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To anyone stuck hinweisen home with a slow, spotty internet connection, WiFi range extenders sound an extremely appealing.

You to buy one for as wenig as $30, plug that into bei outlet, and your belästigung is solved.

Or deshalb the marketing goes.

The truth, however, zu sein more nuanced.

As current testing by Consumer Reports shows, WiFi variety extenders kann be useful an certain scenarios, but sie shouldn"t think des them together a slam-dunk fix zum your WiFi woes. Bei many cases, what sie really need is amesh router systemthat supplies multiple units, working bei concert, zu blanket your home bei strong WiFi signals.

The belästigt is that a an excellent mesh router setup can cost $200 to $500.

With that in mind, we set out kommen sie see just how efficient a low-cost WiFi extender tun können be bei improving WiFi coverage. Us tested six popular modell from companies consisting of Linksys, Netgear, und TP-Link, which do some des the highest-scoring routers in our ratings. Die options range an price indigenous $30 to $140.

What did we learn?

WiFi extenders can, bei fact, expand the range of your wireless network. Yet their effectiveness is limited von a host des factors, including the speed des the internet connection coming into your home, ns distance from her router, the areas in your home in need von WiFi coverage, and the WiFi demands des your family.

Here’s a closer look at our findings.

How go a WiFi Extender Work?

While that tempting to think des a WiFi selection extender as a machine that tun können beam fast, reliable WiFi throughout her home, it’s an ext like a spot fix zum the dead zone in your bedroom or attic-turned-home office.

To get the best results, you have to plug die extender right into a power outlet midway bolzen your router and the dead-zone area. Ns extender tun können then choose up die WiFi signal from your router and push it deeper right into your home.

But you’re likely zu notice a significant drop an throughput speeds bei the “extended” network, claims Kannan Athreya, an associate professor des computer science und engineering hinweisen Ohio state University.

That’s bei part because an extender depends on the same frequency band as the router itself. “So jetzt the säule that originally would have come directly from die access point zu your associated device is going through bei intermediate step,”Athreya says.

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That extra step kann sein reduce ns speed des your WiFi signal by about half. So, weil das example, if you’re stand right next zu your WiFi router (where the signal is strongest) und get 50 megabits von second (fast enough zu stream 2 4K Netflix video at once), the speed an your extended network will be around 25 megabits von second. And that’s in in ideal world, where die WiFi signal from ns router hasn’t to be degraded by obstacles such as thick walls and large appliances.

By contrast, mesh routers usage two different frequency bands, which limits ns speed loss to roughly 10 percent. They often come an packs of three, too, which permits you zu move ns units about your home, producing widespread coverage.

Should sie Try using a WiFi Extender?

To answer the question, we placed a für hilfe dozen modell to work an two modest-sized houses owned von Consumer Reports testers. One house measures about 2,000 square feet and the other nearly 2,200 square feet.

The smaller home has in outdoor deck area v spotty WiFi. Ns larger location needed assist getting a WiFi signal to the home office above ns garage.

The erste thing us learned is that the mobile apps designed to guide freundin through die setup process aren"t as easy kommen sie use as the manufacturers would have you believe.

All von the modell except zum one (the Linksys RE6300) supported this app-based setup, yet our testers were frequently tripped up by the unclear directions. In some cases, ns apps even failed zu set up die extender.

All sechs models so support Wi-Fi protected Setup (WPS), i beg your pardon allows you to verknüpfung the device zu your router with the push of a button. If her router support WPS, too, we recommend going that route. It’s much easier.

You merely push ns WPS taste on the router und minutes danach on die extender, und the an equipment gets attached to the WiFi network there is no making you type in a username und password.

Once die connection ist complete, you kann use the extender app to adjust ns device settings to suit her needs.

To lage the extenders properly, we followed the directions contained with each model. They generally recommend plugging the unit into in outlet about halfway betwee the router und the area you hope zu reach with die extended signal.

If freundin place die extender much farther from ns router, sie risk losing an ext signal rate than necessary. If sie place it too close to the router, you may notfall be able to push the signal to the desired location.

Using ns website Speedtest.net, us measured ns signal strength—or throughput—of the routers punkt various distances, zuerst using the 2.4GHz 802.11n (WiFi 4 standard) frequency band und then the 5GHz 802.11ac (WiFi 5) frequency band. (None von the extenders or routers used in the experimentation support the neu WiFi 6 standard.)

We repeated die measurements a minimales of four times, taking in average des the four runs to get the tested throughput weil das each extender. See the outcomes on ns product cards below.

In the end, die extenders succeeded in expanding ns reach des the WiFi signal an the two prüfen environments.

“Whenever i would sit external on my deck, ich would get no signal,” says richard Fisco, that oversees electronics testing zum Consumer Reports. “But über placing bei extender halfway betwee the router and the deck, unexpectedly there’s a signal.”

Just keep in mind the it’s not necessarily the kind of signal freundin need to watch Netflix.

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If your goal ist to gain WiFi in that one tot zone in your home so you kann sein browse ns web und check email, a WiFi selection extender tun können be useful. Yet if you looking kommen sie increase coverage throughout her home, a mesh router zu sein the much better option, particularly if freundin need a high-speed signal weil das tasks choose gaming or HD video streaming.