How to set up a Wi-Fi mesh network

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Judit Llordés
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The Wi-Fi signal is not reaching some areas of your home? A mesh network system can bring seamless connectivity to every corner. Here's what you need to know to choose the right system and configure it for optimal performance.

Since they first entered the scene a few years ago, mesh Wi-Fi systems have changed the look of the home network. Instead of an unsightly router that would normally be stored in a closet or somewhere out of sight, mesh systems typically use smaller, more attractive components (nodes) that should be placed outdoors in various rooms in the house.

These systems usually come with free mobile apps that make it easy to set up and manage the network via phone or tablet, and since all nodes use a single SSID and password, you can roam from room to room without having to log in. to an extended network.

Mesh systems rely on ease of use and are known for their quick and easy setup process, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind when selecting and installing your network. Read on to find out how to set up a Wi-Fi mesh network to cover your home with glorious and powerful Wi-Fi.

What is a mesh Wi-Fi system?

Designed to cover your home with a wireless signal, Wi-Fi systems usually consist of a main router that connects directly to the modem and a series of satellite modules or nodes, positioned throughout the home. They are all part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password. This means you won't have to change your network and password like you do with a wifi extender.

Most Wi-Fi system satellites use mesh technology to communicate with the router and each other. Each node acts as a point for other nodes in the system. This helps nodes further away from the router to provide a strong Wi-Fi signal while talking to other nodes and not relying on one-to-one communications with the router.

However, not all Wi-Fi systems use mesh networks; some use a dedicated radio band to communicate with the router and each other. As with mesh, the dedicated band frees up the standard 2,4 GHz and 5 GHz bands for client use.

How much coverage do you need?

Before you go out and buy a mesh Wi-Fi system, you need to figure out how much wireless coverage you need. To get started, find out the zones in your home and all the outdoor areas you want to cover, and don't forget to take into account the distance between floors for multilevel homes.

Coverage varies from system to system, so be sure to check the specs before you spend your hard earned money and keep in mind that all homes are different.

Structures such as walls, doors and floors will affect wireless signal transmissions, as well as interference from other wireless devices such as microwave ovens and portable phone systems. Most mesh systems are expandable, so if you find that your system is not reaching certain areas of your home, don't worry.

let's begin

Most Wi-Fi systems require a mobile app and internet connection for setup. Once you've downloaded the app, you'll need to create an administrator account and password.

Make sure you remember the password to avoid restoring the system later. It is also a good idea (and recommended by most companies) to unplug the modem or router you will be connecting your mesh system to so that it can reset itself and assign a valid IP address to the mesh router node.

To begin the installation, open the app and follow the instructions to connect the mesh router to your modem and add satellite nodes.

One of the most important things to consider when setting up your mesh network is where to place each node for optimal Wi-Fi coverage with no dead zones.

The master router node, which provides Internet connectivity to all other satellite nodes, must be installed in close proximity to the existing cable modem or router as it will be connected to it via a LAN cable.

The router node must also be located outdoors (not in a closet) and within reach of an AC wall outlet. The app will search for the node and let you know when it is discovered, at which point the node will acquire an IP address. Before moving on to the positioning of the satellite node, you will need to give your new network a name and a password that will be used by all connecting clients.

The location of the nodes varies by system: depending on the specifications, some nodes provide wider coverage than others.

A good rule of thumb is to place the second node halfway between the router and the dead zone as you would with a range extender, but limit the distance to no more than two rooms, or about 10 meters.

If you are using more than one node, follow the two room rule. Place each node near a power outlet, outdoors, and on the ground on a bookcase or table. The same goes for multi-storey houses: try to limit the distance between the satellites above and below to no more than about 10 meters. Thankfully, many systems offer an in-app signal test or physical LED on each node that will let you know if you are too far from the main node or the previously installed node.

When placing your nodes, you should also consider how you will connect to things like game consoles, TVs, and other entertainment components.

These devices almost always work best using a wired connection as they offer faster speeds without interference from other wireless devices. Most mesh nodes are equipped with at least one LAN port that allows you to use a wired connection, so try to place the nodes within a cable distance (2 or 3 meters) of any device that would benefit from a wired LAN connection.

Backhaul cablato o wireless?

Backhaul refers to the process of transmitting data from satellite nodes to the main router and to the Internet. By default, mesh Wi-Fi systems are configured for wireless backhaul.

Some systems use both the 2,4 GHz and 5 GHz radio bands for backhaul, while others use a dedicated 5 GHz band for this purpose. However, some systems may use Ethernet cabling for hardwired backhaul, which offers optimal performance and tighter security. If your home is wired for Ethernet connectivity, you can improve overall network performance by connecting your nodes through a wired connection to provide wired backhaul to the primary router.

Configure parental control and device priority settings

Once your mesh Wi-Fi system is installed, it's time to take advantage of its features.

Many of these systems offer parental controls which allow you to create profiles for each family member, restrict access to certain websites, and automatically disable network access during specific times of the day, such as time to go. in bed and dinner time.

Almost all Wi-Fi systems offer a pause button in the app that lets you disable internet access at the touch of a button, and some systems offer age-appropriate parental controls.

For example, a child preset will deny access to social media, gambling, and adult websites, while a teen preset will be slightly less restrictive and an adult preset will offer unlimited access. You can apply these controls to a family member's profile and therefore to all devices used by that person,

If you have online gamers in your home or use your mesh system to stream video, use the Quality of Service (QoS) settings to allocate bandwidth where it's needed most.

These settings typically allow you to drag and drop devices into high, medium, and low priority boxes so that game consoles and devices that stream video are given the most bandwidth without having to compete. with other devices on the network.

The more intuitive systems have QoS presets for things like gaming, streaming, browsing, and chat, and will prioritize both devices and applications.

Management options

Once your mesh Wi-Fi system is set up and running smoothly, it's a good idea to carry out periodic checks on network usage, websites visited, and client lists.

Most systems will send a push notification when a new client joins the network, allowing you to deal with unwanted clients immediately.

Many systems offer built-in anti-malware utilities that protect against viruses and other malicious content, so be sure to keep an eye on network attack logs and quarantine any client devices that have been marked as infected.

Finally, make sure your firmware is up to date, as the latest versions often boost performance, add new features, and provide security fixes.

If you live in a not very small house or apartment, check out our collection of the best wireless range extenders, which can quickly and easily spread your Wi-Fi to other areas of your home.

Further Reading:

  • What are Mesh Wi-Fi systems and how do they work?
  • Difference between modem and router explained simple
  • How to disable Amazon Sidewalk and save bandwidth
  • How to fix when Alexa won't connect to Wi-Fi
  • Reset Android network settings

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