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WiFi Boosters, Repeaters and Range Extenders: A Deep Dive

Jun 01, 2021

WiFi Boosters, Repeaters and Range Extenders: A Deep Dive

In this handy guide, we have outlined the differences between WiFi range boosters, WiFi repeaters, and WiFi range extenders, so you can choose the best device for improving your home or workplace coverage. The terms are often used interchangeably when advertising wifi boosters, but they work in subtly different ways.

Before deciding to invest in a WiFi signal boosting technology, we recommend following a few steps to improve your WiFi connection. First, update your wireless router's firmware by visiting the company website and downloading the latest version. Sometimes, outdated firmware can cause annoying bugs, slower WiFi speeds, and other connectivity issues.

Once you have updated the firmware, take a look at your router and make sure that everything is connected properly. If you're using an old router, you may want to upgrade it before buying a WiFi signal booster. New routers offer support for cutting-edge wireless standards, and they can dramatically improve the coverage in your space. Lastly, you can move the WiFi router to a central location, so that the space is blanketed with a more consistent signal. If these steps fail to satisfy your wireless needs, it is time to purchase a WiFi booster.

How Do WiFi Boosters Work?

First, WiFi boosters plug directly into an existing wireless router and amplify the router's signal. Typically, a wireless setup includes a high-speed modem that plugs into the wall, so that it can receive broadband data from the network. Then, the modem connects to a wireless router via Ethernet cable, and this router has antennas that wirelessly broadcast the signal. The WiFi booster takes that concept to the next level, by amplifying the signal with a stronger antenna.

We recommend a secure WiFi booster for business owners and commercial spaces. If you're dealing with a large open floor plan, a high bandwidth large area wifi extender can solve your coverage issues, without needing to resort to a customized solution. On the other hand, some residential spaces need WiFi range extenders and repeaters to get the job done. Every boosting solution has unique strengths and weaknesses.

How Do WiFi Repeaters Work?

Next, a WiFi repeater relies on two wireless routers, which communicate with each other. The first router connects directly to the high-speed network via Ethernet, and sends a wireless signal to the second router as well. This allows you to boost wireless signal strength in "dead zone" areas of your home or workplace. For example, if you have built an office in the garage, but your existing wireless router is too far away to provide substantial coverage, you can install a WiFi repeater there and amplify the signal.

Repeaters are also ideal for outdoor settings, such as a backyard patio or pool house. With an outdoor panel antenna, you can boost the wireless signal around your home in a more efficient manner. Repeaters can also be installed on an RV or boat to amplify your area's WiFi signal, so that the indoor areas are all covered.

To install a WiFi repeater, simply plug it in wherever you need a boost. Then, access the repeater on your computer and input your WiFi network name and password, so that the repeater can connect to it. Your WiFi network will stay the same, but the repeater will also create a second network that you can connect to when out of range of the first network. With a repeater, you have the same level of security as a standard wireless router, including Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA).

How Do WiFi Extenders Work?

Finally, WiFi extenders connect to your wired network via Ethernet or coaxial cable, just like a wireless router. There are even some extenders that can transmit an existing wireless signal through your electrical cables (called "powerline WiFi extenders").

The technology allows you to extend a single high-speed network throughout your space, without worrying about interference between routers. Essentially, you're adding a new wireless router to another room, with a direct connection to your broadband signal. This will ensure that you experience the fastest possible wireless speeds in a problem area, such as a basement or densely constructed room.

WiFi Repeater vs Extender.

Although these two signal boosting terms are often used to describe the same thing, repeaters and extenders have slightly different designs. Essentially, a WiFi repeater has the same wireless technology as a laptop (or smartphone), which allows it to connect to existing wireless networks in the area. The repeater's strong antenna captures the wireless signal and rebroadcasts it in a new location. This strengthens the signal around the repeater, but it weakens the original bandwidth up to 50%. Repeaters are also vulnerable to interference from other electronic devices (ex. microwaves, wireless stereos).

Meanwhile, WiFi range extenders tend to provide a more stable wireless connection than WiFi repeaters. They replicate an existing connection without creating a new network, so bandwidth is not affected. Often, WiFi extenders connect to the network via electrical outlets. If you're dealing with a problematic room that has dense building materials and wireless interference, a WiFi extender is the perfect solution. We recommend it for dead zone areas in your home, office, restaurant, or retail space.

