How to Setup a Wifi Extender
You just logged into Netflix from your laptop and are settled in for a binge session of your favorite show. You get up to get a snack and it happens. You lose your internet connection because you’ve walked into a deadzone.
There’s nothing more frustrating than adjusting your life around a spotty wireless signal. Moving from one area in your house to another, just to find a reliable connection. While there are different solutions available, a great choice is buying a wireless extender.
Extenders, or repeaters, connect with your router to broadcast its WiFi signal. They’re designed to eliminate dead zones by increasing the range of your wireless area. Even though installing the device is different for each model, there are common steps you can take to get your wireless repeater setup.
To make things a little easier for you, we’ve created a guide for how to setup wifi extenders. Before we dive in, let’s talk about the essential features in a quality repeater.
Dual Band Technology. The extender should take advantage of both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz so you have the choice between them.
Gigabit Ethernet Port. An Ethernet port is important because it reduces the devices trying to use your wireless signal.
External Antennas. With external antennas you can aim the wireless signal directly at the problem area in your house.
Security. To keep your information protected, you should make sure the extender you’re using has WPA or WPA2 security. It should match the level of protection your router has.
Now that you know what you should be looking for in a WiFi extender, let’s talk about setting one up. Make sure that you adjust the following steps for the brand you buy because sometimes the steps can be different.
Finding the Sweet Spot
The first thing you need to do after you buy a wireless extender is set it up somewhere. If you install it too close to the router there won’t be an improvement in range. Putting the extender too far away means you’re relaying a weak signal.
When you’re trying to find the best place for your repeater, you should begin by making sure you have a strong connection to your router. Move as far from your router as you can before the signal begins to drop off.
Once you discover the distance you’re working with, you need to decide the best spot for the extender to eliminate the deadzones in your house. You should think about the areas that give you the most difficulty and where you use your devices the most.
Setting Up the Extender
Most wireless extenders operate on dual band technology. That means they use both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz to transfer data. While 2.4 GHz has a larger range than 5 Ghz, it’s a crowded frequency. If you decide to use 2.4 GHz, you could find out that a lot of devices are causing interference between your signal and wireless device.
A good idea is to start with 5 GHz and see if all your devices can connect to the router / extender. Take a note of the signal strength your device is getting. Even if you’re only getting 3 bars, you can still get higher data flow because 5 GHz has a faster transfer speed.
When you’re setting up a wireless extender, you need to pick the same frequency as your router. If your devices have the option to broadcast on dual bands, it’s just a matter of deciding which works best for your house.
So you’ve decided which frequency works best for your house, you need to set the channel width. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. If you’re using 2.4 GHz, you’ll choose the 20 MHz channel. If your devices are running on the 5 GHz frequency, you’ll connect to the 40 MHz channel.
Now let’s talk about how to setup a WiFi extender so it’s secure. you should make sure that the security profile for your extender is the same as what you’re using on your router. Ideally you should set the security to WPA or WPA2. You’ll need to create a new WiFi password to get connected to the extender.
Changing the SSID
The Service Set Identifier (SSID) is a case sensitive, 32 sequence of characters that names a wireless local area network. This is the number printed on your modem and found in its settings. It helps you identify where the signal you’re connecting to is coming from.
When you’re installing your extender you might be given the option to use the same SSID as your router. You should always use a different SSID because it makes it easier for your devices to switch between signals depending on their strength.
Using Ethernet Ports
You should always buy an extender with an Ethernet port to plug into. Some of the advantages of using the port include freeing up some of your signal and improving the speed of your network. You should always do this for high-demand systems such as gaming consoles and Smart TVs.
The second reason you need to use the Ethernet port is it reduces duplicate data being sent to devices that sit between the router and extender. You should always try and free up as much of the wireless signal as possible for the best results.
If you have the option to choose between the router and the extender, always pick the former. The extender should only be used in the deadzone spots in your house.
These are the main steps to help explain how to setup Wifi extenders. Some models are easier than others because they include one-button installation. Even with these extenders, you should always check the settings yourself. There might be a step that the manufacturer preferred that you don’t.
WiFi extenders are wonderful devices that eliminate a lot of the frustrations tied to wireless communications. If you're still not sure where to start, return to our homepage and start from the beginning. There's a ton of excellent information on this site, you just have to focus, read a little and pick the WiFi Extender that best fits your needs.