If your home WiFi signal is strong and fast in the living room (where the router is), but weak and slow (or absent) in the guest bedroom, you might have an underpowered WiFi router. But you might also just have thick walls, metal structures, or even wiring blocking the WiFi signal.
The solution? WiFi repeaters: little boxes that pick up your WiFi signal and spread it more evenly throughout your home. (You may also see these called “mesh routers,” because you can use them to weave together a thick blanket of strong, fast WiFi coverage.)
Easy, but Not Cheap
WiFi repeaters aren’t new. Many were bulky, fiddly, or hard to set up. But over the last two years, a series of products with odd names (like eero and orbi) have appeared, all claiming to make extending your WiFi network as easy as plugging in a nightlight.
At about $149 for 1, $249 for 2, or $349 for three, these fancy repeaters don’t come cheap. In theory, though, those big bucks are buying the ultimate in simplicity: a strong, solid WiFi signal that “just works,” even in those hard-to-reach places.
Are repeaters a good investment? Here’s the scoop on a product called Luma that we’ve been using in two very different homes for more than a year.
We Like Luma’s Simplicity
Each six-sided Luma mesh router fits in the palm of your hand. They’re about the size of a coaster, and about the thickness of a bar of soap. On the front, a lighted circle flickers and pulses – but only during setup. On the back, there are two network ports, a USB port, and power port. Unlike some competitors (which feature a “plug me directly into the wall socket” design), each Luma comes with a long power cable and power adaptor, giving you more flexibility when placing the devices around your home (and some more dangling cords to hide).
In our home – a concrete condo in the middle of Midtown Atlanta – every short step of the setup process went smoothly. (Clyde notes that the key to a happy setup is following the instructions exactly. If you vary, expect issues.) All configuration is done on a handy smartphone app. In minutes, that pesky no-WiFi zone in the bathroom bathed in fast, consistent coverage, and the slow WiFi spot in our bedroom (on my side of the bed, of course) was just as speedy as the fastest spot in the house (in the office, next to the router).
When Problems Arise
Because my father-in-law has a looooong house, his den and kitchen have long been out of range of the WiFi router in his office. We tried five different solutions before trying the Luma mesh routers. To our great disappointment, even they failed – at first.
But after a call to customer support established that one of our Luma devices was faulty, Luma replaced it with a working unit at no cost to us – and made the exchange even months after our initial purchase. Now, instead of sitting in the den looking at the t.v. instead of each other, we can all sit in the den and stare at our WiFi-enabled devices instead of each other. Progress!
We Recommend Luma
Seriously, though: if you’re looking for a way to achieve solid, fast coverage throughout your home or office, we recommend you give Luma (which comes with a money-back guarantee) a try. And remember: that recommendation doesn’t come from someone who has spent a weekend with the things! No, we’re people who have installed the Luma boxes in two very different homes and used them successfully for more than a year. You should order your own Luma mesh routers from Amazon.com.
Reminder: At MadeByMark.com, I just “share what works” because I like pointing you to solutions that worked well for us. I spend my own money for these devices, just like you do. I don’t accept compensation, payments, or discounts. My opinions and recommendations are not for sale, so you can trust me to tell you the truth about the solutions I review.