The information in this post also applies to any other UK ISP, like Now Broadband, Post Office Broadband, BT, Virgin Media etc.
We have covered how to use home networking products to solve weak Wi-Fi for the major US internet providers, and the solutions are largely the same regardless of the ISP you are using. Weak Wi-Fi is also a problem for internet users in the UK, with frequent reports of the wireless signal dropping out or being temperamental.
If doing some quick resets and other adjustments doesn’t fix your Wi-Fi issues then there are some home networking products like range extenders, powerline adapters and Wi-Fi Mesh Systems which can improve wireless coverage in the home.
Some UK ISPs like BT and Virgin Media promote their own powerline products in the form of Homeplugs. We will look in more detail at the problem of weak Wi-Fi below, as well as how to find the right product for your situation.
Before we do though, we will run through some potential other issues which could be causing the poor internet signal which should be checked. For example, the internet may be down in your larger area, so it is a good idea to check with neighbours to make sure this is not the issue.
Quick Tips For Solving Weak Wi-Fi
Weak Wi-Fi can happen for a number of reasons, but the main reason is simply that Wi-Fi signals always tend to degrade and weaken the further they get from the router. See our article on the technical reasons for this.
Thankfully there are some good home networking products like powerline adapters which can help with this problem and boost internet coverage around the home.
There are also some general steps to take which may fix the problem. Here are the common ones:
- Move closer to the router.
- Move the router to a more central location in the house if possible.
- Reset the router.
- Reset your device.
- Make sure your router is upgraded to the latest firmware. Log into your router using it’s IP (192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1, plus password) and check for updates. If you Google your router brand and model, there will be a guide on how to update firmware.
- If there are any obvious and clear obstructions between your router and device that can be moved, then move them. (eg. movable furniture, stands, racks, household or DIY “stuff” lying around etc.)
- Check if you can at least get a proper connection plugged into your router. If not, the router itself may be broken, and you’ll need to contact your ISP for repair or replacement.
- Try and get on a wired connection by running a long ethernet cable through the house if you can do this or want to. See our article on creating a wired home network for links to resources to help you do this. We get this is not practical for everyone – see the below sections for other solutions.
- See our article on weak Wi-Fi for tablets and iPhones for some additional tricks you can try with these devices to solve weak Wi-Fi.
- Signals may be weaker in general at busy peak times when lots of people are using the internet at the same time. Try again at quieter times or try plugging into your router instead,
There may also be some kind of fault with the router or device, and resetting them both to check for this may be a good idea. Also check connectivity when plugged directly into the router. If you get a good connection this way but not on Wi-Fi then you know that the Wi-Fi is the problem and can set about resolving it.
If none of the above steps work then you may have to use some home networking solutions to get a better internet connection around the home. Let’s look at some solutions in more detail below, starting with more basic ones and moving up to more advanced and expensive products.
Range Extenders/Wi-Fi Boosters as a Basic Solution
The most basic and often the most cheapest product you can get to solve this problem of weak Wi-Fi in the home is a range extender or Wi-Fi Booster.
These are simply single plug adapters which you plug into a wall socket that “capture” and amplify the existing Wi-Fi signal from your main router, spreading it to more areas of the house. In this way they can hopefully deliver a stronger Wi-Fi signal to parts of the house which may have been struggling with just using the main router before.
See the excellent 2 minute video below for a demonstration of how Wi-Fi extenders work and how to best install them – in direct line of sight of the main router.
Range Extender Pro’s – The main benefit of range extenders is cost – they are very cheap products and can work very well for some homes in delivering better Wi-Fi where it is needed. Great over short to medium distance and in open plan apartments to deliver Wi-Fi to a very specific spot.
Range Extender Cons – Do not work reliably in all cases, especially over longer distance. Hit and miss in terms of performance. Wi-Fi Mesh Systems as a more expensive but more reliable wireless solution – see further below for more on these.
See our article on Range Extenders for more info and product links.
Powerline Adapters as Another Solution For Weak Wi-Fi
Powerline adapters can also be a very handy home network solution for this problem of weak or inconsistent Wi-Fi, allowing strong and reliable internet coverage to be delivered to all parts of a home.
Powerline kits usually come as a pair of two plugs or adapters (as opposed to just the single plug extender models above), one of which is plugged in and connected to your router and the other of which is plugged in and connected to the device you want to use.
