When it comes to connecting to the Internet without cables, there is not much discussion about the fact that if there is a real King, King with capital letters of wireless connections today, that King is none other than WiFi. Or the WiFi, or as each one calls it. WiFi connections dominate everything nowadays and have been displacing wired connections in almost all areas of our lives. There are still, more that would be missing, but they are the least in a wireless panorama. Therefore, in this wireless world, having sufficient coverage in our home is important enough to avoid black spots or areas where navigation is so slow that it becomes completely impossible.
Since it is usual to have a single router that brings us the Internet at home, WiFi signal amplifiers become an essential friend in many cases to have coverage in every corner. We are going to try to explain, simply and clearly, what points we should look at before buying a WiFi amplifier or repeater without making mistakes.
What is a WiFi amplifier or repeater?
Although you may have come to this article knowing exactly what you are looking for, it never hurts to explain what a WiFi amplifier or repeater is. The name is quite descriptive because it consists of just that, a device connected to the current that takes a WiFi signal that it receives and multiplies its power to further extend its coverage.
Let’s imagine a theoretical house in which the rooms go right after each other, from 1 to 10. If our router is in room 1 and its coverage reaches room 6, placing a repeater there would allow, for example, to extend coverage to room 10. And thus we would have the entire house covered.
However, WiFi repeaters or amplifiers are not the panaceas for our connectivity problems. The reason is that they repeat the signal that reaches them, not the one that the router emits at its origin. The WiFi loses power as we move away from the router, and if the repeater receives a little signal, it will extend a poor-quality signal. It is one of the aspects to take into account when placing it in our home. Better near the router than far away.
How WiFi repeaters are configured
We can find different models of WiFi repeater on the market, although the most common are those that have a WPS button or those that are configured directly from the mobile phone. Perhaps we come across a model that needs to be connected to a laptop through the network cable to be configured, but luckily these models are already disappearing, so the configuration is easier.
If our model is one of those that has a WPS button, it will be enough for us to press it at the same time as the router’s WPS button, and thus both devices will scan the different WiFi frequencies until they find each other. Once they know where each one is, the repeater will begin to emit a WiFi signal with the same name and encryption as that of our home router, and we will be able to connect to it without having to enter the password again.
If our WiFi repeater is configured through a mobile app, we will only have to follow the steps indicated in the app itself to configure it. Normally we will have to tell the app which WiFi signal we want to replicate and extend, and it will provide the WiFi repeater with the keys to do so. In some cases, we may have to enter the WiFi key of the router in the app as authorization so that the repeater can start working.
What to look for before buying a WiFi amplifier
It is common for our home router to support at least two types of frequency (2.4GHz and 5GHz), and soon we will have routers circulating that will support three, the tri-band ones that will arrive with WiFi 6E and, therefore, with the third band of 6GHz. If our router supports 5GHz bands, it is normal to buy a WiFi amplifier that also supports these bands, so that it can become, for all purposes, an extension of our home router without limitations. Indicate that the higher the frequency, the lower the power and coverage.
WiFi amplifiers sometimes directly indicate an approximate range of coverage. This will be important when buying them because we will know if the coverage area is what we need or not. The usual thing is that WiFi amplifiers with greater range have at least one physical antenna deployed outside the terminal. If it also has several antennas, it means that it can support more bands and that we can orient them to obtain better coverage.
Another important aspect is that of the maximum transmission speed since we must ensure that the WiFi amplifier reaches at least the maximum speed of the router. If our router offers us 600Mbps at home but the amplifier only reaches 100Mbps, we will not take advantage of our connection when we are connected directly to it and not to the router. This is usually a reason for complaint accompanied by “the amplifier is malfunctioning because I am sailing very slowly”. It may simply be a capacity issue.
Even so, it is normal that a WiFi amplifier that supports 5GHz networks is more than enough for our home. With a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, we should be browsing at speeds close to 1Gbps, and it is rare for today’s home connection that offers such speeds. If we also get a repeater that supports WiFi 6, the maximum limit is even higher and should not give us any problems.
Security, coverage, supported frequency, and a maximum number of devices: points to consult.
We also have to take into account the maximum number of devices that can be managed at the same time, since it is rare for a home to not have multiple devices connected at the same time. The usual thing is that the most normal models already offer a high number of devices ( 25 or more simultaneously) but it never hurts to check it so as not to surprise us.
Last but not least, we should check what level of security the WiFi repeater we are going to buy for home or office offers. The security levels that we can find in routers are as follows (from highest to lowest security):
- WPA + TKIP/AES
- Open network without encryption
At the moment, the WPA+AES standard is the most common among the routers that we have at home, so we should make sure that our future WiFi amplifier is also compatible with it. This point is important since the WiFi amplifier must not only be able to offer us a secure network to navigate, but also be able to decode the signal it receives from the router and sends to our devices.
Some recommended WiFi repeaters
Once we have the basic concepts clear, what better way to finish this article than with some recommended models? We will indicate some of them below along with their purchase links.
TP-Link had to stop by as it is one of the most emblematic WiFi accessory brands. We start with the AC750 with which we can reach speeds of up to 750Mbps in the WiFi connection of our home. We can connect if we wish, a cable device to it and we have a WPS button for quick configuration, in addition to being compatible with WiFi 5 networks. The price of the model is 24.99 euros at the moment.
One of the cheapest and most recommended WiFi repeaters from Amazon is the TP-Link N300, a very interesting model as long as you don’t have too demanding needs. Unlike the previous model, in this case, we have a single 2.4 Ghz band and a maximum speed of 300 Mbps, although it does not dispense with the Ethernet port to connect devices by cable.
We continue and delve into the Netgear catalog to find its EX6130 model, a device with a not very attractive but quite efficient design. We have in hand a WiFi repeater with a double steerable antenna, a WPS button for quick configuration, and WiFi 5 capable of reaching speeds of up to 750Mbps. We also have two Ethernet ports for connecting wired devices. The price at the moment on Amazon is 44.99 euros.
TP-Link RE365 AC1200
We repeat with TP-Link and its RE365 AC1200, a simple device with an Ethernet port to connect devices by cable and that also has a plug on the front, so it does not make us cancel a precious connection in our house. Its WiFi 5 allows us to reach maximum speeds of up to 1.2Gbps and we also have a WPS button for quick configuration. Its current price is 49.99 euros on Amazon.
AVM Fritz! Repeater 1200
We close with a little-known brand in Spain but of great quality such as AVM, which in this case comes from the hand of its Fritz! 1200. With this Fritz! 1200 we can reach speeds of up to 1.2Gbps thanks to its WiFi 5 and we also have a WPS button for quick configuration. We have an Ethernet port too, by the way, and as a bonus, the device is a WiFi Mesh that can automatically work with other Fritz devices! Mesh that we have at home. The price on Amazon at the moment is 57.99 euros.
Sharlene Meriel is an avid gamer with a knack for technology. He has been writing about the latest technologies for the past 5 years. His contribution in technology journalism has been noteworthy. He is also a day trader with interest in the Forex market.