What is Mesh WiFi, and Should You Get It? WiFi Range Extender vs. Mesh WiFi 

Mesh Wifi vs Wi-Fi Range Extender

A mesh network is a decentralized network topology where each node (or device) acts as a connection point, relaying data to and from other nodes. This creates a web-like structure, allowing devices to communicate with each other directly, even if they’re not in range of the main router. Mesh networks are self-healing, meaning that if one node goes down, the network automatically reroutes traffic through other nodes to maintain connectivity.

What is Mesh WiFi?

Mesh WiFi is a type of mesh network specifically designed for wireless internet connectivity. It uses multiple access points (APs) to create a network of interconnected nodes, providing a strong and reliable WiFi signal throughout your home or office. Each AP communicates with the others, ensuring that your devices stay connected to the best possible signal.

How Mesh WiFi Works

Mesh WiFi combines both hardware and software components to establish a network of interconnected Access Points (APs), each with its unique identifier. These APs communicate with each other wirelessly, forming a mesh-like structure for data transmission.

When a device connects to the network, it automatically links to the closest AP with the strongest signal. Through ongoing communication, the APs collaborate to find the best route for data transmission, considering factors such as signal strength, network congestion, and device location.

As devices move around the network, they seamlessly switch to the nearest AP with the strongest signal, ensuring a continuous connection. Mesh networking technology enables APs to act as repeaters, amplifiers, and switches, extending coverage, boosting signal strength, and optimizing connections.

One key advantage of mesh WiFi is its self-healing capability. If an AP fails, the remaining APs reroute traffic to maintain connectivity, reducing downtime and disruptions.

Overall, mesh WiFi provides a reliable internet connection without dead spots or dropped connections, making it suitable for applications requiring high-speed and low-latency connectivity.

Advantages of Mesh WiFi

AdvantagesDetails
Whole-Home CoverageMesh WiFi provides a strong and reliable internet connection throughout your entire home or office, eliminating dead spots and dropped connections.
Seamless ConnectivityMesh WiFi ensures that your devices stay connected to the strongest signal as you move around, providing a seamless and uninterrupted internet experience.
ScalabilityMesh WiFi networks are highly scalable, making it easy to add more Access Points (APs) as needed to expand your network and meet growing demands.
Improved SecurityMesh WiFi networks often come with built-in security features such as encryption and firewalls, providing an additional layer of protection for your devices and data.
Self-HealingMesh WiFi networks are self-healing, meaning that if one AP goes down, the other APs will automatically reroute traffic to maintain connectivity.
Reduced CongestionMesh WiFi networks use multiple APs to distribute traffic, reducing congestion and ensuring faster speeds and lower latency.
Easy Setup and ManagementMesh WiFi networks are often easy to set up and manage, with many systems offering mobile apps and web interfaces for configuration and monitoring.

Disadvantages of Mesh WiFi

DisadvantagesDetails
Higher CostMesh WiFi systems are often more expensive than traditional WiFi routers and extenders, especially for larger homes or offices.
Complexity in setupMesh WiFi networks can be more complex to set up and manage, especially for those without technical expertise.
InterferenceMesh WiFi networks can be prone to interference from other devices and networks, which can impact performance and reliability.
MaintenanceMesh WiFi networks require regular maintenance and updates to ensure optimal performance and security.

Key Features to Consider

When purchasing a mesh Wi-Fi system, consider the following key features:

  1. Wi-Fi Technology: Look for systems that support the latest Wi-Fi standards, such as Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E, to future-proof your investment.
  2. Speed: Consider the transfer speeds offered by the system, with options ranging from standard speeds to gigabit-level performance.
  3. Coverage: Ensure the system provides adequate coverage for your home, including outdoor areas if needed.
  4. Device Support: Determine how many devices the system can support, especially if you have a growing number of smart devices.
  5. MU-MIMO and Backhaul: Look for features like MU-MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) and backhaul connectivity for improved performance and reliability.
  6. Guest Network: Consider systems that offer a separate guest network for added security and convenience.
mesh wifi

Mesh WiFi vs Extender: What’s the difference?

WiFi extenders are devices that repeat the signal from your main router, extending the coverage area but often at the cost of reduced speeds and increased latency. They also create a separate network, causing devices to switch between networks as you move around.

Mesh WiFi, in contrast, creates a single, unified network, eliminating the need for separate networks and ensuring that your devices stay connected to the best possible signal.

wifi extenders

Advantages:

  1. Easy to set up: WiFi extenders are simple to configure and set up. Just plug them in, connect to your router, and you’re good to go.
  2. Cost-effective: WiFi extenders are a budget-friendly option for extending your WiFi coverage. They’re often less expensive than upgrading your router or installing a mesh network.
  3. Convenient: WiFi extenders are small and compact, making them easy to place in any room or location.
  4. Works with traditional routers: WiFi extenders are compatible with most traditional routers, making them a great option if you’re not ready to upgrade to a mesh network.
  5. Fast internet speeds: WiFi extenders can provide fast internet speeds, making them ideal for streaming, gaming, and other online activities.

Disadvantages:

  1. Manual network switching: WiFi extenders require you to manually switch your device to the new network, which can be inconvenient.
  2. Limited compatibility: WiFi extenders may not be compatible with all routers, so be sure to check compatibility before purchasing.
  3. Speed and bandwidth loss: Since extenders act as intermediaries between your device and the router, they can reduce speed and bandwidth, sometimes by almost half.

Is Mesh WiFi Right for You?

Choosing between mesh WiFi and WiFi extenders depends on your specific requirements, budget, and technical proficiency. If you’re seeking a simple and affordable solution to boost your signal to a small space or area, a WiFi extender may suffice. However, for those desiring higher speeds and comprehensive coverage, mesh WiFi is definitely worth considering. With its ability to provide a strong and consistent signal to every corner of your space, mesh WiFi is ideal for:

– Large homes or offices with multiple floors or rooms
– Homes with thick walls or interference from other devices
– Families with multiple devices connected to the internet at the same time
– Gamers and streamers who require low latency and high speeds

Regardless of your decision, thorough research and consultation with experts is essential. Contact us today to speak to an expert.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to replace my router to use mesh WiFi?

No, you don't need to replace your router to use mesh WiFi. Mesh WiFi systems are designed to work with your existing router, and can be easily set up and configured to provide a seamless WiFi experience.

How many nodes do I need for mesh WiFi?

The number of nodes you need for mesh WiFi depends on the size of your home and the number of obstacles, such as walls and furniture. A general rule of thumb is to use one node for every 1,000 square feet of coverage area.

Do mesh networks need to be hardwired?

Mesh networks can operate wirelessly, but some systems offer the option for wired connections between nodes for enhanced performance and stability. Hardwiring mesh nodes using Ethernet cables can provide faster data speeds and reduce potential interference, especially in high-traffic areas or environments with many devices.

Can you use a WiFi extender with a mesh WiFi?

While it's technically possible to use a WiFi extender with a mesh WiFi, it's generally not recommended.Mesh WiFi is designed to provide seamless coverage and eliminate dead zones, whereas WiFi extenders simply rebroadcast the existing signal and can lead to network degradation. It's best to rely solely on the mesh WiFi for consistent and reliable coverage throughout your home.

Can I use mesh WiFi with my existing devices?

Yes, mesh WiFi is compatible with most devices that support WiFi, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles.

Is mesh WiFi secure?

Yes, mesh WiFi networks are highly secure, with built-in security features such as encryption and firewalls to protect your devices and data from unauthorized access.