Which is better WiFi extender or booster?

A WiFi extender and a WiFi booster are both devices that help improve your wireless network coverage in areas where the WiFi signal is weak or nonexistent. But which one is the better choice for your home? This comprehensive guide examines the key differences between WiFi extenders and boosters to help you decide.

Which is better WiFi extender or booster?

How WiFi Extenders Work

A WiFi extender, sometimes called a wireless range extender, helps expand your WiFi network coverage by receiving the existing signal, amplifying it, and then transmitting the boosted signal further into areas that were previously unreachable.

WiFi extenders connect to your router wirelessly to access the internet. They then create a new WiFi hotspot using the same network name and password as your main router network. This allows devices to automatically join the stronger signal as you move around the house.

Benefits of Extenders

  • Inexpensive – Basic WiFi extenders start around $20. More advanced models with extra features cost up to $100.
  • Easy to install – Just plug them in and connect to existing network. Useful setup wizards guide you through.
  • Small and portable – Great for using in remote rooms, garages, or even outdoors on the patio.

Drawbacks of Extenders

  • Can cut bandwidth in half for connected devices since all traffic is relayed via the extender.
  • May struggle with streaming HD video or games due to bandwidth constraints.
  • Have to reconnect when moving out of range of the extender’s new network.
  • Not secure – Extender networks are as safe as your main one.

How WiFi Boosters Work

Rather than extending the network as a repeater, a WiFi booster captures the weak WiFi signals from your router and retransmits them at a much higher power level. This helps improve the signal strength in areas that were getting poor or intermittent coverage.

WiFi boosters connect directly to your wireless router via an Ethernet cable or coaxial cable. No new network is created. Your devices simply see an enhanced version of the existing WiFi network name when in range.

Benefits of Boosters

  • Faster speeds – No bandwidth splitting like with extenders.
  • Stable connectivity – Avoid drops from moving out of range of the extended network.
  • Easy setup – Often just two cables to connect. Some models are wireless.
  • Works with all devices – No reconnects needed when roaming areas of home.

Drawbacks of Boosters

  • More expensive – Starts around $70. High-end models exceed $200.
  • Must be placed within range of router’s WiFi signal. Not as flexible about location.
  • Still need to purchase additional satellite units for whole home coverage.

Key Differences Between Extenders and Boosters

WiFi Extenders WiFi Boosters
How They Work Capture WiFi signals and rebroadcast them further using a new network. Amplify weak router signals to expand coverage, no new network created.
Setup Difficulty Very Easy Easy
Purchase Cost $ Cheap $$ Moderate
Internet Speeds Cut in Half Very Fast
Ideal Locations Remote rooms, yard, garage Centered locations in home
Access Point Roaming Must Reconnect Automatic

What is the Best Option for Better Whole Home WiFi?

For delivering strong, reliable WiFi coverage to every part of your home, a mesh WiFi system is the best solution. Mesh networks use multiple access points placed throughout the home to create one unified network.

Mesh WiFi kits start around $200 for a 2-pack router and satellite. Models from eero, Google Nest, Netgear Orbi, and Linksys Velop are top recommended systems for blanket coverage without any dead zones or speed degradation.

Advanced mesh routers have useful features like built-in security, robust parental controls, and easy configuration. With mesh WiFi, all connected devices automatically switch connections to the closest satellite as you walk from room to room. No reconnects needed.

Takeaways

  • WiFi extenders and boosters both help enlarge wireless coverage, but work differently. Extenders create new networks while boosters enhance your existing one.
  • Extenders are generally cheaper and more flexible to position, but can slow down speeds. Boosters are faster but more expensive and location-dependent.
  • For whole home coverage, mesh WiFi systems are the best choice. Mesh routers blanket rooms with strong signals without speed loss or constant reconnects as you roam.

