How can I attach a high-gain antenna to a WiFi router?

Drsunil V March 22, 2014

How to attach high-gain antenna to a WiFi router to increase it’s coverage? Can you recommend purchase links? Thanks

  1. Mike Merritt
    March 31, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Notice that simply adding wire (or length) to an existing antenna element will not improve it's response. Antennae are designed by the manufacturer with a particular length which is 1/4 or 1/2 the wavelength of the intended frequency. Casually adding more length by wrapping a piece of wire around the existing antenna just detunes it and reduces it effectiveness (range).

    Also note, that smarter/custom shaped antennae - yagi, parabola, etc get their gain by focusing more of the RF energy in a preferred direction, instead of spreading it out in all directions (omnidirectional). Like a magnifying glass focusing the sun - more power in one spot, but less in the shadow. So they have to be aimed in the desired direction - and will have reduced response in other directions.

    • Drsunil V
      April 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you. Nice answer!

  2. Oron J
    March 22, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Hovsep, that first article you linked to was very interesting and has wonderful links, thanks! Your point about range extenders is also excellent. One can use a WiFi repeater, as you suggest, or a PowerLine based extender which will be even better. Finally, Dr Sunil, you can also make your own parabolic dish to improve your router's range. Instructions and a template are available at

    • Drsunil V
      March 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks Sir. Please tell are there ready made parabolic dish available online ( not very costly ) at , ( Not .coms )

    • Drsunil V
      March 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      Please also tell the difference between Powerline based extender and Wi-Fi repeater

    • Oron J
      March 25, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Parabolic dish

      • Parabolic dishes concentrate the signal both in sending it (like the mirror behind a car headlamp) and in receiving the signal (like, say, a reflector telescope or a satelite dish). They increase the range at the cost of being highly directional. This can be of great use outdoors, but less so indoors, where the problem is not of range as such but of obstacles causing reflections and absorption of signals.
      • You can buy parabolic dish antennas, but these are complete external antennas (e.g. sorry I can't find an equivalent). These are limited to 802.11G, and in my opinion you'd be better served with a MIMO router (preferably 802.11n) than a dish.
      • As far as I know, no-one makes commercial parabolas that you can place behind home routers. You have to make them yourself. There are, however, many products for extending WiFi range, which takes us onto the next topic

      Powerline vs WiFi range extenders
      Powerline is a system that turns your mains electrical wiring into a network. Typically, you would plug in a PowerLine adaptor near the router and connect it to the router with a network cable. Then you would plug in another adaptor somewhere else in the house and connect that to your PC. The speed and reliability depend on the quality of the mains wiring, electrical noise and distance, and as with WiFi, there are different standards that have different maximum speeds, but it's not unusual at all to get around 100mb/sec on a PowerLine network, which for a real, live system is really good. To extend the range of a WiFi network via PowerLine, you would locate the WiFi "dead zone" and the PowerLine WiFi adaptor in the place that would give you the best coverage of that area. Because the signal travelled up to that point on wire, you'll have a fast connection to the router, and the optimal positioning of the adaptor will mean that you have a decent WiFi speed.
      A pure WiFi range extender (technically a repeater) works differently. You place it within effective range of the router (so that it can communicate with it) and it will then retransmit the signal, thus extending its range. It will also retransmit your PCs' signals and retransmit them so that your router can receive them.
      In theory, it can double the router's effective range, but that assumes that you place it at the end of the router's range, which is of course nonsense (since the signal is weak and communication speed low at the edge of the range). Furthermore, because you have to choose the location of WiFi repeater based on the router's location and not where the signal is poor/non existent, it will often not be positioned optimally. Finally, because it repeats the signal, all the devices in the house are sharing the same WiFi bandwidth and if several devices are used at the same time, the effective speed of the network for each device will be much lower.
      In short, a simple WiFi repeater is a simpler setup (just one device to plug in) but it is not as effective in actually resolving the problem of WiFi coverage as a Powerline/WiFi hybrid.

    • Drsunil V
      March 27, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks a lot! Your answer is nice and very informative! Please tell does the Powerline adaptor convert the concealed wiring ( into Cat 5 cable ) for connecting router to pc? and is it plug and play or has to be configured? and do you imply that a wifi extender is disadvantageous than powerline adaptor?

    • Oron J
      March 27, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      You're welcome! Yes, Powerline uses mains wiring instead of Cat. 5, so you would use Cat. 5 to connect from the devices to the adaptors, but the main part of the network will be "concealed" in that it will be the house's normal electrical wiring. It is completely plug and play. There's also an option to encrypt the communications by pressing a button on each adaptor. This can be useful if your electrical circuits are shared with others and you don't want them to be able to snoop on your network.

