The importance of having a solid Wi-Fi network in your home has never been greater than it is today … and tomorrow. According to a survey of nearly 1,000 Internet-connected consumers in the U.S. commissioned by PlumChoice and the Z-Wave Alliance, the percentage of people who own a smart device grew by a factor of 2.5 times between 2015 and 2016. “The need to ensure that all smart devices in the home are connected to the Internet at all times is driving the need for a mesh network,” says Kannan Vardarajar, product manager for the Linksys Velop line.
If you haven’t already experienced a spotty, finicky, sluggish Wi-Fi—things like buffering when streaming video from one device to another or losing a connection when take your laptop to the backyard deck—you certainly could find Wi-Fi more problematic as you add technologies like 4K media players, whole-house audio systems, and Internet connected thermostats, door locks, and lights to your home.
A mesh network is engineered and designed expressly to handle your home’s increasingly heavy IoT workload. “Basic Wi-Fi might have been enough a few years ago, but not anymore,” Vardarajar continues.
How a Mesh Network Works
Through a unique method of passing signals between smart devices, a mesh network dramatically enhances the functionality of a home’s Wi-Fi network. Instead of passing a signals from point A (your home’s router) to point B (the nearest access point), the main router-connected node of a mesh network spreads the signal to multiple nodes positioned in various areas of the house. These nodes talk to each other to determine the quickest, safest path for communications, giving you the peace of mind that the smart lock mounted to the front door never misses a “lock” command issued from your smartphone, for example.
Vardarajar compares the differences between standard Wi-Fi and a mesh network to that of a using one speaker to hear music in your home to having several speakers peppered throughout the residence. “You can put one speaker in one room and blast it to hear it in other rooms, or use multiple speakers to spread the music for a better listening experience.” A mesh network covers a home more evenly, so you don’t miss out on “hearing the music.”
Mesh Network: A Simple Installation
For years, companies like Luxul, Ruckus, and Access Networks have offered enterprise-grade wireless networking solutions for the home. Sophisticated in design, these reliable and robust networking solutions require installation by a professional, and each “node,” called access points by these manufacturers must be hardwired to Ethernet cable. This may not be a big deal of your house is has been prewired appropriately; if not the installation could be laborious—even for a professional.
The new generation of mesh networking systems simplifies the installation process. It requires no physical connection of the nodes to Ethernet and homeowners can set up a system on their own. The result: a mesh networking solution comes in at a fraction of the cost of a system made up of hardwired access points. “There’s no need to rewire your house when you use a mesh network, which equates to a huge cost savings,” says Nick Weaver, co-founder and CEO of eero. “With a system like eero, a consumer can get it up and running regardless of how a home is wired for $400 and in less than 10 minutes.”
Each node of a mesh network can typically cover 1,500- to 2,000 square feet. If you need more than the kit provides, most manufacturers sell individual nodes ala carte.
Mesh Network: You’re in Control
A mesh network basically sets up like this: You plugging the first node into your home router. You then place additional nodes (mesh networking kits come with multiple units) in other rooms of the house. “All you need is a
power outlet for each node,” comments Eric Chen, director of product line management for EnGenius. However, some mesh network systems offer the flexibility of utilizing both hardwired and wireless nodes. Connecting some of the nodes to Ethernet jacks frees up wireless bandwidth, Chen explains.
Mesh Network: There’s an App for That
With the convenience of being easy for any homeowner to set up on their own, a mesh network offers the ability to configure certain parameters into your home’s Wi-Fi network. You can set up parental restrictions, like giving the kids access to the network only until 8 p.m., establish profiles for each family member, and create special passwords for guests. You can revisit the app at any time to modify the settings for a more personalized experience. Also, be sure to check out of the mesh network can be controlled via voice commands through Apple Siri, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa. Imagine sitting on the couch and saying, “Alexa tell eero to put Tommy in timeout” to have the mesh network temporary restrict Tommy from using the Internet.
Mesh Network: Plenty of Options
As a Wi-Fi network becomes ever more important to the functionality of a home, the number mesh networking systems has exploded over the past couple of years. Click on the attached links to see what they look like. For improved Wi-Fi coverage manufacturers have designed mesh network nodes to blend nicely into a home environment. Here are some to consider:
Our FREE comprehensive Smart Home Planning Guide helps you plan what features best suit your needs.
Want your shades lowered? Do it in seconds from a smartphone. Not sure if you locked the door when you left the house or left the garage door open? Again, it’s as easy as pressing a button on your smartphone.
Our FREE comprehensive Smart Home Planning Guide helps you plan what features best suit your needs.Get Your FREE Planning Guide Today!