Why We Use Mesh Networks for Home Automation

Mesh networks provide reliability that you don’t get with traditional networks.

Nearly everything in your home can be controlled through an automation, and mesh networks provide added security and reliability to your system. 

So much goes on behind the scenes with automated home systems, and it can take special consideration to make sure everything runs smoothly. After all, how awful would it be if your home security system went down because of a network failure. This is not just inconvenient, but potentially unsafe.

Improved reliability is one of the many reasons Livewire recommends mesh networks for home automation systems. This type of networking provides a level of stability that you don’t get with traditional networks. Your home will be kept secure and fully under your control at all times.

What is a Mesh Network?

Before getting into the benefits of mesh networks, it’s important to understand what a mesh network actually is and how it works. All networks consist of three parts: a gateway, a router, and a client.

Gateway

The gateway is the access point to your Internet. For most homes, it’s typically the router or the modem; whatever the device is that connects to the wired connection coming into your home. 

Router

While the main router or modem acts as the gateway, additional routers can be used throughout the house to extend the signal or provide alternate routes for network signals to travel (key in mesh networks). No matter how many you have, a router acts as an access point for devices connecting to your internet or home network.

Client

In terms of a home network, a client is any device that acts as the end destination of the signal.  Phones, computers, smart TVs, thermostats, security systems, or any other device that connects to the network.

In a traditional network the modem/router acts as your gateway and main access point for all clients. If that one router goes down, so does the entire network. Even if you have additional nodes (addresses on the network), it only creates more opportunities for the network to fail. 

Mesh networks are different in that all network devices are connected to one another. Each device transmits a signal to all devices within the home network. Because they’re interconnected, if one point in the system fails the signal is simply rerouted to another node. It acts more as a web rather than a single, straight path.

Advantages of Mesh Networks

Pretend that you’re back in high school and you’re in between classes. The hallways are crowded with students heading in different directions, many of which overlap with the one direct route you need to take to get to your next class. 

Suddenly, a fight breaks out involving six guys, the school janitor, and a busted trash bin. Hallway traffic grinds to a halt until the fight can be broken up, leaving you late for class and at the mercy of your teacher’s wrath. 

Now let’s change the scenario. Suppose the entire high school is laid out like a grid, with hallways going in all different directions. There is still the shortest, most direct, path to get from A to B – but if that path gets clogged for whatever reason there are other options available.

This is the main advantage of a mesh network. Since everything is interconnected, one point can go down without disrupting the rest of the system. Your devices will simply reconnect to the nearby nodes.

Going back to the high school analogy, a grid layout will not only allow you to avoid major blockages in your route but delays as well. Similarly, a mesh network enables signals in the system to travel by the fastest possible routes rather than ones that are bogged down by data.

Application of Mesh Networks in Home Automation

Your home automation system involves a variety of components, and it’s important to make sure that everything keeps working as it should – even if one point on the network goes down. 

A mesh network is ideal for this type of situation, which commonly occurs in larger homes or offices. Every device communicates with every other device, so signals always have a route to follow. This ensures that everything works the way it should at all times.

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