WiFi Boosters, Repeaters or Extenders? Is there any difference?

Do you need a WiFi signal booster ?

Or, do you need a repeater?

What about a WiFi extender?

When you start looking for ways to increase your WiFi coverage or speed , it can become confusing very quickly. There are a lot of options available, and you may be wondering what the difference is between all of these devices.

What’s the Purpose of These Devices?

The main purpose of all of these devices is to improve your WiFi coverage. When you have a router, it will have a typical range of 150-feet indoors. You may be able to extend this range outdoors to 300-feet, but this is in an ideal location where there’s minimal interference or obstruction to be worried about.

If you roam around your house or go outside into your yard, you’ll often find that your WiFi signal is weak or that you’ve hit a dead spot.

I have a dead spot in the bathroom of my apartment. The connection will go in and out, but everywhere else, the connection is very strong. I can go outside with a strong connection, but for some reason, the bathroom causes this connection to plummet.

All three of these devices aim to extend your WiFi coverage.

In fact, you can use these device names interchangeably because they all do relatively the same thing. There is no clear-cut definition of any of these devices, so an extender may also be a repeater or booster.

The only time that you should not get confused is when talking about a mesh network,  which is entirely different.

But the difference between each device may be drastic from one model to the next.

WiFi Extender and Repeater by Definition

A WiFi extender or repeater is a device that is designed to repeat your signal. Imagine that your signal is a laser for one second. The laser starts to fade the further you are from the laser, and eventually the laser no longer shines.

An extender or repeater would take the laser’s beam, repeat it and extend it.

The beam is less powerful than before, but perhaps you can see the beam 600 feet away instead of just 400 feet away.

It’s the perfect solution to repeating the beam.

And this is the same exact way that an extender or repeater will work. When these devices are in place, they will extend the WiFi signal. You may have the signal span 150-feet indoors, but you want the signal to extend 200 feet.

When using an extender, it will repeat the signal.

Oftentimes, these devices will make an entirely new network which you’ll connect to and simply duplicate your original signal. The device will communicate with your router, so you effectively have two networks that you can connect to now.

The one network is the original network that comes from your router’s signal.

When connecting to this network, the signal is at its strongest point and will be able to provide the fastest speeds possible. If you walk into areas of the home where no signal is present, the repeater or extender will allow you to connect to the new network and be able to receive Internet.

The only issue here is that your signal is effectively split into two signals.

In the past, this splitting of the signal would weaken a person’s Internet connection and reduce overall speeds when on the new device’s network. The good news is that newer extenders or repeaters will be able to maintain a stronger signal.

A stronger signal means that you’ll be able to

WiFi Booster by Definition

A WiFi booster was originally meant to be a signal booster. These devices were designed to enhance your signal so that you would have a longer range. Weak signals would be amplified so that they were strong.

With a stronger signal, you’re able to connect more devices to the router and enjoy more sustained Internet speeds.

But a lot of these devices now work like extenders.

A lot of the initial hiccups that were present with WiFi connections are now gone, so there may be a perfectly strong signal that doesn’t need to be amplified – it needs to be extended.

How to Know if You Need a WiFi Extender

You may need an extender, or you may not need an extender – it really depends. The key difference here is your home setup. A lot of people have not set their home up properly, and this means that you’re not optimizing your Internet connection.

The one method to enhance your WiFi without spending a dime is your router.

When you setup your router, you’ll want to:

  • Place the router in an optimal location where all rooms in the home are almost an equal distance from the router. If you choose to place your router in your office that is on the left end of the home because your home business needs better coverage, than you’ll likely miss out on some coverage in the far end of the home.
  • Update your router. Routers are a piece of hardware that does contain firmware updates. These updates are going to maximize your router’s ability to function properly, so you’ll be able to enjoy better speeds and higher reliability.

If you have optimized your router’s setup and your signal is still weak or you have dead zones in your home, an extender / booster or repeater will be a great choice for you.

These devices will ensure that those dead zones in your home still allow you to connect to your WiFi.

But let’s assume something else is happening. You may have a bad Internet connection period. I had times when I was wired into my router and was receiving abysmal speeds. The issue was that my modem was going bad. There may also be an issue with your ISP because a lot of companies will have terrible connections from the start.

If your connection is weak due to an issue with your ISP, I suggest that you call your ISP to send a technician out to your home. A technician will be able to troubleshoot the issue and offer an immediate boost to your Internet connection.