Wi-Fi extenders/boosters/repeaters are simple single plug adapters which essentially “capture” and amplify the existing signal from your router, creating a new network that effectively extends your router’s coverage. But exactly how close/far from the router can an extender work? What sort if distance can an extender still function at?
This is not a question that can precisely answered for every reader, because Wi-Fi performance in general is so fickle and variable in different homes, but we can give broad answers, and also differentiate between theoretical and practical recommendations.
The potential range of Wi-Fi extenders is up to several hundred feet, but in reality, the effective working range is often much shorter. They are best used in small to medium sized homes and placed 5-10 meters from the router, at a mid-point between the router and the Wi-Fi “dead-zone” you are trying to expand coverage to.
In other words, the shorter the distance you are using a Wi-Fi extender over, and the closer it is to the router, the better, and try to place it as close as possible to halfway between the router and devices that connect to it.
The Theoretical Working Range Of Wi-Fi Extenders
The technical/potential working range of Wi-Fi extenders is the same as wireless technology in general on the frequency used in homes – variable but potentially quite far.
Other resources on this topic give different quotes for the working range of extenders, anything from 75-150 feet to 100-400 feet potentially. Lifewire lists the potential working range of Wi-Fi in general at 150-300 feet. So in general, you’re looking at a maximum working range of a few hundred feet, about 100 meters.
However, there’s a HUGE difference between theoretical/potential working range, or a Wi-Fi extender delivering some kind of signal over this distance, and actually delivering an acceptable or usable signal/connection/speeds over this distance.
An extender/booster might still be broadcasting and visible to devices over a few hundred feet, but when you connect it’s still impossible to effectively get online and browse the internet at this range (you might get a “connected, no internet” error or similar, or speeds so slow they aren’t even usable). Or if the extender is placed too far from the router, it’ll keep losing connection with it, meaning you can’t get online.
The Optimal Working Range Of Wi-Fi Extenders
Now we’ve covered the theory of how far Wi-Fi extenders could still work and be placed from the router, let’s come back to earth with the practical reality. Potential maximum figures don’t take any other factors into account, like having walls/obstacles in the way.
In almost all cases, practical, working extender coverage is going to be nowhere near 300-400 feet, and even 100 feet might be pushing it in many homes with walls in the way. Therefore, you ideally need to keep the extender quite close to the router and to the connecting devices for it to work, preferably within 30 feet (10 meters) both sides.
Of course this is only a suggestion, and you’ll find users who’ve got Wi-Fi extenders working at longer range than that. But Wi-Fi performance is so variable and unpredictable anyway there are no guarantees on how well extenders will work. As with all things wireless, the less distance and walls/obstacles between access points and devices, the better, for performance.
Personal Experience On Extender Range
The Wi-Fi extender/booster I’m using right now for example is in a smaller house. The extender is about 6-7 meters away from the router, diagonally upwards with a few walls in the way, and about 3 meters from the connecting devices. And it works fine most of the time, although it does periodically lose connection with the host router and I have to move the extender back to a socket close to the router for a few minutes to refresh the signal, and then move it back again.
Therefore you have to take into account the obstacles the signal has to pass through, both to reach the extender from the router, and then the devices from the extender.
But in general, when using extenders in homes, their practical effective working range is not going to be anywhere close to the 300-400 ft theoretical range. You’re not going to get a reliable/usable connection at that distance with the layout of most homes. You’re looking at more like 30-50 feet, and sometimes less depending on walls/ceiling and general layout.
Some Tips For Installing Wi-Fi Extenders For Optimal Performance
For the least possible inconvenience and disruption to an extender’s connection, it needs to be placed in a location that maintains a consistent connection both to the host router and the wireless “dead-zone” or devices that connect to it.
That’s going to vary in different homes and require some testing, but see the video below for a good demonstration of how to best install and use Wi-Fi extenders.
Here are some tips from the video, plus some more of our own about placing extenders:
- Try to find an outlet with no obstructions, and halfway between the router and the “dead-zone” (where this is not possible in homes, experiment with using different outlets and see what works best).
- Make sure the extender is within range of the router so it can ALWAYS pick up the signal and not drop out. Try to keep it within 15-30 feet (5-10 meters) if possible.
- Try not to place extenders behind or under furniture or other obstructions
- If the extender has antennae, point them in the direction the signal is needed and the router.
- The more walls through which the signal must pass, the less likely performance will be guaranteed
- In open spaces, try to place the extender in the direct line of sight of the router
- In more difficult situations in homes where the router and the “dead zone” are diagonally opposite each other (e.g., the router is in the lower front room and the signal needs to reach the upper rear room), it’s trickier and you may have to do some experimenting. I have this problem now and I get the best results when I connect the extender to the upstairs landing. It’s still close enough to the router to pick up the signal, so it works quite well, but does lose connection sometimes. Try out the downstairs and upstairs outlets and see what gives the best speed/signal.
- If you can’t get a good signal using any of the main power outlets, you can also try plugging them into extension cords and power strips to install them in a different location between your main power sockets.
- You can try using extenders to expand coverage outside, but performance isn’t likely to be great because of the distance and also the signal dispersing even more with the lack of obstacles. It may be better to try a cheap second hand extender to test the concept out first.
Wi-Fi Mesh Systems As Longer Range Solutions
If you’ve got a problem of expanding wireless coverage over longer distance, perhaps in a much larger home, then the simple single plug Wi-Fi extenders might not be your best solution.
There are products called Wi-Fi Mesh Systems, which work on the same general idea as Wi-Fi extenders/boosters/repeater, but use more advanced (but also more expensive) technology, and are designed to spread coverage over a much larger area.
Wi-Fi Mesh kits consist of several different “nodes” or “pods” that all connect to the router and expand wireless coverage over a larger area more systematically. They can be more powerful solutions for larger homes where you really need good Wi-Fi all over the home, but a good Mesh kit is also going to set you back a lot more than a single plug extender model.
See the video below for a quick demonstration of how Wi-Fi Mesh works. See our page for links to some models (they usually specify range in sq ft so you can pick the correct one for the size of your home).