Conclusion

When choosing between a WiFi extender and booster, consider your budget, house layout, and needed internet speeds. Extenders provide inexpensive but slower expanded coverage best for remote rooms. Boosters deliver faster but limited amplification for centered home locations. For seamless roaming and full WiFi coverage in every room, mesh networking is the top solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between a WiFi extender and repeater?
    WiFi extenders and repeaters work the same way – capturing weak WiFi signals and rebroadcasting them further. The terms are used interchangeably.
  2. Should I get a dual band or single band WiFi extender?
    Dual band extenders supporting both 2.4GHz and 5GHz are preferred. They provide faster top speeds and less interference than single band models.
  3. Do WiFi boosters require an Ethernet connection?
    Some boosters connect via Ethernet to your wireless router while others work over coaxial cable or wirelessly. Check your booster model for setup requirements.
  4. Is a WiFi booster the same as a signal amplifier?
    Yes. WiFi boosters and signal amplifiers both amplify weak wireless signals from your router to expand coverage. The terms refer to the same type of product.
  5. What is a good range for a WiFi extender?
    Quality WiFi extenders can broadcast a strong boosted signal between 100 to 300 feet from the base unit. Positioning, building materials, and interference will affect usable range.
  6. Should I get a WiFi extender or additional router?
    Unless your home is very large, a strategically positioned WiFi extender is typically cheaper and easier than installing a second wireless router.
  7. Do WiFi boosters work outside?
    Some boosters can help amplify weak WiFi signals at short distances outside. But for the stable connections needed for outdoor streaming, a weatherproof outdoor access point is recommended instead.
  8. How many WiFi boosters do I need?
    For a typical home, one well-positioned WiFi booster is usually sufficient to amplify weak spots. Larger homes may benefit from a multi-point booster kit or upgrading to a mesh network.
  9. What is the best booster for 5GHz WiFi?
    Look for a dual or tri-band WiFi booster supporting 5GHz signals. Top-rated models from manufacturers like Netgear, Linksys, and TP-Link include 5GHz boosting capabilities.
  10. Do WiFi boosters slow down Internet speeds?
    A good WiFi booster will amplify signals while maintaining full wireless speeds. But an underpowered or outdated booster can struggle and slow speeds. Check booster reviews to compare internet speed impacts.
  11. Should I get a WiFi extender or mesh network?
    Mesh systems are better for whole home coverage, but WiFi extenders provide cheaper targeted signal improvement. Use extenders for remote rooms and mesh for property-wide fast reliable connections.
  12. What is better than a WiFi booster?
    Mesh WiFi systems that use multiple access points to blanket a home with strong signals usually provide faster and more stable connections than a single WiFi booster.
  13. Will a WiFi extender work through floors?
    WiFi extenders can effectively broadcast boosted signals between floors, but performance depends on building materials. Try positioning the extender in a central area of the home for best multi-floor coverage.
  14. Do WiFi boosters need electricity?
    Yes. WiFi signal boosters must be plugged into a power outlet to operate. Battery powered WiFi boosters are not practical due to the electricity required to generate amplified wireless signals.
  15. Should I turn off main router with WiFi booster?
    No. Disable WiFi on your main router only if your booster connects wirelessly to avoid interference. Boosters that connect via Ethernet or coax work alongside the existing router WiFi.
  16. Where should I place my WiFi extender?
    The ideal WiFi extender placement depends on your home layout. Set it halfway between your router and the weak coverage area. Avoid putting it right next to the router or blocking signals with objects.
  17. How close should a WiFi repeater be?
    Position your WiFi repeater (extender) within 25 to 50 feet from the router for best performance. Place it where weak signals can reach but not so far that the repeater can’t transmit boosted signals back.
  18. Can I use a WiFi booster as an extender?
    Standalone WiFi boosters are only designed to amplify router signals not extend coverage. You can pair some boosters with special companion extenders, but range may be limited compared to a true extender.
  19. Do WiFi boosters work with all routers?
    Most WiFi boosters are universal and improve signals from any wireless router or access point brand. But some proprietary boosters are tuned specifically to work only with the same manufacturer router models.

Leave a Comment