Finding the best wi fi range extender is not a daunting challenge. You need to familiarize yourself with the specifications and determine what would suit the requirements of your home or business.
This is a comprehensive guide shedding light on the common features and how you should approach assessing them as there are several types of extenders out there.
Compatibility of Wi-Fi Router and Extender
The first factor to consider is compatibility.
The Wi-Fi range extender has to be compatible with the Wi-Fi router you have at home or office.
The earliest globally accepted standard for Wi-Fi was IEEE 802.11.
This was way back in the nineties, predating the dot-com bubble.
Today, you are likely to come across plenty of variants of the original.
To give you an idea, there are IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n and IEEE 802.11ac.
If you are using the original router or one of the three subsequent generations, then you should consider upgrading your router before you start looking for the best Wi fi range extender.
State of the art range extenders are usually backward compatible, but most will limit their specs to work with IEEE 802.11n, no further back.
Compatibility is the key here because you don’t want to buy an extender that would not work with your router.
Also, you don’t want an extender capable of facilitating impeccable network coverage and super fast speeds when your router cannot assure either.
An extender will not produce any new signals or facilitate a faster speed that is not already provided by the router.
Single Band is Obsolete
The original IEEE 802.11 is obsolete. It was a single-band router. The IEEE 802.11n standard brought with it the support for dual-band.
Dual-band routers cover a range from 2.4GHz to 5GHz. The former has a much longer range, affecting coverage.
The latter facilitates much better speeds. You should go for a dual-band extender. Do not consider a single-band extender at all.
If you don’t have a dual-band router in the first place, consider changing that before you buy an extender.
The Best Wi Fi Range Extender should have State of the Art Security
There are certain security standards for Wi-Fi networks, including routers and adapters, extenders and repeaters among others.
The security is essentially about encryption.
While all wireless networks can be password protected or be made accessible to anyone in range, it is actually the encryption that matters.
You should look for the most state of the art Wi-Fi Protected Access version, abbreviated as WPA.
WPA2-PSK (AES) offers impeccable security.
You may find security jargon such as WPA, WEP, WPA2, and WPS in the product description, label or on the package of Wi-Fi extenders.
Look for extenders having all four of these.
Design and Features
Compatibility, dual-band support and security are essential specs.
They are non-negotiable and not subject to personal preferences or opinions.
The other aspects are of course subjective. The design for instance or additional features, these will be completely up to you.
Some people like large extenders while some prefer tiny ones. Some have no issues with plastic extenders, some expect a better material.
There are different types of display and methods of installation. The number of antennas would vary as well.
Additional features of extenders could include Ethernet ports, an extension for television or video gaming console, audio streaming capability and ports for headphones or speakers.
Focus on the method of installation, how easy it is to connect, the ports you need and durability or physicality of the device.
You don’t want a fragile piece or one that looks completely out of place.
Cost of the Best Wi Fi Range Extender
There are extenders priced below fifty bucks.
These are functional but they are not very reliable, neither from the perspective of coverage nor considering the speed they facilitate.
If you want a really good wireless internet range extender, then you should spend closer to a hundred bucks.
Some of the fancier extenders cost around a hundred fifty.
You don’t need to go so high. Focus on the specs and features. The price should not dictate your choice.
You will not be able to make a purely technical choice if you are influenced by the cost.