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You Probably Need a Mesh Wifi Network

We’re walking through all the details of our new eero mesh WiFi system(s) and how we’ve eliminated ‘dead spots’ in our home WiFi networks. It’s worth noting that this post is not sponsored, we’re just really excited about how easy it was for us to fix a nagging issue in our home, in the hopes it can help you, too!

A studio office in a renovated Chicago home.
table | rug | office chairs | ceiling light | clock |

We’re all spending a lot more time at home these days, so a strong WiFi network is more necessary than ever. Remote learning, working from home and streaming all require a strong signal, but homes have a lot of built-in barriers that prevent signals from reaching every room. A mesh network is just the solution to eliminate dead spots and keep your whole house productive and/or entertained! Before we jump into why a mesh WiFi network might be right for your home, let’s talk through what a mesh WiFi network actually is.

What is a Mesh Wifi Network, Anyway?

A mesh network consists of a main router (connected directly to a modem) and a series of satellite devices, or signal repeaters, that are placed throughout a home. This setup creates a ‘whole home’ WiFi network that offers a consistent signal and high speeds everywhere. This is especially helpful for homes with a large footprint, multiple floors or extra thick walls.

A graphic displaying how a mesh WiFi network bounces signal between multiple rooms for a whole home wifi network.

Our Chicago home, for example, is two stories with a long, narrow footprint and especially thick walls. All of these factors add up to a lot of signal barriers. As you can imagine, this made for some dead spots throughout our home, even with our old router placed as centrally as possible.

This All Sounds Complicated. Is it?

No! It’s actually really simple! Promise. The setup process is quick and intuitive, and the eero app walks through everything step-by-step. For our system, we purchased an eero three pack and used 2 of the units at our home in Chicago (the third device was used as the foundation of an eero system at our Michigan Tree House, which has also benefitted hugely from a new eero network. More on that in a second!) There are only a few steps involved in basic setup:

  1. Download the eero app
  2. Create an account
  3. Set up your eero
  4. Create your eero network
  5. Add additional eeros to your network
A stock image of three eero units.
eero system

That’s it! The whole setup process only took about 10 minutes! Once it was all installed, we had a bit of tweaking to do to ensure that all of our smart home devices were properly connected to the new network, but that can be avoided all together if you learn from our mistakes! One thing we definitely would have done differently (and did do when setting up the second network in Michigan) would have been to make sure our new network shared the exact same name and password as the old network. We omitted one digit of the password by mistake and had to reconnect a few of our devices, but that was 100% installer error.

Where Did You Place the Devices?

In Chicago, one eero is connected directly to our modem in our second floor studio. This unit acts as the main router. It’s all hidden behind this couch in a tangled mess of wires that we do our best to avoid thinking about.

A soft grey couch sits between two bright windows.
artwork | sectional | curtains

The second eero unit sits hidden atop the cabinets above the fridge in our kitchen, which is on the first floor. While the first eero in the studio definitely provided a better signal than our old combo modem/router by itself, the second device in the kitchen was the game changer that eliminated the dead zone at the back of the house!

A renovated all white kitchen with a black sliding back door.
stools | marble slab | ceiling light | salt + pepper | speakers

In Michigan, we used one eero (from the original 3 pack) as our main router. The unit sits atop a small decorative storage box tucked alongside the dresser, hiding the modem and a couple of other electronic wires and gadgets. Eero refers to the most current version as the ‘cupcake’ form factor, which is pretty perfect if you ask us! The units are glossy white and fade nicely into the background if they can’t be hidden from view.

A combination image features a wide shot and a close up shot of a light wood dresser topped with a leather lamp and a round brass mirror.
mirror | basket | alarm clock

In addition to the eero 3 pack, we also purchased an additional eero beacon as the second unit for the system at Tree House. The beacon plugs directly into a wall outlet in the sleeping loft. The form factor of the beacon resembles an air freshener or a nightlight and it has absolutely no cords, which is great for a space where kiddos regularly hang out and play. Coincidentally, it can also function as a dimmable nightlight if you prefer!

Note: We used our trusty label maker to let our short-term renters know not to unplug the device!

A modern sleeping loft featuring two antique beds and a clean black railing.
eero beacon | artwork

Did it Make a Noticeable Difference?

Heck. Yes. The eero systems made a HUGE difference in our WiFi signal strength in both homes! In the past, our Chicago kitchen (which is at the rear of the home) was a notorious WiFi problem area. This made following online recipes and streaming music to the kitchen and backyard a sometimes slow, spotty ordeal. (There’s a pair of outdoor speakers tucked discreetly on either side of our back patio staircase!)

