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There’s few things more frustrating when it comes to internet access than losing your Wi-Fi connection every time you enter that one part of your home, despite paying such a high internet bill each month. No matter how fast the speeds are in the rest of the house, a Wi-Fi connection just can’t reach that one room, area or entire floor. If this sounds familiar, then you probably need a Wi-Fi extender.
What is a Wi-Fi extender?
Think of a Wi-Fi extender, also known as a Wi-Fi booster, as a second router for your home. A Wi-Fi extender is a device that connects to your router (either wirelessly or through a wired connection) to extend your Wi-Fi connection to the parts of your home that are currently Wi-Fi dead zones. A certain part of the home may be unable to connect to the Wi-Fi due to walls, furniture obstructions or distance from the router. A Wi-Fi extender would be placed in those Wi-Fi dead zones in order to increase Wi-Fi coverage throughout the house.
Our methodology: How we chose the best Wi-Fi extenders for 2021
The three Wi-Fi extenders we selected for our list of top Wi-Fi extenders were broken into three categories: best overall, best for budgeters and highest quality. We looked at a wide range of Wi-Fi extenders because not every customer has the same needs for internet access or Wi-Fi coverage. If you have a 100 Mbps plan and need a Wi-Fi extender to reach an extra room or two, for instance, there is no need to buy the highest quality Wi-Fi extender available. Similarly, if you have a Gig speed plan, a larger home and multiple devices connected at a time, choosing the cheapest Wi-Fi extender would not be the wisest move. For that reason, we created a list of the best Wi-Fi extenders based on value instead of overall performance.
If you are interested in purchasing a Wi-Fi extender, then you will want to consider several factors when choosing the right one for your needs. We have simplified the process for you by generating a list of the three best Wi-Fi extenders that cater to different consumer needs. Therefore, regardless of what type of Wi-Fi extender you are looking for, there is bound to be a great option for you on this list. We researched eight of the best-selling Wi-Fi extenders and narrowed this list down to our top 3, based on the following factors:
- Supported speeds
- Features (antenna types, number of bands, etc.)
- Specific customer reviews
- What it’s best for: budgets, speeds, range, setup, etc.
The 3 best Wi-Fi extenders of 2021
Best overall Wi-Fi extender: TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE450)
- Max speeds: 1,750 Mbps
- 2,000 sq. ft. coverage
- Can connect up to 32 devices at a time
- 3 adjustable antennas
- Under $60
- Compatible with any router or gateway (router/modem combo) device
The TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender is the best option for most households looking for a Wi-Fi extender. At $59.99 on Amazon, this Wi-Fi extender is an amazing deal when it comes to supported speeds, Wi-Fi coverage and bandwidth. Unless you have Xfinity’s 2 Gig internet plan, this Wi-Fi extender is more than capable of supporting your internet speed plan. Another major benefit of the TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi extender is that setup is incredibly easy. This extender comes with a smart indicator light on its side that indicates the best location in your house for setup. This ensures that you are able to maximize the coverage of your Wi-Fi extender so that speed and reliability in your home are the best they can be. The TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi extender is also unique because it has three antennas on top that you can adjust to get the best Wi-Fi coverage possible in your desired direction.
The TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi extender has over 26,000 reviews on Amazon with over 50% of reviers rating the device 5 stars. The average score is 4 out of 5 stars. This extender ranks best for “easy to use” and “quality of material.”
Best Budget Wi-fi extender: TP-Link AC750 WiFi Extender (RE220)
- Max speeds: 750 Mbps
- 1,200 sq. ft. coverage
- Can connect up to 20 devices at a time
- Under $30
- Compatible with any router or gateway (router/modem combo) device
The TP-Link AC750 WiFi Extender (RE220) is one of the least expensive Wi-Fi extenders available at $26.99, yet still a great option if you need a slight boost in Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home. This Wi-Fi extender is ideal if you have a plan of 500 Mbps or below and don’t need too much extra Wi-Fi coverage since the TP-Link AC750’s max range is 1,200 sq. ft. Therefore, if you have a room or two, or a backyard you want to boost your Wi-Fi coverage for, this is the Wi-Fi extender for you.
The TP-Link AC750 extender has over 65,000 reviews on Amazon and has an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars, with over 50% of reviewers rating it 5 stars. This TP-Link AC750 extender’s best rating categories include “easy to install” and “Wi-Fi signal.”
Best quality Wi-Fi extender: NETGEAR WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX7700
- Max speeds: 2,200 Mbps
- Coverage up to 2,300 sq. ft.
- Can connect up to 45 devices at a time
- Under $175
- Compatible with any router or gateway (router/modem combo) device
The Netgear WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX7700 is a great option if you live in a larger household and have a gig speed internet plan. It’s also a great option if you like to stream from multiple devices at a time and live game frequently. This is one of the higher quality and more expensive Wi-Fi extenders at $153.99, so it’s only worth purchasing if you have these speed and coverage needs; otherwise, you are better off going with a less expensive Wi-Fi extender.
The Netgear Wi-Fi extender has over a thousand reviews on Amazon, with 60% of reviewers rating this product 5 stars. The average rating is 4 out of 5 stars and its top-rated categories include “easy to use” and “versatility.” This means if you have a wide range of uses for a Wi-Fi extender (lots of floors and rooms to boost Wi-Fi coverage in) and want a device that has intuitive and easy to use features, the Netgear extender is a great option for you.
