Compared with commonly seen Wi-Fi products like routers, many of you may be less familiar with a range extender. A range extender is a device that expands the Wi-Fi coverage by receiving wireless signals from the main router, and then extending the received signals out to cover more areas. To be more descriptive, it serves as a bridge in a wireless network to connect a router and Wi-Fi receiving devices which are out of the range of the router’s signal coverage.
There are numerous ways to classify range extenders. Among the current classification standards, the IEEE standards and the frequency they work on are two major standards.
When it comes to IEEE standards, we are often discussing about an extender’s compatibility with routers. Like a router, an extender is in compliance with the 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax specification. Because Wi-Fi standards are backwards compatible, a new generation of range extender is always compatible with an older generation of router.
However, when a new extender mixes with a router supporting an older standard, it will waste the data rate that the extender can provides. Meanwhile, to connect an older generation of extender with a new router will diminish the overall Wi-Fi performance of the router.
In regard to radio frequency, a single-band range extender supports 2.4 GHz, and a dual-band one works on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency spectrum. A single-band range extender can work well with single-band router, and a dual-band one can be integrated with both one-band and dual-band routers. It is a key parameter for an extender to achieve the ideal Wi-Fi performance when connecting to a router. If your router supports dual band, it is advisable to go for a dual-band range extend to get better network experience.
When to Use a Range Extender?
Many family users only use one router at home, and the Wi-Fi signals are normally sufficient to cover studios and small apartments. However, in some cases, one router may be not strong enough to ensure reliable signal and pleasant Wi-Fi experience at every corner, especially for big houses. You may be in need of a range extender, and here are some typical scenarios for using such a device.
- You find some rooms or spots with weak or no signals at all with only one router, especially in a big apartment, villa, or multi-story house.
- You need strong and reliable Wi-Fi signals for activities, like streaming videos or playing games, in your backyard or garden.
- You have to place your router in a corner that is hard for its signals to reach some places in your house, maybe because of house layout, unmovable modem, fixed Ethernet ports and so on.
How to Pick a Suitable Range Extender?
There are various types of range extenders in the market, and TP-Link also provides a wide range of products with different features for you. Apart from frequency, IEEE standards, and aesthetic preference like product size and design, there are some more features that you may take into account before purchase.
- Matching with your router (Brand and Speed)
A range extender can match routers of different brands. Meanwhile, to achieve optimal performance, make sure that the range extender should be at least as fast as the router it is connected to.
- Ease of Setup and Management
It is always pleasant to have a tech-product with easy setup and management. Check if an extender can be set up with one button, such as via the WPS Button. Also, see if there is any app available for management. Moreover, it is crucial to choose a suitable place for a range extender. Pay attention if the product has any function, like a signal indicator, that offers a straightforward way to find a proper location.
- Availability of AC Pass-through
A range extender will take up a power outlet. If you only have a limited number of power sockets at home, consider buying one with an integrated power socket for convenience.
- Availability of Ethernet Ports
Consider whether you need one or more Ethernet ports on your range extender. Ethernet port can provide you with fast and reliable connection for wired devices, including a game console, smart TV, desktop, and printer.
- Additional Features
There are also further features to explore and fit your special needs. For instance, the possibility of unified Wi-Fi network that provides seamless roaming and coverage when you are walking through your home.