There are several categories of whole-home WiFi solutions:
We will explore each category in the next steps.
In the last step - we will provide a simple decision table to help you decide.
For connecting to the actual infrastructure that connects your home - Cable, xDSL, fiber or satellite - a modem is needed. Having a modem is a must you cannot forgo.
A modem is usually provided by your ISP (for a rental fee or included in your subscription). In some cases, you may replace the modem with a one you purchased - but only with the approval of your ISP as a non-approved modem may harm their infrastructure.
Most modems have an integrated router, often with WiFi capabilities.
However, most ISP provided combined modem/routers (sometimes called gateways) do not have the latest WiFi technology implemented, and are also limited in where you could place them in your home.
A WiFi range extender has the function of relaying WiFi messages between your router and distant devices.
When a WiFi range extender is connected to your router and placed away from it, it effectively increases the range where you can connect to your home WiFi network.
As every WiFi message needs to be "relayed" (or retransmitted) by the range extender - this may reduce the capacity of your network to handle multiple users devices at the highest speed.
Adding a WiFi range extender to your home WiFi network is as easy as pressing a couple of buttons, and placing it in the best sport (usually mid way between the main modem/router and where your need additional WiFi coverage).
While your home WiFi gateway may contain an integrated WIFi router, your add a second - much more advanced and powerful router - to have the latest technology and a much more powerful antenna array for your home WiFi network.
The add-on router may be just what you need to provide high-speed WiFi everywhere in your home.
However, as a single WiFi router range is limited and the add-on router can only be placed next to your existing ISP gateway (they are connected by a cable) - your add-on router may not provide the coverage range needed to cover your entire home.
A WiFi mesh system may be thought of a combination of a powerful router and a range extender.
A mesh system is composed of multiple units - with one unit connected with a wire to the main ISP gateway, and other units (as many as provided and supported by the manufacturer) connect to the main unit wirelessly.
The function of the WiFi mesh system is to relay WiFi messages between user devices that are our of range of the main unit, thus effectively expanding the coverage of your home WiFi network.
Unlike a simple range extender, a WiFi mesh system "self manages" the interconnection between the mesh units - something very difficult to accomplish if you would have deployed more than one range extender - making this setup very easy to install and maintain.
Whole-home WiFi solution selection guidelines: