an active DHCP server, once they’re in use. They’re essentially layer 2 devices, apart from needing an internal IP for configuration purposes.

You get an AP (or an extender switched to AP mode), configure its SSID/password(s), and then just plug in a LAN connection. Simples!

 

BTW why do you need a dual-band AP? As far as I can make out the HomePod Mini supports both 2.4 and 5GHz. 

This is making something of a mountain out of a molehill.

BTW why do you need a dual-band AP? As far as I can make out the HomePod Mini supports both 2.4 and 5GHz. 

It becomes a mountain when he comes back from the sea for the first time in 2023 and his new HomePods don’t work!

It is also possible that the ethernet wire laid down to his room is flaky…

Suppose I was to bypass that wire, get the latest/greatest wireless extender for his room where there is no Sonos - all of my kit is wired - and if that gets his stuff to work, it will do so without messing with my wired Sonos on Sonosnet in the rest of the house?

And dual band because like Mt Everest, it is there. No other reason.

It is also possible that the ethernet wire laid down to his room is flaky…

What makes you suspect that?

 

Suppose I was to bypass that wire, get the latest/greatest wireless extender for his room where there is no Sonos - all of my kit is wired - and if that gets his stuff to work, it will do so without messing with my wired Sonos on Sonosnet in the rest of the house?

Sure, just use a regular extender assuming the Apple thingies don’t care. Sonos won’t be bothered either way, so long as you don’t connect any Sonos unit onto the extender’s WiFi.

It is also possible that the ethernet wire laid down to his room is flaky…

What makes you suspect that?

 

Suppose I was to bypass that wire, get the latest/greatest wireless extender for his room where there is no Sonos - all of my kit is wired - and if that gets his stuff to work, it will do so without messing with my wired Sonos on Sonosnet in the rest of the house?

Sure, just use a regular extender assuming the Apple thingies don’t care. Sonos won’t be bothered either way, so long as you don’t connect any Sonos unit onto the extender’s WiFi.

Because he is getting both slower speeds inside his room that I get in my bedroom with the same model wired access point serving both rooms from inside the rooms. And because the internet occasionally drops there. Swapping out the AP device for an identical spare made no difference. I have ordered a continuity tester to check the wire, before ordering an extender that will be wireless. 

He also gets noticeably slower speeds that I get on my hand me down iPhone in his room with the two phones kept by side; but I can only solve one mystery at a time.

All my Sonos kit is on Sonosnet, with all but one zone wired back to the core network, and that will remain so. It is rock solid, and I do not want that to change.

All this is leading to mulling over retiring my Apple TC base station that has been working since 2011 for a mesh set up that seems to be the latest/greatest thing in home WiFi, but I have read so many posts about people suffering two steps back for one step forward with these, so bear with me while I first describe my full set up that was working fine till a couple of days ago; issue just now is just in my son’s bedroom.

Large open plan core for living/kitchen/dining/balcony. Two bedrooms on either side of the core, with a third TV room to one side as well. Brick/mortar walls, where present. Apple TC doing base station duty placed along one wall in the core, wired to incoming broadband feed and to an unmanaged switch to distribute lan wired signals to Sonos and to access points. All 5 Sonos zones are in open plan core and all but one are wired back to the switch; the unwired zone is on Sonosnet. All Sonos units supplied by Echo units and grouped play done via Echo groups, so the Sonos units could even work unwired, with disabled radios - except that once in a while I use the local NAS for owned music for which Sonos controller app/Sonosnet is a must to access the music. All Sonos kit has reserved addresses. All this described is still working fine.

Neither of the two bedrooms have or will have Sonos in future. Both are served by wired access points with DHCP set to off, and allow wireless access in those bedrooms to the net for computers and Echo/Fire TV sticks. The point in my son’s bedroom also serves the TV Firestick in the third room, the TV room, via line of sight signals. All of this also works fine, except for the recent issue in one bedroom where the Homepod addition has thrown up some issues there.

The questions now in connection with a move to a mesh WiFI:

  1. Do the main units of these mesh systems commonly have a LAN port to which an unmanaged switch can be wired, to continue to send wired signals to all the Sonos units as the Apple TC does today, and to my bedroom’s wired access point, and will these then behave as if there has been no change upstream of them?
  2. If yes, is it still necessary that IP reservation is needed for Sonos units? I ask because I suspect this may be as hard to do in the new systems as it is easy to do in Apple.
  3. Will all Sonos units - wired and the one wireless one that works via Sonos net - automatically connect to the mesh primary unit if I assign the same SSID/password to it that the Apple TC has just now?

The thinking is to have just one prime and one secondary mesh unit - the later to be placed to serve my son’s bedroom and the TV room that is across the corridor from that bedroom. The wire that is run to that bedroom will then be left unused.

And finally, for all of the above, is there any mesh system that is a “don’t buy because it won’t be compatible with these needs”?

