What is a WiFi Booster and How Does it Improve Signal?
How to Boost WiFi Signal?
Do you struggle with slow internet and internet dead spots inside your home or place of work? Poor WiFi can be caused by WiFi blocking materials, such as thick walls, metal, concrete, glass, and signal interference from other devices.
Under such circumstances, the first thing you should try is relocating your router. Moving the router to an open central location can fix your wireless coverage problem. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes extra measures need to be taken, such as replacing the router's antennas, purchasing long-range antennas, or even purchasing new WiFi equipment, which might or might not improve the coverage area.
If you have tried everything you can to improve your WiFi signal to no avail, consider trying out a WiFi signal booster. They are specifically designed to improve your WiFi network’s coverage. How exactly do they function — and do WiFi boosters increase internet speed?
While it may seem complicated to understand how WiFi boosters and similar devices work, it's not nearly as confusing as it may seem. Let's review how WiFi boosters work, how to use them, and other important information. Say goodbye to weak WiFi signals for good.
Get ready to say goodbye to weak WiFi signal for good.
What is a WiFi Booster?
WiFi boosters (also known as internet boosters) expand your WiFi system's coverage area by boosting or amplifying the wireless signal and broadcasting it into the desired areas. As a result, you will no longer have to deal with poor WiFi in your home or business.
Different types of WiFi booster models are available; they vary in design, range, amplification power, and frequency band usage.
- Wall Plug or Desktop Design: There are two different types of booster styles available. Some simply plug into a power source and are great for improving the signal in one room, while others sit on a desk, table, or shelf and use stronger external antennas that are capable of improving the signal in multiple rooms.
- Range: Most routers have a range of 150-300 feet. Any device outside that range will experience connectivity issues. Depending on the WiFi booster model, they can increase the range by 300-2,000+ sq ft on average.
- Frequency Bands: There are two types of WiFi signal boosters – single-band and dual-band. Single-band boosters only utilize one frequency band (2.4GHz or 5GHz) to transmit data. On the other hand, dual-band WiFi boosters use both GHz frequencies to transmit data; one band solely communicates with the router, and the other band talks to the wireless devices.
How Does a WiFi Booster Work?
WiFi boosters connect to a wireless access point, such as a router or hotspot. The WiFi booster grabs the signal being transmitted by the access point and amplifies it for better use. Usually, boosters are coupled with stronger antennas that help broadcast the signal further and cover larger areas.
Placement of the WiFi booster is extremely important. It must be close enough to the access point to receive a signal but far enough away to cover problem areas. Find an area without a strong WiFi connection and plug the booster into a wall outlet halfway between the target area and the router.
Most WiFi boosters have pretty simple setup processes. Many utilize the WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) button, which makes the installation process super-fast. Simply press the button on both devices, and the WiFi booster will connect to the router. Of course, different WiFi signal booster manufacturers (Netgear, Tp-Link, Linksys, D-Link, Asus, Orbi, and Eero) might require additional steps.
After completing the setup process, the booster can start working its magic; it will grab the existing WiFi signal and extend its coverage area.
The last step is to connect your phone, laptop, tablet, and smart home devices to the WiFi booster. To do so, go into the WiFi settings on your wireless device, click on the WiFi booster's network name (SSID) and enter the password. The password might be the same as your current network, or you might've created a different one during the setup process. Once connected to the booster, you will be able to enjoy a reliable internet connection in places that originally received poor signal strength.
Do WiFi Boosters Only Work with Wireless Devices?
WiFi boosters work with wireless and wired devices. The majority of boosters have at least one ethernet port that can be used for printers, computers, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. This provides even faster speeds than can be achieved wirelessly, and lets you control where you placed your wired access points.
The setup process is slightly different than the one discussed earlier. Rather than wirelessly connecting the devices to the booster, you would use ethernet or gigabit ethernet cables to wire the device to the booster.
Do WiFi Boosters Really Work?
As long as you have a wireless signal in your home or business, WiFi boosters will improve the signal's range.
For optimal results, don’t hide the booster behind furniture, in a gap between your living room couch and the wall, or place it near appliances that can interfere with the signal. Doing so will degrade the WiFi booster's range and power, which might cause unsatisfactory results.
How would I Know if the WiFi Booster is Working?
The first sign showing that the booster is working is experiencing better signals in the weak zone and dead zone areas.
If you are a person of numbers and prefer actual proof, speed tests are great tools that can be used to analyze WiFi signal improvements. To visually see the difference, you will need to conduct multiple speed tests — one with just your WiFi connection and the other with the WiFi booster. Ideally, you would want to record the results to have a side-by-side comparison.
Do WiFi Boosters Increase Internet Speed?
So, do WiFI boosters increase internet speed? Not exactly. The internet speed you receive from your internet service provider (ISP) is the bottleneck — a WiFi booster will not increase your internet speed.
However, that doesn't mean that they will not have an influence on your home's internet connection. WiFi boosters use powerful amplifiers and antennas to boost and broadcast the signal in a more efficient manner. As a result, it appears as if they have improved your internet speed.
For example, let's say you purchased a WiFi booster on Amazon that supports up to 750 Mbps, but your internet plan only provides you with a max of 300 Mbps under perfect conditions. The WiFi booster will not magically increase the internet speed from 300 Mbps to 750 Mbps — it only works with what's available. Instead, the booster will take the existing signal and facilitate a stronger signal, which will allow the connected devices to experience faster WiFi speeds.
Are WiFi Boosters Secure?
