A common question people using Wi-Fi range extenders are asking at the moment is whether they can piggy back or daisy chain multiple of them all at once to boost the wireless signal over an even larger area. Is this possible, and if so, is it effective?
Multiple range extenders can be used on a home network, but more ideally in the sense of spreading out coverage on opposite sides of the home eg. One range extender for one side of the house, and another range extender for the other side of the house – both feeding off the same router, but amplifying the signal in different directions.
Piggy backing them on top of each other to extend the signal in one direction can work but is not an ideal solution, since you can expect throughput (speeds) to drop by 50% or more each time you piggy back one range extender on top of another.
This may work in some cases but is not a very efficient way of delivering bandwidth across a home network. There are also other networking solutions like wireless powerline adapters and Wi-Fi mesh systems which are likely a better alternative if you want to spread wireless coverage over a larger area.
Let’s look at the issue in more detail – the different ways you can use multiple range extenders, and some alternative options for spreading reliable internet access around the home.
The Correct Way To Use Multiple Wi-Fi Range Extenders
The ideal scenario if you plan to use multiple range extenders is to simply connect them both to your main router, but place them on opposite sides of the router, so they amplify the wireless coverage in different directions in the home for better overall coverage.
In this sense, you are not really piggy backing or daisy chaining them, but simply adding multiple range extenders to the home network, placing them on opposite sides of the router. See the graphic just below for a demonstration of this.
How To Correctly Use Multiple Range Extenders
Here you can see that the user has installed the extenders (orange dots) either side of their existing main router (blue dot), and each extender effectively takes care of their “half” of the house, extending and amplifying coverage to that part of the home.
Each extender is connected to the main router in it’s own right (not to each other), and they can be configured to each have a different SSID (name) and password so you don’t get confused which one is which.
Consult the instructions manuals or online guides of your particular brand for more on this; Wi-Fi range extenders are usually very easy to set up and configure.
Here are a few things to bear in mind when using range extenders:
- They work best when installed in direct line of sight of the main router.
- They work best over small to medium distances, with not so many walls in the way.
- They work best in open plan spaces like modern apartments.
- Performance can be hit and miss when you start adding more obstructions and distance.
- See the video below for an excellent visual demonstration of how to best install and use them.
When set up this way, all extenders should be drawing the signal from the main router, and not really interacting with each other as such, but merely extending the wireless signal to the corner of the home where they are based.
This can be an effective way of extending wireless coverage across a larger area of the home. Perhaps only using one range extender will only help to expand coverage on that side of the router. Installing another one on the other side of the router can help spread better Wi-Fi to that part of the house, and so using multiple extenders in this way can be a good idea.
Piggy Backing or Daisy Chaining Range Extenders
However, what if users actually want to try piggy backing or daisy chaining Wi-Fi range extenders on top of each other, to continue expanding Wi-Fi coverage in a specific direction. In other words, installing one range extender, and then installing another one which feeds off the first extender, and so on. Is this possible?
Whilst it is theoretically possible to daisy chain range extenders in this way, it is generally not recommended, as it is a pretty inefficient way of spreading Wi-Fi around a home and not guaranteed to be effective.
Firstly, range extenders work by far the best when they are amplifying the signal off the main house router only, and not piggy backing off other range extenders.
Whilst they may be able to do this, you will likely see a big drop off in throughput (delivered bandwidth) of 50% or more at each new step or “piggy back” you introduce into the network.
For instance if your home internet package runs at 100 mbps, installing one range extender feeding off the main router may reduce your throughput down to 50 mbps, and then piggy backing another extender off the first one may further reduce the throughput to 20 mbps or even less, and so on.
This may or may not affect your internet use depending on what you are doing. Looking through the forums on this, we also found some people had problems getting kicked off their network altogether doing this, constantly having problems re-entering passwords and having the router not recognizing the second extender.
The point is that it tends not to be a very efficient way of spreading connectivity across a home network, and there are other options that can do a better job of this. Let’s look at some of these now.
Alternatives to Piggy Backing Range Extenders
There are a couple of other home networking products that are much better at solving this problem of extending internet connections around the home – powerline adapters and Wi-Fi Mesh Systems. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Alternative Solution #1 – Powerline Adapters & Wireless Powerline Adapters – These are in general a much better option to daisy chaining range extenders, since they are specifically designed to be strung together in a network, unlike range extenders which work best as standalone devices connected to the router only.
Powerline adapters 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 adapters then communicate through the existing electrical wiring of the house to deliver a wired internet connection to the plug at the receiving end.
For those using portable wireless devices like tablets and iPhones, wireless powerline adapters are also available which do exactly the same thing, but in addition also provide a new cloned wireless access point at the receiving end, allowing you to connect your portable devices this closer and stronger access point.
See the video just below for a 2 minute demonstration of how powerline adapters work.
Click here to view powerline adapters on Amazon. See also our pages here:
- See our page on standard powerline adapters that deliver wired only connections.
- See our page on wireless powerline adapters for models which deliver wired and wireless access points all in one.
In this way, they work much the same way as range extenders, but often deliver a better signal, can deliver wired connections as well and are specifically designed to be strung together in a network.
You can most definitely buy and connect together more than two powerline adapters, and connect them all in a powerline network across the home to deliver wired and wireless access points to different parts of the home, using the existing house wiring.
See our article which specifically covers stringing powerline adapters together to create a powerline network around the home.
Alternative Solution #2 – Wi-Fi Mesh Systems – Powerline adapters can be a great way of spreading wired and wireless connectivity around the home, but what if you can’t use them because the wiring of your house doesn’t allow it, or you simply don’t want to use them because you want to stay on purely wireless connections for convenience?
In this case, the best option for getting better wireless coverage around the home is to use Wi-Fi Mesh Systems. These can be seen as more advanced versions of the range extenders models, working off pretty much the same idea but using more sophisticated technology to deliver better Wi-Fi over a larger area more reliably.
Wi-Fi Mesh Systems consist of a kit of two or three nodes or pods which are placed at strategic points in the home to boost Wi-Fi coverage.
Because they use more advanced technology than the simpler single plug range extender models, they are often considerably more expensive, but can deliver stronger Wi-Fi over larger homes with multiple floors.
If you have the extra budget though, they can be a better option than struggling around trying to piggy back range extenders, losing considerable bandwidth in the process. Mesh Systems are designed to spread coverage whilst preserving speeds as much as possible.
See the video below for more on how Mesh Systems work.
See also our page on Wi-Fi Mesh Systems for links to some popular models.