Mesh WiFi vs Range Extenders – What’s the best for me?

May 12, 2021
May 12, 2021 The New York Nerds

Both Wi-Fi extenders and mesh WiFi systems promise to enhance and extend your own Wi-Fi signal, but they accomplish that via different ways. Plus, if you don’t purchase the appropriate system, you may find that the investment was not worth it.

 

What’s a Range Extender?

A wifi extender is generally a box that plugs into an outlet. It might or might not have external antennas, and as the name implies, it expands the selection of your Wi-Fi network.

If, by way of instance, your Wi-Fi network is powerful in your home’s living room, bedrooms, and kitchen, but it doesn’t reach the den, a strategically placed range extender might help provide you with the coverage you want.

Range extenders have been a favorite solution for improving home networks before the arrival of mesh systems. While shopping for an extender, nevertheless, confusion generally arises since you could also run across apparatus called Wi-Fi repeaters, extenders, or boosters.

For the most part, the conditions”Wi-Fi extender,” repeater,” and “booster” are used interchangeably, with extender function as a common term. The significant difference to watch out for is that a few extenders have been Powerline adapters requiring two boxes, even though most extenders are only wireless apparatus. A powerline adapter installation uses your house’s electrical wiring to transmit data.

Extenders typically possess another network name (SSID) from the most important home network, such as”Home Wi-Fi” and”Home Wi-Fi Ext.” Some devices do permit you to use the same name and password to both the extender and the primary system, but that isn’t a fantastic idea. The challenge is that your wireless device may keep attempting to stay connected to the poorer signal, resulting in frustration for you.

If you have both channel types saved under different names, your phones and tablets should only connect to the stronger signal. And if you are using the radio signal to get a television or games console, then it’s wise to only offer those devices the extender’s Wi-Fi credentials to prevent connection attempts to the poorer signal.

Even though extenders can help a fantastic deal, the challenge is that the Wi-Fi signal degrades the further away you get from the origin (your ISP router or modem). Consequently, if you use two extenders to strike the cellar, as an instance, the speed and strength of your Wi-Fi will often be markedly slower.

What’s Mesh Wi-Fi?

When extenders aren’t up to the job, mesh networking becomes a very appealing option. Mesh systems are often referred to as systems that”blanket” your home in Wi-Fi. A mesh WiFi system is made up of a source router and additional”satellite nodes” which can be placed around the home. The amount of nodes you require depends on the dimensions of your house and the policy the particular system covers. Some manufacturers have systems that cover up to 5,000 square feet using a single router and node, while some need three or more devices to cover an area that size.

Once they’re set up, mesh devices connect to each other to supply a strong Wi-Fi sign across your whole home under one network name. As you proceed through the home, your cellular devices only connect to the device with the best signal for this part of the house.

Much like extenders, mesh systems also repeat that original signal coming from the source of your ISP-provided modem or gateway. However, the difference is that these routers are much smarter and stronger than a normal extender. If you get a tri-band mesh system, for instance, the system typically dedicates one of its own bands for data backhaul. That simply means that the routers use one group exclusively for communication with each other to vastly improve performance over what a wider array extender could do. The other two circles, however, are on your apparatus to utilize.

How Many Bands?

Dual-band mesh systems may also use backhaul, but they share that bandwidth with other devices in your network, thus the performance isn’t as large as a tri-band system’s.

Mesh systems may also come with plenty of additional features depending on the system you purchase. They can integrate with intelligent home devices, act as a wise home hub, or develop with built-in speakers that double as smart speakers.

Deciding between acquiring a mesh system versus an extender comes down to a few issues. First, the mesh wifi process is going to be slightly more expensive than a WiFi extender. Even if you just require a router and satellite, then that is going to run you at the hundreds of dollars when compared with a less expensive extender which could be picked up for $50 to $100.

Dead Zone Coverage

If you just have one room that is a dead spot in the home, then one extender may be the better choice. The moment it begins to look as if you’ll need a number of extenders to allow it to function, though, a mesh system is often the better option.

There are a lot of mesh WiFi systems available for each budget. Ideally, you’d get a tri-band system with a dedicated band for backhaul. But if your budget doesn’t match that, there are lots of dual-band systems which are still very good.

Now What?

Call the team that can help you choose and deploy the right mesh system for your home. Trusted by thousands of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut clients since 1994.