How Does the WiFi Range Extender Work?

Lawrence Bonk Profile image

Written By:

Updated August 9, 2022

If you are experimenting with different wireless network setups, you may wonder how does a WiFi range extender work. Even the best routers, after all, could use a little help when it comes to range extension. How do these devices work and what are the various types? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • A Wi-Fi range extender is a great way to extend the range of your WiFi network, making them a great choice for large homes with plenty of wireless devices including gaming consoles.
  • For the most part, they work by receiving a wireless signal from primary wireless routers and then instantly repeating it.
  • A WiFi booster goes by many names, including wireless repeaters, wireless boosters, WiFi extenders, Wi-Fi extenders, network extenders, and more.

What is a Wireless Range Extender?

As the name suggests, a wireless range extender works to, well, extend the range of your wireless network. Interestingly enough, you can use a router as a WiFi extender, but that’s another guide. This is of great importance for large homes with plenty of dead spots that get a rocky connection if any at all. Learning how a wireless range extender works will be essential to eliminating those dead spots, though learning how to turn off a router’s firewall will not.

Insider Tip

Old routers can actually be repurposed to become decent WiFi network extenders.

How Does a Wi-Fi Network Extender Work?

At its most basic, a wireless extender sucks in a wireless signal from your primary router and then spits it back out. These devices are often referred to as wireless repeaters because they, essentially, repeat the wireless signal in another part of your home. An increased wireless network range helps you consume as much data as you like, until you learn how to limit data usage on a router, that is.

Types of Wireless Extenders

Most of these devices use similar technologies, but there are some differences. Alternatively, you can connect two WiFi extenders to boost your signal range, but that takes some effort.

Boosters, Repeaters, and Extenders

When you are referring to a Wi-Fi range extender, you may hear a lot of terms, including wireless boosters and wireless repeaters. They all mean the same thing, more or less, with occasional slight fluctuations with regard to feature sets and underlying technology. In other words, you should feel relatively comfortable buying anything called a wireless extender, a Wi-Fi extender, a Wi-Fi booster, a Wi-Fi repeater, or any other combination of these terms. Some may be powered in different ways, but they should all work in the same way.

Mesh Networks

Another option when it comes to extending your wireless network is to invest in a mesh router system. These routers come with a number of hubs that are placed throughout the home to drastically increase the range of your Wi-Fi network. They are expensive, though known to be exceptionally reliable.

F.A.Q.S

What if my router is up to date and in the best possible location, but I still have poor WiFi coverage?

If your wireless devices are struggling to connect even if your router is placed correctly, you may need WiFi extenders. These WiFi extenders help increase the range, after all, to connected devices.


What are the Wi-Fi booster placement needs?

You want the booster near enough to your WiFi network that you will get a signal, but far enough away that it will be of use to various wireless devices, such as game consoles. WiFi extenders each boast specific recommendations regarding placement.


Do WiFi extenders need to be the same brand as my router?

Not necessarily. You should be able to get by with WiFi extenders made by a different manufacturer from your primary router, though the same may not be said for a mesh network configuration.



STAT: A certain part of the home may be unable to connect to the Wi-Fi due to walls, furniture obstructions or distance from the router. (source)

Lawrence Bonk Profile image