.WiFi Boosters are used to extend the coverage area of an existing WiFi network. How Does a WiFi Booster Work? WiFi Boosters/Extenders work by receiving an existing wireless radio signal then amplifying it before sending it back out to cover a larger area.
Think of these wireless extenders as a smaller wireless network that will need to connect to your existing one. Wireless extenders can help you to reach remote corners of your home or office, different floors, or even provide some wireless coverage outside the building.
There are pluses and drawbacks for using wireless extenders, below I will cover both.
Does a WiFi Booster Work – Should I use one?
Yes, WiFi Boosters will help to extend your WiFi coverage in your home or office. But they are not always the best solution. If you have problems getting a reliable and strong WiFi signal in some parts of your office or home, Wireless extenders, aka wireless boosters might work for you. This article will explain more about WiFi Boosters/Extenders and the benefits and drawbacks of them.
Before spending any of your money on a new WiFi Booster or Extender, try these solutions first.
Here are a few things to try to improve your WiFi. If these solutions do not help, then you might want to try a wireless extender.
Move your WiFi router to a different location
Your WiFi router should ideally be in the most central position within the building and it should be located up off of the floor. Wireless signals travel out and also down so keeping your wireless router up high in the center of your home or office might really help.
The other thing to understand about where to have your wireless router positioned is that certain objects can really lower the signal strength of your WiFi. brick, cement, stone, wood, metal and even glass can all really stop your WiFi from reaching throughout your home. So, the best place to put your wireless router will be out in the open in the center of your place, up off of the floor.
If you are not able to do this yourself then you need to schedule your ISP (Internet Service Provider) like Comcast or Frontier to come out and move your wireless router for you. There is usually a service charge to have a technician come out and move your router but some companies will send out tech at no charge to see if moving your router would help.
Good Network technicians will be able to use wireless test equipment to tell what kind of wireless signal strength you are getting throughout your home or office and even if wireless interference is an issue.
Your WiFi router may have to be upgraded
Routers improve continually, and if you use an older model (older than 3-5 years), it may help to upgrade your router to a newer, more powerful model. Wireless Routers have a huge amount of features and instead of putting wireless extenders on an older router with outdated technology it might be a better idea to get a more powerful and updated router. If interested, here is a link to some articles explaining much more about how WiFi works and some different router options.
If your coverage is still unreliable even though your WiFi router is in the best possible location and your router is current and up to date, wireless extenders or could be the solution.
How Does a WiFi Booster Work Compared to an Extender or Repeater?
What are the differences between WiFi boosters, WiFi repeaters, and WiFi extenders?
Wireless extenders, WiFi boosters, and repeaters, all pretty much do the same thing in that they improve WiFi coverage.
There is however a lot of confusion as to how they each do that, and which one should be used where. Manufacturers are also not consistent in what they label as a WiFi booster, and what they like to call wireless extenders.
In the following section, we’ll describe each device type and how it works, so you can select the best WiFi booster solution for your specific circumstances.
What are WiFi Boosters?
WiFi booster is a general term used for any device that simply extends WiFi signals. It is actually more accurate to call WiFi boosters wireless range extenders. These boosters connect to your existing WiFi signal then add more power to it and send it back out to cover more area.
The biggest problem that I have seen with these is that they are normally trying to boost an already weak wireless signal. That doesn’t help you get better coverage unless you have a stable signal to start with. The only way that these boosters can work correctly is to place the booster where your existing coverage has a decent signal. This will allow it to provide a more stable connection. But, even so, most WiFi Boosters will lose up to half of your network speed.
These are the first type of device that became available to extend a WiFi signal. A wireless repeater re-broadcasts the WiFi signal it receives. The WiFi signal quality that is distributed by wireless repeaters will be the same as that of the WiFi signal received. WiFi network response times, or latency, is also normally increased. If you need to increase coverage by a short distance, use no more than five wireless devices and don’t do streaming, a repeater should work.
