Looking to extend your wireless signal or eliminate Wi-Fi dead zones around your home? Maybe you just want to extend the Wi-Fi signal to your office at the far end of your home, or you would like to extend the signal all through your backyard. Either way, this guide will explain the different ways you can extend the Wi-Fi signal inside or outside of your home or business.
There are many different devices that you can use such as wireless repeaters, signal boosters and antennas. Each of these devices will offer different features and will be set up a bit differently.
What’s a Wi-Fi extender?
Now, if you are looking to just extend your Wi-Fi signal inside, buying a Wi-Fi extender or Wi-Fi booster can easily solve that problem. Most of them require very little to almost no setup. Basically, this device uses some of its antennas to receive the Wi-Fi from your primary router then it uses the other antennas to rebroadcast the signal.
A lot of extenders also have an ethernet port. It can be used to provide internet access to a PC or other device that cannot connect to Wi-Fi. This ethernet port can also be used to provide an internet connection to the extender itself, which would make it an Access Point.
What’s a Mesh Router?
If it has been a while since you upgraded your wireless router then you may want to consider a Mesh Router system. Mesh Routers are fairly simple to set up and can offer the most reliable speed for all of your devices throughout your home. If you are looking for a full coverage Wi-Fi network, then a Mesh Router will be best for you.
This would replace your current router and would also provide at least 1 other ‘satellite’ or 'node' that you can position in a different area of your home. These nodes will connect to the primary router using a wireless connection - no ethernet cable required - and can easily increase your Wi-Fi coverage and improve the overall quality of your wireless network.
One feature that is very convenient is that it creates a seamless network. This allows you to walk throughout your home without having to manually switch between Wi-Fi networks to maintain your internet connection. Your device will automatically switch to whatever node is closest.
What's an Access Point?
Another way you can extend your Wi-Fi signal is by using an Access Point or AP. Now, these can require a little more time to set up and you likely have to run an ethernet cable to it from your current router, depending on which one you purchase.
Some can be set up in ‘Repeater’ mode, which is very similar to a Wi-Fi extender. Others can be set up in ‘Access Point’ mode, which will require you to connect an ethernet cable for an internet connection.
Both will create another Wi-Fi name or SSID (service set identifier) but will still allow devices to communicate with each other as it will still be one network. Access Points can offer the most versatility because they are sold with various antenna strengths as well as directions.
Access Points can also be used to set up a wireless bridge. Basically, this can allow you to use two Access Points to extend a Wi-Fi signal several hundred feet or more, depending on the antenna strength and gain. It is more popular to set this up in a corporate environment rather than a residential one.
What is best for me to buy?
When you are looking to extend your Wi-Fi signal, there are few things you will need to consider:
- Are you extending the signal outside or just inside?
WiFi Extenders or Boosters typically do not have strong antennas to boost the signal outside. Extenders and Mesh Systems would be best to boost your Wi-Fi signal inside your home rather than outside.
An Access Point would likely be the best option when looking to extend your Wi-Fi signal outside. You can choose one that best suits the direction and distance you are extending the signal.
Whether you want the signal to cover a big backyard or an exterior garage or barn, an Access Point will give you the most reliable connection. These are common in office buildings, warehouses, and large garages.
- Is your priority the Wi-Fi speed, coverage or both?
For indoor use, Mesh Routers will offer the best overall speed and reliability inside your home. It would be able to provide the most consistent speed while extending your WiFi coverage.
A Wi-Fi extender is a good indoor solution, however, it may not provide the same speed or reliability as a Mesh Router.
Access Points can offer very reliable speed and coverage but I would recommend these mainly for outdoor use. Although, there are some Access Points that can be set up as a node if you already have a Mesh Router.
- Are you comfortable with some network setup or do you want something that is plug-and-play?
The simplest device to set up is going to be a Wi-Fi extender. Most will require you to push a button on your router and the extender. It really is that easy.
A Mesh Router and most Access Points will both require some sort of network setup. You would have to access the UI of the router or AP to set up the internet connection. Even though these require you to set up the device, they will also include more features to help with the overall security and bandwidth across your network.
- Are you looking for a complete wireless solution? Or is running an Ethernet cable an option?
If you are looking for a complete wireless solution then I would recommend a Wi-Fi extender. All that is required is a wall outlet. They are very convenient when running an ethernet cable is not an option.
A Mesh Router can be considered a complete wireless solution if you are looking to replace your current router. It would require you to connect an ethernet cable from the base router to the modem and to a wall outlet, of course, for power. However, the 2nd and/or 3rd satellite does not require any ethernet cable.
An Access Point is not always considered a wireless solution as most require you to run an ethernet cable. You can purchase some Access Points and set them up as a Wi-Fi extender, but it might be easier to just get a Wi-Fi extender.
This can easily be the determining factor for some of us. The most inexpensive solution would be a Wi-Fi extender or booster. With that being said, there are some very pricey extenders similar to the cost of a low-end Mesh Router.
Based on the products I am recommending, here is a range of the prices:
Wi-Fi Extenders = $29.99 - $119.99
Access Points = $69.99 - $99.99
Mesh Routers = $89.99 - $699.99
Prices are subject to change
As you can see by the range in price, you’ve got plenty of options. Please check out our community forum for recommendations on each of these products:
You can also check out our website for the latest products in these categories: