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Wireless Range Extender 101

Functionality And Placement

Range extenders are often physically similar to other wireless networking products you would typically find in a home or office, but they differ significantly in configuration and functionality. Wireless routers – perhaps the most common wireless networking product found in homes – connect directly to the broadband modem, sharing the Internet connection to wired and wireless devices, as well as providing basic network services like DHCP, NAT and a basic firewall. Access points also connect to existing wired networks, but simply provide access to an existing local network and its associated services. Wireless access points are often used in conjunction with an existing router – either wired or wireless – and wireless clients connect to the internet through this device.

Another type of wireless networking device is a media bridge, which allows a device without wireless connectivity to connect to a wireless network without having to run Ethernet cable. Media bridges connect to the wireless network as clients, and share the network connectivity through an RJ45 port. Range extenders share characteristics of both media bridges and wireless access points – connecting to an existing wireless network and then extending the wireless network as an access point and typically offering Ethernet connectivity as well. In most cases a router is needed on the network to provide DHCP and NAT, which allow network devices to reach the Internet.

A wireless range extender should be placed centrally, between the wireless router and potential wireless clients, in order to optimize the wireless signal throughout your home.

The physical placement of your wireless range extender will depend largely on the nature of your environment and the devices leveraging the expanded wireless footprint. A central location between the wireless router and wireless clients is ideal, however the location of wired computers could influence placement of the range extender as well. Other areas of potential interference like large metal objects should be avoided, as should large electronic devices. If your intent is to utilize 5GHz frequencies for optimal performance, you should remember that your range is more limited than 2.4GHz networks.

  • James Mason
    I bought a media bridge for my bitcoin miners so I could put them in the kitchen where it's cooler and there is more free outlets and also it's on a different circuit than the rest of my apartment. Of course I only spent like $40 on it because bitcoin mining isn't super internet intensive. These extenders are more expensive than alot of routers though, so they don't exactly seem worth it.
    Reply
  • coolitic
    The future will have twisted radio waves and/or pCell technology.
    Reply
  • wtfxxxgp
    I still see the relative value of the smaller, outlet-based units. These are useful because of one main issue: ease of use. The only real short-coming is that they require all parts of your house to be on the same circuit, which in some cases is not the case. I don't want a long story just to be able to get internet or network access to every room in my house - I want a simple solution that works and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg. My experience with a unit I bought has been amazing - I do not know why I kept forking out money on USB-based wi-fi dongles for my gaming PC in the past. It took me literally 2 minutes to connect my PC to my network in a "wired" fashion and my ping and stability since doing that has been outstanding. I highly recommend those units, especially if you have more than 1 PC that requires networking in your house, and you want to be able to go to any room with a wi-fi-reliant device and get a strong wi-fi signal. No hectic cables, no fuss, no insane costs and the best part is, if you move, they move.
    Reply
  • LostAlone
    I still see the relative value of the smaller, outlet-based units. These are useful because of one main issue: ease of use. The only real short-coming is that they require all parts of your house to be on the same circuit, which in some cases is not the case. I don't want a long story just to be able to get internet or network access to every room in my house - I want a simple solution that works and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg. My experience with a unit I bought has been amazing - I do not know why I kept forking out money on USB-based wi-fi dongles for my gaming PC in the past. It took me literally 2 minutes to connect my PC to my network in a "wired" fashion and my ping and stability since doing that has been outstanding. I highly recommend those units, especially if you have more than 1 PC that requires networking in your house, and you want to be able to go to any room with a wi-fi-reliant device and get a strong wi-fi signal. No hectic cables, no fuss, no insane costs and the best part is, if you move, they move.

    I absolutely agree with this. Powerline adapters are amazing things, a substantially better answer than wifi for a lot of typical stuff like media streaming and reasonably high-traffic internet use. They aren't without their problems (our ones needs the occasional reset) but they really are a better answer in so many homes where wifi is spotty.
    Reply
  • bliq
    I still see the relative value of the smaller, outlet-based units. These are useful because of one main issue: ease of use. The only real short-coming is that they require all parts of your house to be on the same circuit, which in some cases is not the case. I don't want a long story just to be able to get internet or network access to every room in my house - I want a simple solution that works and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg. My experience with a unit I bought has been amazing - I do not know why I kept forking out money on USB-based wi-fi dongles for my gaming PC in the past. It took me literally 2 minutes to connect my PC to my network in a "wired" fashion and my ping and stability since doing that has been outstanding. I highly recommend those units, especially if you have more than 1 PC that requires networking in your house, and you want to be able to go to any room with a wi-fi-reliant device and get a strong wi-fi signal. No hectic cables, no fuss, no insane costs and the best part is, if you move, they move.

    I absolutely agree with this. Powerline adapters are amazing things, a substantially better answer than wifi for a lot of typical stuff like media streaming and reasonably high-traffic internet use. They aren't without their problems (our ones needs the occasional reset) but they really are a better answer in so many homes where wifi is spotty.

    we actually use a PLN kit that has a 802.11N access point on the remote side built into the remote side plug. I think it cost $29. works perfectly (although our new router has such good range I don't actually think we need it anymore).
    Reply
  • Rookie_MIB
    I just picked up an Amped wireless range extender, and I have to admit, it's a pretty effective piece. I was having intermittent signals in the back of the facility (we use Square card readers with cellphones for CC transactions...) and the device would go offline since it was pretty far from the front router (about 200ft away).

    Put in one of the 'high power' extenders in (broadcasts at 600mw (!!!!) and actually placed it right beside the existing router, and have 70% signal strength all the way to the back now. Pretty darn impressive.
    Reply
  • melanfred
    I purchased a Netgear pair of Powerline + Access Point. This was a great solution. The Netgear boxes are small and unobtrusive, and I can get > 20 Mbps at the farthest reaches of my house. No problems with Roku, the signal is strong and consistent. Very little resetting needed,maybe once every 3 months, I reset the access point. The pair only cost $70, this was a much better solution than a WiFi extender. Just place the units about 40 feet apart, preferably on the same circuit. A light will change color to show you if you are connected at the highest speed.
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  • Travis Hershberger
    Range extenders can be a good solution in a home where you only need a single one to get good coverage over the entire property. They absolutely kill performance when more than a single one is used, each extender is going to cut throughput by half. Add the fact of current WiFi standards all being half-duplex and you get abysmal performance real quick.
    Reply