When it comes to home wifi, there are a lot of things that can make it hard to get solid coverage in every room in the house. Fortunately, in the modern age, there are tools that can be used to extend your wifi coverage.
The term “wifi booster” just means any device that increases the coverage range of a wifi network. A wifi repeater is a wifi booster that works by rebroadcasting the signal from a wifi router. A wifi extender does the same thing, only it connects to the router through an ethernet cable.
Wifi boosters are incredibly useful devices that can help you to be able to get a good internet connection all over your home, but how exactly do they work and what situations do they work in?
What Are Wifi Boosters?
Any device that increases the range of a wifi network can be considered a wifi booster. There are a number of different kinds of wifi boosters, but most of them work off of the same principle: they copy the signal put out by your router and send it out as a new signal, then send the information they get back to the original router.
The way that they do this determines the type of wifi booster they are. Wifi boosters that work over wifi are known as wifi repeaters. Wifi boosters that work over ethernet are known as wifi extenders.
Wifi boosters are also sometimes known as wireless range extenders or WiFi pods by providers like cox cable. Because this term is really similar to the term wifi extender, which we discuss fairly in-depth in this article, we will continue using the term wifi booster.
If you are frustrated with your WiFi network coverage check this article on our blog – How to extend WiFi coverage range with Dual band router and Mesh networks
How Does a Wifi Repeater Work?
Wifi repeaters are a fairly simple form of wifi booster that works by having two different routers in the device—one to pick up the information from your primary router, and one to broadcast information to the area where you’ve placed it. Wifi repeaters can extend the amount of space that your wifi router can cover only if you place them somewhere with good wifi, and this is their primary disadvantage.
They can also add in some latency to your connection, as the information is going between the two routers over wifi, which can be slow. The advantage is that you don’t have to run any cables between them, which makes it easier to place the repeater wherever you want.
How Does a Wifi Extender Work?
Wifi extenders essentially do the same thing as wifi repeaters but through the use of an ethernet cable instead of wifi. By connecting the extender and the router together with the cable, you decrease latency and increase reliability. You also don’t have to place the extender somewhere that can already get wifi for it to work, making it easier to get it to the place where you need to improve your coverage.
The disadvantage, obviously, is the requirement for a cable. Because wifi extenders need a cable to work, if you need to put the extender far away from the original router or in a hard-to-reach spot, you’ll have to do a lot of extra work to get it connected. This is made up for by the extender’s increased speed and reliability.
When to Use a Repeater
Wifi repeaters are at their best when they’re covering places where cables just can’t reach. An outdoor shed, the attic of your home, the back of the van that you always keep parked in front of your house—these are all places where a wifi repeater could come in handy.
They can also be easily used to boost nearby signals that aren’t necessarily your home wifi signal. As long as you can access the repeater with your computer and know how to access the signal you want to boost, you can use a wifi repeater to boost it. You could use this at a campsite, at your friend’s apartment above a Starbucks, or in a library to improve your wifi connection.
All you need is a power supply and a computer to make it work.
You can also mitigate the speed loss that comes with using a wifi repeater by getting a higher-end repeater. One with dual radios can communicate with the other router on a lower frequency while saving the higher frequency wavelengths for communicating with devices.
When to Use an Extender
Wifi extenders are at their best when they’re stationary. The less often you have to move them around, the better. This means that wifi extenders are optimal for home use. In particular, they’re best for patching up wifi coverage over parts of the home that have trouble getting wifi usually.
Because of this, a wifi extender is best used to get wifi to a part of your home where you can’t usually get it easily. If you have trouble picking up a signal in the kitchen, then put an extender in the kitchen. If you have trouble picking it up in your bedroom, put the extender in your bedroom.
Especially if your house has a wide floor plan or you have a weak router, this can be very useful. Because the extender doesn’t need to pick up the original signal over wifi, it can be as far away from the router as you need it to be and still work fine.
The biggest problem with extenders is the cable. The best way to mitigate this is by hiding the cable from view and keeping it against the wall to prevent people from tripping.
The easiest way to do both of these things temporarily is to take blue painter’s tape (not duct tape or masking tape, as these can strip paint off of the walls or cause other damage fairly easily.) By taping the cable against the base of the wall you can ensure that it stays behind concealing furniture and that nobody will step on it without going out of their way to do so.
The WiFi Extender has over 500 ratings and nearly four stars. It has a price of $39.99 and can cover up to 3,500 square feet. This makes it a fierce competitor compared to many similar products. With the main purpose of purchasing a WiFi repeater to reach an outbuilding, you will want to make sure that it can reach far distances.
The Rockspace is a popular purchase for those in need of a Wifi repeater. This product has been reviewed almost 17,000 times. With so many reviews, you can be confident knowing that this is a quality product to purchase, especially given its near four star rating. The $49.99 price puts it on the edge of being overpriced, however, it is still a good purchase.
The TP-Link AC750 has an extremely low price of $19.98, however, it can only reach up to 1,200 feet. This is below the average for a WiFi repeater, however, it can only be expected with a price this low. This product has a shocking 80,000 reviews and it has been rated with an overall score of four stars.
However, tape can be messy and look awful if it isn’t hidden by furniture. If the cable is permanent, consider running a connection through the drywall or using cable runners.
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