A Range Extender, Wi-Fi Extender, or Wi-Fi Booster is a device that repeats the wireless signal from the router to expand its coverage. It functions as a bridge, capturing the Wi-Fi from the router and rebroadcasting it to areas where the Wi-Fi is weak or nonexistent, improving the performance of home Wi-Fi. It can be compared to baseball, where the router represents an outfielder whose job is to get the ball to the catcher. A Wi-Fi extender is the shortstop that stands between the two, waiting to catch the ball and throw it into the plate.
Users are recommended to pay attention to their device settings when using a range extender, though. It may not be obvious, but the home Wi-Fi device will remain connected to the router until it is manually switched over to a range extender network, even if a range extender is in closer proximity to the device than a router.
A Wi-Fi range extender is easy to install and can be set up in a snap—just by plugging it in and pressing the WPS button on both router and extender. Immediately after, users will be ready to connect to the internet. The extender should be plugged in where the signal range of the Wi-Fi router is substantial, but not too close to the router itself, or it will not be possible to find a signal any further out than the router could’ve managed in the first place.
Typically, the best bet is to situate it about halfway between the router and the device you want to connect. However, it may be required to experiment with placement for getting the connection you desire. Range extenders suffer from the same interference as Wi-Fi routers, so it is advised to avoid obstacles like concrete walls, microwaves, and metal objects. A lot of range extenders come with software that can help take the guesswork out of placement. For instance, Linksys Spot Finder technology offers a three-step visual guide to finding the perfect location.
The difference between a Wi-Fi booster, repeater, and extender
Wi-Fi boosters, repeaters, and extenders mostly represent the same thing - devices aimed to improve Wi-Fi coverage. There isn’t a clearly defined difference between tools that manufacturers describe as “extenders” and devices described as “repeaters.” However, not all Wi-Fi extenders run in the same way. There are several different kinds of tools available.
The need for Wi-Fi extender
Sometimes Wi-Fi router placement represents the culprit for dead spot woes. Before purchasing a Wi-Fi extender, it is offered to try placing a wireless router in the most centralized location of the living space. If a router is in a far corner of the home, users are probably not maximizing its Wi-Fi reach. By placing the router as close to the middle of the house as possible, users can take advantage of the full 360° coverage of the Wi-Fi signal. However, the layout of the home might not lend itself to put the wireless router in an open, centralized area. Or it is possible also to find that after placing the router in the best possible location, there are still some Wi-Fi dead zones. In both cases, it is advised to consider using a Wi-Fi booster.
Extender and Repeater
A Wi-Fi extender frequently referred to as a wireless network extender, or wired-wireless network extender works a little differently. This type of device uses both wireless and wired technologies for bringing a wireless signal to an area of the home where network coverage has been weak (or nonexistent).
The Wi-Fi extender first uses a wired connection, or wired backhaul, to spread throughout the house. This feature allows users to benefit from the reliability and high speed of cables, instead of relying only on wireless signals.
The other convenience offered by the device provides customers with the opportunity not to have to add any more wires to their homes. These Wi-Fi extenders use their home’s existing wiring: MoCA-based solutions use the coax cabling, and Powerline solutions use your electrical wiring. You can add a Wi-Fi extender near the area of the home that requires a wireless boost – users just need either a coax jack (MoCA) or a power outlet (Powerline) nearby. This Wi-Fi takes the wired network signal and converts it to a strong wireless signal in the new area.