As Kim noted a few years back, Wi-Fi is both a blessing and a curse. And, despite the rapid evolution in technology, that statement remains true today. When your home wireless network is operating, your collection of devices work and all is right with the world. However, when your Wi-Fi performs poorly, it can be maddening.
If you have a wireless network in your home, you have probably experienced frustrating moments like sluggish page loads or the inability to connect a device to your Wi-Fi. While it’s easy to suspect the website, your computer or mobile device, it is more likely these issues are the result of a weak Wi-Fi signal.
There are a few approaches you can take to boost your signal strength including mesh networks and Wi-Fi extenders. Let’s take a closer look at both.
What happened to my signal?
Regardless of the type of internet service you have — DSL, Cable or Satellite — each can affect the strength of your Wi-Fi signal. Delivered through existing landline wiring, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is dependent on the distance from the service provider. The further away, the weaker the signal, thus, more considerable coverage gaps you will notice.
If you subscribe to cable internet, you may notice occasional slowdowns in your service because this setup requires you to share the service with others in your neighborhood. Satellite internet is generally slow due to the distance the signal travels, which may result in diminished performance or interruptions in service when accessing the internet.
Other causes of dead zones include:
- Distance from the modem
- Too many people using your Wi-Fi at once
- Interference caused by metal objects, furniture, microwave ovens, doors, walls, floors, appliances, LED lights, among others
Easy Wi-Fi solutions
While mesh networking technology has been around for decades in commercial applications, it’s now an option for conventional home wireless network setup.
To set up this type of network you will need a kit that includes several components called nodes. One node will replace any existing router and link to your internet service through a physical connection to your modem.
Along with the initial node, each additional node will wirelessly send data to the next node in the group until all the nodes are communicating with each other, forming a “mesh.” This form of a wireless network is efficient at expanding your coverage, especially if you live in a large home or one that’s prone to deadzones.
If you’re looking to overhaul your Wi-Fi system and upgrade to mesh, we recommend our sponsor, eero. Get free overnight shipping when you order at eero.com/Kim and use promo code Kim at checkout.
With eero’s TrueMesh technology, Wi-Fi hops between eero devices to travel down hallways or go around walls. Most other Wi-Fi systems only allow for one hop in any direction, so something as simple as a wall can mean your devices can’t get the Wi-Fi they need. That means every device gets a reliable connection at all times, everywhere in your home.
If you have a router that’s less than three months old and your home is 1,000-square feet or less, a Wi-Fi extender may be enough to boost your signal.
Wi-Fix extenders, sometimes referred to as a repeater or booster, will fill in the coverage gaps in your existing wireless network at a lower cost than upgrading your entire system. These devices help improve wireless signal strength by taking signals from your router and repeating them in the section of your home where you place the booster.
Wi-Fi extenders can also help eliminate the effects of physical obstructions such as appliances or walls on your wireless connection. There are several brands and models from which to choose.
TP-Link AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender
One option that will save you money and not require swapping out your router is the TP-Link AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender. This inexpensive device is mini in size but mighty in power, allowing you to extend your signal up to 2,000 sq. ft.
The TP-Link AC750 can be used as both a wireless access point and a wireless adapter when you need to connect a wired device.
Getting started is quick and easy; plug in the extender and use the T-Link’s Tether app to finish the setup. Available for both iOS and Android, the app allows you to manage your device anytime, anywhere. Cloud-based firmware updates are implemented through the TP-Link AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender’s cloud support feature.
NETGEAR Wi-Fi Range Extender EX3700
This NETGEAR Wi-Fi Range Extender EX3700 has garnered a 4 out of 5-star rating with over 40,000 reviews on Amazon. This device has a wall-plug design, works with any Wi-Fi router, and has a simple setup. Using the device’s smart signal indicator you will have no problem detecting the best location for the extender, providing full wireless coverage.
In addition to eliminating dead zones, it will optimize your Wi-Fi through its FastLane technology, making the extender an ideal choice for bandwidth-intensive tasks such as gaming and HD streaming.
AMAKE WI-FI extender
While AMAKE WI-FI extender doesn’t have a big name behind it, this compact device is budget-friendly and effective at helping improve your network’s signal. Easy to install, the AMAKE WI-FI extender boasts speeds up to 300Mbps and provides safe encryption at the push of a button.
Other features include an AP mode which creates an access point and an ethernet port which allows the AMAKE WI-FI extender to function as a wireless adapter for connecting wired devices. Compatible with any wireless network this little gadget is ideal for home, business or travel use.
Note: Products may not be compatible with routers or gateways with firmware that has been altered, is based on open source programs, or is non-standard or outdated.