A topic we get asked about relatively frequently is Mesh Wi-Fi and what to choose. Home Internet and Wireless networks are absolutely commonplace and I think you would find relatively few homes without any kind of wireless network. Whilst it will never replace the speed of a cable the right application of Mesh can really boost signal strength reliability and connectivity throughout the home.
On our move we had a house with a bigger footprint and lots more walls and brickwork. The connection point for the incoming fibre was the front corner of the house so the Internet Service Provider (ISP) router connects immediately there. This means that by the time you get to the opposite corner of the house and even outside you’re likely to have lost the signal.
I’ve been planning a major revamp of our networking since the move. I have a big concern about the future of IOT security and how I can better lockdown the home. Most ISP routers are pretty good but they don’t provide a lot of functionality that I want for the future. For example, I’d like to create a guest network for family and friends when they visit so they aren’t able to connect to our core smart home, hopefully mitigating some of the attack vectors that might come on that.
What Mesh Wi-Fi do I get?! There are so many to choose from?A KIOT Fan
It’s a great question and probably has a few factors to it!
- Your skill level. I’m not a network specialist but I do know a little more about what I want and I want some advanced features but I don’t want a fiddly setup. Most vendors are there to be as simple as possible
- What other things you might want from a mesh? Some mesh access points can also have zigbee hubs built in, pretty cool if you want to deploy connectivity around your house and you aren’t bound to an ecosystem like Phillips Hue
- How many users, where they are and what type of activities will they perform? If its lots of streaming, you’ll want a relatively high bandwidth and throughput.
- Are there some devices you’d like to wire in? I really wanted to wire in my PC tower. The results below were most impressive (best Darth Vader impression here)
- Cost! You can pay the earth and for me there is a fine balance about practicality
I’m not going to list a system to buy as it changes fast. Updates get released and models upgraded. Some places to start: Google Mesh WiFi, Ubiquiti, Netgear and TP Link
For my project, I decided to get the TP Link Deco S4 model (part of the Deco range they have). It suggested the below which I think fits really nice for our use cases and provides 300megabits per second (mbps) on the 2.4 Ghz and 1200mbps on the 5 Ghz. Most routers have these 2 frequency ranges available. I decided NOT to make the jump to the high end and Wi-Fi 6 yet. My reasoning was one of cost and the possibility to upgrade in the future.
What about the deployment? Well it was extremely easy. Steps as follows:
- Download the DECO app from TP Link onto my smart phone
- Unbox the units
- Power the primary (root) access point next to the existing router from our ISP and connect it via Ethernet
- Run through the setup with Deco unit using the app. It was really simple when I used it, suggested all of the modes and input parameters to work with the ISP router.
- Setup the other mesh points about the house in the locations required
- I then disabled the 2.4 and 5 Ghz on the ISP router so I only had 1 network to manage
- Rejoin all devices to the new mesh (the painful part!)
I’ve really enjoyed how easy this one was to deploy. It was probably one of the easiest smart home deployments in terms of setup, with the most time consuming part cutting over all my devices to the new network, particularly things like smart TVs where it’s just an onscreen keyboard.
The speed of my main PC connection went from about 35mbps to 73mbps and also the connection experienced far less drop outs or dips in quality.
What are your thoughts on Mesh Wi-Fi? Has it benefitted you? Let us know!