How can I extend the range of my WiFi in my condo building?

Diana Prince June 22, 2013
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I live in a multi-story condo building on the first floor and just off our nice lobby. I like to sometimes go into the lobby and sit and read either on my iPad or sit and use my computer. I work from home, so change of scenery is always nice.

What type of temporary hardware is there that I might be able to take out to the lobby and use to pick up my own personal WiFi?

I have heard that there may be range extenders that can just be plugged into an electric socket which would be ideal for me, is this true? What are they called, are there any good brands and what would I look to buy, and what is the approximate cost?

Thank you,
Diana Prince

  1. James S
    July 22, 2013 at 2:50 am

    Hello Diana,

    In cas you haven't decided on either the wifi range extender or the powerlin adapter, let me say this:

    I have to agree with the WiFi extender. I also live in a condo however ours are "ranch" style which means the they were single floor apartments that got rezoned as condos. Anyway, I live on the 3rd floor, I have a Linksys E1500 router and can easily take my laptop outside the building for at least 50 - 60 feet and still pick up a strong signal. That would be the equivalent of taking my laptop aboout 90 - 100 feet away from my router. I may have an advantage since my unit is on the end of the building.

    Also If you're not sure how up to date your electrical system is, I'd shy away from the powerline adapters.

  2. Justin Pot
    June 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I'd be careful of the powerline adapters if you want the network to extend from your condo to the rest of the complex. First, it will only work if your entire condo is building is on a single grid – no necessarily the case. Second, set this up any anyone else in the building will be able to use your network if they have an adapter.

    Sounds like you live near the lobby, though, so maybe it's just a matter of moving your router closer to the wall? Might be worth a shot.

    • Diana Prince
      June 25, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Moving my router closer to my door is a non-starter for me because all my equipment and corresponding connections are located in a small side office across from door and I don't have any other connections to plug the router and modem into.

  3. Sagar Sanjeev
    June 24, 2013 at 7:54 am

    U CAn Get This One
    Netgear WN3000RP Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender

  4. dragonmouth
    June 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Is the WiFi supplied by the condo management or are you paying for it? Because as soon as you extend the range, it is very probable that the signal will be available to other people. If you don't mind moochers, extend away.

    • Diana Prince
      June 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

      The building is a condo building so each person has to get their own internet and build their own wifi (if they want wifi in their unit of course). And with a range extender if my wifi is PW protected and already configured on my own devices wouldn't that security carry through?

    • Diana Prince
      June 23, 2013 at 3:18 am

      The building is individually owned condos so each person must supply their own internet and build their own wifi. My wifi is from Optimum Online and I have my own secured wifi. I am believing that a range extender would extend the wifi with the security on it if I am making the correct assumption.

    • Diana Prince
      June 23, 2013 at 6:03 am

      I didn't think about that fact - you are correct - we have a room in the under building parking area where we each have separate meters for PSE&G - the building is 100% electric - no gas, so what you are saying makes complete sense.

    • Diana Prince
      June 23, 2013 at 6:10 am

      These range extenders, do they require the connection to the modem or router or can they be used to pick up the already broadcasting wireless signal and relay it farther without being wired into the existing hardware?

    • Diana Prince
      June 23, 2013 at 6:28 am

      There are so many different ones - how do I know which one is the one that will fill my needs?

    • Oron Joffe
      June 23, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      Diana, you're on the right track. What an extender does is to receive the signal, and to broadcast it again ("repeat it" in networkese). Hence, if your WiFi is password protected, the repeated signal will be so too.
      There are indeed many models, but they all do the same job. The main important factors are that the repeater/extender will support the highest standard supported by your router (e.g. 802.11n single band), and that it should have good reception (a function of the aerial). The rest, by and large, is the difference between manufacturers and will not have great bearing on the function or range (though configuring it may be a little harder on some models than others).

  5. Oron Joffe
    June 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    There are indeed WiFi range extenders. They are sometimes called just that, and at other times described as WiFi repeaters. The two term are synonymous. At best, they can double the range of your wireless access point, but of course the exact range depends on the "terrain". Metal and concrete pretty much block WiFi signal, and wood (including books!) also reduces the signal significantly.
    An alternative may be to use PowerLine adaptors. These use the mains wiring for networking, and you can get get PowerLine WiFi Extender adaptors. However, whether this solution is applicable for your situation depends on the how the electrical circuits are configured, so read up on the subject before forking out any dough on PowerLine kit!

    • Diana Prince
      June 22, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Hello, thank you for your answer it was indeed helpful - do you have any sites I can do the research on for the powerline adaptor kits?

    • Bruce Epper
      June 23, 2013 at 6:00 am

      With the way power is done in most condos, the PowerLine option probably will not work (each unit is wired so the power company can bill each condo owner for their consumption on their own meter, etc.). Many apartments are wired in a similar manner. Because of this, the range extender or repeater is most likely the way to go.

    • Oron Joffe
      June 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      Diana, Bruce's point is indeed the main issue I was thinking about (I don't live in the US and am not familiar with condos beyond the term, and even this at a stretch...). However, you should still read up on the subject! There's a Wikipedia article at which gives an excellent overview, and all the major home-networking companies (Netgear, D-Link, Belkin etc) as well as specialist companies Devolo, Comtrend and Solwise) make Powerline adapters and have excellent information on their web sites to help you understand the technology, its strengths and limitations and to choose the right equipment.

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