You have DSL, cable, or fiber internet, and you have great service in your home office. But you don’t want to be stuck at your desk; you want to go to the room at the other end of the house and stream workout videos or watch movies.
But when you try to use your internet service at the far end of the house, it just doesn’t work as well. You have only 2 bars of signal compared to 4 bars in the office where the router is. How can you get more signal in that other room? A wi-fi extender may be the answer.
What is a wi-fi extender?
Depending on which internet service you have, internet is fed into your home via cable, fiber, or telephone lines.
A router is placed inside your home to connect to your computer or other devices. Often this router does double duty broadcasting a wi-fi signal in a range outward from the base. A wi-fi router is designed to cover a certain square footage. Ideally, you want to place the router in the area of your house that has the strongest signal. Depending on the placement of the router, the design or layout of your house, and the initial signal strength, the strength of your internet using a wi-fi device will vary. If the router emits 4 bars of strength at the base, devices used near or attached to the router will be close to that 4 bars. The further you get from the router, the weaker the signal becomes. This is why areas furthest from the router may only have 1-2 bars, and this is where a wi-fi extender comes in.
The wi-fi extender is a device that captures the wireless signal from your router and rebroadcasts it to areas where the wi-fi signal is weak or nonexistent. It extends the range of a wireless signal from the wi-fi router. As opposed to a signal booster, which will amplify a weak signal and make it stronger, the extender generally just makes the existing signal go farther. The extender is placed in an area of your house where the signal is reasonably strong and offers the clearest path to the rest of your home. In this way, the extender acts like a bridge between a wi-fi router and a wi-fi device outside the range of the original wi-fi router signal. There are many features of wi-fi extenders, and the price varies from as low as $30 to closer to $300.
Why should you purchase a wi-fi extender?
To be able to use strong internet in other areas of your home.
Your router is ideally located in the area of your home where the signal coming into your home is strongest. This might not be the only room where you want to use the internet. You might need more signal in a distant area of your home.
As mentioned, a wi-fi signal is designed for a particular square footage of space. If you have a smaller house and just need to reach into the next room, a smaller unit will do the trick. If you have a larger home with lots of rooms, levels, or a complicated floor plan, a series of wi-fi extenders may be necessary to obtain a signal in areas farthest from the router.
Because you have a weaker signal coming into your home.
Some devices can help boost the signal speed. Higher-end wi-fi extenders may have the technology built in to boost the signal.
Even if you have the router in the best place, you may have just a few bars coming into your original router. In this case, an extender with booster capabilities can enhance that signal.
To eliminate dead zones and buffering delays.
Depending on the layout of your home and what building materials are used, and even chosen furnishings are in your home, a wi-fi signal may be weakened or impeded by many things, essentially creating dead zones in the middle of your home.
This is where the extender can bridge the signal gap. With more consistent speeds, buffering delays are eliminated.
Dual-Band or Cross-Band Technology.
Not all devices in your home use the same bandwidth. Extenders are available that offer dual-band or cross-band technology.
Older devices use 2.4 GHz, which tends to operate slower, but has a more extended signal range. This bandwidth is pretty crowded, so newer devices are designed to use 5 GHz. Devices that use 5 GHz generally have a shorter range and a strong signal but have more trouble with obstacles. Having an extender that covers both bandwidths is a bonus.
To get extra features.
Some extenders on the market have a feature that allows you to turn on and off the internet in a particular area of your home. If you are looking for extra parental controls, pick an extender with this feature. Some extenders can connect to your stereo for great music streaming and broadcasting through your speakers.
Whatever your reason for getting an extender, it is a great way to fully utilize your existing internet signal in all areas of your home. The strongest signal will be right by the router. Still, an enhanced signal due to a wi-fi extender will be available in the rest of your home for workouts, streaming movies, homework, or anything else you use the internet for. You will have the freedom to use the internet without interruptions from anywhere in your home.