      And yes, technically a Powerline-based WiFi extender is better than a pure-WiFi one (but more expensive and involving more boxes and cables).

    • Drsunil V
      March 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks. Please tell that to estabilish the connections , two adapters would be required , one at router end and another at connecting pc end? Please also tell , do powerline adaptors give equally strong connection as the router itself? and are there different models of adaptors for different speeds? Any disadvantages and points to be kept in mind while installing first time? Is it as easy plug-and-play? Also what about cables? A pair of LAN cables required? One at router and one at connecting pc end? Is TP-Link is reputed brand for Powerline Ethernet Adaptor? Like , how Logitech is reputed for external speakers

    • Oron J
      March 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Are two adapters required? Yes, the minimal setup requires two Powerline adapters - one connected to the router and the other to the PC (or a Powerline WiFi adapter). You can then add more adapters singly (e.g. to connect to individual PCs, or to add another WiFi hotspot).
      How fast are they? Powerline adapters come in a range of speeds and technologies. Practically all modern adapters comply with the "HomePlug AV" standard, and will be compatible with each other. Typically they'll be named "200 AV" (which stands for 200mbps) or "500AV" (500mbps). These are maximum theoretical speeds. You would be lucky to get 200mbps even on a “Gigabit AV” adapter.
      Comparing the speed to routers is difficult. Routers with gigabit wired switches are clearly faster than Powerline networks, but most routers have a 100 mbps switch which is comparable to Powerline. Of course broadband speed is usually far lower than that, so Powerline networks will rarely be a bottleneck for internet access. The question of speed is really only relevant for accessing stuff on the internal network (e.g. a file server).
      I should also point out that Powerline speed ratings describe adapter-to-adapter speeds. The connection to the PC is often done on 100mbps ethernet even on faster switches, so the PC will still only “see” 100mbps.
      The “strength of signal” question is extremely hard to answer. Most Powerline and HomePlug literature quotes “300 metres” as the range, but the range depends greatly on the span and condition of the electrical circuits. In my own experience, most houses run Powerline networks just fine “from end to end”, but electrical standards and even house sizes vary widely between countries, so I wouldn't want to speculate. What I can say, is that the range and speed is far better than WiFi, and also that if you want a really fast, reliable network, nothing beats ethernet cabling.
      Is it “plug and play”? Yes! Simply plug the devices in and connect them to the router and the PC(s). You don't need to configure anything, although, as I mentioned before, you can encrypt the connection by pressing a button on each adapter. Most adapters are sold with a 6ft network cable, instructions and a software disc (which you don't really need, unless you want to measure performance or control advanced functions). If you need a different length of cable, you can use any standard Cat. 5 cable.
      Choosing adapters. As with WiFi, the standards are meant to make different devices inter-operable. Any “AV” devices should work with any other “AV” devices (the speed is determined by the slower adapter. However, advanced features vary and don't necessarily operate across brands, so it's best to keep all the adapters to the same brand. TP-Link make perfectly good adapters (in fact, the adapters I use at home are TP-Link), but there are many other makes: Netgear, D-Link, Devolo, Comcast, Zyxel amongst others. If you are concerned about performance in an electrically-noisy environment or over distances of if you want to use the more advanced functions (such as setting up a WiFi extender), then I suggest you read reviews of the make & model you're looking at as there are big differences there.
      Tips: 1) For a bit extra, you can get “passthrough” adapters which have a socket at the back, so that you don't lose an electrical socket every time you plug in an adapter. I like them and they work well, but the choice is yours. 2) If your wall sockets are very low, you may have trouble plugging in the Powerline adapters, so check your setup and the design of the adapters before buying! 3) you should probably read up a more if you're interested in the subject. Apart from the "powerline" article on Wikipedia, you could do worse that read Powerline networking: what you need to know. You can also check out the companies that make Powerline equipment. There is a lot of material there.

    • Drsunil V
      April 1, 2014 at 7:22 am

      Thanks. I have carefully read whole reply from you and the tip and link too. You have done maximum justice to the heavy bunch of questions. Thank you very much for taking interest on this topic with huge effort.
      1) Please tell regarding your mentioning that adaptor speed ratings implying adaptor to adaptor speeds. Say my internet speed through router is 'x' mbps ( where 'x' is less than 100 mbps ) then using an adaptor of specification rate 100 mbps would give 'x' speeds on the receiving pc?

      2) How would distance between the power line sockets affect speed of internet?

