We have knocked up an article to help out Australian internet users in particular who may be struggling with the problem of weak wifi in the home. We included the main ISPs in the title but the advice is standard and is the same no matter your ISP. What products are available for improving wireless coverage in the home?
Powerline adapters are an excellent underutilised home networking solution which use the house’s existing electrical wiring to deliver a stronger, more reliable internet connection between a router and a device than wifi. This can allow for smoother browsing streaming and gaming even when quite far away from the router, as opposed to wifi which begins to drop out over distance.
Wireless powerline adapters are also available for those wanting to connect smaller devices such tablets and phones which can only use wifi. Wifi Mesh Systems are also a completely wireless but much more expensive home networking product which can spread better wifi coverage to all parts of the home. Let’s take a look at each of the products in more detail and compare the pro’s and cons of each.
Quick Tips For Solving Weak Wifi
Weak wifi can happen for a number of reasons, but the main reason is simply that wifi 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.
- Use an ethernet cable instead of wifi if possible, for a stronger connection.
- See our article on weak wifi for tablets and iPhones for some additional tricks you can try with these devices to solve weak wifi.
If none of these 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.
Powerline Adapters For Weak Wifi
Powerline adapters are an excellent way around this problem, bypassing wifi and delivering a wired connection between your router and a device using the electrical wiring of the house. They consist of a pair of adapter plugs, one of which is plugged in and connected to your router, the other of which is plugged in and connected to your device.
The two plugs then communicate through the circuitry of the house to deliver the data directly to your device from the router. They tend to provide a much more solid and consistent connection than wifi and are perfect for gamers and streamers who are struggling with lag on wireless connections because they are too far away from the router.
Some Powerline Adapters with Australian Plugs
Click here to view the Nano Kit on the Australian Amazon store; see also our full review of the Nano Starter Kit. Our page on Powerline Adapters has links to all models. Not all models are available on the Australian store.
Wireless Powerline Adapter For Portable Devices
Standard powerline line adapters provide wired connections only, with the different models having between one to three ethernet ports to connect up gaming or streaming devices. If you are also wanting to connect smaller devices like tablets and iPhones which can only use wifi, then a wireless powerline adapter is the product to go for.
These work in a very similar way to normal powerline adapters, except that they also reproduce a new cloned wireless access point at the receiving end as well as having one or more ethernet ports. This allows smaller devices to connect to this new, closer access point and get a better signal in that part of the house. It is liked installing another mini router in the house for better wireless coverage.
Click here for our page on wireless powerline adapter models.
Wifi Mesh Systems
If you really want to go all out and have a bigger budget to play with, then wifi mesh systems are another home networking product to solve the problem of weak wifi. They consist of a set of two or three pods or nodes which are placed around the home to disperse the wifi coverage more fully and evenly to all areas for a better overall reception.
You plug the main node in and connect it to your existing router with ann ethernet cable. In a minute or so this will connect with the wifi on your current router and become the new main access point. You then place the other one or two pods strategically around the home so they can pick up the signal from the main node but also extend it to more remote parts of the home for better overall coverage.
This in theory should allow for better wifi signals around larger homes especially, reducing or eliminating deadspots and allowing users to stream and download more smoothly when they may have struggled to before if they were further away from the main router.
Depending on where you place the nodes you may also be able to get reception in outdoor places like the garden or garage where you couldn’t before.
Some Wifi Mesh Systems
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. Click here to view the model on Amazon. See our Mesh System page for links and product reviews for more brands and models of mesh systems which can cover larger properties.
A Wifi Mesh System Being Installed and Tested
Wifi Mesh Systems also tend to have other built in features like auto connecting devices the nearest node, parental control and traffic priority for gamers. However they are very expensive products, often costing much more than powerline products, and are not absolutely guaranteed to work, though reliability has improved as the manufacturers have refined the technology.
Which Product is Best to Go For?
In general we always recommend going for powerline products if you can, since they can often do pretty much the same job as a mesh system in improving coverage, often for a much lower price. Wireless powerline adapters can give you wifi access points if that is what you need for tablets, notebooks and so on.
There are some cases though in which a powerline adapter may not work, such as in very large or old houses which have particularly complex or worn circuitry which does not allow the adapters to communicate. In these cases a mesh system may be a better bet but these cases tend to be rare. See our article on when powerline adapters will not work and also this excellent guide answering some of the more common questions on them.
Wifi Mesh Systems are elegant solutions but are very expensive, costing hundreds of dollars for a standard kit. They can however be really effective if you really want to spread wifi coverage around a very large property and kitting the same house out with powerline adapters in every room will push the cost up to the extent where getting a mesh system starts to make sense.