Why is Mesh better than wifi extenders?

GidsterGidster London, UKMember Posts: 224
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Getting good wifi around a large home - especially in the UK where our old housing stock often has thick walls - is tricky but my experience of wifi extenders in my own home, and others, has so far been extremely poor and I've usually resorted to powerline devices.

So why are the new and generally pretty expensive Mesh solutions so much better than wifi extenders? Is it just a way of rebranding existing tech?
Head of Product at Fing
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GidsterVioletChepil

Best Answers

  • LiviuLiviu Member, Beta Tester Posts: 2
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    Hi, Gidster
    I am having same issue. I currently use an Asus wi-fi router with tp-link wireless extenders. Lately my wifi network is a mess, with loss of connectivity from IoT devices and even my laptop. So 
    I decided to make major improvements. After I finished my internet research, I decided to replace all network with Ubiquiti.
    So I made some investment and I got an Unify Security Gateway, a switch and 2 APs, and one mesh AP.
    I am anxious to put them to work.
    The beauty of Mesh is that it replaces wi-fi router and creates a new blanket wi-fi nework and easy management.
    Have a look here : https://www.howtogeek.com/290418/what-are-mesh-wi-fi-systems-and-how-do-they-work/

    VioletChepilHronos
  • RichCreedyRichCreedy Member, Beta Tester Posts: 38
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    edited August 2019 Accepted Answer
    I'm in the retail IT Trade, we currently serve our customers wifi mesh requirements using Tenda Nova MW6 or MW3 depending on size of property.

    I am thinking of replacing my own network with Ubiquity equipment. but I need to play with some first.
    GidsterHronos
  • TheCustomCaveTheCustomCave Member, Beta Tester Posts: 48
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    To answer the question on the difference:
    Extenders simply repeat the signal from your router - think of it like trying to shout a message to a friend in a field, your friend is too far away to shout directly so you stick another friend in the middle. Shout to one, they turn around and shout to the other.
    A mesh is like having 3 or 4 friends in a circle - when you shout your message it's being picked up by more than one person, there's better reliability of the information getting through to the friend on the other end of the field.

    When you're trying to move data over wifi there's lots of forward and backward between the device you're using and the device you're connecting to. An extender is having to confirm when you've sent, then confirm with your router that it's got the right information, then reconfirm with you that it's all correct. There's delay in that relay service which isn't present in a mesh.

    Mesh networks are essentially their own blanket of interconnecting devices in constant communication so the data can take the best signal path needed to get to where it's going - they're similar technologies in principle, but configured to be much more robust as a mesh.
    HronosIts502geekguykltaylorMDavide
  • RayzorRayzor Member Posts: 5
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    Hi All
    I am managing editor at GadgetGuy.com.au in Australia, and we review networking and lifestyle/tech. Mesh can be a real abomination, and you should read this article first. https://www.gadgetguy.com.au/mesh-wi-fi-need-know-tutorial/
    The biggest issue is that if a mesh satellite gets a weak signal, then it retransmits and even weaker one. The only mesh systems we recommend are those that have an Ethernet or PowerLine backhaul. We recently set up a test of AC2200 NetGear Orbi Tri-band, and it took five units to cover a mid-sized two-level home with barely acceptable speeds. Using PowerLine, we were able to get away with two units and far better speeds.

    GidsterJd45390
  • DavidDavid Member Posts: 9
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    Over the years we've had WiFi extenders, Powerline adaptors and lattery a Mesh network - of all those, the most reliable in terms of speed and uptime has been the Mesh network.
    With Mesh (we have 5 'disks' dotted around our house), there's always more than one way back to the main router - this can change due to local interference (someone using a microwave), weather etc. and as a result this has proven more reliable than the simple WiFi extenders.
    Powerline was great for a while, but we must have had 10 units die over a 3 year period, (TP Link and BT models), and the need to re-start them regularly to re-sync was a pain.
    BT's Wholehome (others are available), is the current one which we've had since mid 2018 and it's been rock solid in a home environment.
  • JoeJoe Member, Beta Tester Posts: 54
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    I have 3 WiFi access points. A Huawei (boo) main router, an Asus rtn56u and a devolo dLan 500 WiFi all working off a devolo powerline backhaul. I have had no issues with this as the backhaul is again meshed together but does not take up rf bandwidth around my house. Plus it’s mostly existing kit so it didn’t cost much. 
  • ddaw215ddaw215 Member Posts: 14
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    I don't like either, tried most of them. They serve their purpose but if you are serious about WiFi you got to do it right and hardwire your APs. If you don't want to run wire get an Ethernet over power line you can get gig speeds over power then connect that to an AP.
    FingFan2012
  • jacixjacix Member Posts: 3
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    I've tried half a dozen different powerline setups and, while they don't perform to their stated specs, they've generally been reliable.  (And really, other than ethernet, what does?)  Only one pair died, and that was an old, slow Netgear kit.  A few months ago I bought a trio of Extollo G.hn adapters and I'm very happy with them.  One is connected to the firewall in the basement, another is on the second floor attached to my Engenius AP (which I love), and the third is in the detached garage on an old Linksys AP.   About once a month they get slow for a few minutes, but it's so quick I haven't been able to figure out what device in the house is throwing so much noise into the line.  Overall if you can't do ethernet, fiber or MoCa, I recommend these, even over a wifi mesh system, especially if you need to go long distances or penetrate a bunch of walls. 
  • RomulusRomulus Member, Beta Tester Posts: 35
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    I use an Asus Mesh setup with 3 nodes (one node is the internet gateway) and it performs very well in my large and non-standard layout house (3500 Sq ft). I previously tried using extenders and routers configured as extenders and found it very frustrating (poor connectivity and lots of configuration).

