Since 2004, eTechs have been installing and maintaining Wi-Fi networks for homes and businesses across South Australia.
We can design and install a Wi-Fi network to blanket your entire building. So not only will you have zero dead-spots anywhere, but more importantly, enjoy full coverage everywhere.
Mesh or Hard-Wired Access Points?
Each installation is unique, presenting different cabling restrictions, physical limitations, building size, budget constraints, performance mandates etc, so there is no hard and fast rule to answer this question.
Ideally, to ensure the fastest throughput for each connected device, the optimum scenario is to hard-wire (Ethernet cable link) each Access Point back to a LAN switch.
But that's not always possible. And this is where a 'Mesh' system can really save the day.
'Meshing' Access Points (APs) basically means that as long as you connect the primary Base Station AP to the internet or LAN via Ethernet, Mesh 'downlink' APs (connected only to a power source) can link wirelessly to the primary AP, and pass traffic back and forth to user devices connected to them.
This is the beauty of a mesh system. With their powerful in-built radios/antennas, meshed Access Points are much better at sending/receiving/re-transmitting Wi-Fi signals than most ordinary client devices. Through a wireless link chain they can push signal into areas single 'connected' Access Points normally can't reach.
For large homes and buildings where standard router Wi-Fi signals don't reach some areas, a mesh system can be the most inexpensive way to strengthen the signal in those 'dead' spots.
The limitation with Wi-Fi access points is that the maximum bandwidth/throughput of a 'LAN connected' Access Point has to be shared amongst every device connected to it. With meshed networks, this includes all devices connected to the meshed 'downlink' access points as well. This should be factored in when deciding whether a mesh system is right for you. Too many connected user devices, or too many bandwidth hungry applications will slow Wi-Fi throughput down for everyone connected to mesh system.
For instance, one device downloading Torrent files with no throughput restrictions will compete for all the available bandwidth, all the time.
Gaming and Wi-Fi speed
It should also be noted that each mesh 'hop' will add a slight delay to actual throughput, and for regular Internet usage (browsing, video streaming etc) this is not going to be noticed. Gaming computers however, those requiring low latency connections, will likely notice the slight lag in game-play. And therefore those machines may be better suited to hard wired connections.
So in summary..
Don't be put off mesh. For most households and small businesses, those with normal internet usage and relatively low-volume file download quotas, mesh is going to provide very reliable Wi-Fi coverage.
But as always, best practices should be applied. Where possible, when designing your network:
- Ethernet link as many access points and user devices to a switch as possible. This will free up Wi-Fi throughput for devices that have no Ethernet capabilities.
- Hard-wire devices likely to need low latency, and also those requiring reliable and consistent high-speed bandwidth.
- In larger installations, more access points are better than too few
- Use professionals, or seek good advice when you're not sure of something.