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10 Reasons You Should Upgrade to a Mesh Router

Do you have internet dead zones in your home? These annoying areas of low or no connection to your WiFi router can wreak havoc with your productivity. Whether you're working or playing, you want a reliable and speedy Internet connection that doesn't require constant adjustment simply to send an email. A mesh router may be the answer.

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A Wide Net of CoverageLove Silhouette/Shutterstock

A Wide Net of Coverage

A traditional router sends a lone signal that radiates out like ripples from a single stone dropped in water. A mesh router, on the other hand, consists of a number of individual nodes. These nodes are working together to create a mesh of coverage that spreads through your home like a fisherman's net. One node connects to the internet, then all the other nodes communicate back and forth, amplifying the signal and meshing together. This results in a wide net of strong WiFi coverage. And all of that means that you can enjoy strong connectivity without worrying about endlessly tweaking your router antenna or installing communication wiring. The signal improvements from a mesh network are most noticeable if your home has more than 2,000 square feet of living space. Smaller homes will still benefit from the other perks of a mesh network, but the coverage size won't be noticeable.
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Resilient SignalTymur Korkishko/Shutterstock

Resilient Signal

A mesh router network is comprised of multiple nodes, the same way that a rope net is made of many intersections. And just like a net made of rope, the strength of a mesh network lies in its ability to still function if one of its nodes breaks. This means that your home mesh network will still function if one of the individual nodes isn't working. There may be a dip in efficiency, but you won't be without coverage completely. And once you swap out the bad node you'll be back up to peak performance immediately. Of course, this isn't to say that you shouldn't still protect your electronics, but if something does happen, at least you won't be completely without a connection.
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End-Around TrickPowerUp/Shutterstock

End-Around Trick

If you have a home with brick or cinder block walls, lots of other electronics, or some other factor that interferes with your WiFi reception, a mesh router network will let you boost the signal in key spots. A traditional router has to power through obstacles, or rely on signals bouncing off of walls to reach every corner of a home. And there's a whole raft of tips and tricks to improving your internet signal with a traditional router. But they're all limited by the single-source nature of a non-mesh network. A mesh router, on the other hand, gets around all the obstacles in your home by using multiple distribution points. And when you have several nodes to work with, improving your coverage is as simple as adjusting one node's position, or even adding another node.
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Ease of Setup

A mesh router is far simpler to maintain than traditional units. Although you'll need to configure your nodes, once that initial setup is done any further adjustments can almost always be performed through a smart phone app. And this includes things like reboots and guest access. If you've ever had to struggle with guest passwords or rebooting a router using a paperclip and that tiny "Reset" button, you'll love the freedom that mesh routers provide.
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Better than Extenders

Before the price and availability of a mesh router came within reach of the average consumer, the best way to improve your WiFi coverage was with a WiFi extender. Extenders boost the strength of your WiFi signal. But also come with their own set of technical challenges. Especially for devices such as tablets or smart phones that move throughout the house. Mesh routers avoid these complications because they work together as a seamless whole, channeling your data in the most efficient way to maximize connection speed.
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Looks Matter

Because traditional routers have to focus on spreading a single signal as far as possible, many of them are bulky things with multiple antennas pointing in a dozen different directions. It's like they were intentionally designed to call attention to how ugly they are. Mesh router nodes, by contrast, are sleek and attractive items that tuck away out of sight or can even be placed on a shelf as an attractive conversation piece.
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The Tech of the FutureOlivier Le Moa/Shutterstock

The Tech of the Future

Okay, nothing is 100 percent future-proof. But by setting up a mesh router network now, you can help ensure that you'll be ahead of the curve for the next generation of WiFi coverage. As more apps and devices are built with the presumption that you have a continuous, high-quality data connection, you'll only be doing yourself and your family a favor by staying ahead of the curve. And while the pursuit of faster and faster internet speed isn't likely to stop. Each mesh router node added to your network is also an opportunity to add additional features. By adding new or different types of radios in new models, mesh network suppliers can add features such as Bluetooth, cell extenders, or other options we haven't even dreamed of yet.
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Pricing Pressures of a Mesh Router108Photo/Shutterstock

Pricing Pressures of a Mesh Router

The counter-argument to embracing cutting-edge tech is that the price on any given technology continues to drop for the length of its availability. Or to put it another way: Eventually it'll get cheaper. And that's true, but only to an extent. Everyone has a budget and everyone likes to save money. But in technology pricing there's a sweet spot that all devices pass through. Every technology has a point where the "early adopter tax" has dropped off the price tag, but it's still fresh technology. That's the point where you get the most bang for your buck, and that's the sweet spot that mesh routers have entered.
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The IoT is on its WayFamily Handyman

The IoT is on its Way

With more and more items adding connectivity to their list of features, it's more important than ever to have reliable, robust internet in all parts of your home. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the term used to describe the ongoing trend of consumer devices to connect to the internet to provide updates and configuration options. Sure, you may not really care if your refrigerator can't email you to pick up more milk. But when your smoke alarms and security sensors are triggered, you don't want to take chances with their connection strength. Even setting aside the systems that are critical to your home's safety, a mesh router network opens up more options when its time to upgrade other devices. After all, there's no point in paying for the convenience of a WiFi thermostat if your existing network doesn't provide the coverage to use it.
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Solid SecurityElena11/Shutterstock

Solid Security

Many residential mesh router kits ship with excellent security support. And because mesh networks are easier to mange than traditional routers, you're more likely to keep your router devices updated and secure. In fact, many mesh routers come pre-configured to automatically check for and install firmware updates. This is a task that most traditional routers have required you to perform manually. By removing roadblocks to security, mesh routers help you relax and enjoy the internet, rather than worrying that you won't be alerted to an intruder. You can use internet-enabled WiFi cameras to help monitor your home. And you can use mesh routers to monitor your internet security.

Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.

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