What is mesh wi-fi? Do you need it for your home or office?
Mesh wi-fi is a relatively new technology somewhat similar to “signal boosters” of the past. Instead of broadcasting wi-fi from one specific point (a router), a mesh network broadcasts wi-fi from numerous points, improving access to a strong wi-fi signal.
You may have heard this term from your office tech support team, your neighbor who’s hip to all the new hardware trends, or even your internet service provider (ISP).
In this article, our tech experts will break down everything the layman needs to know about mesh wi-fi systems, explore some scenarios where you should consider installing a mesh network and consider some pros and cons.
Let’s get started!
What Is Mesh Wi-Fi?
There are some crucial things to know about mesh wi-fi networks:
- Instead of broadcasting your wi-fi signal from one point (the router), a mesh system uses multiple “hubs” (essentially small routers) to broadcast your wi-fi signal from numerous locations.
- Unlike signal boosters of the past, mesh networks don’t cut into your bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of signal your router or hubs can broadcast at one time.
- The “mesh” network gets its name from the overlapping signals broadcast around your space. The signals theoretically cover more area and ideally overlap in some spots.
Physically, mesh wi-fi is different from a typical router system. Instead of choosing one location for your router, a mesh wi-fi network requires you to find multiple strategic locations where a small hub can broadcast a signal.
The catch: Mesh network hubs need to be able to reach each other to provide a robust and overlapping signal. This process doesn’t always require visual proximity, but it helps.
However, connecting to a mesh wi-fi network isn’t different from connecting to a router-broadcast wi-fi network. You still simply choose a network, enter the password, and connect.
How does Mesh WiFi work?
Mesh wifi is a type of wireless network that uses multiple access points, or nodes, to create a wireless mesh network. These mesh networks are more resistant to interference since they can connect with each other over their own separate channels.
Mesh WiFi works by creating a wireless network between interconnected nodes or satellites. In other words, instead of relying on one router to connect to the internet, Mesh WiFi will have multiple routers (nodes) connected and create a wireless network that gives you access to the internet from anywhere in your house or business.
When it comes to Mesh WiFi networks, your connectivity depends on how many people are looking for an internet connection at any given time. This means that even if you don’t have good internet coverage in one area of your home or business, you can still get online with Mesh WiFi thanks to its strong connectivity.
In addition to being able to get online anywhere, Mesh WiFi is also designed for less interference than traditional Wi-Fi networks. With this technology, your devices can connect seamlessly and reduce the risk of lagging or dropped connections as a result of interference.
Do You Need Mesh Wi-Fi?
Now that you know what mesh wi-fi is, how do you know if you need it in your home or office? Let’s explore scenarios where a mesh network would improve your wi-fi experience.
Do You Have a Large, Multi-Story Home?
If you live in a large home with multiple stories, you’ve probably experienced difficulties connecting to a wi-fi signal broadcast from only one location in your home. Perhaps you’ve even had to deal with the pitiful bandwidth provided by signal boosters or get a second router to cover more ground.
With a mesh network, these “solutions” are a thing of the past. Simply set up as many hubs as you need to broadcast signals throughout your entire home.
While most manufacturers recommend two to three hubs per floor, the number of hubs you’ll need depends on the room’s purpose, the number of users on the floor at one time, and the area’s bandwidth needs.
Do You Have Concrete Block or Plaster and Lath Walls?
Concrete block, brick, or plaster and lath walls are infamous for distorting, disrupting, or even blocking a router’s wi-fi signal.
While a mesh system won’t change how your signal can—or can’t—pass through walls, it can create more broadcast points, covering previously “dead zones” in your home or office.
Depending on your wall composition, you may need a hub in each room. However, they’ll broadcast a strong signal throughout your entire home, so you’ll no longer have to worry about finding a perfect spot for your router.
Are There “Dead Zones” in Your Office?
While you may connect your office computer to the company wi-fi network via an Ethernet cable, do you struggle to get a strong wi-fi signal in your cubicle or office?
Whether you conduct essential business from your smartphone or simply like to stream music on the clock, a strong wi-fi connection in an office building is a must.
With a mesh network, you can place hubs throughout the office, providing a strong signal in every corner of the building. While signal boosters can sometimes band-aid fix a poor connection at home, office buildings need to maintain a strong, reliable, fast wi-fi connection.
Mesh network hubs don’t slash bandwidth so that they can spread this strong, reliable, and fast signal throughout your office without any interruptions.
Differences between mesh WiFi and traditional router
A mesh wifi system is a type of WiFi system that uses multiple access points to provide users with a consistent connection. Users can also connect to other devices with the use of an Ethernet cable, which makes them more versatile than traditional routers.
Typically, you place the traditional WiFi routers in one location and they send signals out to all the other connected devices. Mesh wifi systems are much more different than traditional WiFi routers as they work together to create a network that covers the entire area.
