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Wifi Extender vs Repeater: Are They Same? Let’s Find Out

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From smartphones to CCTV cameras- everything is connected through the internet. Whether it’s for personal use or your office, establishing a reliable and infallible network connection remains of paramount importance in this heavy internet-dependent era. 

Without a reliable connection, your internet connection will most likely drop dead if you pass one-step beyond the wireless range. 

It mostly happens when you connect many devices in a single access point. In such situations, extenders and repeaters can help you a lot.

However, the ongoing Wifi Extender vs Repeater war is not going to stop sooner. Most people get confused about what to select and why.

So, we decided to put the “who is better than whom” question to rest forever.

What is a WiFi Repeater? 

WiFi Extender

Wi-Fi repeater serves as a device that boosts your Wi-Fi signal. You have to connect your Wi-Fi network with the Wi-Fi repeater and then the device will rebroadcast the Wi-Fi signal, thereby extending your Wi-Fi connectivity.

However, to receive a good signal, you need to place the WIFI repeater within the perimeter of a strong Wi-Fi signal.

Meaning, if you install your repeater further away from your primary router, then most likely you will receive a weaker signal.

All Wi-Fi repeaters, smartphones, and other electronic devices use the frequency range while connecting to a router. Meaning, if you connect your Wi-Fi repeater to the primary router, then you cannot expect a phenomenal increase in speed.

Besides, you will likely receive a half of bandwidth. Moreover, the existence of thick walls, microwaves, cordless phone signals, floors, etc. can also cause interference between your router and repeater. 

A Wi-Fi repeater usually comes in a plug n play format. Since it only rebroadcasts your existing connection, you do not have to sign in every time you move from one location to another.

How Does a Repeater Work?

A repeater starts working as soon as it establishes a connection with the router. Once done, you can use the signal of the Wi-Fi router to connect your wireless devices like laptops, smartphones, IoT devices, etc.

First, you have to turn on the router and try to connect your devices through it. In case, your devices could not find the signal of the primary router, then you can use the repeater.

The repeater captures the signal of the router, and extend the transmission strength of the internet signal. As a result, you can easily connect your devices to your network.

However, to capture the signal of the repeater, you need to turn on the Wi-Fi of your devices. Once your router accepts your device’s information, it corroborates that information with the web servers, thereby, allowing you to establish a connection.

How to Set Up?

Wifi Extender Setup

Check the area within your house or office where the signal of the wireless signal starts to weaken. Make sure your repeater is getting some signal while plugging them to the power outlet. After that, plug your laptop or any other device to the repeater. Now, configure the network setting on your device. Once you log in to the network, the repeater will connect itself to the wireless network and rebroadcast the signal to other devices. 

How to choose the best WiFi Repeater?

You cannot simply buy any repeater you find on the internet. Make sure to check some specifications. 

Although the connection happens quite fast, it also relies on several factors like the type of router, Wi-Fi repeater, and their standards.

For instance, the common wireless routers and repeaters come with a standard of 802.11n aka Wireless N, facilitating a network bandwidth up to 300 Mbps. The repeater offers great speed and range without causing much interference. 

Meanwhile, some new generation wireless routers come with 802.11ac that enables Wi-Fi repeaters to support 2.4GHZ and 5 GHz bands. Now, mixing up two standards can also connectivity interference, resulting in lower bandwidth.

Likewise, internet providers too can limit the network speed, so that wireless devices do not reach their maximum speed.

To simplify, if you have a broadband subscription for 100mbps speed, but your router supports 300mbps, then your internet provider will limit the internet speed from their end. 

We suggest you go for an 802.ac standard as they offer around 2.8X speed than Wireless N. Even if your existing router does not support 802.11ac, you won’t face any problem. 

Go for a wifi repeater that supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz. This will make your wifi router less crowded and may transmit better signals.

What is WiFi Extender?

Wifi Repeater

In this Wifi Extender vs Repeater argument, Wifi extenders have an edge. Actually, unlike repeaters, you need a wired connection to connect a wifi extender to your access point or router.

As a result, you get a stronger and reliable connection to any area you want. An extender taps directly to an existing connection. Because of that, you will most likely receive a similar bandwidth and speed.

Also, you will not face any kind of interference with an extender. You can use the access internet connection in dead zone areas as well.

What Is The Difference Between a WiFi Extender And a Wifi Repeater?

