By Trae Jacobs,
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Electricity. Telephone. Steam engine. Television. The Internet. These were all society-changing inventions at their time and for a long time after until the next iteration came along. The internet is undoubtedly top of the recent list and powering the modern internet is often a strong WiFi network. WiFi routers, though, often are limited in their range and thus the WiFi extender was born. But how far can a WiFi extender be from the router?
Generally speaking, the WiFi extender can be 100 to 400 feet from the router. This will depend on a few factors, namely, your WiFi network itself, the layout of your home, the type of extender you have, and the positioning of these devices within your home. Placing your router in a central location will allow you to get the most out of your extender.
A common mistake made when buying a WiFi extender is assuming that it will automatically give you the same speed your router does no matter where it is placed. This is unfortunately not true; the extender will undoubtedly bring higher speed to areas of your home where the network is slow, however, the best speed is always closest to the router. Therefore, it is essential to know where the best place to put your router is to start.
Deciding the Best Location for the WiFi Router Itself
Now that you know the best speed is always closest to the router it is important to place the router strategically so all areas of your home have the best coverage. Here are some common examples:
- 2 story home with a finished basement. In this setup, with the router on the first floor, both the second floor and the basement receive relatively equal performance.
- 1 story home with a finished basement. The router can be placed in either the basement or the floor above.
- Apartment or condo with 1 or 2 stories and no finished basement. The router can be placed on either floor.
- A studio apartment will likely not need a WiFi extender due to the overall size of the apartment.
Deciding where to place the router in these scenarios will help you determine where you need a WiFi range extender. In most examples above, the extender can be placed simply on the floor opposite of where the router is to expand WiFi coverage. In the first scenario, multiple extenders can be used where one is placed on the top floor and another in the basement to extend range. You will still not get the same speed as near your router but it should be greatly improved.
WiFi Router and Extender Compatibility
Not all WiFi extenders will be compatible with the range needs of your router. There is nothing more frustrating than purchasing a product, bringing it home, and realizing it will not work for your setup. You are likely shopping for an extender because the setup of your home is such that you have dead spots, after all! When shopping for extenders, be sure to check the expected range of coverage as some of them may not meet your needs.
The modern home is powered by many smart home devices. Streaming video is replacing traditional cable television and more consumers are opting for smartphone-only homes instead of landlines. All of this can be hampered greatly by a poor WiFi network. Imagine your favorite show continuing to cut out while you watch it. Also, you would not want your new Echo Show to be glitchy because it is too far from the router or extenders!
Strategies for Placing your Extender Devices
A critical consideration is the size of your floors and the distance between them; if the distance between the router and any of the extenders exceeds 300-400 feet there is a strong likelihood the extender will not noticeably improve your WiFi coverage. If this is the case in your home, place one extender about 100-200 feet away from the router and then another one about 100-200 feet from that.
The concept of using multiple extenders is sometimes referred to as a “mesh network” because the extenders work together with the router to spread the internet throughout the home. This is an ideal setup in larger homes where either you have multiple floors to spread coverage or in other sized homes where the layout is such that there is a long distance between rooms in the home. If you search for “mesh network” on the internet you can find a few products that fit this profile.
A WiFi extender can generally be placed 100-400 feet from the router but this will not always guarantee great internet coverage in all areas of your home. Understanding the distance between areas you want internet coverage along with compatibility between extenders and your router is critical to deciding the best product to purchase for your home.