What is the best way to Extend your WiFi Range? Extending your Wireless Network for the best coverage

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Extend Wireless Wifi Network Range - Best Way to Extend WiFi Range

Whether you’re working at home or in the office, one thing is sure, Wi-Fi is a fundamental part of everyday life. It can be frustrating if you’re experiencing a weak WiFi signal or no coverage at all, and you may wish to explore the best ways to extend your WiFi range.

There are multiple devices available that can help extend your wireless network, and you can take steps to improve the quality and range of your WiFi signal. With several options to choose from, identifying the best way to extend your Wi-Fi can be complex and can result in time wasted in trial and error.

To save you time and quickly improve wireless coverage, the information below explains the best ways to extend your WiFi range, whether at home or the office. We explain the devices available on the market for expanding your office wireless network, and some of the most common coverage issues and how to fix them.

Do I need to Extend my Wi-Fi Range?

Ideally, Wi-Fi should be “set it and forget it.”, but that isn’t always the case. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to resolve basic Wi-Fi or poor internet connectivity issues.

RELATED: 5 Tips to super boost your Wi-Fi

However, while repositioning your Wi-Fi router may work for small offices or a home office, larger workplace environments with multiple offices and meeting rooms may require a more robust remedy.

Before rushing out and buying a product promising you better Wi-Fi coverage, it would be beneficial to establish the weak spots – zones or areas where your WiFi signal is weak or non-existent. This will help in identifying a suitable solution rather than just a temporary fix.

What is the Best Way to Extend the WiFi Range?

If your wireless router is already located centrally or you can’t move it from where it is, there are several WiFi devices you can use to help deliver a solid connection where you need it.

The table below helps you quickly identify the best way to extend your WiFi range and improve signal strength to resolve any issues with your wireless network:

WiFi Issue Quick Fix Suggested
“Dead spots” or weak signal areas, and your office has multiple ethernet ports in the affected areas Wi-Fi Access Point or Mesh Network

NETGEAR Wireless Access Point or Google Nest WiFi Mesh

“Dead spots” or weak signal areas, and your office doesn’t have multiple ethernet ports in the affected areas Wi-Fi Repeater NETGEAR Wi-Fi Range Extender

While the above table helps identify the most appropriate solution to remediate typical WiFi range issues, we suggest reading the below information so that you can make a better-informed decision.

Resolving wireless network issues, particularly those relating to WiFi range, signal strength, and overall coverage, are dependent on several factors.

Next, we explain the different types of options available to extend your WiFi network range. Then explore the more common challenges in achieving widespread WiFi coverage and advise on the most appropriate solution.

Understanding the different options to extend your Wireless Network

While researching, you would have likely come across wireless or WiFi extenders, repeaters, and boosters. While numerous Wi-Fi devices are available on the market to extend your wireless network, not all are created equal.

Nonetheless, these devices are designed for the same purpose: to make Wi-Fi available in more areas of your office. However, given your particular WiFi issue, a particular product or device may not be the best way to extend your WiFi range.

Let’s look at these wireless devices on the market and their benefits in extending your Wi-Fi network range:

What is a Wi-Fi Repeater or Extender, or Booster?

WiFi boosters, repeaters, and extenders are largely the same thing – devices to improve WiFi coverage. These devices are some of the most popular available in the market. While these terms are used interchangeably, “booster” refers to both repeaters and extenders.

A WiFi repeater effectively contains two routers, similar to the WiFi router you already have in your office or home. One of these routers picks up the existing WiFi network and passes the signal to the other router, retransmitting the signal.

A wireless extender operates on a similar principle. i.e. by rebroadcasting the original signal, but by connecting to your WiFi router through a physical cable – either through a coaxial cable or an ethernet cable.

Many manufacturers use the terms repeater and extender interchangeably. Fortunately, many modern devices are hybrid – functioning both with and without cables to act as either a repeater or extender.

Extend Wireless Wifi Network Range - What is a WiFi Extender and Repeater
Our Verdict: Both repeaters and extenders take a current wireless signal and rebroadcast it to a part of your office that was not adequately covered.

Extenders offer a better quality since the original signal is carried via a cable to the zone requiring coverage before being broadcasted. If cabling is not feasible, a repeater would be the best way to extend your WiFi range, although some decrease in bandwidth and increased latency should be anticipated.

What is the best Wi-Fi Repeater or Extender?  We suggest the Netgear Dual-Band Wi-Fi Range Extender & Repeater, with coverage of up to 1500 Sq Ft and 25 Devices.

A good alternative is the TP-Link AC1900 WiFi Extender, Dual Band Wireless Extender/Repeater, covering up to 2800 Sq ft and 35 Devices.

What are Wi-Fi Access Points?

Wi-Fi, or wireless access points (AP), fulfil the same purpose as repeaters and extenders, in that WiFi APs deliver a wireless signal outward to a new part of your office.

The primary distinction is that an access point connects to your corporate network via a physical connection. This results in significantly better performance than a more traditional wireless extender in virtually all cases.

However, to connect to your corporate network, a wireless access point requires an ethernet connection. In many offices, ethernet cabling is available either in the ceiling void or presented as an ethernet wall point.

