Power Up Your Home Wi-Fi Using a Booster or Extender

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.


It can be very frustrating when there are corners of your home that your Wi-Fi signal How USB Tethering Can Fix Your Laptop's Bad WiFi Connection How USB Tethering Can Fix Your Laptop's Bad WiFi Connection Your phone can connect to the WiFi but your laptop can't? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Read More just won’t reach. It’s really not an uncommon scenario, so fortunately there are plenty of products that can address the issue.

In fact, there are so many different products that finding the right option can be pretty confusing. Terms like boosters, repeaters, and extenders are often used interchangeably, even by manufacturers — but different products perform the same general function in quite different ways.

Buy the wrong one and you might not necessarily be getting the best Wi-Fi connection possible Google Wifi vs. Eero vs. Orbi: Which Is Best? Google Wifi vs. Eero vs. Orbi: Which Is Best? In this article, you’ll learn more about the new type of Wi-Fi system for the home and hear more about three of the most talked about Wi-Fi mesh products on the market, Eero, Google Wifi,... Read More . Here’s what you need to know before you make a purchase.

Wi-Fi Boosters

Here’s the situation: the only place you can set up your Wi-Fi router in your home is too far away from the spare bedroom to provide a reliable Wi-Fi connection up there. All you need is a little bit of a wider radius. In that kind of scenario, a Wi-Fi booster — sometimes known as a Wi-Fi repeater — will do the job.

Two main components make up a Wi-Fi booster. One connects to the existing Wi-Fi network How to Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots Near You How to Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots Near You When you need to find free Wi-Fi near you, turn to these apps and services to help you get internet access anywhere. Read More , transmits it to the other, and then your devices connect to that. Set-up tends to revolve around logging into an online portal, where you can submit the login information for your network.

Due to the way boosters work, proper placement is important. You don’t want to plug it in wherever you need Wi-Fi necessarily, as it needs to be able to make a connection for itself. Choose a spot that’s still within the area that can access your router, but nearer to the area that needs coverage.

If you really need to boost your signal, you can usually connect multiple devices in what’s commonly known as a “daisy chain.” However, it’s important to remember that you’re going to experience diminished speeds with every booster than the signal has to pass through.

Single-band boosters receive and relay packets of information using a single radio and channel. This puts a hard limit on the amount of bandwidth they have to use. Dual-band boosters have two radios How Dual-Band Routers Can Solve Your Wireless Woes How Dual-Band Routers Can Solve Your Wireless Woes Using a router that supports the dual-band standard can significantly boost your Wi-Fi speeds in many circumstances. Read More , so they problem won’t be quite as pronounced, but you might end up paying a little more for the hardware.

Wi-Fi Extenders

For the purposes of this article, we’ll define a Wi-Fi extender as the kind of device that transmits Wi-Fi signal from one part of the building to another, but doesn’t necessarily need to be within the effective radius of the router. You might have also heard the term powerline adapter What Are Powerline Adapters? 9 Things You Need to Know What Are Powerline Adapters? 9 Things You Need to Know Powerline adapters turn electrical outlets into Ethernet network points. Here's what you should know before using them at home. Read More .

These are pretty nifty gadgets that use the electrical wiring in your house to convey an internet signal. Just plug one side into an electrical outlet near your router, and the other into an outlet where you need an internet connection.

powerline adapter

At the other end, you can connect a device via Ethernet. If you’re looking for a Wi-Fi signal specifically, you’ll want to connect another router. This can cause an issue known as double NATing, where both devices interfere with one another’s attempts to provide network address translation, but putting the router in bridged mode should solve this problem.

One of the biggest drawbacks to Wi-Fi extenders of this kind is their reliability. It’s certainly possible to enjoy a fast connection, but there will be times where it slows to a crawl, or stops working altogether. That’s frustrating if your internet access drops when you’re in the middle of a tense online game with your friends, but it’s a real disaster if you’re video conferencing in your office.

Which Option Is for You?

There isn’t a huge amount to separate Wi-Fi extenders and Wi-Fi boosters in terms of price. You shouldn’t need to spend more than $100 on either option, but both are available in various forms from various manufacturers starting at around $30.

As such, it’s really worth thinking hard about what both types of hardware do well. Wi-Fi boosters specialize in making your existing Wi-Fi radius a bit wider. Wi-Fi extenders are better at transferring that signal to a completely different part of the building.

There are a couple of other considerations. Thick stone walls can interfere with Wi-Fi signal Improve Your Wi-Fi Signal at Home & Outside with These Android Apps Improve Your Wi-Fi Signal at Home & Outside with These Android Apps Looking to improve the Wi-Fi signal in your home or find a Wi-Fi connection when you're out? This article has you covered. Read More , so in that kind of house a powerline adapter might yield better results. On the other hand, if you’re looking to send Wi-Fi out to a poolhouse or shed, there are several different brands of booster that are designed to reside outside and withstand the elements.

The most important thing to remember is that the same hardware can yield very different results based on its surroundings. Online reviews are a good resource, but connection quality and the environment the connection is being made in can introduce a huge range of variables. You’ll only really know what sort of experience you’re going to have once it’s set up, so do all the research you can with a view to where

Other Options

If you decide that neither Wi-Fi booster nor Wi-Fi extender is really right for you, don’t fret. There are some other options to be aware of.

Setting up a network bridge How to Turn an Old Router Into a Wireless Bridge How to Turn an Old Router Into a Wireless Bridge Not sure what to do with your old router? Try turning it into a wireless bridge! The process is surprisingly straightforward. Read More requires a little bit more legwork than installing either a booster or an extender, but it can be a good option to have on hand in certain situations.

It’s also worth considering the range of your existing wireless router. It’s difficult to say with any certainty whether a router will have “good” range before it’s set up in situ — although some users will certainly have their own preferences.

However, make sure that you’re getting the most 8 Tips to Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal 8 Tips to Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal If your wireless router's signal doesn't seem to reach very far, or if your signal keeps dropping for some weird reason, here are a few things you can do that might fix it. Read More out of its capabilities. Simple fixes like changing its position, updating its firmware, and even adding an antenna can completely change your experience, so it’s well worth looking into.

Do you have more questions about methods of extending your Wi-Fi signal? Or do you have a good tip that you want to share with other MakeUseOf readers? Either way, why not join the conversation in the comments section below?

Explore more about: Powerline, Wi-Fi.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Brad
    September 15, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Can I use a old wifi router as a booster?

  2. James R Beckstrom
    September 15, 2017 at 6:16 am

    To start from scratch and use the Google WI-FI system. Best overall solution. 3 pieces of equipment for $299 on Amazon. I may need to add one more piece of equipment and u think I can do that individually. Basically, if u r starting new and know u have a large area to cover, which I have around 5300 sq ft to cover including the basement, the three pieces is enough. When I say pieces they're round units each just bigger than a soft balk if u were to smash a softball in diameter and about 4 to 6 inches high. There is one main unit and 2 other additional units the exact same shape and size. Each unit has the option to plug in Ethernet. This set up reaches the corner of my finished drywall basement where the office is on one end in the main level and the tv is at the other end only in the basement. I run my Amazon fire stick and stream 4k movies with no interruption. I have 75mbs from Comcast internet. My only place I don't get clear consistent coverage is in the garage which is to be expected and that is where I plan on placing the fourth piece of equipment. Hoping to get service to the Google WiFi unit and then the rest is history being able to connect either with the Ethernet cable since that is an option or fully expecting the same coverage via WI-FI