Lutron offers two wireless systems for home automation: Caseta and Maestro Wireless. Find out which is right for you, here!
Most homes now have Wi-Fi connectivity. It is not new to hear people complain about dead spots, or places around their house that doesn’t receive Wi-Fi love. In the past, people relied on a Wi-Fi extender to bring Wi-Fi signals to all dead spots.
However, these extenders usually slow down your Internet speed and you would need to connect to a different Wi-Fi system as you go from one room to the next. Wi-Fi extenders are also a hassle to set up.
This is the reason why we now have several Wi-Fi systems that can blanket your house with Wi-Fi signal without going through all the pain that comes with using Wi-Fi extenders. Two of these systems that are available in the market now are Linksys Velop and Netgear Orbi.
Bottom Line Up Front: If you have a larger home, I’d strongly recommend the Orbi available here as it has less overall signal degradation.
However, if you have an existing smart home setup with Zigbee or have a smaller home (less than 2,000 square feet), then the Velop might be a better value available here for 32% off right now. Or, if you can’t be bothered to tinker with placement, the Velop is an easier plug and play solution.
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First up: Linksys Velop
Linksys Velop comes from Belkin and can be bought for $199.99 (check this listing for the latest live prices) for the one-pack package and $500 (check this listing for the latest live prices) for a pack of three.
Velop allows you to blanket your entire home with full Wi-Fi signals, ensuring that you are always connected no matter where you are at home.
You get fast Internet connection even when you are in the basement or out in your backyard. That is enough to allow every member of your household to watch high-definition streaming videos, play games, and even watch TV online.
It does not matter how your home is shaped, or how big your home is; you can just add another Velop if you have a bigger house. This will ensure that even difficult spots have Wi-Fi connectivity.
Velop also works with different types of homes, be it a ranch-style house, a townhouse, an apartment, or a brownstone house.
Important Features of the Velop
Modern design. Velop has a white tower-like design with a square base that measures 3.1 inches on all sides. It is 7.3 inches tall. This makes it easier for the Velop to blend into your home’s color scheme and overall design philosophy.
It is around 88% smaller than older routers. Because there is only one cable to deal with, the connections are basically out of sight. Moreover, the internal antennas are placed on top to ensure maximum coverage.
Full-strength Wi-Fi signals. Velop is a mesh network system that brings Wi-Fi signals from your modem to your entire house without degrading its signal. Your modem would be the one to connect to the Internet and it relays the connectivity to the first Velop.
The Velop would then transmit the same full-strength signal to the next Velop and so on. Each Velop can adequately cover up to 2000 sq. ft. of space.
This is very unlike Wi-Fi extenders and other systems, which degrade the signal, so that the farther the Wi-Fi extender is from the modem, the weaker the Wi-Fi signal will be.
Tri-band technology. Linksys Velop uses tri-band technology that ensures fast Internet speeds no matter how many connections are currently being run, a significant upgrade over traditional dual-band router technology.
The kids can play online games while you watch high-definition TV and another family member streams videos, without any of you suffering through pesky buffering.
One Wi-Fi SSID and password. With old Wi-Fi extenders and routers, you would need to use different Wi-Fi SSIDs and passwords as you go around the house. If your bedroom has a different router or range extender as your living room router, you would need to switch to that connection when you go to bed.
For some, that would mean manual switching to bedroom connection and may even disrupt your time online. With Velop, you only have to remember one set of SSID and password.
Easy installation and setup. The Linksys Velop is very easy to set up. First, you would need to download the Linksys application to your smartphone, then connect one Velop to your modem.
From the mobile app, you can name your Wi-Fi and set a password. If you are going to use more than one Velop node, all you have to do is to place these nodes throughout your house.
Compatible with Amazon Alexa. You can use voice commands to operate your LinkSys Velop. You can just say “Alexa, ask Linksys what my Wi-Fi password is,” or “Alexa, ask Linksys to turn off the guest Wi-Fi,” and you will get what you want out of your Velop.
Remote management. With the mobile app, you can monitor and manage your Wi-Fi connections even when you are not home. There are five notable things that you can do with the mobile app:
- Parental control. This allows you to restrict access to specific websites and even limit your kids’ Wi-Fi privileges. For instance, if you do not want your kids to stay up late watching YouTube videos, you can either block their connection at a certain time or until a certain time. You can also restrict particular websites.
- Device prioritization. This ensures fast Internet connection to the devices that matter. For instance, you can prioritize your work computer over the Apple TV or video game consoles.
- Create a guest network. This allows guests to access your Wi-Fi without you giving out your Wi-Fi password to them.
- Perform real-time speed tests.
- Autofix. Velop can work on its own. It can find the best and fastest Wi-Fi channel, implement security levels, upgrade your firmware, and fix any interference.
