WiFi extenders are durable machines that, with the proper care, can last for a few (three or more) years in the right environment.
I have spent the better part of my life working with WiFi connections. My own experience, backed up by additional research, enabled me to figure out the best way to use (and keep) a consistent WiFi extender.
In this article, I expand on that idea by looking at how long WiFi extenders last. That will show, not just how to properly care for the devices, but the reasons they may go out earlier than they should.
- WiFi extenders tend to last three to five years but can stick around for almost ten in certain cases.
- Connection problems, slowdowns, or flashing lights are all signs that your extender may be going bad.
- Keeping an extender in an open space away from heat and obstacles can extend its longevity.
When WiFi Extenders Go Bad
WiFi extenders tend to be solid devices that, due to their specific niche, don’t undergo much stress. They don’t use a lot of power, nor do they ever need to be under a huge load. That’s why they stick around for such a long time. In fact, most models last for at least a few years.
Users will typically get somewhere between three or five years from a solid extender, but premium models can last even longer with the proper care.
As a general rule, you never need to replace an extender until it dies or it’s seeing serious issues with connectivity. While you may want to preemptively switch out your router, you don’t need to take the same measures with an extender. They simply aren’t as critical.
There’s no specific time frame for the device. While the internal components will eventually go bad, some models can last up to a decade. The only reason you would switch them out early is if they’re critical to your network and you see a noticeable drop in service.
The Reasons Extenders Stop Working
WiFi extenders are normally a sound investment, but they do depreciate over time. There are a few things that affect them, and they’re all important to watch out for if you’re someone who plans on having the same one for at least a few years.
Heat is far and away the number one reason WiFi extenders stop working. As the devices don’t undergo a lot of stress, they typically don’t overheat. That then means they have no fans like laptops or more traditional computers. Rather, they rely on passive cooling.
If an extender gets hot, it can lead to serious problems. To ensure that never happens, you should place your extender somewhere that has a lot of room and a strong airflow. High spaces are good too, and you never want them to be enclosed.
Beyond normal entropy, extenders can also become obsolete due to the creation of new technologies. If your model ever becomes outdated, don’t be afraid to pull the plug early and go with something more powerful or sleek.
How to Tell If an Extender is Going Bad
Nobody wants their WiFi extender to hit a wall, but it will happen at some point. Luckily, there are more than a few signs worried users can note.
One of the biggest signs that your extender is on the fritz is if it needs to be reset often. There’s nothing wrong with doing a boot-up every now and then, but if you find that your device has to constantly be reset that likely indicates there’s a much bigger underlying issue.
Connection problems are something to watch for too. If devices drop from a normally reliable extender, or if the devices cannot connect at all, then it might be time to get a new model.
Another big red flag is that the lights on the extender are off, flashing, or simply not their normal color. Always check with the information guide on your model and then see what they mean. If the lights ever deviate from the norm, it’s likely a bigger issue.
One other thing to note is that your extender may not give you any signs at all. It could work one day and then go dark the next. In such cases, it will just shut off and stop working. If that occurs, you have no choice but to find a replacement.
The Ways to Get More From Your Extender
WiFi extenders are naturally tough. Still, there are a few steps that any user can take to make sure their machine sticks around a little longer than the normal timeframe.
As mentioned, heat and time are the two factors that most negatively impact WiFi extenders. Your goal should be to cut down on both as much as you can.
First, always place your extender in a well-ventilated area. Putting it in an enclosed space won’t just mess up the signal, it will also prevent it from being able to properly cool. That can cause it to overheat, which puts extra unnecessary stress on the components.
Another way to make sure your extender doesn’t get too hot is to clean it on a semi-regular basis. Dust or dirt buildup are two aspects that can easily clog up a device. If you carefully blow out the vents every now and then it’s easy to reduce extra heat.
A surge protector can also help your extender, as can staying on top of any possible updates. Check for new software and be aware of any possible firmware compatibility.
If you want a better idea of how to do that, this video is one such example.
This section answers some of the most common questions about WiFi extenders.
How Long Can a WiFi Extender Reach?
Every WiFi extender is different, but most models cover somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet. Some even go beyond that mark.
What Interferes with a WiFi Extender?
Any obstacles that interfere with a normal router will also hamper a wireless signal. That includes walls, furniture, mirrors, and other wireless devices. Try to keep your extender in a clear space away from as many intrusions as possible.
Can You Leave a WiFi Extender on All the Time?
Yes. It’s completely your choice, but there’s no issue leaving an extender on all of the time. It uses very little power, and the plug-in time won’t add any extra stress.
WiFi extenders are great devices for anyone who needs a better or more complete WiFi signal. Their limited use and low-stress load ensure they rarely overheat or break down. That’s why most models can last for three to five years, and why some can hit ten.
Do you have or use a WiFi extender? If so, how long have you had it? Let us know below!