The two plugs then communicate through the existing electrical wiring of the house to deliver an internet connection directly from the router to the plug at the receiving end, allowing a device to have a strong wired connection even several room or floors away from the router. Copper wiring can be used to send data as well as power and powerline products take advantage of this.
TheTP Link Nano TL-PA4010 Kit model is an entry level, best selling no nonsense powerline adapter model with just one ethernet port and no passthrough. Click here to view on our product page. It will provide a solid, wired ethernet connection to your router using the existing electrical wiring of your house. See our full review of the product and our Powerline Adapters page. Our Product Comparison Table compares all the wired and wireless powerline adapter models at a glance by feature and functionality.
They can be excellent solutions to the problem of weak Wi-Fi and especially useful for gamers who need low latency or ping and struggle with lag on wireless.
As long as the wiring of the house allows for it they can deliver a very strong and reliable signal almost as good as if you were plugged directly into the router. Because of this they can also deliver high amounts of bandwidth for streaming and downloading.
What About Devices That Can Only Use Wi-Fi?
If you are wanting to connect smaller portable devices like tablets and phones which can only use Wi-Fi, then a wireless powerline adapter is the product of choice.
These models work in much the same way as a standard powerline adapter, except they also reproduce a new wireless access point at the receiving end as well as having one or more ethernet ports to connect gaming and streaming devices.
This allows you to extend Wi-Fi coverage to more remote parts of the house, and you can set devices up to connect to this closer and stronger access point if you want so you get better coverage and access to more bandwidth around the home.
For really large houses or people with a bigger budget then Wi-Fi Mesh Systems can also be an option here. These are kits consisting of two or three nodes or pods which are placed strategically around the home to disperse Wi-Fi coverage more consistently to all parts, including remote corners which may struggle to get a good signal from the main router.
These are generally much more expensive than powerline products but may be a good option in homes where powerline technology doesn’t work or where people simply want all wireless coverage with no wires trailing about.
The Netgear Orbi RBK40 Mesh System is an entry level kit which will spread reliable wireless coverage for an average 4 bed, 2 floor property up to 3000 sq ft. See our Mesh System page for links and product reviews for this and more brands and models of mesh systems which can cover larger properties.
Will Powerline Adapters Work in Every House?
Powerline adapters will work in the majority of modern and semi modern houses. All you need is house wiring that is still in good enough condition to allow the two adapters to communicate and reliably deliver the signal. You also need to make sure the house is wired on the same general circuit, which rules out annexes, extensions and any other situation where there are separate feeds or meters to different parts of the property.
Other than that powerline products should work fine. There may be some cases in older or larger houses where the wiring is either too old and worn or too complex and the two plugs cannot communicate. This is in a minority of cases though and in most houses they should be able to deliver a good or useable internet connection. See our article for more on when powerline adapters will not work and also this excellent FAQ guide on the topic.
These products have also had a bad press for suffering from electrical interference from other household appliances, particularly heavy consumption devices like washers and dryers and adapters with alternating currents like phone chargers. They have been known to interfere with the signal and reduce throughput or data transfer over the powerlines.
Modern adapters are usually better at filtering out this noise and in any event moving them away from these appliances can often resolve any problems with interference that occur. Most issues that can come up with powerline products can be worked around and resolved; see our troubleshooting guide a full breakdown of common problems and solutions.
Summary – Home Networking Solutions Compared
To finish, let’s quickly break down the different types of product again in a quick summary comparison.
Range Extenders/Wi-Fi Boosters – Good For:
- Open plan spaces like apartments.
- Extending Wi-Fi over short to medium distances with not so many obstacles in the way.
- Lighter bandwidth activities
Powerline Adapters – Good For:
- Online gamers
- HD video and film streaming.
- Anyone who wants to be on a wired connection but is a long way from the router.
- Modern and semi modern houses where the electrical wiring is in reasonably good condition.
Wi-Fi Mesh Systems – Good For:
- Larger homes and three storey homes (eg. larger student houses with 6-9 bedrooms).
- Users that want to stay totally on wireless for convenience.
- Higher bandwidth use houses (as long as your internet package is also good)
- Spreading better Wi-Fi to multiple users all throughout the home, not just one room or device.
- Users who don’t mind spending more money to get better wireless coverage in the home.
In summary range extenders and/or powerline adapters can be an excellent solution to the problem of weak Wi-Fi regardless of the ISP you are with. Wireless powerline adapters are a slightly more advanced product which can accommodate portable devices in the home and in the cases where powerline products don’t work because of the wiring then Wi-Fi mesh systems can be good alternative, if a little more expensive.