Building a NonMesh Home Mesh Network

Speaking of my WFH game…let’s chat about wifi. Specifically, the easiest way to blanket your home in wifi. So you can get some of these new MESH NETWORKING systems that cost a few hundred bucks…or you can build your own using some older tech. Specifically, the old Apple Airport tech.

Here at Casa PDX, we have two Apple Airport Extremes (AAE). One in the office and one in the TV/Living/Dining area. Originally we had one AirPort Extreme in the office and used that throughout the house. It worked fine, but the front of the house was getting slow speeds on the 2.4ghz network while the office was blazing away at 5ghz. That’s fine for iPad surfing, but once March hit, we needed some better speeds in the front of the house (Zoom at the kitchen table anyone).

So I bought a cheap Netgear (NG) wireless access point to try and help. Wired the NG to the AAE via a very cool tool, a NETGEAR Powerline Adapter (more on this later). The two routers did not play well with each other.

After some additional research, I purchased a second used/refurb Apple AirPort Extreme. I removed the NG box and did a full reset on the home network. Setup AAE 1 and then plugged in AAE 2. HOLY POOH. Damn Apple, your hardware/software game is awesome. This thing basically connected itself and just joined the network. It acts like a mesh network. Same Network Name, same security, switches between hardware with no issues…it’s amazing.

Only downside (for me) is getting your hands on the hardware. Apple stopped making the AirPort Extreme a few years ago and now you have to find them third-party (eBay, CraigsList, NewEgg, etc.) and they are still not super cheap. But if you only need two to blanket your house, you should consider this solution.

Back to the NETGEAR Powerline Adapter (NPA)…this is another amazing product. If you have a home with good copper wiring, and you want to network your home without running CAT-5, take a look at this. The main AAE is in the office, but so is one NPA and the other NPA is in the TV room with the other AAE. The TV, AppleTV, Xbox, and blue-ray player are essentially all hard-wired to the main network via copper power lines and the NAP. They are getting full speeds. It is awesome. In addition, we are not over taxing the wifi. Finally, you can add NPA boxes to the rest of the house as needed without running any new wires.

You can find NETGEAR Powerline Adapters on Amazon and used Apple AirPort Extreme info on Apple’s support site.

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