Wireless APs are a great way to extend your wireless network. However, WiFi APs are generally more expensive than either WiFi repeaters or extenders, and the need for cabling makes them less suitable for a quick fix.

Extend Wireless Wifi Network Range - What is a WiFi Access Point
Our Verdict: If cabling permits, a dedicated wireless access point is one of the best ways to extend your WiFi range across your office with minimal impact on performance.

What are the best WiFi Access Points?  The Netgear Wireless Access Point Is a durable AP at a great price, making it ideal for small offices and businesses.

For larger organizations, we suggest the TP-Link EAP245 V3 Wireless Access Point Business WiFi Solution, which supports Mesh, Seamless Roaming & is PoE powered.

What is a Wireless Mesh Network?

While mesh wireless networks are more complex from a technical standpoint, they can be visualized as a series of access points distributed throughout your office that work together to form a “mesh” of wireless connections.

Since several “nodes” are connected wirelessly, the WiFi signal is broadcasted from each node around your office, providing better coverage over a wider space, making mesh wireless networks a great way to extend your WiFi range.

Mesh networks are easily scalable, as more nodes can be added for additional Wi-Fi coverage. The signal is rerouted through another node if a node fails, making Mesh WiFi networks extremely durable.

However, Mesh WiFi networks have traditionally required some relatively advanced networking knowledge to set up properly. Fortunately, new consumer-focused technologies such as Google Wi-Fi have streamlined the set-up, allowing a mesh WiFi network to be up and operating in minutes.

Extend Wireless Wifi Network Range - What is Wireless Mesh Network
Our Verdict: Mesh WiFi provides comprehensive coverage and is one of the best ways to extend your wireless network. However, these Mesh wireless solutions can be expensive.

A mesh network may be excessive for your needs, especially if you only want to extend your WiFi to a specific area or zone.

What is the best Wireless Mesh Network?  For smaller offices or a home office, we suggest the Google Nest WiFi Mesh.

Larger premises will benefit from the Netgear Orbi Pro WiFi 6 Tri-band Mesh System for Business, which provides coverage of up to 9000 sq. ft. for 80 devices.

What are Powerline Adapters?

Powerline adapters broadcast data using electrical circuits. This enables your internet connection to be distributed wherever you have a power outlet in your office.

Powerline adapters consist of a primary adapter that connects via ethernet to your router and a secondary “node” adapter which plugs into any socket on the same electrical circuit as the primary adapter. Most newer adapters have an ethernet port, and some have WiFi extender capabilities.

These adapters are a great way to extend your wireless networks via a hardwired connection to areas or offices that aren’t otherwise wired for ethernet.

However, you may find that to improve your wireless coverage, you’ll still need to connect a  WiFi access point, Repeater or Extender to your Powerline node adapter.

Extend Wireless Wifi Network Range - What is a Powerline Wireless Network
Our Verdict: Powerline adaptors are a great quick fix to extend your WiFi range to new areas and offices, mainly where ethernet cabling isn’t possible.

Powerline adaptors are also one of the best ways to extend your WiFi network to external locations, such as a home office, provided you have an external power socket. However, buildings with older electrical wiring may find that the actual performance is limited.

What is the best Powerline Adapter?  The TP-Link AV2000 Powerline Adapter is a great device to extend your WiFi network range to wherever you have a power socket.

What is a WiFi Bridge and a Wireless Bridge?

A bridge allows you to connect two different networks to serve as a single network. The terms WiFi bridge and Wireless Bridge are often used interchangeably and refer to several products that provide the capability to extend your WiFi range.

  • Wi-Fi to Ethernet bridge: These adapters allow you to connect a non-WiFi device to your WiFi network. Like a WiFi USB dongle, a Wi-Fi to Ethernet Bridge is useful for older computers or devices, such as TVs, printers, and games consoles, that don’t have Wi-Fi capability.
  • Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi bridge (Bridging): Bridging joins two Wi-Fi networks. Many old and new WiFi devices support bridging and already have this functionality. Bridging is useful where cabling is not possible, for example, if you have offices separated by a public corridor.
  • Wireless Bridge (Point-to-Point): Wireless bridges connect two physically separated networks, such as those in buildings, ports and manufacturing sites, or in offices across the street from one another.

Wireless bridges use radio (RF) signals or optical/laser links to connect two access points over significant distances. Using highly directional antennae and direct line-of-sight, they send and receive wireless signals, allowing the two IP networks to be connected through a wireless link.

Extend Wireless Wifi Network Range - What is a Wireless Bridge
Our Verdict: Wi-Fi to Ethernet bridges are great to add a non-wireless device to your WiFi network. If your non-wireless device has USB, look for USB WiFi dongles, which are a less expensive option.

Many older WiFi routers, extenders, and APs have bridging functionality. So make sure to check if you have any old devices lying around that can be used to form a WiFi-to-WiFi bridge.

If you are seeking to extend your wireless network to a new building, wireless bridges are the best way to extend your WiFi network range.

What is the best WiFi or Wireless Bridge?  BrosTrend’s dual-band WiFi Bridge will allow you to connect your Printer, TV, and Game Consoles to your WiFi network.

