Do you have any spots in your house that struggle to get wireless access to your network? If so, then the best solution could be to add a wireless access point to your network.
At A Glance: Top 3 Netgear APs
Scroll down to read more. The links above will take you over to the WAPs in Amazon
Wireless access points connect via Ethernet (or sometimes wifi) to give you an extra point where you can wirelessly access your network.
Please read on for more information about WAPs as well as a quick rundown of three of the best Netgear wireless access points.
Why Use A Netgear Access Point?
A wireless access point is a simple way to give your network an extra point at which you can access your network wirelessly. This can be useful if there are points in your home that your existing wireless signal does not reach, or if the signal isn’t strong enough.
All you have to do is connect your wireless access point to your network via an Ethernet cable, or sometimes via wifi. Now any devices in the nearby area can connect to the stronger signal of the WAP rather than the original signal from the wireless router.
One thing that is useful to note is that you can add more than one WAP to your network. That way if there are a couple of spots in your home with a weak wireless signal you can simply use a different wireless access point for each spot.
As well as this, there is also a second way you can use a wireless access point. If you have any devices such as printers, smart TVs, scanners, etc. that don’t have built in wireless access, then you can connect a WAP via a cable to them to allow them to connect to your network wirelessly. This is sometime referred to as WDS (Wireless Distributed System)
All you have to do is simply connect an Ethernet cable between the access point and the device, and you should be ready to go (with a little configuration).
Wireless Access Point vs Wireless Signal Repeater
When searching for an access point, you come across something called a wireless signal repeater. While both products have similar jobs, ie: extending the wireless range of your network, they both work in very different ways.
While an access point will connect via Ethernet to give you a point where you can access your network, a wireless signal repeater will simply connect via the existing wireless signal and repeat it over a new area.
While using a repeater may seem like an easier option as you won’t have to lay any new Ethernet cables, there is a downside. As the signal is being extended, the bandwidth of your network is halved with each extension.
This can have a negative effect on your network speed and as such if you are looking for the best possible connection and you don’t mind a bit of extra Ethernet cable, it is probably best to go for a wireless access point over a repeater.
Another option if you don't want to connect via Ethernet cables, is to connect an access point via powerline adapters or even wireless bridges. A wireless bridge connects directly between the AP and the router via Wi-Fi. You can then plug in devices via Ethernet (as explained above - WDS) or if the AP allows it, you can use a separate wifi band to allow clients to connect to the AP wirelessly, while also bridging.
One thing to note about both these products is that neither is a router.
How To Connect A Netgear WAP To A Router (the basics)
This is a simple explanation about how to connect an access point to your router.
While this is specifically for Netgear routers, if you have a different brand of router, you will likely have to follow a similar process.
This process can be done either by connecting via Ethernet cable or (on some access points) via wifi.
1. Check Your WAP’s IP Address Is In The Same Subnet As Your LAN Network
To find your WAP’s IP address simply check the sticker on the underside of the device. You now need to check if this address is in the same subnet as your home network. Your network subnet can be checked via the command prompt on your windows computer.
If your WAP’s IP address is in the same subnet (and the IP doesn't clash with a node on your network) then that is great and you can move onto the next step. If not, you will have to assign an IP address within the subnet to your WAP manually, or simply make sure that the ‘DHCP Client’ setting on your access point is set to ‘Enable’.
2. Connect The AP To The Network
Now all you have to do is connect your access point to your network. This can be done by simply plugging an Ethernet cable between your WAP and your router.
3. Configure Your Wireless Access Point
Now you are connected you will need to configure things on your WAP such as any security and authentication settings. To do this you will need to access the WAP’s configuration settings, which can be done by typing the WAP’s IP address into a web browser on a device connected to the network.
You can also dig a little deeper and determine whether or not you want to set up as a basic access point, a repeater (extender) or a bridge.
Always consult the manual (or online forums - the Netgear Community is a great place to start: https://community.netgear.com) to determine if the Netgear access point you are interested in, will cater for your wireless network needs.
Wireless network terminology can be confusing, and AP modes are no exception!
Best Netgear Wireless Access Points
1. Netgear Dual Band 802.11AC Wireless Access Point (WAC104-100NAS)
>>> Check out the WAC104 over on Amazon <<<
This is a good wireless access point with high-end features such as AC wireless connectivity and dual band functionality.
You can easily connect extra devices to this access point via Wifi Protected Setup, which means you can connect new devices to a network without having to put in the password.
This isn’t the most powerful WAP on the list, however, it could be useful if you need wifi access over a smaller area.
2. Netgear Dual Band 802.11AC Wireless Access Point (WAC120-100NAS)
>>> Read more about the WAC120 on Amazon <<<
This is another dual band access point that uses the AC wifi standard.
This product stands out in that it also has features such as advanced security and can be used as a wireless bridge, which gives you a few more options when it comes to using this router.
Setup is said to be simple assuming you have some networking knowledge or are good at following instructions.
3. Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Desktop Wifi Range Extender (EX7000-100NAS)
>>> Read more about the EX7000 on Amazon <<<
This access point shares many similar features to the ones above, including wireless AC and dual band wifi.
This access point has three powerful (700mW) external antennas which according to Netgear give it a potential range (in perfect conditions) of up to 10,000 square feet.
All in all, if you need an access point, and would also like the ability to extend your network via wifi, then this product could be the way to go.
Hopefully, this article has cleared up a few things about Netgear wireless access points.
To sum up, access points are a great way to extend your wireless network into parts of your home that don’t have a reliable signal from your existing router.
Netgear is usually a consistent brand when it comes to networking equipment and realistically you are unlikely to be disappointed with whichever product you buy. Just make sure you choose the one that fits exactly what you need from a wireless access point.
If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to leave a comment below!