WiFi Extender: Will it Bring You Better WiFi Coverage?

Written by: Nathan Stiles, Professional Services Engineer

Today, the internet has become just another necessity of life and easy access to information and knowledge is as important as having access to healthy and nutritional foods. Especially with the impact of COVID-19, forcing many people into the “work from home” bucket, the requirement and demand for fast, consistent, and far-reaching networks has become extremely high. As a result, people are searching for solutions which will help to optimize their home networks. One of the most common and widely used home network solutions is the WiFi Extender. But will adding this help bring you more coverage, or cause you more headaches?

WiFi extenders allow you to increase the range of your network by relaying the wireless signal from your home router and/or access point. WiFi extenders are favorable for many consumers, as they are relatively cheap, easy to install and do not require an array of wiring or large amount of space. Most extenders can be plugged directly into an electrical socket and configured from your phone or laptop.

When WiFi extenders are setup properly, they can have a positive impact on your wireless network by increasing coverage, as well as boosting speeds at longer distances. The caveat being, if a WiFi extender is not setup properly, it can do the opposite and have a severely negative impact on your network and potentially make it worse than it already was.

There are many considerations to take when it comes to choosing a WiFi extender, such as vendor, price, speed, number of antennae, etc. Depending on your needs, it may vary which one you choose (or how many).

Considerations to take when buying a WiFi extender:

  • Max speed capable (100Mb +)
  • Will you be needing a WiFi 6 capable extender? Is your home router WiFi 6 capable?
  • How many will you need? Is your home too big, should you wire instead of using an extender?

Considerations to take when installing your WiFi extender:

  • How far away are you from the main wireless source? Depending on the model of WiFi extender, the distance, as well as materials in your home will have an impact on the performance
  • Install WiFi extender in a place with no less than -70dBm RSSI (you can use free apps, some phones will show RSSI values of your WiFi in details/settings)
  • Try to install the WiFi extender in an open space, that is unobstructed by furniture and/or other materials

A few references for brands and testing results of different brands:

https://www.cnet.com/home/internet/best-wifi-extender/

https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-wireless-range-extenders

It is important to understand the basic concepts of WiFi and the requirements you and your devices require, as well as install it in the proper location where it has a chance to relay the signal from a place where the signal has not yet become poor. It is important to understand the basic concepts of WiFi and the requirements you and your devices require. With proper planning and understanding, you can use WiFi extenders to help improve the coverage and speed of your network.

If you’re working with a commercial property or residence (IE a clinic office or a vacation rental), you should be very cautious when choosing a WiFi extender. These are really meant for “at-home” use and not ideal for a commercial venue. You’re missing out on marketing opportunities and security practices when you pursue this route – it’s best to consult a WiFi technician to ensure your network isn’t providing a poor service to your staff of clients.

Learn more about SolutionInc at https://www.solutioninc.com/.

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