A Wi-Fi repeater extends the range of your network allowing you to work without limitations or interference. You can even use an outdoor wireless repeater to use your devices outdoors! Either way, these network repeaters are your best option when you cannot simply add additional routers to your network.
With a large room or building, a single router might not give you the wireless coverage you need to connect all your devices to your network. That is when you need a wireless repeater.
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What does a Wireless Repeater Do?
A Wi-Fi signal repeater acts as a relay system for your network. It takes your original wireless signal and amplifies it. It then retransmits the signal throughout your home or office. These devices can even relay each other’s signal giving you a quick and easy option to expand your network as you see fit.
On top of that, they do not need a direct connection to your router to work, making them highly placement flexible. You can place them anywhere you need them, provided you have an available electrical outlet.
The best WiFi Repeater is the only one that works best for your needs and budget. However, you need to know what is out there before you can buy one. The key is reading the fine details.
Wireless Network Repeater, Booster, or Extender?
Wireless repeaters are not your only option though. You have a wide range of Wi-Fi boosters, extenders, and repeaters at your disposal. These devices are mostly the same thing.
They improve your Wi-Fi coverage. Their differences are in how they go about doing that, even though there is not a clearly defined difference between what manufacturers called repeaters and what they call extenders.
Wireless boosters or amplifiers do just that. They amplify your signal. Generally, these devices go near your modem or router itself or are attached directly to it like a better antenna. A good booster can increase your signal strength up to 600%.
An extender is a standalone device that amplifies and retransmits your signal. They work like a network repeater except they create their own wireless network to do so. In other words, if your modem has the network name “MyNetwork-1”, an extender will rebrand itself as “MyNetwork-2”, and your wireless devices would have to switch networks when moving between them.
A Wi-Fi Signal Repeater Uses Your Original Network
A repeater retransmits your signal without changing the network. In other words, they act as remote booster antennas for your modem. At least, that is what they are supposed to do. In practice, most non-commercial units are just extenders in disguise.
The real repeaters are the expensive, top-of-the-line units you only see in specialty industrial electronics shops. If you can live with two or more network names, these cheap “repeaters” will do the trick. However, they are not the best option. That would be getting a true repeater.
Choose the Best WiFi Repeater for Your Needs by doing a Network Survey
Most wireless network repeater packages will give you two routers. One serves as your main router for the main signal. The other amplifies and retransmits it. You can also buy single-router repeater setups that will let you use your current equipment as is.
Either way, you want the repeater package that offers the power to reach the range and coverage you need.
First Conduct a Wi-Fi Survey with NetSpot
However, all that power would be worthless if you placed them in wrong location. That is why you should conduct a Wi-Fi survey to figure out your current Wi-Fi coverage.
A quick and efficient way to do such as survey is with our NetSpot app. NetSpot will reveal where you have signal interference, dead zones, and the prime locations for all your wireless networking devices.
A survey will not take long either. You can do it with any wireless Mac or Windows device with just a few clicks.
To do a Wi-Fi Survey, you just:
Load a map of your office floorplan or the desired coverage area into the app
With the app running, point to your current location on the map
Complete the survey by walking around your desired coverage area
Analyze the resultant Signal-to-Noise heatmap. The dark blue and purple spots are your coverage dead zones
Adjust the heatmap to find regions of interference
Reanalyze the data to find the network specifications and channels you need
With that, you are done. You can then print the results to a PDF file or analyze other locations around your office. In the end, you will have both the repeater power, location, and signal strength requirements you need.
The Top 5 WiFi Repeaters
After running NetSpot, you will have everything you need to evaluate the repeaters on the market and buy the best one for your situation.
To get you started here is the top 5 repeaters:
These five devices provide enough power and range to handle most networking jobs. They all offer 802.11 g/n range and 300 Mbps network speeds to give you signal ranges of 5,000-10,000 square feet of coverage. This lets then handle both small and large rooms with ease. You just place them in the position NetSpot gave you from your earlier Wi-Fi survey.
WiFi analyzer app runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10/11) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax wireless network adapter.
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A Wi-Fi signal repeater is added to a network to receive and pass on the data wirelessly. It receives the original signal sent by your router and passes the amplified signal on.
WiFi signal repeaters can even relay the signals from other WiFi repeaters, extending your network signal to the farthest corners of your home or office. WiFi signal repeaters can be placed anywhere at your convenience, provided they can be connected to an available electrical outlet.
The difference between WiFi repeaters, boosters and extenders is not a clear one. The aforementioned devices basically serve the same purpose. Wireless boosters and amplifiers boost and amplify your signal. They are usually installed near a modem or router or are even attached to one. A high-quality WiFi booster can yield an increase of signal strength of up to 600%.
A WiFi extender is a device installed farther away from a router that receives and retransmits the amplified signal from it. A WiFi extender renames the network as the signal travels from it. On the other hand, while essentially doing the same, WiFi repeaters do not rename the network, they rather act like remote booster antennas for your router or modem.
Buyer beware though — most non-commercial repeaters are just extenders in disguise. The real repeaters are expensive devices, but totally worth it.
Most wireless network repeater packages will give you two routers. One serves as your main router for the main signal. The other amplifies and retransmits it. You can also buy single-router repeater setups that will let you use your current equipment as is. Either way, you want the repeater package that offers the power to reach the range and coverage you need.
However, all that power would be worthless if you placed them in wrong location. That is why you should conduct a Wi-Fi survey to figure out your current Wi-Fi coverage. A quick and efficient way to do such as survey is with our NetSpot app. NetSpot will reveal where you have signal interference, dead zones, and the prime locations for all your wireless networking devices.
A survey will not take long either. You can do it with any wireless Mac or Windows device with just a few clicks. In the end, you will have both the repeater power, location, and signal strength requirements you need.
Here are the five powerful devices offering 802.11 g/n range and 300 Mbps network speeds, which should yield 5,000-10,000 square feet of coverage.
- Ubiquiti NanoStation loco M5
- Securifi Almond Touchscreen Wireless Router
- Netgear Nighthawk Wi-Fi Range Extender AC1900
- TP-LINK CPE510 High Power Outdoor CPE/Access Point
- TP-LINK TL-WPA4220KIT Wi-Fi Range Extender
If you want to get more information about Wi-Fi, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi Extenders, Boosters etc.