A mesh WiFi system is made up of multiple access points that work together to provide strong WiFi coverage throughout your home. Unlike a traditional router which has limited range, mesh WiFi uses multiple units placed around your home to create a mesh network that eliminates dead zones. Mesh WiFi networks are easy to set up and the most user-friendly solution for homes.
Benefits of Mesh WiFi
Some key benefits of using a mesh WiFi system include:
- Whole home coverage: Mesh WiFi blankets your home in strong WiFi rather than having dead zones in parts of your house.
- Easy setup: Mesh systems come with apps that make installation straightforward without needing technical expertise.
- Single network: All mesh units broadcast one network name so devices automatically connect to the strongest signal as you move around. There’s no manually switching networks.
How Does Mesh WiFi Work?
A mesh network has one main router unit connected to your modem. This connects over WiFi to satellite units placed around your home. The satellites connect wirelessly back to the main unit to access the internet – this is called the “backhaul.” Your devices then connect to the closest satellite or main router for the best WiFi signal.
What’s the Difference Between Mesh WiFi and a Range Extender?
While both aim to expand WiFi coverage, a range extender simply boosts the existing WiFi signal from your router into dead zones. This means devices disconnect and reconnect when switching between the router and extender networks. With mesh WiFi all units use the same network name so devices seamlessly roam without network switching.
Mesh WiFi Features
Key features of mesh WiFi systems include:
All mesh units broadcast one WiFi network. So devices automatically connect to the closest node without having to manually switch networks.
The mesh nodes constantly communicate with each other to determine the most efficient data routing paths back to the main router. This helps avoid congestion and maximize WiFi speeds.
If one node goes offline, the others automatically reroute connections through the mesh to avoid disruption. This provides excellent network resilience.
The backhaul refers to how data travels between the satellite nodes and main router. There are three main backhaul methods used in mesh systems with dedicated, shared and wired backhaul.
Shared Backhaul with Dual Band
Entry-level mesh systems use the same 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio bands for both device connections and the backhaul. This can result in congestion and slower speeds.
Dedicated Backhaul with Tri Band
Higher-end mesh systems add a dedicated 5GHz radio for the backhaul to avoid congestion with your device’s WiFi connections. This extra radio band is called tri-band and provides faster backhaul speeds.
Newer WiFi 6E mesh systems will have an additional 6GHz band, therefore these will be tri-band for shared backhaul, and quad-band for a dedicated backhaul.
Wired Back Haul
For the fastest and most reliable backhaul, some mesh systems let you connect satellites to the main router using ethernet cables. This is the preferred option when possible.
Recommended Companies for Mesh WiFi Systems
Some top manufacturers of mesh WiFi networking gear include:
- Eero (owned by Amazon)
- Netgear Orbi
- Linksys Velop
- TP-Link Deco
- Asus ZenWiFi
- Google Nest Wifi