WiFi Repeaters consists of two wireless routers. One of the wireless routers receives the existing WiFi signals and then transfers it to the other wireless router, which transmits the boosted signal.
WiFi Range Extenders
A wireless range extender is a device placed between a wireless router and the area that needs more coverage. Usually you should place one just before where the wireless coverage has to be improved. Wireless range extenders work similarly to a wireless repeater in that it receives a WiFi signal from a wireless router and then broadcasts it at the new location.
Wireless extenders, however, rebroadcast the signal on a wireless channel different to the one used by the wireless router.
A major challenge with WiFi range extenders is placement. If it is not placed in a suitable position, the range extender will not work correctly. Make sure that no obstacles like cabinets or furniture block the WiFi extender.
Wireless Network Extenders
Do you want reliable, consistent and high-speed WiFi to every area and floor of the home or office? If so then a WiFi Network Extender is the best solution.
Wireless network extenders work differently than range extenders or repeaters. They communicate directly with a WiFi router via an Ethernet cable, rather than rebroadcasting existing WiFi signals.
The cable or wire is used to communicate to the WiFi router, and another separate WiFi boosted network is created.
WiFi speed decreases with the distance between the WiFi access point or router and a WiFi device. If a WiFi Network Extender is used around the building, it shortens the distance between the WiFi signal and WiFi devices. This increases the devices’ speed and improves performance.
The major disadvantage of using a WiFi network extender is they must be cabled to your router. Network extenders must have an Ethernet cable between the router and the extender. But, this is not the case for other WiFi boosters, repeaters, and range extenders.
drilling holes and running dozens of feet of Ethernet cable is not what most people enjoy. To avoid doing this you can try to use a power-line adapter with WiFi. Power-Line adapters with WiFi can send the internet signal over the electrical circuit in a home or office.
These devices normally come with 2 powerline Ethernet adapters. The first plugs into a power outlet by the existing router and connects to it with Ethernet. The second one plugs into another power outlet at the location where the signal is needed. If you get a Power-Line adapter with WiFi then the second device will be the extender.
Powerline Ethernet adapters can however not always be used. Their performance is affected by the distance between power outlets and the quality of electrical wiring.
Does a WiFi Booster Work to boost the signal to outdoor areas?
In certain situations, yes WiFi Boosters can boost your WiFi coverage outside. If you, for example, have a patio that you want to cover, this can be achieved by using a weatherproof WiFi repeater. Place a repeater outside and it will help boost the signal throughout the property. Just remember that any Wireless equipment used outside needs to be weather-proof.
Will the boosted WiFi network be secure?
WiFi extenders and boosters have the same levels of security as normal WiFi routers and are therefore secure.
Will Wireless and Boosters lower the speed of my WiFi network?
The simple answer is yes, wireless extenders will lower your WiFi speed. Although all WiFi boosters and extenders have some speed loss, some are much worse than others. Keep in mind where the booster is located can also affect the speed. The further away the Wifi Extender is from the main wireless router, the more the loss will be. Also, materials like stone, brick, metal and even thick glass will affect wireless network speeds.
Single Band vs Dual Band Wireless Extenders
WiFi extenders receive wireless signals and rebroadcast them.
Single-band repeaters have to receive and re-transmit data with the same radio on the same channel.
Dual-Band Wireless extenders allow the customer to extend both the 2.4 GHz and/or the 5 GHz bands.
Does a WiFi Booster Work – Summary
Wireless extenders will work in a pinch if you are on a tight budget. Now, most of the new boosters are easy to set up and use. If you do need some help getting one set up check out my How to Set up an Extender. If WiFi speed is important, be aware that most of them will lower your bandwidth/speed.
My honest suggestion is to look into a wireless mesh network like the one that I use at home. They use better technology than the wireless extenders do and they work very well. There are many great Mesh Networks to choose from but the system that I use currently is Google WiFi.