Mesh Network Advantages and Disadvantages

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Mesh WiFi or Whole Home WiFi systems is composed of the main router that connects at once to your modem, and a sequence of satellite tv for pc modules, or nodes, placed around your home for full WiFi protection. Now See Mesh Network Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of a Mesh Network:

Better Coverage

A mesh network is a group of internet hubs working together. Using a network instead of a single point of access, you don’t have to rely on just one router for your Wi-Fi. They work together to ensure a strong wireless connection in every nook and cranny of your home.

Minimizing Dead Zones

Traditional routers tend to lose Wi-Fi signal the further away you are. A mesh network eliminates those dead zones. The stations piggyback on one another, so it acts like a continuous link no matter where you are in your home.

Smartphone Management

Most mesh systems include a user-friendly smartphone app. The app helps you understand the ins and outs of your system. This means you don’t need a large company to play middle man to manage your system anymore. You can manage it at your fingertips.

Accommodating

Most people use handheld devices and smartphones to connect to Wi-Fi at home. It’s no longer the norm to have a stagnant “computer room” with a single desktop.

In the past few years, there has been a rise in several other internet-based devices. Smart speakers, televisions, watches, and even bathroom scales. These devices are scattered throughout the different rooms in our home. 

Mesh networks will cover each of those devices no matter which rooms they are in, with less chance of internet interruption. 

Customized Size

Your mesh network can be any size you’d like. Each hub is a single piece in the entire network. So if you feel you need another module, you can add one. If you feel you have too many, you can take one away.

There is minimal setup and it’s not difficult to add or take away as many hubs as you need. 

Easy Configuration

A mesh network works on many nodes in one network. Since this is true, you would imagine it would be difficult to configure them all. 

However, you don’t have to manually set up and configure each satellite hub in your system. They easily do it themselves.

Less Connection Failure

Mesh networks are extremely resilient. It’s constantly “discovering” path changes and any rerouting. The nodes find this information and relay it to the other nodes.

This means if there is a failure somewhere in the system, the other pieces will pick it up and find a fix on their own.

 Scalability

One of the advantages of a mesh topology is that (in theory) you don’t need to add routers to the network, as each node can act as a router. If you’re working on a mesh network for the lighting in your office building, and you want to add a light in a particular room, you should be able to add the light and have it automatically connect to the network. There isn’t a lot of extra management that needs to happen, which makes the network scalable.

Robustness

N number of mesh network advantages and disadvantages But, Another benefit of a mesh network topology is that if one of the nodes goes down, it doesn’t necessarily bring the entire network down. The network can heal itself around a bad node if other nodes can complete the mesh. Additionally, if you need to get more range out of a mesh system, you can add another node and the messages can hop through the mesh back to the gateway—which is why some believe mesh networks are more robust.

Because all nodes in a mesh are receiving and translating information, there is some redundancy in a mesh topology; however, you can also gain speed with the excess bandwidth. If one route happens to be slow, a mesh network could potentially find a better route and optimize itself.

Disadvantages of a Mesh Network:

As with any piece of growing technology, mesh networks are not perfect and may have to be updated through time.

Slower Speed

The biggest fallback is that for every “hop” the system makes, you lose a little bit of speed.  

Let’s say your main station is in the basement, and you have two hubs in the upper level and none in the bedroom. Your speed in the bedroom is going to be slower.

This is because your primary station makes a copy of the data you are reaching. Then, each hub makes another copy until it reaches its final destination. So, it takes a little extra time to travel from the main hub.

Costly Device

Depending on your home’s size and layout will determine which mesh system is best. Regardless, the price is much higher than a traditional router.

There are currently three main home systems in the market today to consider when you are shopping for a wifi mesh network.

1) Eero

2) Google Wifi

3) Orbi by Netgear

The average package with any one of these ranges between $300-$400.

Scaling

Piggybacking on the price point is the scalability of a mesh network. If you need a network to cover a large amount of space, you will need more modules.

After all, Wi-Fi coverage is only as good as the number of hubs you can afford. For each added node, the price will go up.

Overly User-Friendly

Mesh networks are designed with consumers in mind. They are simple, and while this is ideal for many customers, it may mean a lack of features for more advanced Wi-Fi users. 

For example, current systems lack the ability to change the DHCP IP. Users cannot add a custom DNS. Power-users may get frustrated that they cannot run both a 2.4GHz and 5GHz band network.

Bottom Line

There are a number of mesh network advantages and disadvantages. They are ideal for many Wi-Fi users, especially if you need to cover a large area with Wi-Fi access. Ditching traditional routers can mean more coverage for current trends in Wi-Fi devices.

But, the use of a simple system comes at a cost. It’s not a cheap option, no matter what company you purchase from, and, there are issues with speed. 

If you’re willing to pay for better coverage, a mesh network may be the perfect option for you. Contact us today for more information and to get started.

Complexity

Each node needs to both send messages as well as act as a router, which causes the complexity of each node to go up pretty significantly. Let’s say you’re making a small, low-power device—like a room occupancy sensor—and you are looking to get a better range out of your system. The nodes have to now keep track of messages from five or 10 of their neighbors, which exponentially increases the amount of data that the node has to deal with in order to pass along a message. Thus, if you add additional sensors to the mesh just to benefit the range, you’re naturally making the system more complex.

Network planning

As we mentioned previously, mesh networks are often considered highly scalable, and adding a node to the network typically isn’t very involved. But planning the network as a whole is a different story. Let’s say you have poor latency in one area of your building (which we’ll discuss below), and you need a particular light to turn on faster than it currently turns on. With a mesh network, you’d need to add a dedicated node that only forwards messages. But this complicates your network planning because you now have to deploy a piece of equipment just to get your messages properly routed in a reasonable amount of time.

Latency

As mentioned, latency—the time it takes a message to get from a node to the gateway—can impact your mesh network planning. Interestingly, you may improve some latency by using a mesh network with a larger scale system with more bandwidth, memory, and power. But latency becomes an issue in smaller low power, wide-area networks (LPWANs) because it doesn’t have the processing capability to handle the messaging. Thus, if you have a WiFi mesh, messages will likely be translated much quicker than a ZigBee mesh. This is something to consider based on the protocol you’ll be using and the latency your application requires.

Power Consumption

Because each node in a mesh has to act as an endpoint and a router, it has to draw more power to operate. Thus, if you have battery-powered, low-power nodes, a mesh may be difficult to deploy without a lot of network planning.

Let’s say you have battery-powered nodes in windows and doors for your smart security system. The customer keeps the control panel in the basement, but all of the sensors are on the first and second floors. So while a second-floor window may be low power, because it only transmits messages, the sensors on the first floor will have to handle messages from the second-floor windows and doors. In other words, you’re compounding the amount of data each node has to handle in a mesh, and so batteries on some nodes are likely to die faster.

So these are the mesh network advantages and disadvantages.

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