A renovated red brick patio and wide back staircase at the rear of a Chicago home.
metal chairs | outdoor speakers | umbrella

When streaming music to the backyard speakers, we’d often have to resort to leaving one of our phones in the kitchen to control the music. We’d then have to run back inside every time we needed to skip tracks or adjust volume. We now have full strength WiFi in the kitchen, backyard and even into our detached garage! We can use our devices as usual, with full WiFi strength, to stream music or work outside. It’s like we’ve gained an outdoor office!

Any Additional Installation Tips?

Yup! As we mentioned earlier, it’s helpful to make absolutely sure to use the same network name and password as the existing network for your new network. This will help avoid having to reconnect any of your existing smart/streaming devices to the new network. I learned this lesson the hard way when I missed one digit of the password when setting up our system in Chicago. This left me with about 45 minutes of walking around the house updating passwords on smart devices. On the other hand, when I set up the system at Tree House, I was sure to replicate the old network name and password exactly and everything connected automatically without trouble. Seriously, it was up and running in less than 10 minutes!

A modern sleeping loft with two antique beds and blue tree-themed wallpaper.
reading lamps | bookcase | wallpaper | bolster pillows | woven basket

Also, if you formerly relied on a combination modem/router to do dual duty, it’s helpful to shut off router functionality and use the old device to work only as a modem. This sounds complicated, but a quick google search of your modem’s model number should provide a clear walkthrough of the necessary steps to keep it functioning only as a modem.

App Functionality

Another cool eero feature is that the app is actually useful after the network is set up! The app also allows the user to see which smart devices, laptops and speakers are connected to each eero unit. Devices are broken down by category and WiFi signal and can be toggled on and off as a parental control. It’s all very simple and convenient to use and offers some interesting insights into how many devices are actually on a network.

Screenshots of two functions of the eero WiFi app.

The app is also capable of real-time speed tests of both download and upload speeds. In our case, both speeds regularly clock in higher than the 100 Mbps that our cable company guarantees! Nice.

Final Thoughts

While a $250 investment in a strong WiFi network isn’t exactly chump change, the eero 3 pack goes on sale for between $169 and $200 fairly often. To save a few bucks when the units were not on sale, we purchased our original 3 pack brand new from ebay and paid just over $200. Our beacon was then purchased on facebook marketplace (gently used) for just over $100, so there are definitely ways to limit the initial investment into the system. That said, for investing around $300 for two brand new networks that have performed flawlessly thus far, we think it was money well spent!

Have you installed a mesh network? Are there any additional tips, tricks or hidden eero features that we should know about? We’d love to hear your experiences!

PS: Here’s a quick-start guide to building a Smart home system, if you’re interested!

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  • Sara8.20.20 - 8:49 AM

    We upgraded to a different mesh network earlier this year and it made such a huge difference! We are also in an older home with plaster walls, so we always had trouble on the second floor and in the basement. The mesh network fixed it!ReplyCancel

  • Molly8.20.20 - 9:10 AM

    Ooooo this is fascinating! Thanks for sharing! We definitely have some dead spots in the house. I’ll be showing this to my husband – thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Zoe8.20.20 - 9:21 AM

    Can you schedule the whole WiFi network to power off at say midnight so that your teens actually stop gaming at night? My current router allows me to shut off users in real time but I’d love to be able to just schedule a whole house shut down!!!ReplyCancel

    • Scott8.20.20 - 9:45 AM

      We haven’t played around too much with the on/off settings much, but I think this is possible. Please don’t take my word for it though! The eero site has a great FAQ section in case you want to confirm.ReplyCancel

      • Madelaine8.20.20 - 2:09 PM

        I have a Google mesh system and yes you can!! You can also turn it off for specific devices, or make a certain device ‘priority’ meaning it gets the fastest speeds. It’s amazingReplyCancel

  • Southern Gal8.20.20 - 9:26 AM

    Interesting that you chose eero.  I went with Google WiFi and have great results.  

    One note re routers and mesh wifi systems –  You wrote “it’s helpful to shut off router functionality and use the old device to work only as a modem”.  Actually for most routers (especially those provided by internet providers like Verizon etc) WiFi on the router must be disabled.   Its not hard to do but will require accessing the admin dashboard for the router (on a computer) and finding where to do it.  Googling your model number and disable wifi will usually find directions – most internet providers dont provide directions for this.

