I think it is safe to say that the home / retail end of the mesh wifi market is still pretty nascent. I thought I’d try something new at home, so I ventured into the Mercku ecosystem. I picked Mercku because it had a good blend of the following criteria:
- Minimal and discreet aesthetic
- Reasonable reviews for reliability and uptime
- A demonstrated commitment to maintaining firmware
- Nice origin story on Indigogo
I have 3 Queens and 6 Bees for a total of 9 nodes in the mesh. Each Queen is hardlined to the NBN router with Cat 6 ethernet cable and each Bee acts as a booster in the wifi network (i.e. is not cabled). There is a lot of bluestone in the house, so the design principle was to never have wifi needing to penetrate a bluestone wall. The ethernet cables handle the bluestone walls and the wifi (boosted by Bees) only has to handle plaster.
Thoughts so far:
- Setup and configuration was incredibly simple, it literally couldn’t be any easier.
- The admin interface is really good and would be harder to make simpler for non-technical users.
- Firmware updates are frequent enough, although the changelog detail is probably a bit light on e.g. v 1.8.0.
- Speed is fine, definitely could be faster but is not a problem for regular home use (streaming, gaming, etc.), it would be a problem in an office application, but it isn’t an office system so moot.
- Bandwidth is a question mark – multiple devices (3-6) seems to drag down speed faster than they would in a non-mesh “off the shelf / cheap” wifi router bundled with an ISP connection. The bandwidth problems are probably not fatal but I’m designing a test to compare it more directly to non-mesh to try to firm up this hypothesis.
- Reliability is a bigger question mark, every few hours the network seems to grind to a halt and then come alive after 20-30 seconds. I’m not sure if this is heat related or memory management / some other software problem. When the mesh comes back online, the Queens do not report any internet downtime (i.e. it doesn’t affect the continuous uptime diagnostics in the admin software) which indicates to me that the issue is Mercku / Mesh side, not NBN / ISP side. I’m trying to see if I can replicate the crashing to find an underlying cause and report it to Marcku with a potential solution. To Marcku’s credit, it does bring itself back online without human intervention, so for novice users this is not a fatal problem and will just present itself as a temporary internet slow down.
Overall, happy with price, aesthetic, setup, speed and the jury is out on bandwidth and reliability for now.