The smart grid requires a reliable, efficient and cost effective two-way communication network that meets performance requirements. Due to their cost effectiveness and ubiquitous nature, wireless mesh networks have been considered as a viable solution for smart grid communication networks. In this paper, we first review smart grid communication network requirements using various use cases that enables the design of network models for simulation. Using the ns-3 simulator tool, we then systematically compare the effectiveness of two representative wireless mesh network protocols: Hybrid Wireless Mesh Network Protocol (HWMP) and Ad hoc On-Demand Distance Vector (AODV) Protocol in terms of various performance metrics and network settings. Our evaluation results show that HWMP protocol is suitable for small size mesh grids while AODV performs better for large mesh grids. © 2013 ACM.