Pros of the Linksys Velop
Linksys Velop is very easy to set up. All you need to do is to download the mobile app, connect the Velop to your modem, and place all the other nodes if you have a bigger home. Also, the tri-band, which is composed of two 5 GHz bands and a 2.4 GHz band, helps minimize signal loss.
What could be better
At $500 (check this listing for the latest live prices)for a pack of three units, the Linksys Velop is much more expensive than Google Wi-Fi, which sells a pack of three units for only $299 (check this listing for the latest live prices). On the other hand, Netgear Orbi sells its two-unit package for only $400 (check this listing for the latest live prices), and these two units can easily cover the same area that three Velop nodes cover.
Furthermore, there is no way for you to set your Linksys Velop up other than through the smart phone app. It would have been better if you are able to use a Web-based interface to control your mesh network.
Next up: Netgear Orbi
Like the Linksys Velop, Netgear Orbi has a tri-band system that guarantees speedy Wi-Fi connections for every nook and cranny in your house. You get fast Wi-Fi speeds even when you’re at the poolside, or in your bedroom.
Orbi can easily cover up to 5,000 sq. ft. of space, and if you have a bigger house, you can just add an Orbi Satellite to reach more areas.
Unlike earlier mesh systems and Wi-Fi range extenders, Orbi does not compete with other devices or mesh units using the same bandwidth. So you get fast Wi-Fi speeds no matter how far you are from the modem and say goodbye to buffering!
The Netgear Orbi is also compatible with Amazon Alexa. Just add the Netgear skill and start asking Alexa to operate your Wi-Fi.
Pros of the Netgear Orbi
Netgear Orbi is very easy to set up. You just need to connect the main router to your Internet and then place the satellite units all over your house. When you turn your Internet on, everything is done automatically and the system works without you having to do anything.
The satellites have LED lights to tell you if they are out of range from the main router, so there’s no more guesswork involved.
You would also love the modern design of the Orbi. Instead of the boring white squares of traditional Wi-Fi extenders, you have a sleek design that is smoothly tapered from bottom to top.
The Orbi also has a Web interface that offers a lot of functionalities. These include parental controls, access point mode, dynamic DNS, port forwarding, static routes, VPN pass-through, IPv6, and UPnP.
But what makes the Orbi a better choice compared to other systems is that it takes fewer Orbi satellites to cover the same area. Indeed, you only need one or two Orbi satellites to cover the same area that would take around three or four units of other systems.
Which one should you buy? Orbi vs Velop?
While both the Linksys Velop and the Netgear Orbi can cover your home with Wi-Fi signal, only Velop is a mesh network, similar to Google Wi-Fi. Orbi’s satellites do not communicate with one another as they get and send data only to the router. But how do they compare to one another?
Design. With the way they look, Velop and Orbi really do not differ that much. Both have a sleek modern design that would make them blend easily with your home decor.
It really just depends on what you prefer: Orbi’s oval design or Velop’s tower-like form. The Velop, however, is smaller and taller than the Orbi. It is lighter as well.
Both the Velop and the Orbi have LED lights that tell you if they are working properly. For instance, Velop has LED lights that shine blue if things are working as it should, purple when the node is paired with the smartphone app, and red if it has lost Internet connection.
Meanwhile, Orbi’s LED turns off when everything is working right, magenta if there is no Internet connection or if the satellite cannot connect to the router.
Hardware. As for the hardware, Velop has a quad-core chipset, 512 MB of RAM, and 4GB of flash storage. This setup is highly similar to what the Orbi has. Velop wins with its compatibility with Zigbee technology, although it does not currently connect with Zigbee devices and platforms.
Performance. The Velop has some performance issues. Although the company promises no signal degradation as you go from your modem to each node, it does not quite deliver. The farther you go from the modem, the slower your Wi-Fi speed gets.
Velop also suffers from not being customizable as well as from not having a lot of features other than extending your Wi-Fi range. It only has two main features: parental controls and device prioritization. Coupled with its expensive price point, there is little to say that it’s worth your money.
As it is, you only need two Orbi satellites to cover the same area as three Velop nodes, and the Wi-Fi connection is faster with Orbi, especially when you are far away from your modem.
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For Larger Homes: So, if you have a large home and would want to have fast, full-strength Wi-Fi signals everywhere, your best bet would be the Netgear Orbi. It may cost more, but you may also end up saving more because you would need fewer nodes than with the Velop. The signal degradation is much better with Orbi as well.
For Smart Home Integration with Zigbee: However, if you are looking forward to connecting your Wi-Fi system with your other Zigbee devices, and would want to save money, then the Linksys Velop is a good choice.
If You Don’t Want to Worry About Specific Placement: You should also choose the Linksys Velop if you do not want to think about placement because the Velop system uses mesh network technology, wherein you do not have to worry about where to place the nodes.
This is unlike the Orbi, where you need to make sure that the main router is at the center so that it could reach all the satellites.