      3) Would 'Spike guard' or 'Spike Protector' ( sort of multi-plug panel ) alter speed?

      4) you mentioned direct ethernet cables are best? What would be disadvantage of powerline adaptor over ethernet cable in your point?

      5) You mentioned "Most adapters are sold with a 6ft network cable," Please clarify , connecting adaptors to pc and router at each end would require two short 'Ethernet cables' also? ie a pair of adaptors and a pair of 'Ethernet cables'? which is same as the cable inclusive in adaptors? Would the same cable work which directly connects router to pc ( without using Powerline adaptors )?

      6) You mentioned "so Powerline networks will rarely be a bottleneck for internet access. " Please rephrase , do you imply the actual internet speed would not be affected even with a 100 mbps specification router?

    • Oron J
      April 1, 2014 at 9:15 am

      2) There is no straight answer to that. It depends on the quality of wiring, electrical noise, number and type of circuits in the house (ring, spur) etc. As I said, in my experience, over a range of properties here in Scotland, including big old houses and connections over three floors, speed was never a problem, but that's partly a matter of needs and expectations. Unfortunately, this is a "suck it and see" situation, just as with ADSL and WiFi.

      3) Good question! The manufacturers always recommend plugging the adapters straight into the wall socket rather than using a multiway adapter/extension, since every break in the circuit reduces the quality of the signal (see above). I have tried plugging the adapters through multiway adapters and they worked, but I've never tried surge protectors. I suggest you check the manufacturers' web sites and if you find anything, let us know!

      4) Ethernet was designed for the purpose of carrying network traffic at a given speed and over a prescribed distance (e.g. 100m for Cat. 5). If use the specified cable and connect it correctly, you will get the speed specified. Powerline, on the other hand, is a retrofit design that uses existing mains circuits of unknown design (well, they're known up to a point, but they were not made for communication purposes) and uses an ADSL-like technology to carry data on an AC power line. The results are variable. If you are lucky, the results may be fantastic. If you're unlucky, the results may be poor., and the results may even change over time. I would not want to run anything important, let alone critical, on a Powerline setup, too much hope, not enough certainty...

      5) I think you understand that each adapter needs to be connected to the device (router, PC etc) with a network cable (a.k.a ethernet cable, UTP, Cat. 5 etc). When you buy an adapter, it is supplied with a 180 cm cable, which is suitable for most people's needs, but if you want a longer (or shorter) cable, you can use your own. In other words, if you buy a "starter kit" of two Powerline adapters, it comes with everything you need.

      6) and 1) - The speed of a typical ADSL connection is somewhere between 2 and 24 mbps. A fiberoptic connection in most countries (OK Korea, I'm jealous!) may be 20-40 mbps. Let's say you have a Powerline network with 200AV adapters, achieving just 60 mbps at your home. That's not great performance, but 60 mbps is still significantly faster than even the fastest (40mbps) broadband connection. It is your broadband speed which will will hold you back, not the Powerline network.

      While we're on the subject, there are three important principles to remember about network design:

      a) Your throughput speed is only as high as your slowest component (which is the bottleneck).
      b) Networks can be "ethernet-type" or switched. On the first type, which includes Powerline, all the computers share the bandwidth. So, if you copy a very large file from one PC to another at home, all other PCs will find their connection to the router slowed down by that traffic.

      c) Network protocols have a significant overhead, so the rated speed is not the actual transfer speed. As the network reaches "saturation" (around 80% of it's rated bandwidth), its efficiency drops off and it becomes slower, and eventually "hangs". Therefore, a big component in the design of a network is to ensure that you have left enough "headroom" to prevent this scenario. This is one of the reasons why Gigabit ethernet is becoming popular. It's not that we need the actual speed (not most of us, anyway), it's that it give you enough headroom to allow the network to function properly.

    • Drsunil V
      April 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Please tell What are failure rates for Powerline adaptors? and what can be the reasons for it's failure?
      and , If an ADSL internet connection shows value mentioned as 'upto 100 mbps' then a powerline adaptor of 100 mbps specification would be greater than sufficient for it? For such a connection of 100 mbps speed , a powerline adaptor of 200 mbps or even a gigabit adaptor would be useless?

    • Oron J
      April 2, 2014 at 7:40 am

      I have no idea what the failure rate for Power line adapters is. I have only come across a failed pair once, and that:s not enough to draw conclusions for. Do note, though, that the first set you mention I n your eBay links comes with a 3 year warranty.

