Mesh WiFi systems blanket your home with extended WiFi coverage for faster speeds and seamless wireless access. They offer an adaptable network that sends your data in the most efficient way. As you move a device around your home, a mesh system automatically gives you the strongest available signal by switching to the closest “node”, a small device also called a satellite or point. The system operates the way your cell phone automatically accesses the closest cell tower as you drive down the highway.
Designed to be customizable, most mesh systems come with an app to access all features. You can change your network settings to meet your needs: turn off WiFi to certain devices, create parental controls, and manage a separate guest network.
How does a mesh WiFi system work?
Well-known for being easy to set up, mesh systems don’t require an extensive tech background to understand. In fact, most mesh products are designed with “set-it-and-forget-it” simplicity. Then, if the household’s network needs change, it’s very simple to add or rearrange nodes.
A mesh system requires at least two nodes, but the exact amount depends on the size of your house. One node is plugged directly into the modem, and the other pods are simply plugged into outlets. Just like with a traditional router network, the modem, or “residential gateway”, is still used to deliver the internet connection from the network provider into the home.
Because mesh systems are so effective at providing consistent coverage over almost any space, some people use them for hard-to-reach areas like garages, basements, and outdoor areas. They are also used when there isn’t a central location to put a router or if the area that needs to be covered is over 3,000 square feet. Even if your home isn’t that large, mesh systems can be used in smaller spaces to increase the range of 5GHz WiFi frequency coverage for faster speeds. This could be important for people who like to game or households that have a lot of devices on the WiFi network at the same time.
What is the difference between a mesh system and an extender?
To cover areas where your wireless network doesn’t reach, you can add extenders, multiple routers, or switch to a mesh WiFi system. All three are viable solutions to cover WiFi dead spots. However, individual extenders and routers typically require typing in a new password and manually switching between networks as a device moves through the space because each one broadcasts on a separate signal. Mesh systems, on the other hand, have completely interconnected nodes, which can make them more reliable.
Where traditional Wi-Fi systems are static and centralized, mesh systems are deeply distributed through your house. This blanket coverage allows the mesh system to correct itself and avoid any data routing conflicts. For example, if one node is congested with multiple devices, the mesh network will adapt to minimize slowdowns. Even if a node stops working, data will be rerouted so that you don’t notice the difference. While this makes mesh systems easier to use, they tend to be pricier than some other options for improving coverage.
Network control is put in your hands with a mesh WiFi system, as most mesh products come with a companion app. While specific features vary by model, the app usually lets you look at connected devices, change parental controls and manage the network. This kind of easy control allows for network priority, which is especially appealing for households with numerous devices and family members fighting for broadband space. Imagine you have an important business meeting coming up and you are worried the video will buffer. With a mesh system, you can temporarily disable other devices and give network priority to your laptop for a seamless experience.
If you are worried about security, look for mesh system models that have Advanced IoT Protection, which quarantine smart home devices when a threat is detected. Some models provide AdBlocking and Online Protection at the network, person, and device level. The mesh system’s app allows you to access all network data and security features.
Some mesh systems are delivered as a cloud service, which means the entire network can be controlled remotely. Operators can virtually troubleshoot and support your network needs, accessing your network data to suggest solutions. Updates can be sent over the cloud platform to continually improve your network experience. Cloud-based management makes it easy to optimize congestion and overall function.
For those who are conscious of style, mesh systems are also designed to be discreet. They blend into the space so you don’t have to hide any cords or large black boxes as you might with an extender or multiple routers. Although most are white, different designs are available.
At the end of the day, mesh systems provide a coverage solution to home networks that is appealing to people without much tech experience. They are a great option if the area you want to cover is over 3,000 square feet, contains hard-to-cover areas, or fast network speeds are a priority for you. For some, a mesh system could be more costly and provide more coverage than you need. As is the case with any tech product, it’s important to do your research to find the network solution best suited for your household’s needs.