Where is that one room where no one gets wifi? Did you have to move the family computer because the internet always lagged so bad that it was virtually unusable?
We've all suffered through a poor signal when we're out and about, but the pain is worse when it's your own house and you know the cost of the wireless bill every month for the signal that barely loads out a webpage.
Luckily, all of these things can be fixed with a simple wifi extender (also called Wi-Fi range booster or repeater), which takes the signal from your router and amplifies it to reach the furthest corners of your house.
These are wireless and can be strategically placed in your house to maximize the signal throughout the whole home. In this article, we'll introduce some key aspects of a wireless extender and help you pick the best one that's right for you.
If you are in a rush, don't worry, we have got all the details right here!
- NETGEAR AC750 is a compact extender with two antennas that supports up to 750 Mbps and works on dual bands to maximize performance. It plugs into your wall outlet.
- VICTONY 1200Mbps Wireless Dual Band is equally compact and also plugs into the wall, but supports up to 1200 Mbps on its dual bands and has 4 antennas to direct signal all around your house for maximum coverage.
- Linksys AC1200 Dual-Band is the sleekest extender of the bunch, offering a clean and modern design that functions just as effectively, with a 1200mbps rating. It's also designed to avoid blocking other plugs on your outlet.
Who Should Get This?
If you experience any dead or weak spots in your home wifi, an extender will serve you extremely well. It will allow all the members of your household to experience the quality of wifi you pay for without having to congregate in the same three rooms and allow you to work comfortably anywhere you want. Some even provide additional access points.
If you want to increase your internet speed and performance overall though, a wifi extender will not do this for you. A wifi extender increases range but not bandwidth, ping, or download speed — which you'll have to go through your ISP to obtain or work on using more wired ethernet connections.
This video well explains it:
WiFi Extender for Home: What to Look For?
The range is the most important aspect of any wireless repeater since its main purpose is to improve the range of your existing network. You'll want something with enough power to reach those rooms that are currently suffering from a limited signal due to distance, thick walls, or other external factors. While you can always get multiple extenders, its best to just choose one strong one that will meet your needs.
Mbps refers to megabits per second and is a measure of the amount of data that can travel through a connection over time. Higher ratings are better, so you should check that the extender you want supports what you currently have available on your network — note that a higher rating will be useless if your internet service doesn't provide speed that matches what the repeater can handle. 750 Mbps and 1200 Mbps are some common ratings that should be plenty for most users.
Single vs Dual Band
Whenever possible, choose a dual band extender. They're significantly more efficient than a single band. A single band repeats the signal on the same band as it originates, which can negatively impact how well it works. On the other hand, a dual-band repeats signal onto a separate band, which leads to less interference and better performance.
Best Wifi Extenders for Home: Top 3 Choices
The items below are hand-picked based on 1). the criteria listed above 2). our own using experience 3). reputation research we did from the Internet hearing what other users say about using a specific Wi-Fi range repeater product.
Small enough to simply plug straight into your wall outlet, this little extender from Netgear packs a big punch. It's a great fit for your average home and offering 750mbps on a dual-band system. It works with any internet service provider and any router. If you have an ethernet connection available you can use it to create an additional access point.
What We Like:
- Creates a strong signal and runs up 750 Mbps.
- Dual band is much more efficient than a single band model.
- Very small and discrete plugs directly into a wall outlet without any extension cords or stands.
What We Dislike:
- Not incredibly user-friendly and could be difficult to install and set up.
With four antennas that allow you to direct extended signal in several different directions at once, your network will be more than patched with this VICTONY range extender. Supporting up to 1200 Mbps, you won't ever worry about your extended areas lagging behind the normal router, and it plugs easily into a wall outlet.
What We Like:
- Includes a signal LED to help you position it for best results once connected.
- Multiple antennas allow you to direct the signal where it is most needed and compact size of the device makes it easy to hide from sight.
What We Dislike:
- May be hard to place if you don't have an exposed wall plug to use it with.
The sleekest design yet comes from Linksys, which has produced this clean and uniform wifi extender. Appearing flat with a bezel at the front, the repeater is a small box with no loose antennas that can still support up 1200mbps. Built-in Spot Finder helps you find the location for optimal coverage.
What We Like:
- Striking design means you won't mind if this extender ends up out in the open.
- Plugs easily into a wall socket without blocking the other plugs, so you can still use your other electronics.
- Dual bands are effective and work to provide the best signal.
What We Dislike:
- Tech support is only free for the first month.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Even if you have a range repeater, there are ways to maximize your wifi signal within the home. For example, the best location to place your Wi-Fi range extender is 1/2 between your personal computer and the wireless router.
WikiHow also gives you a great overview on how to improve Wi-Fi reception, but we'd also like to mention some of the most important details:
- The layout of your home has a huge impact on performance. If there is bulky furniture in the middle of a room, this will impede signal so move it towards the wall instead.
- Keep the router in a clear area. While under your desk may be convenient, it starts weakening the signal before it's barely left the first room!
- Control applications and programs on your computer that hog bandwidth. These are usually graphics intensive video games, but you can set caps on them from your ISP's router settings or a third-party software.
If you are on a Mac, you may also read this Mac tip we put together sharing a number of ways on how to speed up Mac Internet.
Whether you're fixing spotty coverage or simply widening the area that you already have, wifi range boosters are a cheaper option than buying a whole new router and do just as well, if not better.
Do you already have a preferred extender? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Influenced by the startup culture in the Silicon Valley, Jessica loves building things from zero to one and is keen on following news related to the Big Five tech giants and many SaaS startups.