      Where did you get the figure of " up to 100 mbps internet from? If you it comes from your computer, then it simply tells you you are connected to the router at that speed, not to the Outside world (theinternet)!
      At any rate, I have never heard of ADSL running at anything over 24mbps (and even this only in theory).

      And no, Power line adapters would not be "useless" just because they are slower than the broadband speed. It is normal to have traffic traversing networks of different speeds.the question is what speed you want to have, and how much you are willing to pay for it.
      And let's be real here. Even if you had a 1gbps connection to your ISP, you wouldn't be able to download files at that speed - the internet and the server simply would not be up to it. It's common in organisations to have a mix of 1gb (backbone) and 100M and 1gb networks, and possibly even the odd 10mb hub/switch. Most users don't notice it at all because for an individual user, 10mbps is often enough.

    • Drsunil V
      April 2, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Thanks. 1) Please tell that if the ADSL connection is less than 24mbps then 100 mbps powerline adaptor would greater than sufficient?
      2) 200 mbps powerline adaptor would make any difference in comparison to using 100 mbps Power line adapter for the same ADSL of "less than 24mbps"?

      3) Please clarify , do you mean that the speed at source of connection with router would be almost same as the speed at the receiving computer with a slight lag which can be due to be wiring or power load? Otherwise the computer receiving the connection through Power line adapter , would work at Internet speed almost equal to the computer near the router which is directly connected to router without power line adaptor?
      4) Please confirm that adapter at the source can be connected to router using same cable provided in Adapter kit?

      5) How to establish router-to-router connection with Power line adapters?

      humble respects,

    • Oron J
      April 2, 2014 at 10:30 am

      1) Yes, if your major use is connecting to the internet (rather than transferring data between computers in the home).
      2) Probably not in the short run, but a. it depends on how you use your computers in the home (see (1) above) and b. the slowest "AV" adapter is 200, and I would recommend them for reasons of compatibility (the non-AV ones won't communicate with them).
      3) Not sure I understand your question. If you use an adapter which runs at the same or higher speed than the router's LAN connection (usually 100mbps) then the PC will receive the data at that speed. There's no real delay, as the delay introduced by the router & the adapters is measures in a few miliseconds.
      4) Yes.
      5) A setup with two powerline adapters can be treated as a single length of ethernet (e.g. Cat 5) cabling. Setting up the routers is a whole different question, which merits a separate discussion.

    • Drsunil V
      April 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

      I understand. Regarding point 4) I mean the difference internet speed at router and internet speed in pc which is getting internet through Powerline adapters. I cannot phrase , like difference signal strength/speed at primary source and signal strength/speed at place where the secondary adaptor is connecting to pc for getting internet through primary adapter.
      Do the adapters in link use powerpack technology or Passport technology ( by a company named Intelogis )? How do the two differ from each other? Do they all fit into regular home plug sockets? thanks

    • Drsunil V
      April 3, 2014 at 4:22 am

      Correction : I understand. Regarding point number ("3") I mean the difference internet speed at router and internet speed in pc which is getting internet through Powerline adapters. I cannot phrase , like difference signal strength/speed at primary source and signal strength/speed at place where the secondary adaptor is connecting to pc for getting internet through primary adapter.
      Do the adapters in link use powerpack technology or Passport technology ( by a company named Intelogis )? How do the two differ from each other? Do they all fit into regular home plug sockets? thanks

    • Oron J
      April 4, 2014 at 8:44 am

      I'm not familiar with powerpack or passport technologies although from what I've seen just now when searching for them, the technology is similar to passport (I don't know who makes the chipsets though). As for point 3, I think we should leave it for the moment and you'll find the answer when you set up your Powerline network!

    • Drsunil V
      April 4, 2014 at 4:20 pm


  3. Hovsep A
    March 22, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Why High Power Routers Don't Improve Range

    Oron J is right, some model router does not support an external antenna. If the router did, there would be a port for one on the back of the router, usually near the power cord. If not another option would be to get another router and run it in bridge mode, or a wifi extender.
    other NETGEAR N300 Wi-Fi Range Extender - Wall Plug Version
    plug it into an electrical outlet in an area where you wish to boost coverage (where your existing router's signal drops of). Depending your house area perhaps you will need more than one.

  4. Oron J
    March 22, 2014 at 9:11 am

    That depends on the router. Most routers have a built in or undetachable antenna. Other routers have a screw-type connector so you can unscrew the original and screw in the high-gain antenna or an antenna lead. There are a few screw mounts as well, so you need to make sure you have matching parts.

    • Drsunil V
      March 24, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Can range be increased or antenna strength be increased by increasing antenna length ( say by connecting a similar material length to antenna )?

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