Last updated on June 12, 2021
A range extender (sometimes called a repeater) is a wireless networking device that allows for a wireless local area network (WLAN) coverage area to be expanded beyond its normal range. These devices, which usually plug into the wall, take a signal from an existing wireless router or access point (AP) and transmits that signal farther than the original device was capable of doing. With today’s devices being more reliant on a strong wireless signal, these devices help ensure total cover throughout your home.
So how do they work?
A range extender will receive a signal from a router and then send that same signal to the devices that are connected to it. Range Extenders can only communicate one way at a time, either receiving from the router then transmitting to the device or vice versa.
Why is this important to know?
This one-way communication is the leading cause of complaints about range extenders; “my connection is slow”. The network speeds are affected because the connected device has to wait to receive or transmit with the network based on which way the range extender is using its radios.
While range extenders can be effective at solving the “dead zone” WiFi problems, sometimes they don’t work due to a plethora of reasons. In situations where a WiFi range extender is not working, I recommend look into Powerline or Mesh as an alternative to a range extender.
What do I recommend?
There are a wide range of WiFi range extenders to choose from, the main question you need to ask yourself is how much do you want to invest in solving this problem? You can go cheap ($), mid-range ($$), or heavy ($$$).
I find that most people are happy with the $$ aspect of things, so I always recommend the TP-Link AC1200 WiFi Range Extender — because it works great (most of the time) and is usually around $50.
The AC1200 connects to most* WiFi routers, strengthening and expanding its signal into areas they can’t reach on their own. It will push a stronger WiFi signal into areas of your home/office that would otherwise be a “dead zone”.
Another great thing about the AC1200 is the easy setup! As with anything you should read the directions that come with the product and it will direct you to their app that will help you set up the device and place it in the best location to help provide the best extended WiFi signal. 🙂
* The product may not be compatible with routers or gateways with firmware that has been altered, is based on open source programs, or is non-standard or outdated.
* Maximum wireless signal rates are the physical rates derived from IEEE Standard 802.11 specifications. Actual wireless data throughput and wireless coverage are not guaranteed and will vary as a result of 1) environmental factors, including building materials, physical objects, and obstacles, 2) network conditions, including local interference, volume and density of traffic, product location, network complexity, and network overhead, and 3) client limitations, including rated performance, location, connection quality, and client condition.