Just about everyone depends on Wi-Fi these days. Whether it is something your kids use for school or work or something that you use for work and paying bills, it would probably be hard to imagine going an entire day without a Wi-Fi connection in the home. Sure, you might have cable or DSL available to you, but who wants to be tethered when you can walk around the home, office, or apartment completely cord-free? The only problem with this theory is that some routers are just aren’t built to provide Wi-Fi throughout the entire building. Whether it be building materials or dead spots, there are likely some areas of the home where your Wi-Fi signals aren’t as strong or reliable.
Thanks to technology there are now two main options available to combat this very issue. However, this is a problem with this as well. And, that problem is that choosing the right method to combat the issue really depends on a set of specific factors. It can depend on the size of the building you reside in as well as the type of router or network that you are currently using.
If your router or network is crap then the problem itself might lie right there. If this is the case, you might be able to install a mesh network and provide yourself with separate router-like devices in different rooms. If there’s already a decent network in place, you might be able to take advantage of what is known as an extender and just extend or duplicate your signal.
WiFi Extender vs Mesh WiFi – Which is Better?
Is A Mesh Network Better Than Extender? When it comes right down to it, the extender is nothing more than a patch or band-aid. This is not to say that it isn’t a permanent solution to your problem because it’ll certainly clear up the issue for good. It is just that it is more of an add-on approach. All you have to do is add the extender to your network and it’ll extend your current signal. This means that you still get to keep and utilize your existing router, which makes this type of installation a bit cheaper as compared to the mesh network.
Despite this, there re still some disadvantageous to this approach. And, one major disadvantage would be that they aren’t the easiest thing in the world to configure. In addition to this, they don’t offer a seamless connection throughout the entirety of the home. This type of approach is much more suitable for smaller homes because all it does is extend the signal with one extra device.
The mesh network is one that is more suitable for larger homes because it consists of separate hubs that are placed strategically throughout the home to provide Wi-Fi within range of each of the hubs. The only problem is that you’ll have to purchase several of these hubs if you are having connectivity issues in more than one room. Hubs will also need to be located within a reasonable distance to each other so that they can communicate properly. Each of them needs to be able to provide a full Wi-Fi signal to the room or area where they are placed.
As mentioned, these devices are perfect for larger homes, but they are also easier to set up and offer somewhat of a central management system. They do this by acting like separate routers. That’s right, each mesh device will act as its own individual router for the room where it is installed. An extender, on the other hand, is just simply repeating the signal. That’s not the case with these devices. As you’ve probably already guessed, a mesh network will be more expensive overall because you’ll likely need more devices.
Know Where And How The Signal Drops
If you want to determine the best buy for your money and situation, you’ll need to know and understand how your connection is dropping. Does it seem like there are one or two particular rooms where your signal just isn’t reliable? Is the signal completely out in these rooms or does it just drop? Maybe you are getting connected, but you drop ever so often or you aren’t getting the speeds that you want. Is it a viable option to relocate the current router to get more signal strength? Knowing the answer to these very questions will help you determine whether you need a mesh network or a signal enhancer.
If your only issue is that you are dropping connection then you might be able to just get away with an extender. For instance, if you are losing your connection in the far east of the home, there is no sense to spend the extra money to set up a new mesh network. However, if you are dropping a connection at the far east and west of the home, you’ll need a mesh network. If you find that the signal is weak close to the router and there’s still plenty of home left that needs Wi-Fi connection, chances are you’ll also need a mesh network. If your signal is having to travel through several walls or floors, you might simply be better off with a mesh network.
An extender will likely also have a problem of penetrating through multiple walls and floors. Knowing all of these things can help you determine which is the best buy for your money.
Ease Of Use And Management
A mesh network might cost more and might be more of an extensive setup, but the set up as a whole is much easier. And, this is because these interfaces usually come with an app. The app will offer a quick and simple way for you to configure the network. You’ll likely be able to do it right from your smartphone, PC, or tablet. The hubs are usually already programmed to work together, which means all you’ll have to do is power the system and enter the username and password. There might be a few other customization settings, but it really doesn’t get much easier than that with the mesh network.
Extenders, on the other hand, are usually much more complicated to set up. They have to be manually configured with the router and will likely be of a different manufacturer, which will only complicate things. A set up like this will usually require a call to technical support and physically going into the router to change settings.
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Meet Eriksson Ray. I’m the co-founder of TenWitch.com. Our website is dedicated to the coverage of product reviews, buyer’s guides, best lists, etc. We can help you to choose a new modem/router or troubleshooting your Internet connection.