3 reasons to consider a Wi-Fi extender for your home
1. The second floor lacks internet
You picked the perfect, inconspicuous location to install a wireless router: downstairs in the family room on the entertainment center. But as anyone in an upstairs bedroom discovered, the walls and physical distance between the router and the people using it is too much.
Think vertically when it comes to the spaces where you’re looking to add coverage. Install a Wi-Fi extender in the upstairs room that’s closest to being directly above where the router is located.
For instance, if your daughter’s bedroom is directly above the family room where the router is located, plug the wireless extender into one of the outlets in that room rather than in the master bedroom down the hallway. The strong signal received close to the router will easily bounce coverage to the other upstairs Wi-Fi users.
2. Multiple users mean slow loading times
If you’re finding that your home’s internet connection diminishes as more people come home and log on to the network, an extender can help them to access the network no matter where they are in the home. Just make sure that you’re using the most current iteration of Wi-Fi range extender technology. You may also be inclined to get a stronger home Wi-Fi plan.
It’s key that you use a dual-band Wi-Fi extender as the older, single-band extenders can actually slow down internet speeds as they attempt to provide a signal across great distances.
3. The Wi-Fi doesn’t reach outside
In the summer, we love spending as much time as possible outdoors, even if that time has to be spent catching up on some work. If your internet provider is reliable and your monthly plan isn’t limited by bandwidth caps, you should be able to move small distances from the router, like the back porch or deck, and still enjoy connectivity.
Whenever you install a wireless router at home, it’s best to place it in a location with as few physical impediments as possible. Limit the number of walls and barricades the signal has to cross.
When it comes to extending that signal into a nearby outdoor spot, place the Wi-Fi extender in a room with an outdoor access point. Follow all the same rules of keeping the signal as unobstructed as possible.
How to set up your Wi-Fi extender
The technology for Wi-Fi extenders has improved considerably in the past few years, making setup a whole lot easier than what it used to be.
- First, finding the ideal location for your extender is a much simpler process now since there is a small light on most devices that will turn on when you have reached the optimal location to set up your extender.
- Secondly, pairing your extender to your router is often now as easy as clicking two buttons.
- Next, you have to create a name for your Wi-Fi extended network and create a password for it. There is usually an app you can download to make this process even more seamless.
- Then you’re done with the set-up process!
Desktop vs. Plug-in Wi-Fi extender
We have included two different types of Wi-Fi extenders: desktop and plug-in. The TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE450) and the Netgear WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX7700, for instance, are desktop extenders. The P-Link AC750 WiFi Extender (RE220), on the other hand, is a type of plug-in extender.
The main differences between a desktop and plug-in extender have to do with added features and pricing. While the desktop extender resembles a router device almost exactly, the plug-in extender looks more like a plug-in air freshener than anything else. A desktop router is likely to have more features on it than a plug-in router, such as adjustable antennas, multiple Ethernet ports for plugging in game consoles and streaming players or USB ports for plugging in storage drives or printers. While a plug-in Wi-Fi extender will not have all of these added features due to its size, it looks more discreet and tends to be less expensive.
Need a faster internet plan?
If you aren’t receiving your desired speeds anywhere in your home, then you will likely want to upgrade your plan or switch providers. A Wi-Fi extender will not be able to increase your speeds above your speed plan. Check out our internet provider page for more information.
The bottom line
If you have any Wi-Fi dead zones in your home or if you want to be able to connect more devices to the Wi-Fi at a time, then a Wi-Fi extender will be a great investment for you. This is a much more cost-efficient and effective way to boost your Wi-Fi coverage compared to increasing speed plans. The type of Wi-Fi extender you should buy will depend on your speed plan, size of your home and use for your Wi-Fi extender. It’s also important to know that if you are not receiving the speeds you need anywhere in your home regardless of how many devices are connected to the Wi-Fi, you will also want to increase your speed plan.
Common Wi-Fi extender FAQ’s
You may see devices marketed as “Wi-Fi repeater” or “Wi-Fi booster” as well. Essentially, they are the same — they all work to strengthen and increase the range of your wireless signal. However, they work in slightly different ways.
- Wi-Fi extender – This device works by grabbing the existing wireless signal then re-broadcasting it on a different channel. Since it can connect to your modem and router via a coaxial cable or Ethernet cord, there’s a lower chance of interference. This means you’ll have a strong Wi-Fi connection in other areas of your home.
- Wi-Fi repeater – These first-generation extenders work the same way by grabbing the existing signal and rebroadcasting it. However, since it connects to your router wirelessly on the same frequency, you’ll only get half of the available bandwidth resulting in higher latency.
- Wi-Fi booster – This is just another name for all Wi-Fi extenders and Wi-Fi repeaters.
The efficiency of your Wi-Fi extender depends on the placement of your device and the reliability of your internet connection. Some major providers like Cox Communications even recommend an extender as a quick and easy way to broaden the range of your signal.
If you want every part of your home, even including your outdoor space, to offer Wi-Fi access, then a Wi-Fi extender is exactly what you need. A Wi-Fi extender is the most cost-efficient way to connect your entire home to Wi-Fi and allow a higher number of people to connect to the Wi-Fi without buffering issues. In addition to allowing more devices to connect to the Wi-Fi at a time and allowing people with larger homes to connect all rooms to the internet, a Wi-Fi extender can also help heavy internet users, such as those interested in live gaming, receive a more reliable connection.
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Written by:Ari Howard
Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content
Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content
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