Mesh Wi-Fi

Setup A Mesh Wi-Fi Network

Mesh Wi-Fi

Mesh Wi-Fi technologies have transformed home networking in recent years. Instead of an unattractive router that you’d ordinarily hide, mesh systems use smaller nodes that mix well with house d├ęcor. Mesh systems are attractive to most home users because they come with free smartphone apps that make installation and management straightforward. Since all nodes share a same SSID and password, you can roam from room to room without logging in to a secondary extended network, such “My Wi fi EXT,” as you move into an extender’s range rather than the main router’s.

Mesh systems are popular because they offer easy installation and seamless residential Wi-Fi coverage. Despite their simplicity, there are a few things to consider when creating a mesh network. Learn how to set up a mesh system for powerful Wi-Fi in your home.

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Mesh Wi-Fi system:

Mesh Wi-Fi systems consist of a main router that connects directly to your modem and two or three repeaters. It’s usually accompanied by one or two satellite modules, or nodes, that you place across your home. If two or three mesh devices aren’t enough to blanket your home in Wi-Fi, you can add more nodes, and they’ll integrate seamlessly.
The “mesh” is the wireless network these nodes generate among themselves, passing wireless traffic and maintaining signal strength. All these devices will share the same SSID and password when configured. You won’t have to switch networks and passwords as you walk from room to room like with an older (but cheaper) wireless range extender.
Most Wi-Fi satellites communicate with the router and each other via mesh technology. Each node is a system hop. This enables nodes farthest from the router deliver a robust Wi-Fi signal since they are communicating to other nodes and not the router. Not all Wi-Fi systems use mesh networking; some use a specific radio frequency. As with mesh, the dedicated band frees up 2.4GHz and 5GHz for linked devices.

Home Wi-Fi Mesh Nodes: How Many?

Before buying a mesh Wi-Fi system, consider how much wireless coverage you’ll need. Calculate the square footage of your home, any outdoor areas you want to cover, and the distance between floors for multilevel residences.
Coverage varies every system, so verify the specs before spending your money. All homes are different. Structures such as walls, entrances, and flooring will impair wireless signal transmissions, as would interference from other wireless devices such as microwave ovens and portable phone systems. If your mesh system doesn’t reach certain regions of your home, you can add another node after the first installation.

Setting up and placing Wi-Fi Mesh nodes

Most Wi-Fi mesh systems require a mobile app and internet for setup. That sounds like an oxymoron, since you configure Wi-Fi to get online, but your ISP has already set up your cable modem (ISP). During setup, you can also use your mobile device’s cellular network.

You must create an account and administrator password after downloading the software. Remember your password to avoid system resets. Unplugging the modem or router you’ll connect your mesh system to allows it to reset and assign a valid IP address to the mesh router node. Open the app to set up the mesh router and satellite nodes.
When building up a mesh network, it’s crucial to position each node for best Wi-Fi coverage to eliminate dead zones. The main router node, which connects all satellite nodes to the internet, should be put near your cable modem or current router using a LAN cable. The router node should be visible (not in a closet or cupboard) and near an AC wall outlet.

The programme searches for the node and notifies you when it’s found; the node then gets an IP address. Before placing the satellite nodes, you must name and password your new network. Most Wi-Fi mesh systems employ automatic band-steering and establish a single SSID for both radio bands, however some enable you split the bands and create different names for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

System-specific satellite node placement:

Some nodes cover more square feet than others. As with a range extender, locate the second node halfway between the router and the dead zone, but no more than two rooms, or 30 feet.
Follow the two-room rule for several satellites. Each node should be near a power outlet, out in the open, and off the floor. Multistory dwellings are similar. Try to keep satellites upstairs and downstairs within 30 feet. Many systems feature an in-app signal test or a physical LED on each node to indicate if you’re too far from the main or previously placed node. Reposition the node and retest the signal. PC Labs explains throughput and signal strength testing for wireless routers.

When placing nodes, consider how to link gaming consoles, TVs, and other entertainment devices. Wires give quicker rates without interference from other wireless devices. Try to locate mesh nodes within cable distance (6 to 10 feet) of devices that would benefit from a wired LAN connection.

Once you’ve installed your nodes and the network is ready, you can test your internet speed using Ookla Speedtest to see if it’s the same as your ISP’s. PCMag’s parent company owns Ookla.

Wire or wireless backhaul?

“Backhaul” means sending data from satellite nodes to the main router and internet. Mesh Wi-Fi systems are designed for wireless backhaul by default. Some systems effectively manage data over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio bands for backhaul, while others use a separate 5GHz band.
Some systems use Ethernet cabling for wired backhaul, which offers better performance and security. If your home is connected for Ethernet, connecting nodes via LAN cable to the main router may increase network performance.
Using the mesh system’s mobile app, you can alter backhaul settings.

Wi-Fi Mesh parental controls and device prioritization

After installing Wi-Fi mesh, use its functionalities. Because they’re designed for home usage, many of these systems have parental controls that let you create profiles for each family member, limit website access, and automatically switch off network access at bedtime and supper time. Almost all Wi-Fi systems have a pause button in the app that disables internet access, and some offer age-appropriate parental controls. A child preset may block social media, gambling, and adult-oriented websites, whereas a teen preset is less restrictive and an adult preset is unrestricted. Many mesh systems enable you apply controls to a family member’s profile and all of their devices.

Use QoS (Quality of Service) settings to allocate bandwidth to online gaming or video streaming. You can drag and drop devices into High, Medium, and Low priority boxes so gaming consoles and video streaming devices get the most bandwidth. User-friendly systems offer QoS defaults for gaming, streaming, surfing, and chatting and allow you prioritise devices and apps.
Wi-Fi mesh networks allow direct access to smart home devices like doorbells and thermostats. Amazon’s Eero Wi-Fi mesh systems are cheaper than many competitors and include a Zigbee smart home device hub. Smart light bulbs, appliances, locks, and more may connect straight to your wireless network with the integrated hub.

Wi-Fi Mesh System Maintenance

Once your mesh Wi-Fi is up and operating, examine network utilisation, visited websites, and client lists. Most systems offer push notifications when a new client device joins the network; allowing you to deal with unwanted devices promptly. Many systems have embedded anti-malware applications that guard against viruses and other dangerous information. Monitor network attack logs and quarantine compromised client devices. Update your firmware to improve performance, add new features, and fix security issues.

If you live in a smaller house or apartment; check out our list of the best wireless range extenders. Which can also quickly and effectively stretch your Wi-Fi. However, with more configuration obstacles than a standard mesh system. If you want to improve your standard Wi-Fi router.

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