How to Extend Your Wi-Fi Range with Boosters, Repeaters, and Extenders


 

A good Wi-Fi extender can push your Wi-Fi signal into the farthest corners of your house so you can use your Alexa, laptop, or Switch from any room. If placed correctly, some extenders can even spread that happy Wi-Fi juice into the backyard, so you can watch Netflix poolside.

Best Wi-Fi range extenders, boosters, and repeaters

Here are the Wi-Fi extenders, boosters, and repeaters that we recommend for setting up a wide-reaching home network.

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NETGEAR WiFi Mesh Range ExtenderTP-Link | N300 WiFi ExtenderTP-Link AC1200 WiFi Range ExtenderBrosTrend WiFi Range Extender
Up to 2,500 sq. ft.Up to 800 sq. ftUp to 1500 sq. ft.Up to 1200 sq. ft.
$199.99*$19.99*$49.99*$41.99*
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*Price as of 4/08/2020. Amazon prices are variable and subject to change. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SatelliteInternet.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

In most home layouts, the lower-priced models from TP-Link or BrosTrend will be effective. We like the TP-Link AC1200 WiFi Range Extender for its compact design (it plugs into an outlet) and its overall high rating.

If you want a more hardcore solution, go with the NETGEAR Wi-Fi Range Extender, which connects up to 50 devices and extends your Wi-Fi signal up to 2,500 square feet.

How do Wi-Fi extenders work?

Wi-Fi extenders work by wirelessly connecting to your router and repeating the signal. This makes the signal stronger, so you can pick it up from farther away. The only catch? Extenders often slow the signal a bit, since it’s going through another device before it gets to you.

Who needs a Wi-Fi extender, booster, or repeater?

The average router is designed to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal up to 150 feet through open space. So if you want your home internet signal to reach the corners of your home and throughout your property, you’ll probably need to do some tinkering.

Wi-Fi dead zones are the everyday reality of living in a large home, having an unusual home layout with multiple floors, or having outbuildings.

Home construction materials can also interfere with Wi-Fi signals. Stone or brick interior walls are notorious for creating dead zones. Appliances, mirrors, walls, and flooring can also interfere with your home Wi-Fi signal.

This doesn’t mean that everyone needs an extender, booster, or repeater (most homes don’t honestly need one), but for some people, they can be just the solution they’re looking for.

How to fix Wi-Fi dead zones

The good news is that people fix Wi-Fi dead zone issues all the time. Businesses broadcast Wi-Fi in large areas with complicated layouts every day, so it’s not impossible to bring your Wi-Fi into the backyard. Or the attic. Or your bedroom.

Here are three steps you can try to fix the Wi-Fi dead zone issues at your house. Start with the first one and if it doesn’t help, move to the next, and so on.

  1. Move your router. You want your modem and router next to each other and as close to the middle of the house as possible.
  2. Change your wavelength. 2.4 GHz covers a wider area, but it isn’t as fast. The 5 GHz wavelength is faster, but it doesn’t go as far and doesn’t pass through walls as well as 2.4 GHz. You can try switching from one to the other to see if you get better results. Didn’t know you could switch? Try it.
  3. Get a wireless range extender. You can position an extender midway between a dead zone and the router, acting like a bridge between rich Wi-Fi areas and dead zones.

How far can my router broadcast a signal without a booster, extender, or repeater?

Without additional help from boosters and such, a router can broadcast a signal within a limited area of about 150 feet (depending on the type of router you have). Boosters, extenders, and repeaters can spread your Wi-Fi signal much farther—up to 2,500 feet.

To picture your router’s built-in Wi-Fi range, think of a 150-foot bubble around your router. This includes up, down, and side to side. Anything outside that bubble won’t get Wi-Fi.

In many homes, that creates Wi-Fi dead zones in the garage, basement, upstairs rooms, outbuildings, backyard, and any other far reaches of the house. Walking through these areas will cause your devices to disconnect, and smart home equipment in those areas won’t connect either.

That’s where Wi-Fi boosters, extenders, or repeaters come in. The weakest of these extend coverage up to 800 feet away from the router, while the most robust of these can extend your Wi-Fi zone up to 2,000 feet.