To extend your network access limit through a wifi extender, you need to connect it to your home network through a wired connection port as an Ethernet cable. Through extender, you can extend your wifi’s reach without limiting your bandwidth output. 

But in the case of the repeater, you need to plug it only after confirming the existence of a potential signal of your primary router. Meaning, if the signal strength of a router is 150 feet, then you cannot plug a repeater more than 150 feet away. Meanwhile, such limitation does not occur with a Wifi extender. As you connect it through a wired network, you can install the extender as far as the wire goes. 

How Does It Boost WiFi signals?

Wifi extenders receive your router’s signal to its full potential. The extender receives the signal and then repeats them with powerful antennas and amplifiers, thereby extending the coverage up to 2-3 times the range.

To get the best signal, make sure to check the wifi speed of your existing router. For example- for a dual-band router, you also need to buy a dual-band extender. 

Also Read : How To Increase Wifi Extender Speed.

Types of Extender

You will generally have two options- Desktop version and wall-plugged version. A desktop extender works best if you want to connect a large number of internet-based wired devices and USB storage options. Otherwise, wall-plugged works best for all purposes.

Also, if you want to receive the best quality signal to stream HD videos, play games, etc., then we highly recommend you use a Wi-Fi extender to connect your devices wirelessly, instead of repeaters.

What Is its Maximum Reach?

The best thing about wifi extender is that it doesn’t come with a connectivity limit. You can use a 100 feet cable (more or less) in a wifi extender to extend your signal reach. Suppose you have your primary router on the first floor and you want to extend the signal to the third floor.

Using a repeater may not give you the appropriate speed you desire. Therefore, you have to use the extender by installing an extender.

You can do this by installing the extension on the third floor and connecting it to the router with an Ethernet cable. Whether the length between the first floor to the third floor is 50 feet, 150 feet, or more, does not matter. 

FAQs

Can a Wifi Repeater Enable Device Switching Between Networks Automatically?

It completely depends upon your router’s signal strength and the area you are in the house. For example- the standard signal strength of a router remains around 150 feet. If you pass that zone, then your device will automatically connect to the strongest wifi signal it receives. Let’s say your laptop/smartphone is registered to both the router and repeater. Now if you are connected to the router and suddenly beyond the signal strength, then your device will automatically connect to the repeater(if any) nearby. Similarly, moving back to your usual place will make your device connect back to the router. Likewise, if you are in a place where you can access both, the router and repeater, in equal signal strength, then your device will automatically connect to the network, which it finds best. Also, you can manually select a network of your choice to connect your device.

Do Wifi Repeaters Offer The Same Levels Of Security as WiFi Extenders?

Yes, both repeaters and extenders are considered safe, but hackers often look for ways to penetrate a vulnerable device. Most hackers use free network detection software to identify surrounding Wi-Fi networks. Since most manufacturers use the same software, hackers can manipulate your SSID to retrieve your id username and password. So, change your SSID name so that hackers can’t find your routers, repeaters or extenders’ brand name. If possible, hide your SSID from others. 

Choose the strongest encryption methods like WPA2 or WPA2 AES to store usernames and passwords. The AES cipher adds an extra layer of protection by encrypting your transmission and making it impossible to crack.

Does a Wifi Extender Affect Speed?

In the case of extender, it never happens. In repeaters, it may happen, but usually at a considerate level. Actually, data will likely slow down every time they pass through a device. However, you can do several things to improve speed. 

Move the repeater to the primary router as close as possible. When the signal between these devices increases, it will reflect on the network speed. Also, never put the router or repeater on the floor, as it will adversely affect the speed. Also, if you find too much interference, make sure to move the repeater to a place with less interference.

Will a WiFi Extender Increase Download Speed?

A WiFi Extender does not increase the download speed. Extend provides consistent quality of network speed as your router without causing any network inference. The speed of your network directly depends upon your internet subscription plans or the service quality of your ISP.

Final Thoughts

To sum up the wifi extender vs repeater topic, we can say that both do the same thing but differently. Although extenders win the race, we simply cannot underestimate or discard repeaters completely. If you live in a small area or have a small office, then a repeater will work fine. Also, using it is as simple as one could possibly wish for. Meanwhile, extenders offer consistent speed, but you may require to prep the area and pay some extra cost to a professional for wiring. In return, you get good speed and connectivity.

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