How to set up WiFi Repeater, Booster, or Range Extender?

WiFi Extender is used to extend the range of existing network coverage area and create a bigger network. Also known as a Wifi Range Extender, a wired connection port is used to connect with the existing network for extending the range of your WiFi.

Wi-Fi extenders allow you to extend your existing Wi-Fi network when your primary router cannot cover the whole house. It can be an effective way to improve Wi-Fi performance without upgrading your internet plan. The method is not always efficient, however.

You can use it to extend your network to those hard-to-reach spots in your home, and it is much less expensive than a full mesh system. In this article, we'll explore how Wi-Fi extenders work, along with their pros and cons.

How do Wi-Fi repeater work?

A Wi-Fi extender (also called a Wi-Fi repeater) is a relatively simple device. Your existing Wi-Fi network is duplicated and rebroadcast using this device. The signal's range is thus extended, so it can cover more ground. The extender connects to your Wi-Fi network via an app or website on either your phone or computer. It's usually best to place the extender halfway between your Wi-Fi router and your dead zone. You need it close enough to the router to connect to your network, but also near enough to the dead zone so the new signal is effective.

Buying the right Wi-Fi repeater?

If you want to use a range extender, the first step is to choose whether you want to purchase a compact model that plugs directly into a power socket, or a more substantial model that needs to be placed on a desk or shelf. A desktop model may also have additional features, such as Ethernet ports, which can be useful, but plug-in models are easier to use.

Buying a Wi-Fi repeater will allow you to make the most of your existing connection. Make sure your Wi-Fi router is connected to the modem - either the one you bought yourself or the one you got from your ISP. There are two parameters you'll want to match between your router and the extender you want to buy: the Wi-Fi generation and the Wi-Fi speed. Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) are the two main generations. Typically, the speed of an extender is expressed as a function of its connection: for example, if the extension is marked as "AC750," it will use 802.11ac at up to 750 Mbps. There is a max speed of 1800 megabits (1.8 gigabits) if it says "AX1800."

An extender that's newer and/or faster than your router will work fine. Since the extender won't be able to speed up the connection from the router itself, you'll end up paying for something you don't need.

How to Connect an Repeater?

  1. You need to decide where you want the Wi-Fi extender before you can begin the actual setup. Placement of your extender is partly about finding your home's sweet spot: A location close enough to your router to easily pick up your signal yet far enough away to cover the space you desire.

  2. You will need to consult your extender's manual to set it up. Manufacturers often provide an app or website to guide you through the initial setup process. It doesn't matter which way you go, you'll need a phone or a computer. Searching for your extender's manual online is easy if your device didn't come with a paper manual or you misplaced it.

  3. It is necessary to know a little about your router before you can follow along with the extender's software once you have your extender, manual, and a phone or computer. The frequency at which your router broadcasts will be as important as your network's name and password. It is common for modern routers to be able to broadcast in 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, which may appear as separate networks, but they may not always be. Dual-band routers usually broadcast in both frequencies in the form of two wireless networks, with one being 2.4 GHz and another being 5 GHz.

  4. The Wi-Fi extender can now be plugged in and set up according to its instructions. You'll want to test the signal strength of the extender once you've powered it on and connected it to your network. Extenders are useless without a solid connection to your original Wi-Fi network. Consider changing the names of your extended networks to match the names of your pre-existing networks once you've confirmed there aren't any signal problems.

    As an example, if you have two networks, Netgear 2.4 and Netgear 5, you might consider naming the extenders' networks "Netgear 2.4 EXT" and "Netgear 5 EXT".

  5. You're ready to go once everything is set up and connected to a strong signal. When you are in your extender's range, you will need to manually join its network and switch back to your regular network once you leave it.

    Nevertheless, some of the more expensive, premium extenders support seamless roaming. As you come in and out of range, the extender's network and the original network appear as the same network.

Finishing it

Changing networks isn't a big deal for a single device, such as a laptop that spends most of its time in an office or bedroom. With smartphones and tablets that move around more, this can be a bit of a hassle. This problem can be eliminated by using a range extender like Netgear's newest EAX80 model, which merges its Wi-Fi network with that of your main router. It is called 'roaming' since it allows you to automatically switch between router and extender depending on which is closest.
Netgear Nighthawk EAX80 Extender

Managing Your Wi-Fi Extender

With your Wi-Fi extender now installed, you can seamlessly switch between the two whenever your home's connection is down. You can access your router and extender both from any device connected to your home network by opening your Wi-Fi settings as usual. Your router will be able to connect to both options (2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi). Switch to your extender whenever you move into a room with a low connection, and you'll have a fast connection again.

The app should take care of connecting to the Wi-Fi extender without you having to enter a password. It is still necessary to switch over manually every time you enter a room with a bad connection, rather than automatically switching over to the extender.

Pros and cons

When it comes to expanding your Wi-Fi network, Wi-Fi extenders are generally a cheaper option than upgrading your internet plan. The following are some reasons why you should install one:

  1. It is not necessary to replace your router when using Wi-Fi extenders.

  2. If you position an extender correctly, you can even get coverage outdoors, such as in your backyard.

  3. There is not much space taken up by extenders. The majority of them look like oversized plug-in air fresheners and plug into AC outlets.

Despite this, extenders aren't always appropriate. An extender has the following disadvantages also:

The vast majority of Wi-Fi extenders (but not all) broadcast a new Wi-Fi network with its name. You'll need to connect to a different Wi-Fi network in one part of your home, and a different one in another part of your home. To avoid this, look for extenders that rebroadcast on the same network name - or replace your router instead of using an extender.

It's almost certain that the extended network will have fewer bandwidth capabilities than the original router, even though it can span over a long distance. The result can be lower speeds than you expected. You might want to consider a mesh network if the consistently high network speed is important to you. Mesh networks deliver much larger networks without the need for extenders.

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