For a point-to-point wireless bridge, we suggest TP-Link’s AC867 Long Range Outdoor Point to Point Wireless Bridge. Offering fast and stable long-distance transmissions, this wireless bridge is equally suited for deploying WiFi to offices in another building or to the office in your garden.

Common WiFi Coverage Challenges

The range of a wireless network can vary greatly depending on the type of network. For example, a typical home office network with a single wireless router can service a single-family dwelling, but not much more.

Wi-Fi routers on the 2.4 GHz band can reach up to 150 feet indoors and 300 feet outside. Older 802.11a routers running on 5 GHz bands can only reach about a third of these distances.

Newer dual-band 802.11n and 802.11ac routers that operate on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands cover wider ground.

RELATED: What is Dual-Band WiFi?

Factors to consider when Extending your WiFi Network Range

The Wi-Fi signal range of any particular WiFi router varies greatly amongst devices. The 802.11 protocol that a router uses, the strength of its device transmitter, and the kind of physical obstructions and radio interference in the surroundings are all factors that influence the range.

Hence, the WiFi range is influenced by three main factors: the surrounding structure, the wireless standard used, or the router (or access point) itself.

Environmental Obstructions

Physical obstructions in the office, such as walls, cabinets, or partitions, can considerably restrict a Wi-Fi network’s range.

A Wi-Fi signal decreases when it comes into contact with such an obstruction, which occurs frequently indoors due to walls, flooring, and even electronic interference.

  • Structural Obstructions: Walls can quickly weaken a wireless signal, especially if the signal must pass through extra insulation and plumbing. If, despite repositioning your router to a central location, you’re still experiencing signal degradation, a repeater is unlikely to solve things.

Suggested Fix: Set up a wired access point or mesh network, such as the Netgear Wireless Access Point or Google Nest WiFi Mesh. An alternative, and cheaper option, is to install TP-Link AV2000 Powerline Adapter in the problem area, provided an electrical wall socket is available.

 

  • Outdoor access: One of the most common problems encountered when extending a wireless connection to outside space is strongly insulated external walls. To overcome this, you’ll need a wired access point or a mesh node to achieve adequate coverage outside.

Suggested Fix: If the outdoor space, such as a garage, shed or garden office, has power, we suggest installing a TP-Link AV2000 Powerline Adapter to link your outside area with your main WiFi network. If the objective is to provide WiFi to an adjacent office or an office across the street, we would suggest TP-Link’s AC867 Long Range Outdoor Point to Point Wireless Bridge.

 

  • Irregular floor plan: Some offices have unusual floor designs or features, which might drastically impair your wireless connection compared to a more typical layout. In most circumstances, this is where a mesh network comes in handy, allowing you to space out nodes that all provide direct access to your network.

Suggested Fix: Set up an office-wide mesh network. Depending on the size of your offices, you can opt for either Google’s Nest WiFi Mesh or the Netgear Orbi Pro WiFi 6 Tri-band Mesh System for Business.

Wireless Router or Repeater/Extender/Access Point

The distance from which a person can connect to a wireless router, repeater, extender or access point varies according to the WiFi router’s antenna orientation. Smartphone users, for example, may notice an increase or reduction in connection strength just by tilting their device at different angles.

  • Some wireless network devices use directional antennas, which allow for more extended reach in places where the antenna is pointed but shorter reach in others.

Suggested Fix: If you’re not obtaining the required signal strength, replace the antenna that came with your router. Replacing your WiFi routers antenna with these omnidirectional dual-band WiFi antennae is an inexpensive fix and will help increase the range and strength of your Wi-Fi signal.

Wireless Standard

The wireless standard you’re using directly affects your wireless signal range and strength. The 802.11g protocol has an indoor range of 125 feet, while 802.11n has a range of 235 feet.

  • Older Wi-Fi routers and modems have slower speeds than newer technology. If your internet plan includes 200 Mbps, but your equipment only supports 100 Mbps, your internet speed will be half of what you pay for.

Suggested Fix: Consider upgrading your router/modem for improved range and reliability and check for firmware updates. Either the Netgear 4-Stream WiFi 6 Router or the TP-Link AX5400 WiFi 6 Router would be suitable replacements.

Still not satisfied with the range of your Office Wi-Fi? Start with the basics

Getting a reliable wireless connection to every room at your workplace can be challenging. The methods listed above can assist you in getting there, but don’t overlook the fundamentals, especially if you only have a few blind spots.

Remember that router and access point positioning is critical; always aim to locate your equipment in the most centrally situated location possible.

Once you’ve optimally positioned your Wi-Fi router and things still aren’t where you want them to be performance-wise, you can use the information presented above to formulate your next steps.

If you’re looking to extend your WiFi range to minimize the number of weak signal zones, it may be worth conducting a WiFi or wireless survey.

Extend Wireless Wifi Network Range - What is a Wi-Fi Survey

A wireless survey produces a heatmap, usually overlayed on your office layout or floorplan, indicating weak signal areas.

With this information, you can identify the exact areas that need to be addressed and any anticipated challenges in extending your WiFi range and put together a plan to extend your wireless network into these areas.

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