, Updated March 12, 2018

Even a decent router can have some difficulty with spreading Wi-Fi throughout your home. That's just because routers have limits, not all of them are going to be able to fill the entire building. Making the decision between a repeater and mesh network can depend on the size of the building you live in. It can also depend on whether or not you already have a network.

For those who have a network in place, a repeater/extender can extend the capabilities of your router. It does so by duplicating the signal from the point the router is at, onward. Another option you have is to install one of the entirely new mesh networks available today. A mesh network system is a combination of separate router devices. These devices work together to allow you to have a strong Wi-Fi connection all over the house. Depending on the kind of space you need to cover, these repeating or network-creating devices can ensure you have a router providing service for every room.

The Differences Between a Repeater and Mesh Network


For those who don't want to spend much to improve their current network, a range extender is a fantastic option. This is a great solution if you just need to extend the range a little bit farther and don't want to have to go through the process of installing a whole new mesh system setup.

Getting a wireless range extender can allow you to broaden the signal without having wires running all over your home. Do keep in mind that adding a range extender to your current internet setup can be tricky, but not impossible!

Mesh Network

A mesh network is a more complete system. That means you'll get several devices with the mesh system that work together to create a layered signal all over your home. Each of these devices essentially works as a router. However, it is important to make sure the mesh network points are close enough together to be able to communicate efficiently.

This is a fantastic option if you have a larger home that needs to be covered. This is because mesh systems can often create a large range for a strong WiFi signal. There is often one central system you can use for maintaining the network, making it easy to install. However, do keep in mind that a mesh network can be a more expensive endeavor than just getting a WiFi repeater because it involves purchasing a whole mesh network setup.

Take A Look at Drops In Your Wi-Fi Signal

Deciding between a mesh network and a good WiFi extender can be tricky. It can largely depend on the issues you may currently be having with your network. If you're finding that for the most part your router works great but the signal fades if you get too far away from it then a repeater is the ideal option. You don't need to spend a lot of money on a whole new setup if you just need to fill in a smaller dead zone.

Otherwise, if you're having troubles with your signal or speed even when you're close to the router then a mesh network may be exactly the solution you need. This is especially true if you have a home with multiple floors, as the multiple points that come in a set can allow you to have one internet hub per floor, covering all the space you need.

Which Option Is The Easiest?

If convenience is high priority for you, then a WiFi mesh network can surely offer that. They are typically much easier to setup and have a centralized control system to guide you through the process. This includes helping you set up guest networks and run internet speed tests. You'll also be able to trust that as you move around with a device, it will automatically be able to connect you to the point in the mesh network that is closest and offers the best signal. This will create a great level of convenience without you having to worry about not being able to connect.

Meanwhile, a range extender can be more difficult to install. While all the devices that are part of a mesh network are designed to work together, you can possibly get a range extender that isn't the same brand as your current router. Because of that, you may end up having to manually connect the new device to your current one. This process can get tricky if you don't have a lot of technical know-how. The toss up between these two devices is really between low cost and a higher level of convenience.

What About My Budget?

It's important to keep in mind that you consider the cost involved in each of these options. If you only have a small space to fill, then you can find a range extender in the $50 range. Comparatively, an entire mesh network system can run you up to around $300. That's a huge difference in pricing, so it's important you only pay for what you need to get quality internet.

These prices can also differ depending on how high-quality the range extender is. There are also options to get a mesh network system with fewer satellites at a lower cost.

Tips To Keep In Mind

One of the first things you should try before purchasing a new device for your home is moving your router. If you can move it into a more centralized location, then your signal issues may be resolved without the need to spend any money on either a mesh network or range extender.

Otherwise, you can also try replacing the router's antennas so that it can offer a stronger signal. You can also look into getting a long-range router that will be able to cover more space. There are plenty of options out there to help you get the internet speeds and signal you need without having to spend more money on a mesh network than necessary. You can also easily check out the best WiFi extenders and best mesh WiFi networks on the market today to find the one that is right for you!

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