Should you keep or replace your router when installing your Deco mesh network?
When installing your Deco mesh system one of the first things is trying to figure out how you are going to implement it.
The following two points will talk about each operation mode you can set the Deco too. This is found after installing the Deco, and going to More > Advanced > Operating Mode in the Deco app.
Router Mode – This is the mode that the Deco will be set to when you first install the system and add the other Deco units. While in router mode, you have the full features available for the Deco unit such as the Deco being the DHCP server, providing HomeCare features, and Parental Controls. One Deco unit must be wired to a device that provides an internet connection such as a modem or a modem/router, and other units must be connected to the main Deco (either wired or via Wi-Fi). If the slave Deco units are not wired to the main Deco, they can also connect to the main Deco via Wi-Fi (they will do this automatically after adding them to the Deco app).
Access Point Mode – In this mode most router features are not available like the DHCP server or HomeCare (https://www.tp-link.com/us/support/faq/1842/). However, you still get the mesh coverage or seamless roaming, and the ability to have each Deco wired to your existing router.
Doing the actual install
If you have a modem/router typically given by the ISP then you will not be able to swap that out for the Deco. You will instead connect one of the Deco units to one of the LAN ports of your modem/router and set it up from there. The reason is the Deco is not able to act as a modem since it only has Ethernet ports. If you can get an internet connection from an Ethernet port or Ethernet cable directly from a wall or box, then you can replace the ISP device if that is only a router. Do not get an Ethernet cable confused with a phone jack (DSL Modem). When comparing the two a phone jack is smaller than an Ethernet connection.
To avoid any potential issues be it from services connecting or speed you can try to set your modem/router to bridge mode which will then tell your modem/router to pass the internet connection directly to the Deco. If you do this do not have anything else wired to the modem/router. This will also disable the Wi-Fi on the modem/router to avoid wireless interference as the Deco Wi-Fi is its own wireless network compared to your modem/router Wi-Fi. Now, this is just a suggestion so you may end up not needing to do this as the Deco may run perfectly fine without you doing anything to your modem/router. It would be just something to know or try in case you come across any issues after your mesh network is setup.
In the case of just having a modem with no routing features, you will connect your Deco to it, and follow the app for setting it up.
You may be in a situation where you want to keep your original router, and just want the coverage and mesh network the Deco can provide. If that is the case, then the next thing to look at is what you want from the Deco. If you still want all the features the Deco can provide, wire one of them to your existing router, the other slave units will connect to the main Deco. You can also wire them to the main Deco or do a daisy chain or a switch like the pictures above show.
With smart devices becoming a common thing you may have a high number of wireless devices on your network. Keep your existing wireless network name and password when setting up the Deco. This will save the hassle of needing to reconfigure every single wireless device all over.
If you do not care about the Deco doing any sort of routing, parental controls, etc., switch the Deco to AP Mode so it will act as an extension of your current network. Only do this if the Deco is connected to a router, not to a modem or else all you other devices will not have internet, a modem/router is fine. While in AP Mode you can have all the Deco units wired to the main router rather than needing to connect to the main Deco. If none of the Deco units were wired, then they will connect to the main unit via Wi-Fi.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not everything needs to be only wired or only wireless. You can have some units wired together and some not. For example, you can have the main Deco wired to the first slave Deco, and the second slave can be placed elsewhere, where the second slave Deco would connect to the Deco that offers the best connection of the main and first slave. All this does not require additional configuration, the Deco unit will recognize if it is wired to another Deco or not.
The basic principle when it comes to connecting your Deco system comes down to two things:
- In Router Mode, all the slave Deco units need to eventually connect to the main Deco. If the slave Deco units are wireless, then you do not need to do anything. If you are connecting them all with an Ethernet cable, make sure all network connections lead to the main Deco with respect to the slave units.
- In AP Mode, at least one Deco must be wired to an existing router. The rest of the slave units can be wired to the main Deco or to the main router.