We have come a long way since the days when we just used the internet on one computer in one room of our house. Nowadays, we expect wifi access throughout our home as we connect via laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
The problem is that this puts a lot more strain on our wifi and the bigger the house, the harder it is for one wifi router to share its signal to all corners of your home. Even if you have a router that can do this, a weaker signal can result in a slower connection.
Check These Top Rated Wi-Fi Extenders Out
(the links above will take you to the extenders on Amazon)
So, what can we do to solve this problem?
There are a few different ways. We could use a wireless bridge, Ethernet cables, or powerline adapters. However, perhaps the simplest method is simply to use a wireless extender.
Wi-Fi Extender, Booster, Or Repeater?
When searching for a way to extend your network, it is likely that you will come across the three terms: extender, booster, and repeater. You will likely look at them, wondering why they seem so similar yet have different names.
Well, the good thing is, you are right that they seem similar. In fact, they all refer to the same product and the fact that they connect wirelessly to extend, boost, and repeat a network signal.
One thing to watch out for is a wireless bridge. While this certainly does do a similar job, it is not actually the same product. While a wireless extender will connect to a network wirelessly and repeat the signal into a new area, a wireless bridge will connect two wired networks together wirelessly or connect a wired device to a wireless network.
While it is possible to buy a separate wireless bridge, many of the products in this list can actually double up as a wireless bridge. Alternatively, you can often even just use an old router and set it up as a bridge.
How Do Wifi Extenders Work?
So now you know the different terminology you may come across when buying a wireless extender, it is time to find out how they actually work. Luckily, there is nothing too complicated about what a wireless extender does.
To put it simply a wireless extender will just pick up the wireless signal from your router (or another extender), and then transmit that signal over a new area. By doing this, you will be able to extend the reach of your wireless network and devices that previously were unable to connect to your wireless network will now be able to do so.
When your wifi extender repeats the new signal, it will have the same network credentials as the existing network which means you won’t have to worry about signing into a new network every time you move to a different area of your house.
Some wifi extenders allow you to use a separate radio to 'boost' the signal while the other receives the existing signal (like a 'bridge'). This is often the case with dual band extenders.
Much like a wireless router, extenders use different wireless standards to repeat the signal. However, all wireless standards are backward compatible so if you currently have a wireless N router but are thinking about buying a wireless AC extender, there should not be a problem with the two devices working together.
How To Place A Wifi Extender
If you are buying a wireless extender you may want to get as much range as possible out of your new product. You may think that this means finding the furthest point that your current network reaches to and then places the extender in this location.
However, this is a very bad idea. As you have probably noticed when using the internet on a network with a weak signal, this can lead to you having a very poor internet connection. As such, if your wifi extender receives a poor signal, it will likely be repeating a poor signal.
Really, you need to find a sweet spot that allows the maximum distance, while also ensuring that you have as fast a connection as possible. This means finding a spot that is just before you start to notice that your connection is getting worse.
Of course, there are other things to watch out for. Firstly, your wifi extender will need to be near a plug socket so that it can be powered. As well as this, no matter how good a spot it is within your network, no one really wants a wifi extender to be placed in the middle of the living room or on the dining table.
Much like placing a wireless router, it is also a good idea to avoid places like kitchens, or anywhere that has a lot of wireless interference. After all, you don’t want the internet to go down every time someone opens the garage door or turns on the microwave.
Best Wireless Extenders
Here's some top rated wireless boosters for you to consider...
Netgear Nighthawk EX7000
As the most expensive product on the list we were expecting a lot from the Netgear Nighthawk EX7000. Luckily, like most products in the Nighthawk range, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
This extender has two high power, high gain antennas to send their wifi signal out to even the furthest points of your house. As well as this, it is powered by a 1GHz dual core processor so even in the toughest of circumstances it shouldn’t slow down.
In terms of wifi, the Nighthawk EX7000 comes with wireless AC, for faster connectivity, and is dual band to help avoid congestion.
As an added extra, this product has five Ethernet ports meaning it can be used to bridge non wireless products to your network or simply to guarantee certain devices a superfast, super consistent connection.
All in all, this is a great product and one of the best on the list, although this does mean it comes at a higher price point.
The D-Link DAP-1650 is another wireless AC product that promises to deliver to really fast wireless connection to all the hard to reach places in your house. Despite this, it is quite a lot cheaper than the Nighthawk.
However, it is still dual band meaning you can set up a 5GHz connection for your bandwidth intensive activities and it has some nice extra features like WPS setup for quick access (although be sure to read about the security problems associated with this before using), and MIMO technology.
Like the Nighthawk and the other products on this list the DAP-1650 can be used as a bridge or an access point as well as an extender which will give you plenty of options when it comes to extending your network.
This is a great product if you don’t want to splash out on a top of the range device like the Nighthawk but still want to ensure that you get a fast and reliable internet connection.
The Linksys RE6500 is a high-end product with some great extra features. First though, the basics.
It uses the wireless AC standard, it is dual band, it has some great antennas with high gain, and it has four Ethernet ports. So far so good and these features put it amongst best extenders on this list.
Where this product stands out is in the addition of an audio jack for wireless music streaming. This means that by connecting a speaker or a stereo to the router you can stream music wirelessly from your phone or laptop to the speaker. This works even if the speaker didn’t previously have wireless capabilities. Nice touch Linksys!
Other than this, the product is one of the more expensive on the list. If you are looking for an excellent extender and like the idea of wireless music streaming, this could be the product for you.
Netgear EX3700 AC750
The AC750 EX700 is a great budget option from Netgear. However, despite its low price, it actually has a surprisingly decent number of high end features.
It uses the wireless AC standard, is dual band and has two external antennas (although not as powerful as the Nighthawk). As well as this Netgear even found space for one Ethernet port!
One feature you will likely either love or hate is the fact that the product sticks directly into the plug. While this makes placement super easy, it does limit the places that you can put the device.
At the end of the day though, we absolutely love the fact that Netgear have managed to release a wireless AC, dual band extender for such a low price. If you are looking for an extender without the extra features supported by some of the others on this list, you won’t go far wrong with the AC750 EX3700.
Another budget deal here with the Trendnet TEW-822DRE. Much like the (slightly cheaper) Netgear AC750 EX3700, Trendnet have managed to release a product that uses wireless AC, dual band, and has high powered external antennas.
Also, like the Netgear product, it plugs straight into the wall and has one Ethernet port which allows the device to be used as an access point or allows you to connect a device via Ethernet.
Basically, this product is very similar to the Netgear EX3700 above which means that while the Trendnet is more expensive (as it is now), it is a little tougher to recommend. Probably best to check the prices when you buy though as they do change!
In conclusion, a wifi extender can be a great way to get wireless access in those hard to reach spot throughout your house. As long as you are careful with where you place it and the settings you use you should find that you can improve coverage somewhat, although throughput may suffer, depending on setup.
As you likely have noticed from our reviews, extenders come in all shapes and sizes. From ones that pretty much work as full routers and that can be configured to work as bridges and access points, to ones that simply focus on repeating your wireless signal.
When choosing a product it is, therefore, best that you think about what exactly you need, as well as your budget, before making a final decision.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed this article! Please leave a comment below if you have any questions about wireless extenders or share the article if you have found it useful.