  • Austin8.20.20 - 9:33 AM

    Super curious — if you don’t already use an Echo/Alexa (and don’t have any plans to), is this still a viable option? About to start a work from home position, and our router is in our main living area. It would be great to boost the signal to my new workspace! ReplyCancel

    • Scott8.20.20 - 9:43 AM

      Yup! The echo is not a requirement, but allows for voice control options. If you don’t already own an Alexa but he would like one, keep an eye out for sales as they are often included for free with the three pack bundle!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia G Smith8.20.20 - 10:27 AM

    Is it necessary to wait for wifi6 capability? Also, my house is almost 6000 sq. ft., a ranch with full basement. And I want to enable wifi outside, as Verizon people get no signal here in the country. 
    Ideas?? ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.20.20 - 11:09 AM

      Not sure about WiFi 6 as we’ve been lucky enough to have really strong fiber service. Regarding the size of your home, one of the coolest things about eero is that it’s 100% modular! If you started with a 3 pack and it didn’t provide full coverage, you could always add a beacon or two like we did at our home in Michigan. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

    • yu8.20.20 - 2:48 PM

      WiFi 6 capability is already available (at a cost of course)! No need to wait, you can get WiFi 6 routers already. If you have a new phone from this year, it might already have WiFi 6 compatibility. But in a nutshell, you don’t need WiFi 6… WiFi 6 brings higher max speeds and a stronger signal through a number of technical advancements, but none of it is “necessary”. Most of its benefits are most obvious if you have dozen or more devices active at once, but as with all standards you also need to have both a WiFi 6 router and client (e.g. your laptop or phone) to use it, but anything WiFi 6 capable can handle WiFi 1/2/3/4/5. Hope that helps. Unless you have wireless signal issues with lots of devices, you can get by with WiFi 5 which is already able to reach speeds over 1,000mbps (but… WiFi 6 can reach 4,800). With WiFi 5 it might be more cost effective to buy more nodes to expand your mesh network to fill all your signal holes than relying on less WiFi 6 ones for the same money, unless you have WiFi 6 devices and the internet speed to match.
      Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Alli8.20.20 - 11:31 AM

    Ok! This post was much needed. Do you have different WiFi sign on for each device? I ordered an extender but it ended up as such a pain. Every time I left the room with the extender I had to go back on my home WiFi network. It resulted in a ton of interruptions.ReplyCancel

    • Scott8.20.20 - 1:15 PM

      Nope! Your device will seamlessly jump between eero units with no interruption. One password! One network! We ordered, and subsequently returned 3 different extenders before upgrading to a mesh network. It’s seriously a game changer!ReplyCancel

  • Lori8.20.20 - 2:21 PM

    Our Nest Wifi arrives this week! I’m so pumped. Our house is loooong and there are definitely dead zones.ReplyCancel

    • Southern Gal8.20.20 - 3:15 PM

      Love my Nest Wifi .  I wrote Google WiFi in my post because I started with that and then upgraded to the Nest WiFi router and can use my previous Google wifi points with it (and Nest WiFi points do NOT have an ethernet port which the Google wifi points do (not sure why they didnt keep that!))  ReplyCancel

  • yu8.20.20 - 2:35 PM

    Hmm, instead of updating all your passwords on your client devices, why didn’t you just change the password on the router after you realized the mistake? I doubt the eero software doesn’t allow you to go into it and change the password…ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer8.20.20 - 4:16 PM

    I bought an eero mesh system and honestly feel like the only thing it does is increase my range slightly. Plugging the main beacon into our modem made it super slow so I ended up plugging into my router to get some speed back. Two of the beacons pick up devices, but the third which I needed for my husband’s office does nothing. I emailed support days ago with no response except that they received my email. If I got the range needed from my Spectrum router, I wouldn’t even mess with the eero system. Very disappointed! ReplyCancel

    • Scott8.20.20 - 5:05 PM

      Wow, Strange! That’s the exact opposite of our two install experiences. Did you turn off the WiFi functionality of your modem? Our devices kept trying to connect to the old network until we set it up to only act as a modem. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • HARRY8.20.20 - 10:01 PM

    I bought a TP Link M9 mesh router system with 3 packs for $180 on sale at Costco.  I have 1 Gig speed on ATT  fiber network. Prior to the mesh router, upstairs was having problems getting signal on my ac1900 router but now with the new mesh network, the kids can do their online distance learning and I can do online meetings at various parts of the house with zero hiccups. 

    If you have multiple floors with many devices that require consistent internet connections, you should give the mesh system a try.ReplyCancel

  • David8.21.20 - 7:15 PM

    I have become such a shill for eero and I won’t stop recommending them to people. My sister’s boyfriend had a 3-pack of Google WiFi and his download speed quadrupled and upload speed went up 8 times from upgrading to a 3-pack of eero Pro’s (true tri-band vs google’s dual band). 
    I really like eero’s software as it’s truly set and forget. I used to have Netgears Orbi and Linksys Velop and hated the firmware, even though the hardware is good. 

    If I ever become rich, I’d just give away eero’s left and right. Good WiFi is truly amazing. ReplyCancel

  • Katie8.24.20 - 2:17 PM

    Thanks for the post!  This was very helpful!ReplyCancel

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