3 tips for using Mesh networks in your smart home

Simple fact: smart homes are connected homes. They have to be. For instance, you need your smart camera to send information to your phone if someone is near your home—especially when you are not near your home. Mesh networks make your whole home smart, upstairs, downstairs, and all rooms in between. They are simple enough to install yourself, or you can contact Geek Squad (in store or online) and ask for their assistance.

Home networking, using a router connected to your internet service provider (mine is Shaw but you might have Rogers, Telus, Bell, or one of the others in Canada), has been around for many years. The newest, most comprehensive version of it is the mesh network.

The first thing you’ll notice that sets this type of network apart is that you’ll need more than one device. That’s right, you won’t be using and setting up just one router in one location in your home, you may have 2, 3 or more devices. Each additional device (called a node in the network) provides a range of maximum coverage. The “mesh” is created from the overlap of these ranges. The result is total coverage for your home. Importantly, one device connects to the internet source, the rest all complement the coverage of that first device so your whole home is connected.

Consider this common scenario: you set up your router and everything seems great. However, you soon notice that in some areas of your home the signal seems abysmal. Your phone is sluggish in the laundry room as you try to complete some emails waiting for the dryer to finish. Or perhaps Netflix is constantly buffering in the bedroom, annoying when you just want to watch for a half-hour before you fall asleep.

Even the fastest routers on the market today have a limited range. You could get a range extender but they will reduce the strength of the signal before they pass it along. Mesh networks boost the overall area of coverage for your maximum signal. A downside is having to place multiple devices around your home. However, mesh nodes are usually designed to look much nicer than any router you have seen in the past.

You have options when you subscribe for internet service. Usually the rule will be: pay more, get more. “More” in this case means faster downloads and uploads. Look at it like a pipe feeding water to your home. A narrow pipe with a trickle of water is fine if you only use one faucet at a time in your home, but when one person is in the shower, the dishwasher is on and someone else flushes the toilet, you can’t get a drop from the kitchen for a glass of water.

Get the internet package that suits your needs. If you have many people in the home, many smart home devices in the home, and you consume high quality video like 4K, expect to require more from your internet service provider. Any router will do better with a fast internet signal, so if you want the best mesh network, ensure you have a great signal to start.

Okay so you bought a mesh network and your wondering how far apart to place the nodes. That will depend on a number of factors. If you home is square shaped (say 40 feet square) then a centrally located node on each floor may be sufficient. So 2 floors = 2 nodes. If your home is long, or odd shaped you may want an additional node on each floor. Also keep in mind that the signal  needs to pass through walls, so a thick wall, or one made of high density material will reduce the signal.

That speaks to the advantage of mesh networks, though: thick wall? Just add another node and you should be good!

This last point applies to any home network, but since it is so important you should not neglect it when setting up a mesh network. Your internet is not just used for entertainment. Especially if you have many smart home products in your home, you use the internet for important stuff too. Your internet is an essential part of your life. Keep it secure!

Fortunately, most routers make securing it pretty simple. The newest routers, which of course includes mesh networking devices, will walk you through the steps to set a secure admin password, and ensure your network is protected. Also be sure to set up a guest password so you don’t have to give visitors access to your main network.

If any of this sounded confusing don’t worry … this is new technology for all of us. And the tech is very smart (which is why it fits so well in today’s smart homes). Then again, you don’t have to struggle to learn anything if you don’t want to. Contact Geek Squad and just enjoy all of the benefits of a whole smart home connected with a mesh network.

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