A WiFi booster, also known as a wireless range extender, can help amplify your router’s signal strength to eliminate dead zones and improve wireless coverage in all areas of your home.
There are several types of boosters available for purchase depending on your needs:
- WiFi repeater – Receives and rebroadcasts signals from your router
- Wireless access point – Creates a new WiFi hotspot using a wired backhaul
- WiFi extender – Connects to your router and rebroadcasts the signal
- Signal booster – Bi-directional amplifier placed near your router
When choosing a WiFi booster, consider factors like your home’s size and layout, construction materials, number of dead zones, needed range, number of clients, and budget. Table 1 compares different options.
Table 1: WiFi Booster Comparison
|Ease of Use
|Cut in half
|Wireless Access Point
|Cut in half
Where you place the booster also impacts performance:
- Centrally located between router and device dead zones
- Avoid obstacles like walls and metal objects
- Elevated location improves signal dispersion
- WiFi boosters can eliminate dead zones and improve in-home signal strength
- Consider home layout, construction, budget to choose best option
- Placement plays vital role in booster’s wireless coverage
Pros of Buying a WiFi Booster
Below are the key benefits of purchasing your own WiFi booster:
- Increases range – Eliminates dead zones in rooms router can’t reach alone
- Speeds up bandwidth – More consistent speeds for stable connections
- Reduces buffering – Stream videos and music without annoying pauses
- Improves streaming – Binge watch shows with fewer interruptions
- Expands coverage – Extends WiFi to backyards, patios, and garages
- Creates access points – Lets you add WiFi hotspots where needed
- No rental fees – More cost effective long-term versus renting from ISP
- Easy to install – Typically just need to plug in and connect to router
Cons of Buying a WiFi Booster
There are also some downsides to purchasing your own WiFi range extender:
- Upfront cost – Prices range from $50 to over $200
- Potential interference – Poor quality boosters can degrade network performance
- Ongoing power need – Requires continuous electrical outlet access
- Extra step – Have to set up admin access through browser portal
- Split speeds – Bandwidth shared between router and booster connected devices
- Clutter – Additional gadget and wires impact room aesthetics
Tips for Purchasing a Booster
Follow these tips for choosing the right WiFi enhancer:
- Verify router supports boosters – Newer models have improved compatibility
- Select reputable electronics brands – Reliability very important
- Check for sufficient antenna range – Match booster specs to coverage area needed
- Consider dual band 2.4GHz vs 5GHz – 5GHz faster but poorer obstacle penetration
- Weigh throughput rate needs – Speed requirements essential for 4K streaming vs basic web surfing
- Compare wired vs wireless uplink options – Wired backhaul maintains fastest speeds
- Check number of ethernet ports – Allows connecting wired devices into booster
Optimizing Booster Placement
Proper placement plays a key role in your booster’s WiFi amplification capabilities:
Figure 1: Recommended Booster Placement
- Set up in area overlapping router’s range and your device’s location
- Adjust antenna orientation targeting dead zone areas
- Keep away from metal objects that can cause interference
- Position higher up to facilitate wider broadcast dispersion
Try testing in different locations and directions while monitoring signal strength.
Purchasing a WiFi booster is an affordable way to extend your router’s wireless coverage throughout the home. Evaluate your needs and home layout to determine which option best suits your environment. Strategically place the booster to centralize it between your devices and router while minimizing obstructions. With improved signal strength from an added booster, you can eliminate frustrations from dead zones and unreliable connectivity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to 20 common questions about buying a WiFi booster:
- Do WiFi boosters actually work?
Yes, WiFi boosters work very effectively to increase signal range which allows you to get online from more areas in your home without slow speeds or dropping connections.
- Does a WiFi booster reduce speed?
Boosters can maintain maximum router speeds if positioned correctly to avoid interference. WiFi extenders cut speeds in half since bandwidth is shared between router and booster networks.
- How far can a WiFi booster reach?
WiFi boosters can extend signal range from a router by up to an additional 5,000 square feet depending on model, providing improved coverage across even very large homes.
- Is a WiFi repeater the same as a booster?
WiFi repeaters function similarly to boosters by receiving and rebroadcasting signals from the router to areas it can’t reach on its own. Key difference is better models have extra capability to amplify signal strength.
- Should my booster have the same SSID?
Matching your router and booster’s network names or SSIDs allows devices to automatically switch between networks as you move around the house while providing a seamless connected experience.
- Where is the best place to put my booster?
Centrally located between your router and device dead zones in an elevated, open location minimizes obstructions. Face/adjust antennas towards problem coverage areas.
- Do I need an extender if I buy a booster?
WiFi boosters have built-in extending capabilities so you do not need both items. An extender only expands signal reach but cannot amplify wifi strength like a booster.
- Can I use a 5GHz booster on a 2.4GHz network?
You need to match the wireless frequency band supported by both your router and booster. 2.4GHz offers longer range while 5GHz is faster so choose based on your coverage vs performance needs.
- What reduces WiFi booster speed?
Obstructions like walls/floors, interference from electronics, an overloaded network with too many devices connected, improperly positioned antennas, outdated firmware, and cheap lower quality boosters can all impact speeds.
- How many devices can connect to a booster?
Most WiFi boosters support connecting 5-15 devices depending on memory capacity. Additional connected devices share the bandwidth which can slow speeds.
- 11. Why is my booster not working?
If your booster has power but cannot connect devices, verify router and booster use different channels, update firmware, reposition away from interference, reset to factory settings or replace booster if faulty.
- Will a VPN slow down my booster?
Connecting through a VPN adds encryption processing which can reduce WiFi speeds. High-performance routers and boosters help minimize impact but you may notice slower bandwidth depending on VPN service used.
- Can I use a WiFi 6 router with WiFi 5 booster?
You can combine WiFi 6 routers with WiFi 5/4 boosters for wider back compatibility but maximum network speeds are limited to the lower WiFi 5 standards.
- How do I troubleshoot booster connection issues?
First reboot router and booster then ensure proper positioning to router and client devices. Check admin console for firmware updates, verify security matches router exactly, and reset to factory defaults. Replace if still not functioning.
- Do I still need a router if I have a booster?
Yes, the router connects to your modem and internet provider. The WiFi booster only extends wireless coverage, does not provide actual internet connectivity like a router.
- Can I use my neighbor’s WiFi with my booster?
No, WiFi boosters must connect directly to your own wireless router or access point broadcasting its signal, not a third party WiFi source. Using someone else’s internet without permission is prohibited.
- Can I increase booster antenna strength?
Replacing built-in antennas with higher gain directional antenna upgrades can further amplify signal power. Professional installation is recommended to evaluate location specs and optimize positioning.
- Where should I place multiple boosters?
When adding more than one booster for very large homes, place them in a honeycomb pattern with ideal overlap between boosted networks. Avoid installing side-by-side which causes signal interference.
- What is the easiest WiFi booster to setup?
WiFi extenders are the easiest to install – just plug into outlet midway between router and device dead spot, connect to existing network and that’s it. Good option for beginners wanting a fast simple setup.
- Can I use a WiFi booster for gaming?
Definitely, with the benefit there is no cable length limit on console placement relative to the router location. Correctly positioned, WiFi boosters provide low latency and reliable connectivity essential for streaming and competitive online gaming.