How do WiFi signal extenders work?
Wireless signal extenders, commonly known as repeaters, are often misunderstood and while they can help a network greatly they also have there limitations.
Here we explore the basic topics and capabilities of WiFi extenders.
What is a WiFi signal?
WiFi signals are nothing more than small wireless radio transmissions that work the same as any wireless signal such as the radio in your car.
The difference is that a WiFi signal has protocols that allows it to transmit data instead of music.
Another big difference is the power, WiFi signal broadcasting is limited by the FCC.
While an ordinary radio station can broadcast a wireless signal at 50,000 watt, WiFi devices or other routers can transmit is 30 dBm which is roughly 1 watt. This has reason: if everyone could broadcast a high power signal, than the strongest one would overpower and hinder other signals in its range.
Keep in mind this also includes devices that transmit back to a router such as phones or laptops.
Even if a router sends out a very powerful signal other devices may not be able to transmit back unless they are equipped with a powerful transmitter.
E.g. a car radio can pick up a transmission up but would not be able to transmit back.
How can WiFi extenders help?
An extender can take a weak signal and give it a boost, this makes it an ideal tool in many situations.
For example a home that has dead spots can fix this problem by strategically placing a WiFi extender in the right location. Large homes can use more than one to cover the entire space.
Remember the signal is still necessary and the extender must be within the range of the router.
How to buy the right extender for your network
There are many wireless protocols that are given a number called 802.11.
Here are the main standards used:
There are 2 transmission frequencies, 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
If you are not familiar with protocols and frequencies than the simplest way to buy a extender is to buy a dual band AC unit.
Dual band units transmit on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies which make them able to fit into most any network.
WiFi protocols are backward compatible with older protocols so a new 802.11ac or AC extender will also fit for most networks.
Here is and example of a popular dual band 802.11ac WiFi extender that will fit into almost any home network.
If your home wireless network is lacking and needs a boost, then a extender is a good cheap way to solve the problem.
For those who are very far from a router, running a ethernet cable would be a better option.
Every situation is different and things greatly depend on how far a signal needs to go.
WiFi extenders also come in many shapes and sizes, sometimes with large antennas to help extend the range.
Advice: make sure to read some reviews to see which unit can be the best for you.
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