Do you need a network extender ? Do you need a mesh network?
Unless you’re a computer or networking whiz, you may mistakenly think that these are both the same thing. You’re right in that they will both work to increase the power of your Internet, but they’re very different in nature.
A mesh network is a lot different than Super Boost WiFi repeater (a product I highly recommend), and we’re going to see why in just a minute.
What is a WiFi Range Extender?
A WiFi extender works by rebroadcasting your signal. Think of a single signal that can go 200 feet in range. If you install an extender 150 feet inside of this range, the extender may be able to duplicate the signal for an additional 200 feet.
Based off of the location of the extender, you may be able to have 350 – 400 feet of coverage.
The extender will communicate directly to your router, and when the signal is rebroadcasted, it is often its own WiFi network. What this means is that broadcast1 and broadcast1_extension may be available.
When you’re outside of broadcast1, you will connect to broadcast1_extension.
In many cases, the extension broadcast may be slightly slower, but it’s still offering a further range than what your traditional router is offering. Extenders are a more affordable way to extend your WiFi, but they do have a downside in the efficiency department.
The extender will listen for information packets and rebroadcast them.
Since the WiFi signal is repeated in its entirety, it’s inefficient in design. I don’t mean this to sound bad against extenders – it’s just the way they work. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy an extender.
The extender is a great way to enhance your WiFi coverage, and while you may lose some efficiency, newer extenders work very well.
Older extenders were far less efficient than newer models. People used to be against extenders because they would cause bottlenecks and effectively reduce a person’s bandwidth by 50%. Newer models have been able to overcome these issues, and this means a better overall connection with less issues during the setup process.
What is a WiFi Mesh Network?
The way these devices work is definitely complex in nature. You’ll pay $300 or more for a mesh network install, and it’s a costly option for anyone who is a casual Internet user. Some of these setups can be used in tandem with your router, but this is 100% dependent on how you plan to set your network up.
The mesh network is designed to do one thing: replace the extension and router setup.
Your mesh network will include a multitude of devices, placed all around the home, to provide a large area of WiFi coverage. When using this type of Internet extension system, you will not create multiple, separate WiFi access points as you do with a WiFi extender.
You will connect to one single network and have one main password.
It’s a seamless way to extend coverage because you’ll end up connecting to the nearest node in the network automatically. You don’t have to manually switch networks or be afraid that your device will be switching from one network to another randomly.
Complex logic is used in these networks, which all run the same software.
What this means is that the network is highly efficient, and the software will be able to determine where the broadcast signal is located and not result in packets being rebroadcast for no reason.
What does this mean for you?
You’ll have a more efficient means of extending your WiFi signal, but the costs are always much higher.
The price difference between a mesh network and a WiFi extender is often $250 or higher. If money is not an issue, a mesh network will be able to:
- Maintain higher Internet speeds
- Overcome congestion issues
- Connect to the system with greater ease
What’s nice about a mesh network is that everything works together smoothly. There’s one portal to control all of the devices, and there’s also one software that is able to perform checks and balances on all of your Internet data.
It’s truly a unique, powerful setup.
WiFi Extender vs Mesh Network
If you’re wondering which you should purchase to extend your Internet connection, you’ll want to see this comparison first. A wireless extender is a go-to option that is far less expensive than a mesh network.
Two of the main issues with a repeater is that they’re tedious to configure, and you will find some of the older systems to be quirky.
But the extender will also be great because:
- They’re an inexpensive way to extend your WiFi
- They work great when you don’t have an overly large house
- You can still use the extender with your existing router
Mesh networks are what you want for large homes. Expensive, these networks will also offer you:
- Simple way to setup the Internet
- Central management system
- Less chance of signal loss or degradation
When you do install a mesh network, you’ll be installing multiple devices all around the home. The introduction of multiple devices means that there are more potential points of failure, and when this happens, you may need to replace systems much faster than with an extender.
The optimized software and functionality of the mesh extender are nice added perks.
I would consider your costs and needs when deciding how to extend your WiFi signal. The extender models that I recommend are often $30 – $50 in price. You can purchase one confidently without having to plunk down $300+ to get your Internet signal to be stronger.
If you don’t need to extend the signal by a couple hundred feet, I recommend going with a WiFi extender. But if you don’t mind spending the extra money and need to extend the signal drastically, a mesh network may be your best option.
For most users, the extender will more than suffice. You’ll also find that the setup process has been simplified to make installing a WiFi extender much easier than in the past.