WiFi is pretty much an essential part of our lives now. It’s almost everywhere. Even in those few places where it’s not, we expect it to be available.
Perhaps most frustrating is spotty WiFi coverage, like when you’re just on the fringe of WiFi range. Sometimes it’s fine. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to be there at all.
Here are five things you can do to extend WiFi range in your home or small office.
1. Relocate your router
This typically works best when your router is more toward one end of your home or office and the spotty coverage area is at the other end. Moving the router to a more central location in your space will spread the coverage more evenly
2. Check for firmware updates
Router makers are always trying to squeeze better performance out of their products. They release firmware updates to get improvements to customers, so keeping your router’s firmware up to date just makes sense.
If you have a newer router, the manufacturer probably pushes automatic updates to your device. But if you have an older model you may need to download the firmware update from the company’s website.
Here’s another tip. While the default settings on a router usually work fine for most environments, you may want to make sure your router’s settings are optimized for your specific space. But only attempt to change router settings if you’re comfortable doing so.
3. Replace Your Router
If your router is more than about three years old, consider upgrading to a new model. WiFi technology is constantly advancing and manufacturers compete to be first on the market with innovations.
Even if your router doesn’t seem that old in years, a new one may significantly improve performance and range.
4. Add WiFi access points
With the popularity of home theater spaces, nowadays many homes are pre-wired with Ethernet. If Ethernet is available in your home or office space, you can add wired WiFi access points to those areas currently out of WiFi range.
This is an excellent way to ensure there is WiFi coverage throughout the space where you need it. But make sure the time, effort and expense of adding WiFi access points to the wired network is the best way for you to go.
5. Get a WiFi extender
They may be called WiFi range extenders, WiFi boosters or WiFi amplifiers. But they’re all the same thing. These devices receive the WiFi signal from your router, amplify it, and rebroadcast the amplified signal.
You place the extender unit in a location where it can pick up WiFi, and where the rebroadcast signal will cover areas that were previously out of range.
Some WiFi extenders are the size of a pack of cigarettes, and simply plug into a wall power outlet. Others look more like a traditional router – complete with multiple antennas, and are designed to set on a desk or shelf.
They range in price from about US$20 up to more than $100, with the higher-end models featuring add-ons like multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports, USB ports and audio inputs.
In my experience, the less expensive models work well for home use.
6. Bonus Tip – Use the above suggestions in tandem
That’s what I did.
Faced with complaints from my kids and their video-gamer friends about poor WiFi coverage in our basement, I replaced a four-year-old router with a well-reviewed new model. I also bought an inexpensive WiFi extender for the basement.
The upside: Spending just over $100 total produced rave reviews from the gamers about the much improved WiFi coverage in the basement.
The downside: Now all the gamers spend a lot more time at my house.
We discussed extending WiFi range. How about something to help your poor cell phone coverage? Click below to see our full line of cell signal boosters for home, vehicles and offices.