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The 5 Best Routers for a Large House in 2024 — Reviewed and Ranked

Getting strong, reliable Wi-Fi coverage throughout a large house has long been a challenge. With the proliferation of connected devices in the modern smart home, it‘s more important than ever to banish those dreaded Wi-Fi dead zones. While newer standalone routers have improved range compared to older models, large homes with multiple floors and many rooms often require a more robust solution.

This is where mesh Wi-Fi systems come to the rescue. Unlike a traditional router that acts as a single access point, mesh systems consist of multiple nodes that work together to blanket your entire home in strong, seamless Wi-Fi. Let‘s take a closer look at what to consider when choosing a mesh system, along with my top picks for the best mesh routers for a large house in 2023.

Mesh Wi-Fi 101: How It Solves Coverage Woes

In a mesh Wi-Fi system, you start with a primary router that connects to your modem, just like a regular setup. But then you place additional satellite nodes throughout your home, especially in areas far from the main router. These nodes communicate with the router and each other to create a single, unified Wi-Fi network.

As you move around your home, your devices automatically connect to the node with the strongest signal without any interruption. The nodes work together to determine the fastest path to the main router, dynamically rerouting traffic as needed to avoid congestion and dead zones.

Adaptive routing technologies like dynamic channel selection, band steering, and client steering work behind the scenes to optimize performance. The system automatically directs your devices to the most appropriate frequency band and access point to balance the load.

The best mesh systems also dedicate one or more of the radios in each node to creating a fast wireless "backhaul" between the router and nodes. This dedicated link ensures your devices get the full potential speed of your internet connection. Some systems also support wired backhaul for an even more stable, higher bandwidth connection between nodes.

Key Features to Look For

When evaluating mesh systems, here are some of the most important specs and features to compare:

Wi-Fi Standard: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is the latest and greatest version of Wi-Fi with the best speeds, capacity, and efficiency. Wi-Fi 6E adds support for the 6 GHz frequency band (more on that below). For the most future-proof purchase, look for a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E system. However, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) mesh systems are still a solid choice if you want to save some money.

Frequency Bands: Mesh routers operate on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands, just like regular routers. However, tri-band models add a second 5 GHz band for improved performance. The new Wi-Fi 6E standard introduces a 6 GHz band with even more bandwidth and less potential for interference. The 2.4 GHz band offers longer range but slower speeds, while 5 GHz and 6 GHz deliver faster speeds but shorter range. Having multiple bands allows the system to dedicate backhaul traffic to the higher bands while using 2.4 GHz for maximum coverage.

Speeds: Theoretical maximum speeds can seem impressive on the spec sheet, but real-world performance depends on many factors. For most homes, a mesh system advertising "AC1200" or "AX1800" speeds will be more than sufficient. But for the most demanding households with gigabit internet plans, a higher-end "AX6000" or even "AX11000" system may be worth the investment.

Expandability: One of the best parts of mesh systems is the ability to expand coverage by simply adding more nodes. Consider both the maximum number of nodes the system supports as well as the cost of additional nodes. Some systems come in packs of 3 or more units, while others are sold in pairs with the option to add individual nodes later.

Setup and Management: Unlike the clunky web interfaces of traditional routers, most mesh systems feature slick smartphone apps for easy setup and management. Look for an intuitive app with helpful features like speed tests, parental controls, guest networks, and QoS settings. Some mesh systems also support voice controls through Alexa or Google Assistant.

Security: A strong network requires robust security. WPA3 is the latest Wi-Fi security protocol, so look for systems that support it. Many mesh systems also include extra security features like firewalls, VPN servers, and threat scanning. Automatic firmware updates ensure you always have the latest security patches and features.

Top Mesh Wi-Fi Picks

Now that we‘ve covered the key considerations, here are some of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems for large homes:

Netgear Orbi: The Orbi line is one of the most popular and powerful mesh systems. They offer a range of tri-band Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E options for different sized homes and budgets. The high-end Wi-Fi 6E RBKE963 kit is one of the fastest mesh systems out there, with excellent range thanks to its 5,000 sq ft of coverage per node. Netgear also offers weatherproof outdoor satellites for extending coverage to your yard.

Asus ZenWiFi: Asus‘s ZenWiFi systems deliver top speeds and tons of advanced features. The ZenWiFi XT8 and ET8 are tri-band Wi-Fi 6 and 6E models respectively, each covering up to 5,500 sq ft with a 2-pack. Asus‘s AiProtection Pro security and parental controls are some of the best in the business. The ZenWiFi Pro ET12 adds a 6 GHz band for even more bandwidth and less interference.

