Best Netgear WiFi extenders to buy in 2018

Selecting the right Netgear WiFi Extender is made easier with NetSpot. It can help you find the weak spots in the network to help get every device connected.

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How To Set Up a Netgear WiFi Extender


Dead zones in ones house or business can be frustrating. Getting to the conference room and finding that people can’t connect to the WiFi network. Or that spot in the kitchen when we need to connect to display that video on how to make the best Macaroni and Cheese.

The solution would be to know just where the best places in the building are for connection, and which are the worst so we can find the best place to expand the reach of our network with a Netgear extender. Otherwise we’ll just be placing it in random places and hoping that it works.

The other issue is to decide what extenders to use. If there is just one dead zone in the network, then perhaps something like the Netgear AC750 will work just fine. But if there’s a large area where machines can’t connect, then something with a wider range might be better.

To get an accurate map of the WiFi signals through the building, we’ll use a WiFi analysis tool. The best tool for this is Netspot, which has a free version that can be downloaded at https://www.netspotapp.com/. It works with both Windows and Macs, so whatever the business or home use, we can get the best results for both platforms.

How Netgears Extenders Widen the Network


When we look at a map of our building, we can identify the dead spots where the network doesn’t quite cover. For example, connection might be great in the CEO’s office, but not so much in the secretaries office.

NetSpot

What a WiFi extender does is takes the signals from the WiFi, and acts as a bridge between the remote system and the machine. Think of it as a person standing between two friends on distant mountaintops, listening to the one shouting out, and then passing the message on to the other friend.

Netgear extenders work in the same way, only much more advanced than someone just shouting across mountaintops. They are capable of scanning multiple frequencies and channels, and depending on the model can tap into Ethernet networks as a method of providing more access to WiFi enabled devices in remote devices.

Each of the Netgear WiFi Extenders will come with standard features. They’ll include instructions on how to setup the Netgear WiFi extender, and will be able to connect to other Netgear devices to stretch the range of the WiFi signal. Typically they feature a browser based interface, so they are fairly operating system and computer platform independent.

If we’re using a computer that can already browser the Web, they can use the Netgear WiFi Extender Login system to select the WiFi network, set passwords, and other features.

There is a difference between a WiFi Router, and a WiFi Extender. A Router connect the WiFi network into the larger network — usually that being the local work network, or into a Cable Modem that connect the local network into the biggest network of all, the Internet. An Extender works to increase the range of an existing WiFi network into areas where it could not reach before.

A device such as the Netgear AC1200 Smart WiFi is a router with a long range — but it is not necessarily an extender like the AC1200 Dual Band WiFi Range Extender. It can be confusing between the different names, so make sure we’re getting the right device.

Picking the Right Extender


Picking the right WiFi extender is like picking the right car for the family or business. Most people wouldn’t buy an multi-ton 18 wheeler truck to go grocery shopping, and most lawn businesses wouldn’t get a 2 door coupe for loading up yard work machinery.

Here’s some tips for picking the right Netgear extender for our environment:

  1. The size of the location. The larger the location, the larger the extender will be needed. Or consider the use of multiple extenders for very large locations.

  2. Network Wiring: Many businesses have Ethernet wire run through the establishment. In a case like this, a WiFi extender that has Ethernet connections would be optimal to let the extended WiFi network to tap directly into the wired network.

  3. Building materials: The makeup of the building can affect the WiFi signals. Areas with large open spaces will be able to carry the radio signals father than a location with more steel frames or sections with a lot of other wiring or metal pipes.

  4. Other Wireless Devices: Wireless communication devices work via radio wave transmission. If one device is on the same signal as another, they can interfere with each other, and this can cause communication issues.

When determining what WiFi extender to use, it’s a good idea to make a map of the location. As mentioned earlier, a tool like NetSpot can show a “heat map” of what networks can be detected, and how strong they are. NetSpot can detect all of the signals from different WiFi networks, and help find those dead spots where doing the Netgear WiFi extender setup will do the best.

The Best Netgear Extenders


Once we have our mapping and environmental details set, we can decide what kind of Netgear WiFi extender would work best in our environment. Here’s a list and what features they include:

Netgear N300 Wifi Range Extender
  • Extends 2.4 GHz WiFi signal in a small area
  • Connects 1 wired device via Ethernet

Netgear N300 Wifi Range Extender

Netgear AC1200 WiFi Range Extender
  • Supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi signals
  • Connects 5 wired devices via Ethernet
  • Supports WPS Push and Connect

Netgear AC1200 WiFi Range Extender

AC1200 WiFi Range Extender - Essentials Edition
  • Like it’s big brother the AC1200, supports 2.4 GHz and 5GHz wifi connections
  • No USB connectors
  • 1 Ethernet port

AC1200 WiFi Range Extender - Essentials Edition

Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender
  • Supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi Signal
  • Allows for 1 Ethernet device to connect to the WiFi network
  • No USB ports

Netgear AC750 Wifi Range Extender

As we can see, there’s several different options depending on what we’re trying to connect, and where we’re trying to connect it at. For the best results, make sure that we fit our network connection needs with what our budget.

Netgear Wifi Extender Setup


To select the best Netgear WiFi range extender for our network, we need to consider a few things:

  • What are the dead zones in the network
  • What devices are going to be connected
  • What kind of WiFi network do we have (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz? Is it a a/c/n network?)

First, we should discover what areas in our environment are having connection issues. Using a tool like NetSpot can map out where the signal is the strongest, and what sections are the weakest. Registered users can use NetSpot’s “Heat Map” feature, which shows a geographical map of network strength over an area.

For example, this heat map of one coworking space shows that the WiFi connection is stronger on the right side of the coworking (where the map is more green), but lower in the middle and on the left side (where the map is more blue):

NetSpot map Signal Level

Once we’ve identified the areas where a signal is weakest, we should see what kind of devices we’ll be using in that area. If it is a living room of the residence with just a Smart TV or a place where we use a tablet to access books or videos via a slower connection, then the N300 might be sufficient.

However, this is an office environment, and there are several PCs that don’t have any WiFi capability, and only use Ethernet ports. In this case, the AC1200 would be the better choice with its multiple Ethernet ports and enhanced WiFi multiband capability.

Getting complete coverage of a building’s WiFi network can be a challenge. But by picking the right device for the right places, we can get everything working in harmony.


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