Both Wi-Fi extenders and mesh networks promise to enhance and extend your Wi-Fi signal, but they achieve this through different means. Plus, if you don’t purchase the acceptable system, you’ll find that the investment wasn’t worthwhile .
What Is a variety Extender?
A range extender is typically a box that plugs directly into an outlet “wall wart”-style. it’s going to or might not have external antennas, and because the name implies, it extends the range of your Wi-Fi network.
If, for instance , your Wi-Fi network is robust in your home’s front room , bedrooms, and kitchen, but it doesn’t reach the den, then a strategically placed range extender may help get you the coverage you would like.
A rectangular range extender with four external antennas plugged into a wall outlet.
Range extenders were a well-liked option for improving home networks before the arrival of mesh systems. When buying an extender, however, confusion usually arises because you’ll also meet devices called Wi-Fi repeaters, extenders, or boosters.
For the foremost part, the terms “Wi-Fi extender,” “repeater,” and “booster” are used interchangeably, with extender being the more common term. the main difference to observe out for is that some extenders are Powerline adapters requiring two boxes, while most extenders are purely wireless devices. A powerline adapter setup uses your home’s electrical wiring to transmit data.
Extenders typically have a special network name (SSID) from the most home network, like “Home Wi-Fi” and “Home Wi-Fi Ext.” Some devices do allow you to use an equivalent name and password for both the extender and therefore the main network, but that sometimes isn’t an honest idea. the matter is that your wireless device may keep trying to stay connected to the weaker signal, leading to frustration for you.
If you only have both networks saved under different names, your phones and tablets should just hook up with the stronger signal. And if you’re using the wireless signal for a television or console, then it’s knowing only give those devices the extender’s Wi-Fi credentials to stop connection attempts to the weaker signal.
While extenders can help an excellent deal, the matter is that the Wi-Fi signal degrades the further away you get from the source (your ISP router or modem). So, if you employ two extenders to hit the basement, for instance , the speed and strength of your Wi-Fi will often be noticeably slower.
What Is Mesh Wi-Fi?
Three Google WiFi pucks all white, with light blue LED accent in the center.
When extenders aren’t up to the work , mesh networking becomes a really attractive solution. Mesh networks are often mentioned as systems that “blanket” your range in Wi-Fi. A mesh system is formed from a source router and extra “satellite nodes” which will be placed round the home. the amount of nodes you would like depends on the dimensions of your home and therefore the coverage the actual system covers. Some manufacturers have systems that cover to five ,000 square feet with one router and node, while others need three or more devices to hide a neighborhood that size.
Once they’re installed, mesh devices hook up with one another to supply a robust Wi-Fi signal across your entire home under one network name. As you progress through the house , your mobile devices simply hook up with the device with the simplest signal for that a part of the house.
Like extenders, mesh systems also repeat that original signal coming from the source of your ISP-provided modem or gateway. However, the difference is that these routers are far smarter and more powerful than a daily extender. If you get a tri-band mesh system, for instance , the system typically dedicates one among its bands for data backhaul. That simply means the routers use one band exclusively for communicating with one another to vastly improve performance over what even a tri-band range extender could do. the opposite two bands, meanwhile, are for your devices to use.
Dual-band mesh systems also will use backhaul, but they share that bandwidth with other devices on your network, thus the performance isn’t as high as a tri-band system’s.
Mesh systems also can accompany plenty of additional features counting on the system you buy . they will integrate with smart home devices, act as a sensible home hub, or accompany built-in speakers that double as smart speakers.
Mesh vs. Extender: Which One is true for You?
Deciding between getting a mesh system versus an extender comes right down to a couple of issues. First, a mesh system goes to be costlier . albeit you only need a router and satellite, that’s getting to run you within the many dollars compared to a less costly extender which will be picked up for $50 to $100, like TP-Link’s RE650.
If you only have one room that’s a dead spot within the house, then one extender could be the higher choice. The minute it starts to seem like you’ll need multiple extenders to form it work, however, a mesh system is usually the higher option.