Have you ever experienced full Wi-Fi connectivity in one room of your home and the moment you enter another room that glorious connection is lost? If so, you’re definitely not alone. So how do you get around the problem? One solution is a simple-to-use mesh network.
A mesh network gives you a seamless connection to Wi-Fi all over your house and your outdoor spaces. It’s also easy to install and manage. No wonder it’s becoming one of the top options for Wi-Fi connectivity in homes across the country.
The basics of a network
Before we launch into more about a mesh Wi-Fi network, it’s good to know what a network is in the first place. At its core, a network is a group of computers and devices that are linked together to connect people and enable the sharing of information. The internet is often considered to be the network of all networks.
Some networks are linear with components communicating in a straight line. Mesh is different. It’s more like a net or a web and provides coverage from all angles.
Mesh gives you total Wi-Fi coverage
Mesh networks use multiple, smaller routers, commonly called nodes. The main node gets plugged into the modem used by your internet provider; the other nodes pick up the wireless signal and extend it to the area around where they’re placed.
The nodes don’t rely on direct communication with the router, they simply rely on each other to continue delivering a strong home Wi-Fi signal.
A mesh network vs. a wireless extender
In theory, a wireless extender achieves the same goal as a mesh network by giving you more Wi-Fi coverage in your home. The problem with an extender is that you have to manually switch networks to get better Wi-Fi coverage from one location in your house to another. The extender takes away your freedom to move around and stay connected. So much for uninterrupted video watching, gaming or simply catching up on emails.
With a mesh network, you get seamless roaming. All you need is one network name and password to stay connected to the strongest signal wherever you are within that network.
The benefits of a mesh network
As if full Wi-Fi coverage weren’t enough, mesh networks have other advantages that are good to know about as you decide if this is right for you.
- Easy to install and manage. If any adjustments are needed, simply use a smartphone app.
- The nodes look better than traditional routers. They’re a lot less clunky and obtrusive, so you can put them out in any room in your home.
- Unlike traditional routers, a mesh router gets around brick walls and other electronics so that the communication path remains clear.
- Because the nodes work together, if one goes down you still won’t lose total connectivity.
- Parental control is in your hands. You can create profiles for family members so that you can limit access and time-of-day usage accordingly.
- For added security, most systems send a push notification when someone new is trying to join the network.
- A mesh network has flexible bandwidth, which is perfect for gamers or video watchers.
A couple of drawbacks
Mesh Wi-Fi networks can be pricey because you may have to purchase multiple nodes to cover your entire house. Additionally, mesh networks aren’t beneficial for people living in a small space like a one-bedroom apartment simply because there isn’t a need to extend the connectivity across multiple rooms.
Things to consider before you install
To get up and running on a mesh network, all you really need in addition to the nodes are a mobile app and an internet connection. Pre-planning makes all the difference though so check out these handy tips:
- Plan for the right amount of coverage. Figure the square footage of your home’s interior and the outdoor spaces that you want to cover. Be sure to include the distances between floors if you live in a multi-level home. Once you make your calculations and are ready to purchase a network, keep in mind that coverage varies from one system to the next so shop carefully.
- Start with a router that delivers maximum speed and performance.
- Remember that walls and doorways affect wireless signal transmissions.
- The position of each node is important for full coverage and no dead zones. The main router node should be close to your cable modem or existing router and out in the open rather than in a closet or tucked way back in a corner. It should also sit near an AC wall outlet.
- To make placement as efficient as possible, many systems have built-in alerts that let you know if you’re too far away from the main node or a previously installed node.
- Place nodes within 6 – 8 feet of any devices that benefit from a wired LAN connection such as gaming devices or TVs.
Get connected your way
If you crave better connectivity, then a mesh Wi-Fi network might be perfect for you. But before you jump in, check out other home Wi-Fi service plans to be sure you’ve covered all the bases.