    The big difference between mesh and extenders that I have not seen mentioned in this thread is that with extenders it's entirely up top each client when to switch to another node. With mesh the client of course can still decide, but the mesh nodes can also detect the low signal level and give the clients with a weak connection a "push" to bump them to a stronger node. In this way the clients get handed off to a better connection in a more seamless way.

    The other big benefit is of course the lack of configuration of each satellite node. Having had to replace a node recently (it's uplink port got fried in a thunderstorm) I appreciate how easy it was to remove the bad node and add another.

    As for price I think that Asus is a really good value proposition as there are a number of relatively inexpensive Asus models that can participate in the mesh setup. From the research I did prior to going with Asus it also seems a lot of the mesh setups don't offer advanced configuration options unless you front them with a different gateway router. This was an important factor for me as I needed some of that advanced capability.

    ThinkFingJoe
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Comments

  • Lee_BoLee_Bo Member Posts: 273
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    From experience, they are expensive because they work.  I recently bought the Ubiquity AmpliFi system from Amazon.  Now I've been using Ubiquity professionally for years and I know their products.  While I wasn't planning on spending what I did, it was the solution I was looking for and so far it works great.  Zero complaints or issues with that product.
    GidsterVioletChepilGearhunter
  • GidsterGidster London, UKMember Posts: 224
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    Looks like Ubiquity is getting a big thumbs up from the new Fing Community
    Head of Product at Fing
    VioletChepilLee_BoHronosFingFan2012
  • JackJack Member Posts: 53
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    I also have UniFi at home and it works really well... I have 3 UniFi AP-AC-Pro, 3 UniFi Switches (of various sizes from 8-24 port), UniFi Security Gateway and the Cloud Key - I am also going to add the outdoor mesh to cover the garden. 
    VioletChepilGidsterLee_Bo
  • KayJayKayJay Member, Beta Tester Posts: 38
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    Hey, just to add my 2 cents worth here...I can confirm that Ubiquity is a highly recommended solution.  I've worked with a number of vendors that supply different wireless network solutions and they all recommend the Ubiquity solution over many of the other options.  It might cost more, but in some cases, you DO get what you pay for.
    GidsterLee_Bo
  • HronosHronos Member, Beta Tester Posts: 289
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    I'm in the retail IT Trade, we currently serve our customers wifi mesh requirements using Tenda Nova MW6 or MW3 depending on size of property.
    I am thinking of replacing my own network with Ubiquity equipment. but I need to play with some first.
    Hi @RichCreedy
    I have a Tenda Router and it works pretty well, much more reliable than the one the ISP bring (hehehe), it have dual band and all of that.
    My doubt is, this router is replace by the Nova MW6/3 or it is still needed to use the Novas?
    Ubiquity looks great but Tenda is not bat and it is affordable. (Ubiquity is kinnda out of my budget ='( )
    Keep looking up!
  • MarcMarc Moderator, Beta Tester Posts: 2,122
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    edited August 2019
    I have a linksys EA9300 and a RE9000 range extender and together they act as a mesh network.   It uses one of its bands exclusivly as a backhaul and it works wonderfully.  I have no issues streaming Netflix throughout my home with this setup with no coverage gaps.  The price wasn't bad either, if you shop it around, much less expensive then a comparable google mesh solution.
    Thats Daphnee, she's a good dog...
    Gidster
  • IdroyIdroy Member, Beta Tester Posts: 7
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    Mesh vs wifi extender...
    Every wifi extender cut of the wifi bandwith in 2 !! it is a "relay" station... not good.
    Better is Mesh technology, best with kabel uplink...
    for custumors i use Ubiquiti (Unify) or Cisco (Meraki) ... Cisco is Superior but also 2x the price minimum !!
    I am a early adopter, working in the professional IT Network sector.
    My Smarthome: Fingbox, Harmony, Fibaro HC2 (wireless sensors, plugs), IFTT, Sonos, IRobot, Echo DOTs, Echo Auto, Alexa App, Yonomi

