A Google Nest WiFi mesh node sitting on a bookshelf.
Jordan Gloor / How-To Geek
Optimal placement of Wi-Fi mesh nodes will ensure you get the most out of your new system. Aim to place the nodes high up and within 30-40 feet of each other.

You bought a mesh system to improve your home’s Wi-Fi situation, so let’s make sure the router and nodes are positioned optimally to give you the best experience. Here’s how to place your mesh nodes for the best speeds and coverage.

Overlap Mesh Node Coverage

For this tip and the rest of the tips in the article, it will help you to place your Wi-Fi mesh nodes effectively if you imagine there is a giant ball around the node, symbolizing the reach of the Wi-Fi radio inside. (Technically, the shape of the radio wave “cloud” around the mesh nodes isn’t a perfect ball and more typically a donut shape, but for our purposes, visualizing it as mostly spherical is fine.)

The range of different mesh nodes can vary, but the “cloud” of radio around the Wi-Fi node is about 30-50 feet in diameter. Your goal is to position all mesh nodes so that they are within that distance from each other.

Staying within that distance is important, but especially so if you are not using a wired Ethernet backhaul to connect your mesh nodes. (Not every mesh system has nodes with Ethernet ports, but if yours does, the Ethernet ports are used for wired backhauls and other functions.)

In true wireless mesh configuration, each mesh node’s signal need to overlap sufficiently with one or more other mesh nodes to ensure a stable and smooth connection between each node. With a wired backhaul, each node can communicate back to the router over Ethernet, but you still don’t want dead spots between the nodes.

Most people will be using the mesh nodes without an Ethernet backhaul, so it’s wise to stick to around 30-40 feet between each node.

When In Doubt, Raise Them Up

If you have the choice between putting a mesh node on a low shelf under your TV or on the top of a nearby bookcase, it’s better to raise the mesh node up. Placing nodes too low is a common mesh router placement mistake.

Wi-Fi is radio, and in our homes, most radio-wave-absorbing materials are located in the lower half of the room. Once you get above about five feet off the ground, it’s mostly empty space, and your Wi-Fi signal will propagate better throughout your home.

You don’t need to go out of your way to mount them high up on the wall, but placing them on the tallest thing in the room will go a long way toward avoiding physical interference.

RELATED: 6 Mesh Router Placement Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid Outside Walls

Speaking of walls in your home, avoid placing your Wi-Fi mesh nodes on outside walls unless your goal is to broadcast your Wi-Fi signal outside to your patio or get a better signal for your Wi-Fi security cameras.

If you keep the Wi-Fi radio ball model in mind, placing a Wi-Fi mesh node on an outside wall or a window sill is projecting half of that “ball” outside of your home.

It’s not the end of the world if you have strong coverage for your home, but if you’re not thrilled with the Wi-Fi coverage inside the home, move those outside wall mesh nodes closer to the center of the home.

Aim for Line of Sight Placement

Ideally, one or more of your mesh nodes are placed within line of sight of each other. If you have a long open run, like across an open-concept ranch or other large space, try to keep the mesh nodes roughly in light of sight with each other.

And if that’s not possible, keep the line-of-sight concept in mind but think of the positioning of the nodes like you have X-ray vision. If you stand where one node is and look at the location of the other node, what is in the “sight” line? Ideally, it’s mostly just empty space like the room with just stud and drywall construction (which is largely invisible to Wi-Fi) in between.

If there are things with a lot of mass between one Wi-Fi node and the other such as a utility room, kitchen, or even a wall of packed bookshelves, consider repositioning the Wi-Fi nodes so that the direct line between them to avoid Wi-Fi blocking materials.

Keep Your Mesh Nodes in the Open

If you’re following the line of sight tip, your mesh nodes are already out in the open. But a lot of folks stick their mesh nodes in areas that dampen the Wi-Fi signal.

A mesh node parked on the shelf of a packed media center where it is surrounded on top, bottom, and sides by metal boxes, consoles, and other electronics won’t have as strong of a signal as if it was placed on an open surface like the top of the media center.

The same thing goes for putting the mesh node inside things. If you don’t like the look of the nodes, it’s very tempting to want to put them somewhere out of sight or cover them. Ideally, you keep them in the open, but if you do cover any sort of Wi-Fi device, you should do so with a well-ventilated, non-metallic container.

Hiding a mesh node in a seagrass basket will have a negligible effect on the Wi-Fi signal, but putting the same mesh node in an ornate metal Moroccan-style lantern will diminish your Wi-Fi signal.

Address Coverage Issues with Additional Nodes

If you use all of these tips and find that you’re not getting the coverage you want from your mesh system, add more mesh nodes to ensure you have enough to cover your whole home.

It might seem silly that we’re suggesting this in a placement and setup tip (because, after all, you bought a mesh system). But after years of dealing with Wi-Fi issues with Wi-Fi extenders, many folks have “add an extender!” as a default troubleshooting step. There may even be a good chance you have an extender handy because, prior to getting the mesh system, that’s how you patched up your rickety Wi-Fi situation.

The beauty of mesh systems is their extensibility, however. You don’t need Wi-Fi extenders anymore. The mesh system itself is essentially a very sophisticated extender system that avoids the downsides of bandaging a Wi-Fi network with a third-party extender. Anytime you need more coverage to reach that last part of the house or make sure playing on Instagram sitting on the patio doesn’t burn up your mobile data, purchase additional mesh nodes to extend your network.

Mesh nodes are almost always cheaper in a pack, so it’s worth buying a multi-pack instead of individual mesh nodes. You split many mesh router packs and share the extras with friends or family. We even recommend using a single mesh node as a Wi-Fi router for a small home just to get the advantage of an automated and polished mesh platform.

The Best Mesh Routers of 2023

Best Mesh Router Overall
TP-Link Deco X20
Best Budget Mesh Router
TP-Link Deco X20
Best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router
ASUS ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Best Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router
ASUS ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Amazon Eero Pro 6
Best Mesh Router for Gaming
Amazon Eero Pro 6
Netgear Orbi RBK753
Best Mesh Router for Large Homes
Netgear Orbi RBK753
Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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