Mesh Wi-Fi Vs Router and Extender Wi-Fi

The internet is a method of communication we all use on a daily basis, to communicate, work, be entertained or any other activity from hobbies to research. One way of connecting to the internet is using a wireless connection. Wi-Fi (wifi) has become the modern standard for wireless communication.

Being a family of protocols, wifi enables different devices such as desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones and even appliances to communicate with each other, using a wireless network. In a large house or even a restaurant with poor wifi coverage, you can end up with dead spots where you either have a slower internet connection or one with packet loss.

Range extenders or adding another connection through another router are possible solutions but are far from optimal.

Mesh wifi is a better solution for larger houses and even apartments which get poor reception in some areas. Following are all the important details you need to know about mesh wifi vs router wifi.

Mesh Wifi Explained – Elegant and Seamless

Mesh wifi is a network of devices used to cover an entire house, apartment or area, and provide seamless wireless access to the internet. It uses a main device that connects to the internet, or a modem/router called a hub. Connected to the hub are other access points, also called nodes.

Depending on the area which needs to be covered, there can be more access points. There are plenty of benefits to using a mesh network vs router networks, from coverage to stability and ease of use.

Wifi Mesh Vs Router Coverage

One of the reasons as to why mesh networks were created in the first place is the coverage. Using a single router to cover a house is less than ideal, given that some houses have brick or even concrete walls.

Adding a range extender is a solution to this problem, but it introduces issues such as latency when hopping from one connection to another, as well the possibility of not covering the entire area.

Mesh Wi-fi can cover as many rooms as necessary, depending on how many nodes you add to the hub.

Mesh Vs Router Stability

Even though you could have an entire house covered with wifi, if your connection is unstable and requires you to sit in a particular place, then the issue persists. Mesh wifi solves this by constantly measuring which node provides the best access to the internet.

Nodes also work with one another, one piggybacking another’s connection, giving you more stability than a traditional router would, or a router plus a range extender combo.

Mesh Wifi Ease of Use

Here is where mesh wifi will be of most use to people who cannot be bothered with setting up a single router, let alone two or more.

Standard range extenders operate by extending the range of your already existing router, simply by broadcasting its signal again. However, this adds another network you need to connect to either manually or automatically once your device determines that it is the best access point to the internet.

Switching from one network to another introduces latency of a physical kind, where the devices lose connection before switching. If one range extender is not enough, however, more networks will be created, making a three-story house, for example, a nightmare to navigate.

Mesh solves this by providing seamless access through a single network and multiple nodes which are all perceived as the same network. This way of operation provides constant network access.

Mesh, however, is not without its drawbacks, particularly for smaller homes.

Mesh Wifi Cons Compared to Routers and Range Extenders

Living in a smaller apartment with a couple of dead zones or maybe even a single spot where the connection is worse, is definitely not the ideal place to put a mesh network in. Standard, affordable routers and cheaper extenders are a better solution in these cases.

Mesh wifi has a few drawbacks despite providing stable long-range wireless communication, namely in terms of price and waste.

Higher Costs for Mesh Wifi Devices

Mesh nodes and a hub often cost a lot more than a standard router or a range extender. For a 3000 ft2 or 280 m2 house or apartment, a hub with two nodes would most likely be overkill, as well as a hub with a single node (particularly if there is already a router involved).

A simple range extender, while adding another network the devices would need to transition to, is a better solution, financially.

Mesh Wifi Might be Wasteful

Having a large mesh network in a small house or apartment is too much if connectivity issues are minimal. If your work does not require you to move from room to room and have a perfect internet connection in every part of a (small) house or apartment, there is no need for a mesh network.

You would have more objects, albeit smaller ones, sitting around, being used at 20-50% of their capabilities. Extenders would be better in this situation, or simply moving the router to the center of the apartment, thus providing a longer range that should cover most of the area.

Summary – Do You Need Mesh Wifi?

Mesh wifi uses a hub connected to a router or the internet, directly, and nodes connected to the hub, to provide a seamless wireless internet connection in a large area, be it house, workspace or apartment.

Compared to standard range extenders and routers, mesh is more stable, easier to use, but also more expensive and wasteful in smaller spaces. Range extenders work better in smaller houses and apartments, price-wise, but they do require devices to connect to another network, removing the seamless part of an otherwise strong connection.

Hybrid devices which can act as routers and mesh nodes have surfaced, enabling users to make a greener choice, both initially and in the future, if more nodes are necessary.

Given how quickly technology develops, the router vs mesh battle will end when the two devices merge, giving users the ability to simply solve connectivity issues. This would also provide an environmentally conscious solution and not break the wallet.

About The Author

Milan Zagorac

Milan has always been interested in writing and technology, but managed to pick up a love for music, literature and sports along the way. Essentially a jack of all trades, his interest in all things tech as well as love for the written word, keeps him well occupied.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments