What Are Mesh Wi-Fi Systems, and How Do They Work?

Mesh WifiIf there are places in your home where the WiFi coverage is not the best, chances are that you have thought about getting a mesh WiFi system. Their popularity has increased significantly over the last years, but many people are still not sure what a mesh WiFi is and if you are one of them, don’t worry, here we will help you to clarify your doubts about them. You will find out what a mesh WiFi is and will also understand what is the difference between this and a traditional WiFi extender.

What is Mesh WiFi?

Let’s start with the definition of mesh WiFi. In order to solve WiFi dead spots issues at home, WiFi extenders have been an effective solution for a few years. However, mesh WiFi systems have gained recognition thanks to their simple set up and ease of use.

Mesh WiFi systems feature two or more devices similar to routers that work together to cover your entire home with WiFi signal. It is like a system that comprises multiple WiFi extenders, but it is easier to set up and you won’t need to assign multiple network names or complete other additional steps required by other extenders. You just need to plug in the devices and follow a few simple steps in the app that comes with them. When everything is set up, you can easily manage the network and since there are no complicated features, you will be able to use the system without hassle. Before Eero launched a home mesh WiFi system, mesh networking was already available. However, it was this manufacturer that made it popular in the way we know today. Since it was launched, many other companies have released products based on Mesh technology

What is the difference of using Mesh WiFi and an Extender?

Mesh WiFi network can be managed through an easy to use mobile app, instead than having to use the router’s admin page, which is way more complicated. Thanks to this, you can adjust the settings and get an overview of your network, without any hassle. With mesh networking, the router-like devices can communicate with each other in any sequence possible. The same cannot be said about traditional WiFi extenders, which can only establish communication with the main router. If you set up multiple WiFi extenders, usually they are not able to communicate with one another. Mesh WiFi units, on the other hand, are able to communicate with any unit they want to offer the best possible coverage to all devices, which gives them a huge advantage.

For instance, if you set up the first and second mesh unit at home, you won’t need to worry about placing a third unit near the first one because it will simply get the signal from the second device that you set up. This gives you the chance to establish a large range that could not be achieved with WiFi extenders. In addition, if you open a WiFI analyzing app, you will notice that the mesh WiFi network is in fact handling separate WiFi networks, one for each unit that you have set up. Traditional WiFi extenders work this way, but with them, you will often need to switch between networks manually. This is not necessary with a mesh WiFi network because it still works as a single network, meaning that your devices will switch between mesh units automatically.

One thing to keep in mind is that some WiFi extenders are able to work in the same way. The D-Link DAP-1520 is a good example. However, the caveat is that they use WIFi to establish communication with your router and devices, which has a significant impact on the WiFi extenders and affects speed. It should be mentioned that mesh networking devices such as the Eero, feature multiple radios within every unit. This means that one radio will be able to handle communication with other mesh units, while the other radio can be used to communicate with your devices. This distributes tasks effectively, which results in better WiFi signal and performance.

What are the downsides of Mesh WiFi systems?

In general, Mesh WiFi systems seem like the answer to WiFi coverage issues, but that doesn’t mean that they are a flawless solution. The main downside is that mesh WiFi systems can be significantly more expensive (more than double the price, in some cases) than traditional WiFi extenders. The good news is that if you have the technical skills to manage the router settings to set up WiFi extenders around home, you can probably do it for less. However, if you are not able to do it on your own, it should be said that investing on a mesh WiFi system is worth considering in any case.

Apart from the price, another issue with mesh systems is that they don’t offer all the advanced features that you can find on traditional routers. Still, there are some mesh systems that offers useful features including guest mode, parental controls and restricted access. Besides, you can continue using your current router and plug your mesh WiFi system into an open Ethernet port on the router. Then you can put mesh devices into bridge mode so that it works as an improved system of WiFi extenders. Mesh WiFi is a practical solution, but it may not be the right one in every case. If you have the knowledge to modify your network settings and prefer to have total control, mesh WiFi is probably not for you. However, it will work well for those who are not tech-savvy and need to fix WiFi coverage issues at home.

Renee Biana

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