Wi-Fi Extenders – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
In this article, we’re going to discuss the good the bad, and the ugly of using Wi-Fi extenders to expand your Wi-Fi coverage. The concept is simple. Place a Wi-Fi device at the outer edge of the range of your wireless router and allow it to pick up the signal and toss it out to a far end of your home that’s in desperate need of Wi-Fi coverage.
Expand Your Wi-Fi Coverage – Video
In the example below it looks like someone has not been watching my videos and instead of installing the Wi-Fi router in a central location of the house that would reach all corners of the home, the ISP has forced them to stash it in a little corner somewhere and part of the house is not getting any coverage. If moving the wireless router is not an option the next best way to handle this would be to expand their Wi-Fi coverage with an extender at the edge of the wireless router’s coverage to expand coverage so this laptop can get some Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi Extender Or Booster?
I’m always a little bit baffled at why people call Wi-Fi extenders “boosters.” A Wi-Fi extender does anything but boost your signal. In fact, it actually weakens it. An extender simply expands your Wi-Fi coverage. That’s it.
During a typical connection between an access point and a client, the access point isn’t just throwing an endless stream of Wi-Fi signals at the client. A simple wireless transmission is not complete until the client acknowledges the access point it received its last transmission. Only then does the access point send more data to the client. Each successful transmission consists of a two-way conversation.
When you introduce a Wi-Fi extender into the equation you now have two 2-way conversations taking place. The extender is actually a client for the access point and an access point for the client so now you have all this back and forth going on between the two. This means the extender is having to do double duty and that double duty causes the extender to slow down considerably – usually by 50%. There comes a point when you have to decide, “Well, is half better than nothing or should I go all out and upgrade to some stronger wireless router or mesh wi-fi system?” Typically if you have just a few devices in a corner of the house that needs Wi-FI an extender will be just fine.
Wi-Fi Extender Setup
The reason I say Wi-Fi extenders are quirky is that they can sometimes be difficult to set up. You may have heard there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Luckily with Wi-Fi extenders, there are multiple ways to set them up so if one thing doesn’t work you can always try something else.
The most common way to set up a Wi-Fi extender or rather the way manufacturers like to advertise how “simple” they are to set up is using WPS. WPS or Wi-Fi Protected Access is a special wireless protocol that can set up a connection between devices with just the push of a button. It’s great when it works but it can be very frustrating when it doesn’t.
To set an extender up with WPS you simply push on the WPS button on the extender and then push on the WPS button on the wireless router. The two lights should start blinking and they should eventually connect. Once your router and the extender have set up a communication channel between each other the router light on the extender should light up. Once that happens you should see a new wireless connection on the device you’re trying to connect. You should be able to use the same password you use to connect your wireless router.
Using WPS To Set Up Your Wi-Fi Extender
Once your device is connected you can simply use the lights on the extender to find the sweet spot between the router and the client. When the “device” light is red that means you’re too far from the client. When the router light is red that means you’re too far from the router. Once your router and client are connected using the extender you’re free to walk the extender to any point in the house you want to and begin connecting devices to it.
Like I said earlier there’s more than one way to skin a cat. So if the WPS method doesn’t work you can always use your web browser to configure it. That’s why it’s always a good thing to be well-versed at configuring wireless devices using a web browser. In order to connect to the web interface, you’re usually going to use some kind of the extender’s website address or IP address. You can either plug the extender directly into a computer or a switch connected to your computer or you can connect to it with Wi-Fi.
When you first plug the Wi-Fi extender in and go over to one of your wireless devices you’ll see a brand new connection on your wireless networks. Once your computer or your phone is connected to this Wi-Fi network simply go to its website address or its IP address to pull up the web interface. You’ll see there is no security on it whatsoever.
Ordinarily, you don’t want to touch a network like that, but in this case, this is just a temporary connection to get into the extender and configure it. Once the extender is configured it goes away. Once we’re connected we should be able to go over to our web browser and configure the extender.
Don’t Let The IP Addresses Fool You!
Many people have fits trying to get Wi-Fi extenders connected and trying to get other devices connected to their wireless network. The reason for that is the average person is not familiar with the basic networking fundamentals that I explain in my home networking basics video.
Instead of forcing you to watch the whole thing right now let me give you a quick breakdown. The extender’s default configuration IP address is 192 168.1.250. Sounds simple enough right? Unfortunately, that means you have a 50/50 chance of connecting to this extender. Why? Because half the wireless routers out there default to a 192.168.1.x network and the other half default to a 192.168.2.x network.
If you have one of the wireless routers that default to 192.168.0.x this isn’t going to work
because the computer you’re on is on the 192.168.0 network. So how do we know what network we’re on?
We go to “Type here to search” next to the magnifying glass in the lower-left corner of the screen and type “cmd.” We then enter “ipconfig.” This simple command gives us all our computer’s network settings. What we’re interested in here is the ethernet adapter. As we can see we’re on the 192 168.1.x network. If we were on the 192.168.0.1 network we would want to reconfigure the device we’re on to the same network the extender is on so we can connect to it.
The bottom line is if you have a handle on “networking basics” you can run into a networking issue and know how to figure it out and fix it.
Changing Your Network Settings
So let’s say that this particular laptop is on the wrong network and it will not connect to the extender. How do we fix that? What we can do is change the network that the laptop is on by going to our adapter settings. How do we do that? We go to search and type “ethernet” if we’re using a wired connection and “wifi” if we’re on the Wi-Fi.
Next, go to ethernet settings, change adapter options, find the connection we’re currently using, right-click and go to “properties” of the ethernet connection. From here highlight TCIP4 and click properties. so you right-click to go to “properties.” From here you can change whatever network you’re on. Once you have your device on the correct network you should be able to enter the extender’s IP address into a browser and do whatever configurations you want.
Many Wi-Fi extenders give you an option between extender mode and access point mode to expand your Wi-Fi network. Extender mode is basically what we’re doing now. You establish a wireless connection to your wireless router and then it picks up that signal and throws it off into a remote corner of the home that needs Wi-Fi. Access point mode means you can set the extender up and if it’s a second wireless router. If you have a home that has ethernet cables already installed and you want Wi-Fi in another part of your home you can plug this into an ethernet outlet in another room in your home and use it as a second wireless router.
See the Wi-Fi Extenders – The Good, Band, And The Ugly” video above for a complete demonstration and test of the Netgear AC 1200 AC Wi-Fi Extender.
Last update on 2023-12-11 at 00:43 Affiliate links and Images from Amazon Product Advertising API