Oh, the frustrating challenges of an inconsistent Wi-Fi connection. There are plenty of reasons your Wi-Fi keeps dropping at your home or office – signal congestion, physical location, firmware issues, hardware limitations or maybe your space is just too big for your router coverage.
If the latter is the case, you can try setting up network extenders to cover dead spot rooms. Although cheap, the downside with network extenders is that they are slower than your main Wi-Fi connection since they often come with a single radio transmitter that cannot send and receive data simultaneously. Adding to that problem, the more gadgets connect to a Wi-Fi extender, the more it slows down.
Fortunately, there’s a better way. For areas larger than 3,000 square feet (the average range of a Wi-Fi router) with multiple walls, a mesh Wi-Fi router system is the way to go.
Mesh Wi-Fi Router Systems
Next-generation mesh routers are designed to spread a Wi-Fi network’s coverage with the use of multiple access points or satellites.
These systems usually come in sets of two or three separate units that work together to envelop your home or office with Wi-Fi coverage. As long as they’re within range of each other (about 30 to 50 feet), you can shape and customize your home or office’s Wi-Fi coverage by placing them in the appropriate rooms.
Compared to a network extender setup, a mesh router system is real simple to set up and manage. Since the separate units act as a part of one system – just connect the main unit to your modem then spread the other units around your space as desired.
Additionally, no separate network management or constant network jumping and reconnections are required as you move around your space.
As far as your gadgets are concerned, the Wi-Fi mesh is one big continuous Wi-Fi network.
A few downsides
The biggest drawback with Wi-Fi mesh systems at this time is still the price. Expect to pay a premium, especially for multiple units. Thankfully, prices are starting to drop.
Right now, the cheapest option for a multi-unit mesh Wi-Fi system is the Google Wi-Fi system. On Amazon, a single unit currently costs about $125 and 3-pack (enough for a 4,500 square ft. area) is about $300.
Other mesh options include the Netgear Orbi ($200 for the first unit, $350 for two), the Linksys Velop ($200 for the first unit, $350 for two and $500 for a 3-pack) and the eero Home Wi-Fi System ($200 for first unit, $300 for a 2-pack, $400 for three).
Remember, mesh Wi-Fi systems are expandable and you can get a single unit and add expansion units at a later time as needed.
Do you need a mesh router?
For the average apartment or condo, a mesh router system can be overkill. If you’re just looking to fill a few dead spots here and there and consistent speeds is not a must then a cheaper network extender should work.
However, large houses and office spaces that require consistent network speeds will reap the benefits of a mesh Wi-Fi network immensely. It may be a more expensive system but for its reliability, seamlessness, expandability and easy management, it’s well worth the admission price.