Insider tips: bands, routers, and more

Buying an extender, booster, or repeater isn’t the only way to get more out of your Wi-Fi connection. Here are a few things you can do first (for free!) to speed up your Wi-Fi and make the most of your internet experience.

Pick the right band for the best Wi-Fi coverage

Most routers are dual band—which means you can select from two different frequencies (also known as bands). These bands are the 2.4 GHz range and the 5 GHz range.

City birds usually use the 5 GHz range since they’re living in tight conditions with hundreds of other people in their apartment building using the same frequency. The 5 GHz band is faster, but it doesn’t pass through obstacles as well as the 2.4 GHz.

If you live in a less populated area and your problem is that you can’t get Wi-Fi in a back bedroom, your Wi-FI range might increase by simply switching to the 2.4 GHz band. The 2.4 GHz band is better at passing through walls and furniture, and it may even get Wi-Fi out to your backyard.

You can find your router’s frequency by checking with the manufacturer or reconfiguring your router and switching it to another wavelength. If you want to learn more, HowStuffWorks.com has some excellent (although rather technical) information that can help you learn about how your Wi-Fi works and how to select the best wavelength for your router.

Router positioning 101

You can also try moving your equipment around to get a better signal (we’ve tried this, and it helps). For example, if your modem and router are located in the basement or in a back closet somewhere, that might be the cause of your Wi-Fi dead zones.

For starters, try moving your modem and router to the middle of the home. Position equipment in a central location and far away from inside walls. It should also be removed from heavy furniture like bookshelves, appliances, glass, and other obstacles.

If these tips don’t help, your home office or gaming den is too far away, or you have exquisite decor that would be spoiled by a router, then you might want to look into a booster, extender, or repeater.

Just remember that these devices can slow your home internet connection speed down a bit. But a slow connection might be better than no connection. And if your primary goal is to spread the happy Wi-Fi juice a bit farther, Wi-Fi range extenders, boosters, and repeaters will help you do just that.

FAQ about Wi-Fi range extenders, boosters, and repeaters

Does my Wi-Fi extender need to be the same brand as my router?

No, generally your Wi-Fi extender does not need to be the same brand as your router. For example, if you have a D-Link router, you could get any of the extenders we recommend in the chart above. Occasionally, extenders used with the same brand of routers may offer a few extra features or be easier to set up. There are a few exceptions to this, so make sure an extender is compatible with your modem before you make a purchase.

How do Wi-Fi extenders work?

A Wi-Fi extender connects to your router the same way any other device (such as a laptop or tablet) connects. Like a router, it broadcasts an omnidirectional signal, which is a fancy way of saying it broadcasts the signal in all directions. An extender takes the Wi-Fi signal from your router and repeats it to a larger area.

Are there routers that have built-in capability to broadcast to a large area?

Yes, you can get a mesh router system for around $250. This replaces your router and also extends the range of a home Wi-Fi System. Amazon’s Eero Wi-Fi Mesh System functions as a router and extender system in one. Its expansive 5,000 sq. ft. coverage area should keep you streaming happily from any part of your home.

Do boosters, repeaters, and extenders slow down my internet speed?

Yes, boosters, repeaters, and extenders may slow down your internet speed. This is because your devices connect to the extender first, and then the extender connects to your modem/router, which then connects to the internet. Boosters, extenders, and repeaters extend the infrastructure of your Wi-Fi network, so they can cause slowing that will be particularly noticeable while gaming, using a VPN, transferring large files, or uploading photos or videos.

Will a Wi-Fi booster work with a Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or other gaming system?

Yes, a Wi-Fi booster will connect to an Xbox, Nintendo Switch, or most other types of gaming systems. Just remember that boosters, extenders, and repeaters can all slow down your internet connection, which can make gaming more difficult.

If you have download speeds of 100 Mbps or more, you might not notice the decrease in speed. But if you have a slow, rural internet connection speed around 12 Mbps or so, you’ll notice that extenders and repeaters in particular do slow down internet speeds, making online gaming almost impossible.

This can be a bummer if you’re hoping to connect your Nintendo Switch or Xbox in the basement. Devices connected to the extender or booster will have slower internet speeds than the rest of the house. In that case, it might be worth either moving your gaming system upstairs or your router and modem downstairs.

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