Wi-Fi extenders/boosters are simple single plug models you install in a wall socket and which capture and amplify the existing signal from your router, spreading it over a larger area and hopefully reaching those Wi-Fi “dead-zones” your main router is struggling to reach.
They can be really useful home networking gadgets, but is there an extra cost to using them in the home? Do you have to pay extra to use a Wi-Fi extender? Or do they come free with your package? Can you buy your own?
These are all the questions we’ll answer in this guide. but here’s a bottom line summary answer:
Beside the one off purchase cost of buying the device, plus minimal ongoing energy usage, there is no additional cost to using a commercial branded Wi-Fi extender you buy yourself. Some ISPs also supply them to customers, occasionally for free but more often for an additional fee on top of your existing package.
In other words, it depends on where you get your extender from, how much you pay to use it. If you want to keep it simple, just buy your own commercially which should almost always work with all ISP routers, and then it’s just a one-off cost you pay to buy the thing, and then you’re good to go.
Let’s look at your different option in more detail.
Getting Wi-Fi Boosters Off Your Internet Provider (ISP)
Some internet providers will supply their own Wi-Fi extenders/boosters/repeaters to customers if you ask them. On the plus side, it means they’re guaranteed to work and hopefully be designed to be set up easily with your router. On the negative side, you’ll often be paying a lot more than you need to and I personally wouldn’t go down this route. I’d prefer to buy my own repeaters, which I’ll cover further below.
But here are the different scenarios I’ve seen myself with this:
- Some ISPs may supply a couple of cheap boosters for free with their initial installation. Check the box(es) your router and other equipment came in; there might be one or two boosters included that you plug into the wall and set up.
- Some providers have their own online stores where you can buy boosters that should work specifically with their router, for a one off fee. Just like buying them anywhere else.
- Some providers will supply Wi-Fi extenders for a small extra monthly fee added onto what you already pay for your package (you might have to contact them to order these).
- In rare cases, they might just send you some boosters for free if you ask them, though it’s not likely these days, as ISPs are usually milking customers for more money wherever they can.
Here are some customer support links to get you started if you’re struggling with a weak Wi-Fi signal and want to ask your provider about getting boosters:
- United Kingdom:
Alternatively, try searching online for “(your ISP) Wi-Fi boosters” to see if a store comes up where they sell their own boosters/extenders.
Buying A Cheap Branded Wi-Fi Extender
It’s often easier and cheaper to just buy your own Wi-Fi extender/repeater commercially, rather than going through your internet provider (we all know what it’s like dealing with congested customer support lines/tickets with most big companies).
You can buy pretty much any Wi-Fi extender/booster model and install it on your current router without any problems 99% of the time.
If you’re looking to save money, brand new entry level booster models are available for $20-30 online or in stores. Second hand models are available even cheaper on sites like eBay. But performance isn’t always guaranteed with these cheaper entry level models.
Here are two cheap models to get started (affiliate links to Amazon):
TP Link N300 Extender – Universally one of the cheapest models available – simple single plug entry level extender, but mixed reviews. AC750 model.
Netgear Wi-Fi Range Extender EX3700 – Cheaper lower end extender model, but still has decent average review scores from plenty of ratings. Easy setup, small discrete white plug design, and generally reported to have decent range. Also has an ethernet port to connect up a wired device if needed.
See our Wi-Fi extenders page for links to more models in different price ranges. You can pay anything from $20 to $100+ depending on the features/range you want. Wi-Fi Mesh Systems are even more advanced but expensive versions of the same product.
Are There Any Compatibility Issues With Wi-Fi Extenders?
We’ve covered this in our main guide on extender brand cross-compatibility, but the general answer on this is that any Wi-Fi extender booster you buy does not have to be the same brand as the router, and there is very wide cross compatibility between extenders and routers.
In other words, you should be able to buy pretty much any Wi-Fi extender/booster commercially, and they should work fine with 99%+ of routers.
Very occasionally, you may run in to some compatibility issues, but in most cases, you should be fine buying and using your own with most routers.
An exception to this might be trying to use a specific bespoke extender supplied to you by one provider with another provider’s router. Often you’ll have issues here, but just buying your own online, there should rarely be any problems.
Most of the time you should be fine connecting them to your router to get them ready to use. Remember, there are 3 different ways of setting them up (WPS, Browser, App), so if one setup method isn’t working, you can try another one.
Energy Costs Of Using A Wi-Fi Extender
I thought I’d include this as it is technically an ongoing cost of using a Wi-Fi extender, even if only small. They do need to be plugged into a wall, and therefore use electricity, but it’s not a large amount.
Depending on the model and based on my own research, the smaller plug models use between 7-20 Watts, and therefore cost around $10-20 per year to run, even when left on 24/7, which is next to nothing compared to other household devices (see my article where I looked into energy use of extenders in more detail).