When it comes to home Wi-Fi systems, the first thing that comes to our mind is generally not a DIY mesh but one of the purposed-built options — or “canned” systems as I often call them.
Examples are Amazon’s eero, Google’s Nest Wifi, Netgear’s Orbi, and TP-Link’s Deco, etc. And in most cases, or to a certain extent, they will work.
But they all are often restrictive in one way or another or just too expensive. The good news is they are not your only options. There are much better alternatives for your hard-earned money.
You’ll find in this post four of the best do-it-yourself Wi-Fi mesh approaches that allow you to start with a standalone router and scale up the courage seamlessly.
Mesh Wi-Fi systems you can build yourself
It’s important to note that DIY mesh systems are not meant to be easy. In fact, ease of use is the most significant appeal of any canned system.
So all of the Wi-Fi ecosystems below will require some work. But making your own mesh Wi-Fi gives you the best control over the hardware and, hence, the performance, features, and, most importantly, the cost.
Most importantly, none of those below are too complicated. If you’re willing to spend some time and have enough interest, you’ll be able to figure them out. And knowing one likely means you’ll be able to take on the rest.
With that, here’s the list of the best DIY mesh Wi-Fi systems.
1. Asus’s AiMesh
AiMesh is by far the most popular in custom-built home mesh Wi-Fi systems thanks to the sheer number of available hardware — virtually all Asus Wi-Fi 6 and later routers support this feature.
Consequently, there are countless mesh combos, and since an Asus router generally has the most comprehensive network settings and features, AiMesh is also the most feature-rich.
AiMesh does have some shortcomings, the biggest among which is the likelihood that a new major firmware update might cause issues.
The most flexible way to build a robust, scalable home Wi-Fi mesh system
Excellent performance, top-notch feature set
Built-in online protection
No vendor login required or other privacy risks
Certain router combos can be buggy or have issues with new major firmware releases.
Rigid Wi-Fi management when mixing dual-band and tri-band hardware
Only Guest SSID (instead of three) per band can be made system-wide
2. TP-Link Omada
Omada is a family business access point. You can use a controller to manage multiple units as a robust mesh Wi-Fi system.
This approach is standard in business and enterprise Wi-Fi systems, available in known brands such as Cisco’s Meraki, Netgear (Insight Managed), or EnGenious Go-to Cloud.
What sets Omada apart is its affordability — the hardware tends to cost a third or even lower than similarly-specced equipment from competing vendors. For a large home, it’s generally cheaper to go with Omada than with any canned system.
On the downside, these are PoE access points, meaning you generally need to get your home wired first. You’ll also need an existing router before you can make use of these access points.
Excellent Wi-Fi coverage, fast performance
Affordable; easy setup option; no additional cost for cloud-manage
Lots of mesh features and settings
APs include mounting accessories, and PoE or power adapter
The system can be managed via a local web user interface, a useful optional mobile app
The controller can’t work as a router, nor does it include a power adapter or PoE injector
Networking know-know and network cables are required
3. Synology Mesh
Synology Mesh is what I call the no-name feature that turns select Synology routers into a mesh system. This feature is similar to Asus’s AiMesh in terms of customizability and features.
You start with a standalone router and add more to increase the coverage.
On the one hand, Synology Mesh tends to be a lot more stable than AiMesh. On the other, it has only a few hardware options and currently no support for Multi-Gig wired backhauling.
Fast, reliable, and extensive Wi-Fi coverage
Advanced interface with high-quality add-on features
Highly-customizable network and Wi-Fi settings
Effective Parental Controls and online protection
Limited hardware and combo options, no satellite-only hardware, users have little control over the satellites
No 10Gbps or 5Gbps Multi-Gig option, no hardware with two or more 2.5Gbps ports
4. Ubiquiti UniFi
UniFi is Ubiquiti’s enterprise family of hardware. It’s only relevant to home users, thanks to the release of the Dream Machine (UDM) and, subsequently, the Dream Router (UDR).
You can use either of the routers as the controller for a network and add an UniFi access point to scale up coverage.
An UniFi mesh system is excellent in reliability and features. However, it’s likely the one that requires the most networking know-how to figure out on this list. On top of that, it’s also limited in terms of hardware options.
Built-in support for all of Ubiquiti’s business hardware segments (Network, Protect, Talk, and Access)
Reliable Wi-Fi performance, excellent range, mesh-ready
Tons of useful networking features, comprehensive web user interface, and mobile app
Compact and beautiful design, two PoE ports
Comparatively affordable, quiet operator
No Multi-Gig, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation; middling Wi-Fi specs and modest processing power; only one additional app (Talk, Protect, or Access) is supported at a time
Security feature reduces Wi-Fi 6 speed, Power over Ethernet doesn’t support PoE+ or PoE++
Requires an account with UniFi, not wall-mountable, internal fan
Pick any of the options above, and you will get a mesh Wi-Fi system far better than any canned option of the same cost.
And the fact that you can say you built it yourself is a satisfying bonus.