Do Wi-Fi Range Extenders Work?

If you live in a large house or apartment, your Wi-fi network my generate a strong signal in the immediate area of your router. As you move upstairs or across hour home, you may find that the signal weakens or becomes entirely non existent. Wi-Fi signals usually reach reach 300-500 feet, but unless you live in a studio apartment with no walls, you are likely to only see a signal in the 75-150 foot range. Any type of construction material, such as cinder blocks, concrete, metal, or even drywall can block a Wi-Fi signal – so even if you live in that studio apartment, you may get a weak signal in the bathroom, if you even get one at all. (Why you would want a Wi-Fi signal in your bathroom is another story.)

You can use a Wi-fi range extender to boost the range and intensity of a Wi-Fi signal in your house or apartment, but you may want to consider moving the location of your router to see if that helps the range and signal of your current router, first. Simply placing the router in a more “centered” location can make a significant difference, both laterally and vertically. For those with a two-story house, the best location is centered on the second floor, but off the floor and away from walls and large metal – this places the router in that truly centered location but away from objects that can interfere with the signal. Near the top of a staircase can often work well in this situation.

If placing a router in the center of your home does not provide the desired Wi-Fi range and signal, a Wi-Fi Range extender, also known as a wireless repeater, can solve this problem by extending the range of your Wi-Fi signal. Wi-Fi range extenders are placed within the signal range of your original wireless router, and work best when placed within range of a strong signal from the original router. A Wi-Fi range extender can lower your Wi-Fi speeds on devices connected to the extender, though, but for casual internet users just surfing the web and checking email, this won’t be noticeable. Unfortunately, gamers and Netflix addicts might notice significant lag using a Wi-Fi range extender.

If you are considering a Wi-fi range extender, you will want to buy an extender that is manufactured by the same brand as your current wireless router. Check the manufacturer’s website for the best combination that fits your needs.

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Kelly Clay, author of Blog Without Boundaries, is a freelance writer and lifestyle advisor.