Mesh WiFi systems, while very useful, can be extremely confusing. With mesh systems not being as commonplace as standard WiFi routers, many people are unaware of what they do, and how they work.
The name just doesn’t seem to accurately explain what it is, and these systems can be referred to in many different ways, which makes it hard to find more information.
Mesh WiFi systems are also called “WiFi mesh network systems,” “wireless mesh networks,” “WiFi mesh router systems,” “mesh WiFi routers,” “home mesh WiFi networks,” and “home mesh WiFi systems.” They’re all one and the same.
A mesh system aids in getting your WiFi signal throughout your home, ensuring that you have no dead spots that are simply too far away from your router. You won’t have to walk around your home looking for the best signal, as you’ll have a strong signal throughout.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding mesh WiFi systems, it can be difficult to determine if you really need one or not. And if you do, it’s difficult to know what to look for when shopping for one.
For this reason we’ve included BestReviews reviewers’ five best options for mesh WiFi systems.
Are you still looking for more information on shopping for mesh WiFi systems before making your ultimate choice? Read on to get all your questions answered.
What are mesh WiFi systems?
When your home has difficulty holding the WiFi throughout the whole building, and it ends up with dead spots, traditionally users have ended up with a WiFi extender. Mesh WiFi systems are another option, as they can be easier to use and setup.
The system contains multiple devices, somewhat like routers, that coordinate to completely cover a home with WiFi. These devices are called stations, nodes, or units. For this article, we’ll refer to them as stations.
Eero was the first company to develop and release a Mesh WiFi System. Other prominent technology brands, such as Google, LinkSys, and D-Link, were quick to add their own mesh WiFi systems to the marketplace.
Mesh systems benefits
So how do you know if you need a mesh WiFi system is the right solution for your home? The following are the benefits which should help you determine if you’re truly in need of a system like this or not.
These are often included with the mesh WiFi systems, and they help you to more easily manage your network.
Fits easily with your decor
While routers are often big black boxes, the mesh WiFi system stations that are placed throughout your home fit in with your decorating scheme, and don’t look as boxy and technical.
This is particularly helpful if you don’t know a lot about technology. There will be minimal work required on your part to set it up.
You just connect a base station to your modem, then add the other stations throughout your home, wherever you’re getting weak or no signal.
No more weak spots
Because the system is a series of multiple WiFi stations throughout your home, they overlap each other to leave you with no dead areas.
You can use your smart appliances, such as speakers, scales, and home automation devices, without lapses in functionality.
DID YOU KNOW?
If one station loses power, it won’t affect your whole network. The rest of the network will continue on without it.
The difference between a mesh WiFi system and WiFi extenders
The main difference between a mesh WiFi system and WiFi extenders is that extenders are meant to just boost your signal of your existing router, whereas a mesh WiFi system is meant to replace your existing system.
Additionally, the stations in a mesh system communicate with one another in the shortest sequence available.
Extenders, however, don’t operate as smoothly, and can be more complicated to configure and use. Sometimes the signal has to go from the extender all the way to the router, whereas in a mesh system the stations often make a shorter connection by talking to each other.
A traditional router’s WiFi signal can potentially cover a 3,000-square-foot house, but only if it’s placed exactly in the middle of the building. If it’s placed where the cable service comes in, most likely in a corner of the house, half of the WiFi coverage is outside, and the opposite end of the house isn’t covered.
What to look for when buying a mesh WiFi system
Once you’ve determined that it’s definitely a mesh WiFi system that you need for your home, the following criteria should help you narrow down which one is best for you.
Some users may feel speed is most important, while others may feel ease of use, aesthetics, or price should be the determining factor. Regardless, once you have your new system setup, you want to be sure it’s working for you.
If you’ve spent a lot of money on decor, and everything is already exactly the way you like it in you home, the appearance of the stations will be important to you. Each manufacturer uses a different design, so you can choose the one that will look the best in your home.
DID YOU KNOW?
Stations can be placed as far as thirty to fifty feet apart, but can also be placed closer to be sure you’re blanketing your whole home in WiFi.
If you’re on the internet at all times, if you do a lot of work at home, or if you do a lot of gaming or streaming of music or video, speed is going to be very important to you. Choose a system that will meet the speed you require.
Wireless standards of routers are graded by letter. While 802.11n is the standard, 802.11ac is faster. An 802.11n router transfers data at 450 Mbps, and an 802.11ac router transfers data at 1331 Mbps.
If you have an 802.11ac-equipped device, it will still work with your 802.11n-equipped router, but in order to enjoy the speed of the “ac,” you need both your router and device to be 802.11ac.
You may experience slower speeds if your signal has to hop through several mesh stations to get to you from the base station.
Ease of use
Perhaps you’re not the most technical person, and in that case you’re going to want to choose a system that is easy to use and easy to set up.
You’ll want one that has a good smartphone app, and not one that requires you to set it up via the web browser.
Most mesh systems are as easy as plug-and-play.
DID YOU KNOW?
You won’t need to worry about upgrading your system when it becomes necessary, as mesh WiFi systems will get either software or firmware updates automatically.
Price is often the determining factor of many things for many people. And once again the size of your space comes into play.
Most mesh WiFi systems come with three units and some only two, so depending on the size and layout of your home, you may need more than just the basic setup which should run you anywhere from $200 to $500.