Wi-Fi extenders

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My primary wireless router is whatever is built in to my ISP's gateway device, which is subject to somewhat frequent change.

I want to extend this network signal over a larger residential lot. So I'm looking for wireless extenders that:

  1. Support 802.11 b, g, n, and ac (at least).
  2. Just plug-in and work without any compatibility limitations, since I don't get to choose my primary router.
  3. Will most cost-effectively blanket a 1-acre residence where the base router is located roughly at the center of the lot and house. I.e., if a single extender might be powerful enough to place at one side of the house and reach around the outside then great. Or, if two or three significantly cheaper ones can work harmoniously from the corners of the house that's fine too.

feetwet

Posted 2015-09-10T13:33:47.297

Reputation: 595

Answers

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I have had this need myself (though not to cover an acre) and I eventually got tired of the horrendously poor capabilities offered by ISP devices. Now, rather than using the WiFi settings of those devices, I turn WiFi off completely on the ISP device and use a separate router. Once you have configured your own router to your liking, it is completely plug & play because it is completely independent of the ISP router. I have kept the same set up through fibre, cable, DSL and even a move to a different country.

I started with the venerable Linksys WRT-54G (that will show you how long ago this was - I loved that router), and that meant that I discovered the fantastic DD-WRT firmware.

Since then, DD-WRT compatibility has been my number one requirement when upgrading to the latest tech. First, I went for the Linksys WRT-600N, added a Buffalo N600 as an extender (which comes with DD-WRT as stock firmware) and now use a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 as my primary router with the older Linksys as my range extender.

That's worth noting: you don't have to specifically buy an extender, any router with decent firmware can be configured to function as an extender while still giving you the option to use it as an AP later.

In terms of actual recommendations, the aforementioned Nighthawk is pricey but has been excellent for me so far. It has plenty of horsepower, USB 3.0 support and more. Netgear also has a range extender model that I have not used personally but have heard good things about from friends.

Plus, I personally think it looks cool :)

Nighthawk R7000

To cover larger areas, you can also replace the antennae on many routers (Nighthawk included) with larger, extendable, high gain antennae so that you can mount them away from the router and get far better coverage. If you are on a budget I once used a colander as a make-shift directional antenna to better enable line of sight connectivity to another router.

One other note: if you have a router with separately configurable 2.4 and 5Ghz interfaces then you can restrict the lower range, lower speed legacy devices (b, g) to the 2.4Ghz spectrum only and take full advantage of the 5Ghz goodness and better range offered by N and AC on the more modern devices. Again, this is something I have done very successfully with DD-WRT on the Linksys and the Netgear models - I have one network with a -g postfix using the 2.4 network (actually N in mixed mode) and one with -n (which is AC, N only), both with the same password.

Adam Comerford

Posted 2015-09-10T13:33:47.297

Reputation: 1 144

2to better enable line of sight connectivity to another router <-- I've seen this done with satellite dishes to pick up public wifi from almost a mile away.enderland 2015-09-10T17:55:16.123

If we uses a wifi extender and some computers are in range of the extender but not in range of the main router, will signal have to go through the main router or can they communicate directly? How will it affect sound latency for google chromecast audio?J. Chang 2016-05-21T14:47:05.193