There’s a lot of choice out there when it comes to Wi-Fi home technology. The latest addition to the Wi-Fi world is the mesh router. Mesh networks are used in large places that require protected secure networks, such as businesses and military bases. These mesh networks have recently become available for residential users but the question is “do you need one?”
If you live in a large home – such as one over 3,000 square feet – or in a home with an unusual layout, with more than two stories, then chances are you have a lot of internet dead zones in your home. If that sounds like you then you might benefit from installing a mesh network and mesh router.
Several big names in the industry have started offering their own mesh routers, such as Linksys, Netgear, Samsung, and even Google are getting involved. With all of that choice and the improved popularity of mesh networks, many people are questioning what mesh Wi-Fi routers are and if they need one.
What are Mesh Wireless Routers?
You most likely know what a router is as it’s at the heart of every Wi-Fi network. This is the central part of the network that broadcasts wireless signals to connected devices. The router essentially routes internet traffic between devices and modems. It’s what sends the signal from the modem to your computer or phone. Most people completely forget that their router even exists until there’s a problem with their connection and they have to reset it to start things going again.
The main problem with the traditional wireless router is that they have a limited range. Large buildings with multiple floors that all need wireless access are limited and have almost non-existent internet coverage. These lands where the internet forgot are known as “dead zones” and are created when a single-point router can’t reach a particular area.
Mesh wifi routers can help to eliminate the problem of dead zones. Instead of sending out signals from a single fixed location, these networks offer a range of network access points. There is one main connection to the modem that works similar to a router, but there are other access points – called satellites – that capture this signal and broadcast it as if they were another router.
The Benefits of Using a Mesh Router
There are several benefits to using a mesh router for your network. The most obvious benefit is the increased range and reliability of the Wi-Fi signal, but it’s not the only benefit.
Better Network Management
Something that sets mesh networks apart from traditional routers is that they make it much easier to manage the network. Most mesh routers operate on a fully automated basis. Administrators can control and access the network through an app, even when out of the home or office.
If you want to extend the range of a traditional Wi-Fi network you would have to use a range extender. These work similar to the satellites of a mesh network by capturing and rebroadcasting the signal. The difference is that they often require users to manually create separate networks with unique names for the extender.
As well as being easier to control and manage, many mesh routers come with better security than standard network routers. Because they are so much easier to manage, users will have an easier time keeping their network safe. Mesh Wi-Fi routers automatically check for firmware updates and automatically install them too. Some of them even come with the ability to block known malicious websites that present a security risk to computers.
The Negatives of Using Mesh Routers
Mesh routers may come with a lot of great benefits, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their drawbacks. Here are some of the negatives of using mesh routers in your home.
Mesh routers can cost up to – and over – $300 for a good starter set. Additional satellites will cost an extra fee, often up to $100 per satellite. Traditional routers by themselves can cost around $100 for a good one, with range extenders costing between $20 and $100. You could create your own extended network for less than the cost of a mesh network.
Can Waste Resources
Mesh networks are only worth installing in homes that need them. The average mesh network is more than a small building or home needs. If you don’t have connection problems or you don’t have a high demand for the internet, then it’s probably excessive to invest in a mesh network. Range extenders can help cover up Wi-Fi dead zones and you can consider investing in a regular router with a greater range.
Uses More Equipment
While the access points of a mesh router are small and easily hidden, there’s still the fact that you might need several of them to take full advantage of a mesh network. You’ll need to find somewhere to store them in your home. That could be an issue for people who prefer having their network equipment in a single location out of the way.
Do You Need a Mesh Wi-Fi Router?
The biggest weakness of traditional routers is that they don’t cover large areas and buildings with walls that block signals. If you want a network that does, and you’re also interested in the other benefits of a mesh network system, then they could be the right choice for you.
If you live in a small home or apartment and don’t have any issue with Wi-Fi dead zones though, then the investment in a mesh network probably won’t be worth it. The question of whether or not you need a mesh Wi-Fi router depends on your needs and circumstances.