It’s pretty clear now that mesh networks produce stronger wifi signals throughout larger spaces when compared to regular wifi routers even with range extenders. But, many mesh networks only instruct users to connect each router over wifi. While this may be fine in some situations, e.g. where you can’t run ethernet between a main router and a satellite, having a wired backhaul produces a much better wifi signal coming out of the downstream satellite router. Here are instructions to set this up using the TP-LINK Deco AX1800 X20 (W3600 if you bought it from Walmart).
- Restart the modem
- Follow the instructions to set up the main router
- Follow instructions to set up the satellite router over wifi (default)
When the light on the satellite turns green, then you know the satellite router is connected to the main router. At this point, since you haven’t connected an ethernet cable between the two routers, the connection is over wifi. You can verify this by opening the Deco app and clicking the satellite router. You should see the “Signal Source” value the wifi symbol followed by 2.4GHz/5GHz.
If you have a laptop or smartphone that is connected to the satellite router, you can run a speed test. In this example, I have a laptop that is connected over wifi to the satellite router. After running a speed test, connect an ethernet cable between the two routers. The light on the satellite router will turn red temporarily and then turn green when connected. Similarly, the satellite router’s status in the app will appear disconnected. Click the refresh button and you should see the “Signal Source” value change to “Ethernet” and shown in the screenshot below. This confirms that you are using a wired backhaul.
Now, run a wifi speed test from the satellite router. In my case, my laptop was still connected to the satellite router. The wifi speed test results were clearly much faster when the satellite was connected over ethernet rather than wifi. This setup is very useful when you need a strong wifi signal very far away from your main router and you can run an long ethernet cable between routers.
Note: I got this 2 router TP-Link AX1800 mesh wifi system from Walmart for $129. At Walmart, the model number is W3600 whereas on Amazon it’s X20.