When your home wifi just works, you get an instant connection to all your devices whenever you want. And, depending on your provider, there are some superfast speeds available helping you work at home while all the family watch, stream, or download anytime they like.
But your speed is only as good as your wifi range. So if you’re trying to connect from anywhere that’s too far from your main wifi router, your signal could be weak, patchy, or just drop out altogether. This is where mesh wifi can help give your home wifi a much-needed boost. But, what is mesh wifi? We explain everything in this full guide.
What is Mesh WiFi?
A mesh wifi system is designed to extend your wifi signal beyond its normal reach which could be a game-changer for your home, or home working, internet use.
Though a mesh wifi system has a main home wifi router, it also uses two or more satellite devices (or hubs) that work with each other to provide a seamless network. This gives you full wifi coverage and strong connectivity throughout your home, filling any awkward or large spaces to all those normally hard to reach places, otherwise known as ‘dead zones’.
Understanding Mesh WiFi Routers
When you use a standard, central router in your home, every device will connect to it, or at least it will try to. Depending on how far away you are from the router, you may have some trouble connecting, or your signal might be weak or slow. This is where a mesh wifi network comes into its own.
How Does Mesh WiFi Work?
Mesh wifi uses one hub as your main router which is wired and connected much like a traditional router. The other hubs then become satellites of that main router and allow you to connect to the nearest hub, wherever you are in the house.
The easiest way to describe this is to imagine a mesh wifi system as an upgraded, beefed-up, and better system of multiple wifi extenders. But wifi extenders work independently whereas a mesh wifi system works as one, so it’s really easy to install, use, and manage.
Since becoming available in 2015, mesh wifi for homes and smaller networks has increased in popularity. But, as with most tech, it might not be right for everyone. Let’s have a look at some mesh wifi pros and cons.
PROS of a Mesh WiFi Router
1. Better signal coverage
One of the most important things for any online user is a strong and reliable signal, and mesh wifi definitely gives you that. The addition of satellite hubs gives you a better network with strong and secure coverage, all but eliminating signal weakness or dropouts.
2. Add or remove hubs
Because the mesh wifi system works with itself, it can be as big or as small as you need it to be. If you’re living in a bigger house or a home with multiple stories, you can just add hubs to enlarge the network system without weakening the signal.
3. Easy to use
Older wifi extenders worked alone to give you separate network connections, using different log-in details and different network names. Mesh wifi uses a single connection and intelligently connects you to the nearest hub.
CONS of a Mesh WiFi Router
1. Can be expensive
Mesh wifi routers can get expensive if you’re looking to create a network over a much larger space with additional hubs. If money is a factor, it might be better to invest in better quality standard routers.
2. Needs more hardware
To give you the best coverage, you’ll need more hardware (satellite hubs) for your mesh wifi network to work well. This impacts the cost (see above), but also means you’ll need to find space for more equipment.
3. Can lack speed
Internet speeds can still be an issue over larger distances. The further you and your satellite hubs are away from your main mesh router, depending on your mesh wifi set-up, you might not feel the benefit.
Do You Need Mesh WiFi?
So how do you know if you really need mesh wifi? Now more people are working from home, and homeschooling, as well as using wifi to stream and download games or movies, the need for a strong wifi signal at home is essential.
If your home currently has several dead zones and your wifi signal drops out, slows down, or disappears altogether when you move from room to room, chances are you could benefit from a mesh wifi network.
What are the Differences Between Mesh WiFi Routers and Traditional WiFi Routers?
A traditional wifi router is a single point that every device uses to connect. This is great when it works, but it’s also a single point of failure too. So if something goes wrong, every device will lose online access. A traditional router is also non-upgradeable so even if you use a wifi extender, if the router produces a weak signal, the extended signal will also be weak.
A mesh wifi router and each of the satellite hubs link together to give you wider coverage. And, if one of your satellite hubs stops working for any reason, the others will carry on seamlessly, leaving the network up and running for your devices. And you can add satellite hubs as well, increasing your wifi coverage if needed.
What are the Differences Between Mesh WiFi and a Range Extender?
Both will do a similar job, but with one key difference. By using wifi extenders, you need to log-in to the network it uses so you can get online. Plus, if your main router produces a weak signal, an extender will just replicate it.
A mesh wifi system works to give you the strongest possible wifi in all areas of your home all the time on a single network. Plus, it’s faster and smarter at expanding your wifi coverage overall.
Mesh WiFi FAQ’s
Can I add a mesh router to an existing network?
Yes. If your current standard router is relatively new and has mesh wifi capability, you can add mesh routers to create a mesh wifi network without replacing the router you already have.
Do I need a new router to install mesh WiFi?
For ease and simplicity, it might be best to use an all-new mesh wifi router to ensure your mesh wifi network is as good as it can be. But, as above, you can use existing hardware if it has the capability.
Does mesh WiFi work with older devices?
Yes. Whatever the age of your device, if it has the ability to connect to wifi, you can connect to your mesh wifi system in the same way.
Get a WiFi boost with Geeks On Wheels
With everything we’ve talked about here, there’s plenty for you to think about. But to help you find the right mesh wifi system for your home or office, Geeks On Wheels have the specialist knowledge for all your questions, so you make the right choice.
Give yourself the answers you need and the wifi you deserve – contact Geeks On Wheels today.