How to Extend Your WiFi Range
Whether you’re into gaming, working from home, streaming movies or just need something to distract the relatives during the holiday season, having reliable WiFi is a must! Unfortunately, so many of use are pretty clueless about what can be done to improve your existing network without going out to buy a whole new spendy internet setup. Luckily, our team here at ModemGuides has the years of experience in helping residential and business customers from both DSL and Cable internet providers improve their network in minutes! Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some things you can try out that can often drastically improve network quality.
Wireless Range Extenders
Do you really need a Wi-Fi Range Extender? We must first be aware of what range extenders actually do. Range extenders are only a literal “extension” of your router, and do not usually add much to the network. So if your router is bad or old, having a fast, high-speed Wi-Fi range extender will not help much with speed or performance of your Wi-Fi network. This is because the (not optimal) signal your router is broadcasting is just getting repeated. It can actually make your Wi-Fi worse or slower than before due to interference from the duplicate network.
The takeaway? A range extender will only help you if you already have a decent router. If your router is on the older side or is having issues already, you’d be better off just upgrading your router to something newer & more powerful. Check out our Router Buying Guide for compatible recommendations!
What Is a WiFi Range Extender?
Though wireless range extenders can be sold under a number of different names & descriptions, their function is generally the same. A small device that looks very similar to a router is placed at the edge of your router’s coverage area & broadcasts it’s own wireless network by repeating the signal of your router. This allows you to still get strong coverage even in places where your router has a weaker signal or does not reach entirely.
Most routers have very strong signal up to a certain distance. If your home happens to be even slightly larger than the area your router is strongest, your connection towards the edges of your home can be spotty and unreliable unless you have a wireless extender installed.
How Much Do You Need to Spend?
Generally speaking, it’s much cheaper to add a signal booster to your wireless network rather than upgrade your router. Upgrading a router to provide better wireless signal strength or to have your WiFi cover a larger area in your home is going to require shelling out quite a bit more (unless the router you’re replacing is extremely old, or defective). Because of this, our techs recommend just grabbing a lower cost booster to “repeat” and extend your router’s existing wireless network. That way, you’ll have the upgraded signal without having to spend $$$ to get a router that covers more square footage.
As for what to look for in a range extender, we recommend starting by taking a look at the specs of your wireless router. If your router is Dual-Band, we recommend looking for a WiFi range extender that is also Dual-Band, just to make things easier. There are many options from leading brands such as Netgear, Belkin Linksys & TP-Link priced at under $40. You can check out our selection of affordable range extenders & boosters that have all been renewed and come with a warranty & US-based technical support.
How to Integrate a Range Extender Into Your Home Network
Adding a range extender to your existing wireless network usually is one of the quickest, easiest networking accessories to install. It’s pretty much the closest thing to “plug’n’play” you can get. Your range extender will come with instructions on how to install it. Generally, the instructions will tell you to find a power outlet near your (already configured) WiFi router, then hit the WPS button on both the router and your new extender at the same time to sync. Then, you can move the extender anywhere in your home to extend the WiFi signal wherever you need it most.
Location, Location, Location!
The main thing you’ll need to work out is the location in your home for your extender. This can be trickier and may require some testing before it’s placed correctly. We recommend getting a channel scanning app for your phone to make sure your router is broadcasting on the correct channel. Apps like this can also help you figure out where in your home you need a signal boost the most which would allow you to have better accuracy when placing your new extender in your home.
Upgrade Your Router's Antenna
Many routers on the market today have at least one 7″ external antenna attached to boost the signal strength. These antennas can absolutely be upgraded very easily. You’ll just need to purchase a new compatible antenna for your router.
Many router manufacturers carry both omnidirectional and directional antennas for purchase. Omnidirectional antennas send a signal in all directions, while directional antennas send a signal in one specific direction. Most built-in antennas tend to be omnidirectional, so if you aren’t sure which you have, it’s likely to be omnidirectional.
If you’re planning on buying an external one, we recommend getting one marked “high-gain” so that you can notice a change in your network more clearly. A directional antenna tends to be a better option for fixing dead zones, since most people don’t experience weak spots in your network in every direction. When installing, make sure to point your external antenna in the direction of your dead zone or weak spot for best results.
We recommend checking your router manufacturer’s website for details on what gauge/size to get.