  • GidsterGidster London, UKMember Posts: 224
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    David said:
    Powerline was great for a while, but we must have had 10 units die over a 3 year period, (TP Link and BT models), and the need to re-start them regularly to re-sync was a pain.
    What is it with Powerline? I've also had several adaptors just die on me (latest TP-Link AV1200 seem to be holding out OK). For my whole home solution - I have one Powerline adaptor with a wifi access point at the other end of the ground floor and have plugged a Netgear wifi AP into one at the top of the house - not anything like theoretical speed up there (lots of complex wiring - it's an old house), but finally a solution good enough for office work and HD TV on 2nd Floor after a lot of failed attempts with Wifi Extenders
    Head of Product at Fing
  • JoeJoe Member, Beta Tester Posts: 54
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    The devolo units seem more reliable than other powerline units mentioned 
  • TexExTexEx Member Posts: 5
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    I have used multiple routers around the house set to AP mode and that seems to cover fairly well.
    Pooh
  • PoohPooh Member, Beta Tester Posts: 674
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    edited August 2019
    Back before I Eerofied the house, like @TexEx, I also used a couple of Asus devices, one in Router mode, the other hard wired to the second running just as an Access Point using the same SSID info etc.
    Whilst that worked well enough at the time, it did require having to configure two devices which was, TBH, as much fun as finding a pot of honey on an empty stomach to discover that somebear's already gotten to it...

    Having the Eero makes life so much easier as the other devices grab all their configuration from the others and I get a single view of what devices are connected to where.
    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.
    Gidster
  • HronosHronos Member, Beta Tester Posts: 289
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    What is it with Powerline? 
    I'm pretty sure that the real problem with they is the power line itself, a non stabilized power line can break the electronics in they.
    Keep looking up!
  • adamadam Member, Beta Tester Posts: 63
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    Also running ubiquity, unify to be specific. I just added a new access point today in fact taking my total to 5. Its one of the nicest parts of the system, so little to do, just a few clicks and it's configured to extend your existing WiFi.

  • JohnJohn Member Posts: 110
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    Keen to try ubiquity myself....  but Amplifi is not available in the UK to my knowledge :(  Would love something that was mesh but POE if it exisits (at a reasonable price)
  • GidsterGidster London, UKMember Posts: 224
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    John said:
    Keen to try ubiquity myself....  but Amplifi is not available in the UK to my knowledge :(  Would love something that was mesh but POE if it exisits (at a reasonable price)
    Not cheap but it is available in the UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ubiquiti-Amplifi-4-Ports-System-Wireless/dp/B01L9O08PW
    Head of Product at Fing
  • GlenBo84GlenBo84 Member, Beta Tester Posts: 31
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    To throw my 2pence in ..

    i currently use the Linksys Velop system. It’s a tri band system and have 4 nodes around the house.

    early days it was a bit of a pain during setup BUT now seems stable.

    the app is some what limited but you can web access on to the node to make further changes.

    my setup controls all WiFi through out the house.


    i would say though that it doesn’t give a full mesh and is more like a star network as they link back to the parent node than each other (mesh)


    have heard a rumour that that they are soon to release a firmware update that could make big changes to the Velop system !

    Gidster
  • ThinkFingThinkFing Member, Beta Tester Posts: 21
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    Romulus said:
    I use an Asus Mesh setup ...
    I think this s a very interesting set of observations. I also use an ASUS DSL modem/router and, in a slightly less palatial house (!) I have slightly surprisingdead spots that i've tried to fix (for my demanding kids!). I am coming to the same conclusion, as you have, that an ASUS Mesh system is a potentially a good proposition and therefore deserves better understanding by me.
    Gidster
  • GidsterGidster London, UKMember Posts: 224
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    GlenBo84 said:

    i currently use the Linksys Velop system. It’s a tri band system and have 4 nodes around the house.

    What's "tri-band"? As I understand it, there's 2.4ghz and 5ghz? Maybe Powerline too?
    Head of Product at Fing
  • PoohPooh Member, Beta Tester Posts: 674
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    Gidster said:
    GlenBo84 said:

    i currently use the Linksys Velop system. It’s a tri band system and have 4 nodes around the house.

    What's "tri-band"? As I understand it, there's 2.4ghz and 5ghz? Maybe Powerline too?
    1 x 2.4Ghz, 2 * ~5Ghz channels.
    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.
    Gidster
  • JoeJoe Member, Beta Tester Posts: 54
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    Romulus said:
      With mesh the client of course can still decide [which node to connect to] but the mesh nodes can also detect the low signal level and give the clients with a weak connection a "push" to bump them to a stronger node. In this way the clients get handed off to a better connection in a more seamless way.
    This is an important point that I suffer from on my extender network. All radio systems using multiple nodes including enterprise grade DECT, WiFi, 2G, 3G, 4G and probably 5G mobile signals are designed with handoff. This way data and IP voice conversations can change nodes or cells without issue.
  • GlenBo84GlenBo84 Member, Beta Tester Posts: 31
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    Pooh said:
    Gidster said:
    GlenBo84 said:

    i currently use the Linksys Velop system. It’s a tri band system and have 4 nodes around the house.

    What's "tri-band"? As I understand it, there's 2.4ghz and 5ghz? Maybe Powerline too?
    1 x 2.4Ghz, 2 * ~5Ghz channels.
    the second Tri Band is used as a Back Haul between all the nodes so not to tie up the other channels....
    Gidster
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