What networking system do you use at home?
While routers are the most frequent method of connecting your home devices to the internet, they aren’t the only one. Mesh networks are gradually gaining popularity as a viable option.
Not sure what a mesh network is or if it’s the right fit for your needs? Our comprehensive guide includes everything you need to know, as well as benefits and cons.
Mesh Networks Have Been Defined
In a typical wireless network, the router is in charge. The nodes are connected in a straight line. When using a router with wireless extenders, each extender can only connect with the router and not with other network nodes.
Mesh networks operate in a unique way. There is no single computer, switch, or hub that handles all computer traffic. Instead, each device on the mesh network can communicate with each other. These many relays allow traffic to be quickly routed between devices. This results in a mesh-like arrangement of connectedness, as you might expect.
With a mesh topology, collaboration is essential. Data is distributed jointly by all nodes. Mesh networks will have an impact on cost per node, system installation costs, hardware prices, and software implementation costs, as we’ll see further down.
Mesh network topologies can be divided into two categories:
- Mesh network that is fully connected
- Mesh network that is only partially linked
The mesh network in its entirety is described above. Every node in the network is linked to every other node. A restricted network is a partial network. Although sections of nodes will be completely interconnected, they will communicate via switches or central hubs.
Advantages of a Mesh Network
- Mesh networks are the finest alternative for the correct system. In comparison to other networks, they have three significant advantages:
- Scalability is simple.
- Mesh networks do not necessitate the use of extra routers. Instead, each node serves as a router. This means you can adjust the network’s size quickly and easily.
- You can easily add a lot of technology to a conference room for a short amount of time, for example. Laptops, printers, and other devices can be carried into the room and will connect to the network automatically.
- This form of network can benefit even non-technical applications. A mesh network for lighting, for example, can be installed to almost any business. This enables you to add light sources as needed, while also allowing you to operate the entire network from anywhere.
- Defiant in the face of adversity
- In a mesh network, each node both receives and transmits data. This provides a lot of redundancy, which helps the network stay up and operating even if something goes wrong. If one node fails, the network can still complete the mesh by using other nodes.
- Range is simple to add.
- It’s usually not a difficulty to extend the range of a mesh network. Nodes are simply connected to gateways, which allow messages to flow freely throughout the network. Mesh networks can also self-optimize and determine the most efficient path for delivering a message.
Cons of Mesh Networks
- Mesh networking isn’t always the best option. Before you commit to this form of network, you should be aware of the following three drawbacks:
- Each Node’s Workload Has Increased
- In a mesh network, each node has a lot of responsibilities. In addition to transmitting messages, the node must also function as a router. Every node added to the mesh network adds to the complexity of the system.
- Five or ten neighbor nodes’ messages will need to be tracked by nodes. Every message that a node must send carries an exponential rise in the amount of data that it must likewise handle. Increasing the system’s range can result in a slew of unintended consequences due to the increased data load.
- It’s not easy to set up a network for the first time.
- It’s easy to add nodes to a mesh network once it’s up and running. However, setting up a mesh network from the ground up is usually significantly more difficult and time-consuming than putting up a regular network.
- The location of nodes will be dictated by latency issues. It’s possible that you’ll need to add dedicated nodes just for message forwarding. However, this can be a logistical problem. You may need to install equipment across your facility only to ensure that communications are delivered correctly and efficiently.
Latency Issues Can Affect Low-Power Networks
Are you connected to the internet via a low-power wide-area network (LPWAN)? If this is the case, you may experience latency issues. The time it takes for a message to go from a node to a gateway is known as latency. Most LPWANs lack the processing power to handle all of the essential data transfers in a timely manner.
If latency is a problem, the mesh network as a whole may need to be upgraded. Increasing the bandwidth, memory, and power available to each node will usually improve message transfer speed. Of course, these improvements come at a higher price.
If you (or your business) have a lot of money to spend and a lot of time to commit to setup, mesh networks are an excellent option. However, if each node represents a hit to your bottom line, this network may be slower and more limited than you’d prefer.
Each Node’s Power Consumption Has Increased
When each node is tasked with operating as both an endpoint and a route, the extra workload puts a strain on the system. In order to function properly, each node will require more power than usual.
If the node is large and directly wired into the electrical system, this is unlikely to be a problem. However, for small, battery-powered nodes, this can be a concern.
When security systems and lights are not correctly configured, they might cause problems. Sensors for a security system must have enough power to transmit data from one room to the next, and even between levels. This is a far more difficult operation than with a standard system, in which the sensor simply needs to be strong enough to reach a control panel.
Is a Mesh Network Right for Me?
There isn’t always a straightforward answer. In most cases, a mesh network gives better coverage. A mesh network can improve internet access if your current route does not give coverage throughout your entire site. This is particularly useful in multi-story buildings, such as office buildings or large homes.
Mesh networks are also more resilient to failure. There isn’t a single router that can go down and bring the entire network down with it. When a difficulty arises, the nodes will reroute and replace.
However, unless you have a good understanding of what you’re doing, you shouldn’t try to set up a mesh network on your own. Mesh networks are difficult to set up. Furthermore, a faulty setup could put security and other critical systems at risk.
Furthermore, mesh networks are costly to set up. You’ll need to purchase enough nodes to cover your entire area. Furthermore, if you’re unfamiliar with setup, purchasing equipment you don’t require is all-too-easy.
Mesh networks provide a lot of advantages, and their speed and dependability are well-known. But don’t forget to think about the drawbacks as well. Mesh networks aren’t inherently bad, but they might add unnecessary complexity and cost in certain instances.
Don’t be afraid if you decide to go with a mesh network. You can set up a secure mesh system in your house or office with appropriate preparation.