And I suppose I should ask the same question of Amazon for its Echo/Firesticks as well? And similarly, of Apple?

Userlevel 6
Badge +11

I think this link may answer some of your questions, by chance I was reading it yesterday:

Here in the UK, many of the larger broadband providers can bundle a WiFi mesh network with their broadband service, not sure if that type of offering is available to you?

 

We do not have bundling which leaves us free to choose our hardware.

There is a lot on the thread you linked, and I will read it fully, but the most important question is - are there any makes of mesh WiFi that I should stay away from?

As long as I get that part right when buying, I think reading and then asking questions here if needed should solve any issues that may arise.

Since you will be using SonosNet, most of the common SONOS issues introduced with a mesh will not concern you. Eero can be a challenge for WiFi SONOS units.

Don’t hesitate even a fraction of a second to replace your Apple network. Modern WiFi has evolved considerably from those Neandertal days of 2011.

Userlevel 6
Badge +11

Any modern mesh system will be an improvement on your 2011 TC & $20 TP-Link extenders (APs).

Maybe there is something in Ratty’s cupboard you can use? 😀

Maybe there is something in Ratty’s cupboard you can use? 😀

I’m afraid my cupboard is stacked with boring old APs and extenders, after I switched to an ASUS mesh. 

Gents, don’t run down the 2011 set up; it has worked brilliantly with the TP access points and continues to do so; ironically, it has taken Apple HomePods to perhaps show up its shortcomings!

If I do change to mesh, it will probably be one of the TP Deco units. I don’t see any justification for anything fancier because even the present set up of Apple/TP is still good enough for two concurrent HD video streams, and no one does work from home involving important/extended zoom calls and the like. I will stay away from Eero.

@buzz : would a modern mesh set up where all but one Sonos is wired to the primary unit, still need IP reservations for Sonos to be stable? And since this has bitten me once: do modern mesh systems present the two DHCP server issue that tripped up my Sonos when I installed the TP APs? That problem was resolved by disabling DHCP on the TP units and never resurfaced thereafter.

Thank you for all the inputs so far!

Always reserve IP addresses. Since you have SonosNet capable units, keep the wired units wired to the router or a switch and you will avoid most of the issues that others have experienced with mesh systems. It is generally not a good idea to wire a SONOS unit to a mesh point.

Only one DHCP server should be enabled.

When you install, shut down all network clients, bring the mesh online, then start the clients. Since you will be using SonosNet, the SONOS units should come online without a fuss.

Only one DHCP server should be enabled.

 

Does that mean the mesh systems may have more than one running? And if yes, do all offer disabling of all but one as a standard feature? In the TP Link world, some extenders do wired AP mode, but do not have a DHCP toggle off switch, so one has to be careful to not install these models even in AP mode if Sonos is to work properly. I chanced upon one that does have this toggle, and that has worked well since DHCP was toggled to off. Leaving that even on Auto isn’t enough.

The mesh system will have only one DHCP server, but the original router will have a DHCP server. One of them must be disabled. Usually there is a master box associated with the mesh system. The master will potentially have the DHCP server and the mesh points will not or they will be bright enough to enable only one DHCP server.

Hallelujah! The HomePods work fine now stereo paired, and the 2011 Apple TC can continue.

My memory of the TP RE 305 extender was that in wired AP mode one could not turn DHCP off, but on installing the one I bought just now, I find that there is now a way to do this via its app. On so installing it in the bedroom at the end of an ethernet wire from the Apple, not only does it flood the room with 2.4 and 5 wireless, but it does not trouble Sonos back in the open space in any way. And since the Apple TC radios are hardly used except for a 5 GHz supply to a fire stick, any weakening there is not an issue, so it can soldier based on the philosophy: if it ain’t broke…

In the time it took for the TP to arrive, I checked everything that could be checked, so a good intellectual workout. Once the new TP was set up and all other device in the room had a rock steady WiFi, we found that one of the two HomePods was not showing up and some googling led to doing a full reset that involved a 3GB firmware download/ upgrade that had not installed properly the first time, probably because of flaky broadband signals at that time. What had fooled us is that HomePod was showing the post update firmware version as installed.

With this set up of two access points in two bedrooms wired back to the Apple TC, and the open plan space served by Sonos wired back to the same TC, I think that as and when the TC dies, I will replace it by a plain vanilla router, set it up with the same SSID/password, and wire its lan port to the switch where the wires from the APs and Sonos terminate, swapping out the present wire from the TC to said switch.

One reason to hold on to the Apple TC is how good the Apple utility to manage it is; very easy to understand and use via a Mac.

The HomePods are the first exception I found to the “it just works”, where Apple is concerned. 

No need to bother about mesh then. I can’t see what more it will give me in terms of user experience now or when the TC dies.

Again, thanks to all that contributed with suggestions.

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