In summary, WiFi repeaters are easy to install and relocate, but they limit the available bandwidth on your network. This is because they have to retransmit data back to the wireless router to function, unless they are using multiple WiFi bands. Furthermore, WiFi repeater placement can have a massive effect on the signal strength, and thick walls can limit connectivity to the wireless router. There're a lot of variables to keep in mind when installing a repeater.

On the other hand, WiFi range extenders tap directly into the wired connection, so your bandwidth is unaffected. This extends your existing network to a new location, without retransmitting data or creating a separate wireless network. If you're in a compromised setting that a WiFi repeater can't reach, and you want the fastest connection possible, a WiFi extender is the way to go.

If you're still unsure about a WiFi repeater vs extender, ask yourself these two questions: Is there significant interference in your desired installation area? Do you care about reduced bandwidth? If the answer to both questions is "no", you should probably invest in a WiFi repeater, because it is a plug-and-play solution. On the other hand, if you answered "yes", you should invest in a WiFi extender.

Logistics and outdoor task management companies require both cellular and wireless repeater stations for phone and wifi field operations. Our experts want to help you achieve the strongest wireless coverage possible. Try our risk-free signal boosters today, with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

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  • I bought a Wi-Fi booster and I love it. I didn’t think it would be easy to install but it was. I’ve had more problems installing my PlayStation than I did with the Wi-Fi booster. I’m average when it comes to home electronics so take it for what it’s worth.

    Nikki Evans on
  • I drive truck all over. How can I get the WIFI from truck stops and etc…? . They all offer free WiFi inside.

    Kenneth Robinette on
  • I have just bought an aigital WiFi booster and I’ve gone through the set up process which involves typing in a IP address and I cannot reach this address, it’s so frustrating, any ideas please?
    Regards Peter

    Peter Langley on
  • Im trying to extend my wi fi to a garage about 400ft away. Iv connected a wi only getting a “fair” signal to my roku , which allows white specks to blink on the screen when watching tv. Any suggestions?

    rick on
  • I will be moving into a Senior Citizen apartment building. It has free highspeed wifi in the common areas but not in the apartments. You are given the password when you move in. Would a wifi extender possibly pull the signal into an apartment. It is a fairly small building with three floors and 40 one bedroom apartments. I have a sleep disorder and I spend a lot of time online and do not want to have to sit the common room all night.

    Ramona Royer on
  • I need to get wifi to my shop about 200 feet from my house. I can place a repeater in a house window and see a shop window line-of-sight. would a directional repeater work with another repeater in the shop?

    Virgil Young on
  • Wifi repeaters, Wifi network extenders. Where do you begin? I’d say start here because this blog does a good job of explaining the differences between equipment for improving your Wifi signals. As more people take to using Wifi, there’s a growing demand for it amongst so many different devices. Unfortunately, it’s no good if you’re getting a weak signal or losing your signal. Who wants to watch a video and get buffering or just lose their signal? I’m not sure if I’m going to get a Wifi booster (or any of the other equipment), but now I know what to get when and if I need one.

    George Vinison on
  • I’m glad I read this article first before I bought the product. I was looking for the best wifi booster, unaware there are different devices such as wifi repeaters and extenders. I need a wifi booster more than I need a cell phone booster (but I’d like both at some time) so it’s good to know exactly which device to buy. It looks confusing at first, but after re-reading this, I know what I’m going to need and what will work best for my home. Can’t wait to try this out.

    Rich J. Harrison on
  • It’s mind-blowing how technology keeps expanding. I think we’re living in a remarkable age where people will look back at say, “Wow, they lived when society was on the cutting edge.” Cell phones have changed things up, and now Wi-Fi has explored (with Mi-Fi nipping at its heels). Just as people have looked to improve poor cell phone coverage by using cell phone boosters, I see people are using Wi-Fi network extenders to help boost their Wi-Fi coverage. This article helped me understand the difference between Wi-Fi repeaters vs. Wi-Fi extenders. What an amazing time to be alive.

    Pernell Smith on
  • This was a deep dive and I’m glad I read it. I have problems with dropped calls at home but I think I have more problems with Wi-Fi. Stuff like my Blu-Ray player in the family room (which is far away from the router). I am going to move the Wi-Fi router somewhere more central, but I’m also thinking about a Wi-Fi signal extender. It was helpful to learn the differences between extenders and repeaters. I thought they might be the same thing. If I buy one, I’m going to get the best Wi-Fi booster because I want something to last me some time and do the best it can. First, I’ll try some of the free tips mentioned here and determine if I need to buy anything.

    Daryll Hoover on

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