How do hybrid WiFi Mesh with PLC work? Are they worth it?

What are Hybrid WiFi Mesh Systems Using PLCs?

A WiFi Mesh system consists of a main router and one or more signal extender nodes, these signal extenders work as a WiFi repeater, but with features such as WiFi roaming to move from one node to another in a completely transparent way, and We also have Band-Steering with the aim of having a single WiFi network to connect to, and that the WiFi Mesh system itself takes care of placing us in one frequency band or another, so that we do not have to worry about anything.

The nodes of a WiFi Mesh system must communicate with the main router and also with the rest of the nodes, as long as the WiFi Mesh system supports this type of network topology. Generally the router and nodes are intercommunicate via WiFi, either in the same bands where wireless clients connect (simultaneous dual band WiFi Mesh systems) or via WiFi in a frequency band exclusively dedicated to the interconnection of devices (simultaneous triple band WiFi Mesh systems). Of course, a WiFi Mesh system will always give us better performance if we have a band of frequencies dedicated to interconnection, because we will not have the traffic of the different wireless clients “disturbing”. In case you have your house wired, the vast majority of WiFi Mesh systems allow interconnection via Ethernet, or also known as Ethernet backhaul, this feature allows us to interconnect the nodes via cable and have a bandwidth of 1Gbps speed if the ports are Gigabit Ethernet.

In this way, if you do not have the house wired, you can interconnect the nodes via WiFi, and if you have it wired you can interconnect them via cable to have the maximum possible wireless speed.

Manufacturers have also been launching hybrid WiFi Mesh systemsIn other words, they incorporate Powerline or PLC technology to interconnect the different nodes with the router through the conventional electrical network. In this case, the interconnection of the nodes and the interconnection traffic will not go through the WiFi network or Ethernet cable, but through the electrical wiring. Depending on the Powerline standard used, such as the HomePlug AV2 MIMO, you will be able to achieve a higher “theoretical” speed or a lower speed. The higher speed we have of interconnection, the more speed we will be able to provide to the WiFi clients that are connected to the nodes of the WiFi Mesh system, which are connected to the main router through PLC.

Once we know what these hybrid WiFi Mesh systems are, we ask ourselves whether these types of devices are really worth it or not, and in what scenarios their use makes sense.

When is it worth buying a WiFi Mesh system with PLC?

If we buy a WiFi Mesh system with integrated PLC, we buy it to use it. When we buy a device with these characteristics, it generally also allows interconnection via WiFi and via cable, but if you buy a model with an integrated PLC, it makes no sense to interconnect them via WiFi or cable because you are wasting the equipment, and surely for less price you will get a WiFi system Mesh that provides better WiFi and cable performance.

A WiFi Mesh system with integrated PLC makes sense in those multi-storey houses where the WiFi interconnection works really badly, that is, we have very thick walls and walls, or a great distance that we are unable to place the different nodes correctly. In addition, in this house we should not have a wired connection, otherwise, we could interconnect them via Ethernet network cable and get more speed, to do this, it is better to buy a traditional WiFi Mesh because they are cheaper. Of course, this type of WiFi Mesh systems allow to use the three methods for the interconnection of the nodes. For example, we could have a node interconnected via Ethernet network cable, another via WiFi because it is “close” and the last via PLC because it is very far away, we can “mix” the three types of connection.

Therefore, this type of WiFi Mesh systems make sense when we have a house with several floors, thick walls and walls that prevent the WiFi connection from reaching well, and as long as we do not have it wired. In this case, we can easily resort to PLC technology to interconnect the different nodes of the WiFi Mesh system, although you should bear in mind that the electrical installation you have will play a fundamental role in achieving good speed through the electrical network, for what you should also take it into account. If you have used PLCs in the past and they have worked very well for you, then surely the hybrid WiFi Mesh will provide you with great performance in every way.

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