Robust WiFi connectivity at home has become more important than ever. With children attending online classes and parents working from home, there is a device that is connected to the WiFi from the room of the house. But even when you have robust WiFi connectivity that is fast enough or the best Wi-Fi router, some of the areas in your home might experience zero connectivity. Wi-Fi range extenders and Wi-Fi boosters help you solve this problem.
Even though you might think that these two devices are the same, they have slightly different functions. You might have questions like – What is the difference between WiFi booster and WiFi extender? What device is the best to improve your home network connectivity? Can any of these devices eliminate dead spots? Or, which one is more cost-effective? Let us delve deeper into the differences between these two products to answer all these questions.
A WiFi booster as its name suggests boosts a WiFi signal. It captures the signal of your existing WiFi router and rebroadcasts it to create a second network. The second network created by the WiFi booster is separate from that of your WiFi router. Since the booster creates a new network, sometimes a certain percentage of the bandwidth of the original WiFi network is lost. This device can be associated with an antenna present on the WiFi router which is used to amplify the signal of the router to make it more powerful.
For the booster to work at its best capacity, you have to plug it into an outlet that is located in a place that receives strong signal strength from your router. The signal strength should be at least 50%. The better the signal strength, the better the area of coverage by the booster. Also, the more the signal strength, the more powerful will be the re-broadcasted signal.
Imagine that you are hosting a party in your backyard. You have sausages and burger patties on the grill but what’s a party without music right? Only delicious food won’t do, so you stream some music as well. But your connectivity does not extend to the yard. What you do in this case is get a WiFi range extender.
WiFi extender is meant to increase the range of the present WiFi network produced by your router. It is connected to the router using a coaxial cable. This device helps eliminate dead spots by extending the existing signal. You can place an extender in the portion of your home where the signal strength is low.
Differences Between a WiFi Booster and WiFi Extender
|WiFi Booster||WiFi Extender|
|Amplifies the existing signal from the router||Extends the range of the signal from the router|
|Rebroadcasts the existing signal and creates a separate network||Captures the signal from the WiFi router and extends the network|
|Wireless connectivity from the router||Connected via a coaxial cable to the router|
|It increases signal strength to reach more destinations||It eliminates dead spots|
Do You Need a WiFi Extender or a WiFi Booster?
Now that you know the differences between a WiFi extender and a WiFi booster, the question is do you need one? Here are some cases where these devices can help you.
- There are some places in your home where the WiFi signal disappears completely, these are called dead spots. Walls and other objects can create interferences and obstruct the signal from your router. Here you can use an extender to extend the range to eliminate the dead spot.
- If you have a large home, the WiFi router might not be that effective in producing a signal that can reach all the places. If your router is situated downstairs then WiFi strength will be low upstairs. Here a WiFi booster comes in handy.
- If you want your WiFi to be faster, then a booster or an extender can do the trick. Both of these devices can improve the speed of your network connectivity.
- As mentioned earlier, if you want WiFi connectivity to reach outside your home then you would need a WiFi extender.
Optimizing Your Existing WiFi Network
Sometimes even though you live in a small apartment, you will have WiFi issues. Dead spots might be lurking in the bathroom causing erratic music if you try to stream some music while you are in the shower. The question is do you need a WiFi extender or a booster in these scenarios.
This problem might be due to your modem or router, signal strength on your cable line, devices on your network saturating your bandwidth, or even a slow DNS server. Before investing in an extender or a booster try repositioning your router. A poorly placed router can always present connectivity issues.
Identify the WiFi dead zones in your home by using a WiFi analyzer tool like NetSpot. Activate the tool on your device and walk around the house to identify spots that have poor connectivity. Any signal strength between -60 dBm is reliable. Even when the signal strength is at -70 dBm devices can still get decent signal strength. However, when the signal strength is below -70 dBm, performance will start to degrade. If your analyzer tool shows -80 dBm you can regard that spot as a dead zone.
If you have done the thing mentioned above and you find that the WiFi strength is still low, then check the internet package that you are subscribing to. First, go through the details of the package like the speed of the connectivity. Run a network speed test using a website like Ookla or Speedtest.net. Make sure that you stop any downloads, uploads, media streaming platforms, or other heavy internet activity before running the test. This ensures that there are very low interferences when the speed is being measured. Compare the result of the speed test with the promised speed of your internet package. Oftentimes, cheap internet packages can be the source of your weak WiFi signal strength. If so, call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and subscribe to a new package.
How to Choose the Right WiFi Extender/Booster for Your Home?
There are single and dual-band WiFi range extenders. Usually, a single band extender would be good enough to extend the coverage of your WiFi signal. Most of the WiFi range extenders work on the single 2.4GHz frequency spectrum. If you have a larger home with more than four rooms then a dual-band WiFi range extender can prove useful.
Pay attention to the WiFi standard used by your router. If your wireless router uses the current 802.11ac standard, you will want an extender that works on the same standard as well. Similarly, the range extender and the router belonging to the same manufacturer would work well together. This also depends on the frequency and standards as mentioned earlier. If the router works on 2.4GHz and 5GHz, an extender that works on the same frequencies and hailing from the same manufacturer would be ideal.
Some of our WiFi range extender recommendations include Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000, TP-Link RE650, and Asus RP-AC51.
Is there another Solution to Weak WiFi Signal?
The buzzword for homes with multiple internet devices is a mesh network. You probably might have heard of terms, Mesh WiFi or Whole Home WiFi systems being thrown around among your peers. They are designed to replace your router and extender setup with multiple discrete devices placed around your house that work in tandem to provide connectivity around the house.
Mesh WiFi consists of the main router that connects directly to your modem. This is connected to a series of satellite modules or nodes placed around your house for full WiFi coverage. These nodes are all part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password.
These nodes function as access points that are interconnected, and can wirelessly forward traffic around the network as needed. They all broadcast the same network name which makes it easier for all your devices like phones and tablets to utilize mesh access points according to their location. These individual units are all running the same software, and therefore can relay traffic much more intelligently.
Since these individual nodes are interconnected and contribute to seamless roaming, these systems are called mesh networks. These systems are useful for large homes and business enterprises and can be an effective replacement for router and extender combinations.
We hope this article helped you understand the difference between a WiFi Booster and a WiFi Extender. And, now that you are aware, you know what will work best for your home or office.
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