Pros of Mesh Wi-Fi
If you’re still on the fence about installing a mesh wi-fi network in your home or office, let’s go over some benefits:
- Mesh wifi provides a stronger, more reliable signal to the nooks and crannies of your home. One of the most obvious benefits of Mesh WiFi is that it’s easily accessible from anywhere in your house or business. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a room on the second floor or one level down; you can get online with ease. Mesh WiFi also makes it easier to access the internet because it has multiple connections rather than just one, so there’s less chance for you to lose connectivity.
- Mesh wi-fi is easy to install, and you don’t have to involve your ISP in the setup process. Another difference is that mesh wifi systems do not require any hardware setup or configuration while traditional routers require a lot of work and many hours of research to set up properly. This means you will be able to get started with mesh wifi much faster than you would be with a traditional router.
- Most mesh Wi-Fi hardware (the hubs) is independent of ISPs. This is because they can be linked to smart home and office devices like Alexa or Google Home.
- Some mesh WiFi hardware manufacturers offer added privacy and cybersecurity safeguards, further protecting your home from hackers and web-based crime.
- You can still use a VPN with a mesh network.
- Mesh WiFi does not require an external antenna. The mesh WiFi is not dependent on having an external antenna. This is because it has its own internal transmitter which means it can provide better coverage throughout your house. Mesh wifi systems are typically made up of nodes that are placed throughout the rooms in your home. The nodes can provide strong WiFi signals in multiple areas simultaneously.
While you may be thinking, “What’s not to like?” keep in mind that no system is perfect or foolproof.
Cons of Mesh Wi-Fi
Mesh wi-fi does have one distinct disadvantage. While the setup is easy, it can be time-consuming.
Finding the perfect place while setting up a mesh wi-fi network can take some trial and error. For the hub signal broadcasts to overlap and form a mesh, each hub must be able to detect a signal from at least one other hub in your home or office.
While hubs don’t have to be within visual distance from each other to accomplish this, buildings with multiple floors can sometimes run into trouble during setup.
A pro tip: Put one hub in your stairwell to provide a transition from downstairs to upstairs.
Ultimately, if you’re willing to put in some time-consuming work on the front end and if you can withstand a little hub placement troubleshooting, the improved, widespread wi-fi signal is worth every moment spent on setup.
Related article: Mesh vs Access Point: Best Wi-Fi extension method for your home?
Is Mesh Wi-Fi for You?
Mesh wi-fi is superior to a traditional router wi-fi broadcast in just about every way, and it’s certainly superior to its predecessor, the signal booster.
The overlapping signals and multiple broadcast locations ensure that every inch of your home or office is covered. Moreover, you can access the wi-fi network from anywhere in your home.
While it does require a pretty significant time investment to set up, the benefits of a mesh wi-fi network significantly outweigh the drawbacks. If your home lacks signal coverage or if your office is full of dead zones, invest in a mesh wifi system today.
Which one should you buy for your home or business?
Mesh wifi systems are a type of WiFi router that works with your modem to provide better coverage and faster speeds than traditional routers. The difference between the two is in how they connect to the internet. Mesh wifi systems use a networking system known as “mesh networking”. Mesh networking means that each device in the network has access to the full range of available connections.
Traditional WiFi routers, on the other hand, use a centralized method called “star-networking”. A traditional router is made up of two devices: the access point and the bridge. The bridge will connect to a single internet connection and broadcast your network across your home with its main device. Because of this central control over devices, mesh networks can process more connections per second than traditional WiFi routers, leading to faster speeds and higher bandwidth.
While mesh wifi systems provide many benefits, they are also much more expensive than traditional WiFi routers. They typically cost around $100-$200 dollars each as opposed to $50-$70 dollars for traditional WiFi routers. But if you’re willing to pay more for a quality product that will give you better coverage and faster speeds without sacrificing ease-of-use or reliability, then mesh wifi systems might be worth it for your home or business.
The mesh network is a wireless network that consists of multiple interconnected devices which are able to communicate with each other. This creates a larger overall area for your WiFi coverage and allows you to place your router in different locations.
The idea of the mesh network grew out of military projects where they needed to cover large areas in remote places without having a centralized hub. In the past, it was difficult to find routers that would work with a mesh network but now there are plenty available.
What is Mesh WiFi?
A mesh network is a wireless network that’s simultaneously connected to multiple routers- called nodes/ satellites, rather than one router being connected to a single internet provider. With a mesh network, you can access the internet from any corner of your house or business, no matter how remote
Is mesh WiFi right for me?
If you’re looking for a wireless router solution that will provide access to stronger internet service, but don’t want to break the bank, mesh WiFi is probably for you.
Mesh WiFi routers can offer faster speeds and coverage depending on the type of network they are connected to. For example, if you have a high-speed internet provider (like fiber optic), your mesh WiFi could still be connected to it and work at its full potential.
Who should use mesh WiFi?
People who want to create their own network and have complete control over their connections are the best candidates for using this technology. This includes anyone who needs to get online even when they’re not in the same room as the main router. Additionally, businesses looking for a way to improve their connection and provide better services are also good candidates for Mesh WiFi networks.