Google Nest WiFi: Google‘s Nest WiFi offers an affordable, easy to use mesh system with a clean, minimalist aesthetic. The dual-band Wi-Fi 5 system isn‘t the fastest out there, but it‘s incredibly easy to set up and manage through the Google Home app. Each node also functions as a Google Assistant smart speaker. You can expand the 2,200 sq ft 2-pack system with additional nodes or "points".

TP-Link Deco: TP-Link‘s Deco systems are another cost-effective, user-friendly mesh option. The Deco X20 is an excellent performing Wi-Fi 6 system with up to 5,800 sq ft of coverage from a 3-pack. Deco systems include solid parental controls and antivirus protection for your entire network. For the best performance, step up to the tri-band Wi-Fi 6E Deco XE75 or quad-band Deco XE200.

Eero Pro: Eero, an Amazon company, makes stylish, simple mesh systems great for Alexa smart homes. The Eero Pro 6E is a top pick with tri-band Wi-Fi 6E delivering up to 6,000 sq ft of coverage from a 3-pack. It features a built-in Zigbee smart home hub to connect devices like smart locks, lights, and plugs. The cheaper dual-band Eero 6+ is also a great performer for its price.

Maximizing Coverage

Of course, the specific amount of coverage you get will depend on the size and layout of your home, as well as the number and placement of your nodes. Larger homes may require more nodes, with each node placed no more than 2 rooms apart. Ideal placement spots include high up on shelves or mounted on the wall away from obstructions. Avoid tucking them away in cabinets or behind large appliances.

Certain construction materials in your home can also hinder Wi-Fi signals. Things like concrete walls, metal frames, large mirrors, and radiant barriers in the attic are particularly problematic. Consider wired Ethernet backhaul to nodes in troublesome areas for the best performance.

Alternative Solutions

Besides mesh systems, there are a few other ways to extend Wi-Fi coverage in a large home. Powerline adapter kits use your home‘s electrical lines to send data from your main router to a second access point. The downside is they can be sensitive to electrical interference and don‘t support the latest Wi-Fi 6/6E standards.

If your home has coaxial cables for cable TV in most rooms, you can use MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapters to send Ethernet over those cables to hardwired access points. Finally, wireless repeaters and extenders can rebroadcast your main router‘s signal, but often create a separate network name and have higher latency compared to mesh.

Preparing for the Mesh

To set your new mesh system up for success, it helps to do a little preparation. If possible, place your primary router node in a central location, like the middle of your main floor. Prioritize placing satellite nodes near areas where you need the most coverage, like home offices, entertainment rooms, and outdoor spaces.

For best results, try to minimize interference from other devices. Keep the nodes away from cordless phones, microwaves, Bluetooth speakers, and smart home hubs. Metal objects can also reflect Wi-Fi signals, so avoid placing nodes near filing cabinets, appliances, or metal furniture.

Finally, make sure your Internet plan offers sufficient speed for your needs. Even the best mesh system won‘t make up for a slow connection from your ISP. Consider upgrading to a faster plan, especially if you have several heavy Internet users in your household.

Mistakes to Avoid

When setting up your new mesh system, try to avoid these common pitfalls:

Daisy Chaining: While it may be tempting to place nodes in a straight line to maximize range, avoid connecting them in a daisy chain whenever possible. It‘s better to have each node connect directly to the main router for the best performance. Use Ethernet backhaul if you need to cover long distances.

Node Overload: Each node can support a certain number of devices, so try to spread them out evenly. If you have one area with a lot of devices, like a home theater, consider placing 2 nodes there or using a wired Ethernet connection for devices that support it.

Forgetting Updates: Most mesh systems have an option for automatic firmware updates, which is enabled by default. However, if you disabled this feature, remember to periodically check for updates in the app. New firmware often includes performance improvements, security fixes, and new features.

Skimping on Speed: If you have an older mesh system that doesn‘t support the latest Wi-Fi standards, it may be time for an upgrade – especially if you‘ve recently upgraded your internet plan. The same goes for connecting the main router node to your modem. For speeds over 100 Mbps, use a Gigabit Ethernet connection if your modem supports it.

Wrapping Up

Achieving whole-home Wi-Fi coverage doesn‘t have to be a hassle. By choosing the right mesh system and following best practices for setup and maintenance, you can enjoy strong, reliable Wi-Fi in every room.

Consider your home‘s size, layout, and construction, as well as the types of online activities your family enjoys. Whether you need the absolute fastest speeds for competitive gaming and 4K streaming, or just want reliable coverage for browsing and light streaming, there‘s a mesh system that will fit your needs and budget.

Don‘t put up with buffering, dropped connections, and dead zones any longer. Upgrade to a mesh system and experience the difference today. With the latest Wi-Fi 6E technology, you‘ll be ready to enjoy the fastest wireless speeds and lowest latency for years to come.