WiFi boosters use the same level of security as WiFi routers - WEP, WPA, and WPA2, with WPA/WPA2 being more secure. In 2019 a new security protocol was introduced known as WPA3. The new protocol improved the security features within public and private WiFi networks, making it more difficult for hackers to access your wireless network.
Do I Need a WiFi Booster?
Not sure if you need a WiFi booster? Here are three reasons why you might:
- Are there areas in your home that don’t get a WiFi signal or have slow WiFi?
- Do you have the latest WiFi technology (WiFi 5 or WiFi 6) and you’re still suffering from slow speeds, buffering, and dead spots?
- Does your WiFi connection worsen as you walk around your home?
If you responded yes to one or all of these questions, then you do need a WiFi booster. Sometimes the latest WiFi technology is not enough to cover every nook and cranny of your home or office, especially in large homes that exceed the range of the WiFi router. WiFi boosters are cheaper than purchasing a new router and provide an easy way of improving your WiFi coverage.
Are There Alternative WiFi Range Extending Options?
While WiFi boosters are great, it's also good to know about the different WiFi range-extending options available and how they differ from boosters. The top three alternatives are WiFi extenders, powerline adapters, and mesh networks.
What’s the Difference Between a WiFi Booster and WiFi Extender?
WiFi boosters and WiFi range extenders (also known as WiFi repeaters) are often used interchangeably. While they both improve your WiFi coverage area, they work in slightly different ways.
Wireless range extenders work by capturing your network's existing signal and rebroadcasting the same signal into the desired areas. WiFi boosters work differently — instead of rebroadcasting the same signal, they function by capturing your network's existing signal and boosting or amplifying that signal to other corners of your home.
What's the Difference Between a WiFi Booster and a Powerline Adapter?
Unlike boosters, powerline adapters use the electrical wiring in your home to extend the WiFi signal. Powerline kits are composed of 2 adapters; one plugged into a power outlet near the router, and the other in the area where you need signal. Connect the first adapter to the router via an ethernet cable and the second to an ethernet device. After the connection has been established, the internet signal will travel through the electrical wiring and provide the wired devices with a reliable connection. In addition, the second adapter also broadcasts a wireless signal to extend the WiFi range.
What's the Difference Between a WiFi Booster and a Mesh Network?
Both WiFi boosters and mesh networks extend your home WiFi network's range but are very different in various aspects:
Functionality: Mesh networks are composed of 2-3 mesh extenders, also known as nodes, while boosters usually consist of one device. The nodes are designed to blanket your entire home with a reliable, high-speed
WiFi connection. One node would be wired to the modem, as opposed to wirelessly connecting to the router. Essentially, the
connected node will take on the job of the router. The remaining nodes should be spread around your home.
Similar to the booster, one node will need to be located halfway between the target area and the "router." Additional nodes don't need to be within a certain distance from the router — they do, however, need to be a certain distance from another node. The wired node will wirelessly share its internet connection with the other nodes. As a result, rather than using one unit to broadcast the internet signal, you have multiple units broadcasting internet signals to provide you with the best WiFi coverage.
- Seamless Network: Mesh nodes work together to create a seamless home network, meaning the whole system operates under the same SSID and password. As you walk around your home, your device will automatically connect to the closest node. In contrast, WiFi boosters tend to create a new network with a different SSID and password. As you move around your home, you might have to manually switch between networks to connect to the closest one.
- Price: Mesh networks are made up of extremely smart technology and tend to cover larger areas. For that reason, they are a lot more expensive than WiFi boosters. Some of the best WiFi boosters range from $50-$80, while mesh network kits range from $200-$500+.
- The Number of Wireless Bands: WiFi boosters utilize one or two bands to transfer data. Mesh networks take it one step further; many mesh devices are tri-band. They transmit one 2.4GHz signal and two 5GHz signals. One band is used to communicate with the router, while the other two are used to communicate with more devices at the same time. In other words, tri-band devices have double the bandwidth on the 5GHz band. As a result, throughput increases, speeds improve, and congestion decreases.
How to Use WiFi Boosters Correctly
If you take nothing else away from this article, we hope it’s that where you place your WiFi booster can have a profound influence on its performance. It's critical to think carefully about its positioning. Start by identifying where your router is located in comparison to the dead zones of your home you want to eliminate with your booster, and then find a power outlet close to the midway point of these locations.
However, learning how to use WiFi boosters correctly becomes more complicated if you have a multi-floor house. Because your dead zones may exist on a different floor than the router, you'll have to take into account the wood, masonry, and other building materials in the floor and ceiling that will prevent the booster from capturing the signals. If you do plan to have your WiFi router and booster on separate floors, then it's best to place them in positions that would line them up on top of each other.
In the event that there isn't an outlet in your ideal WiFi booster location, then you may need to consider using an extension cord to extend its range. Once your booster is plugged in and set up in the region, check your dead zones for WiFi connectivity.
Do WiFi Boosters Increase Internet Speed Access To Other Parts of the Home When Poorly Placed?
Do WiFi boosters increase internet speed access when they're set up in a poor location? Not as effectively, no. There are many potential obstacles that can impair the signal's path, meaning that homeowners should take these hindrances into consideration when choosing where to plug in their WiFi booster.
For example, radio frequency signals are a major interference that will stand in the way of your booster's performance. As a result, it would be wise not to set up your booster near cordless phones or microwave ovens. In addition, it's possible for certain household objects to reflect the signal, such as mirrors and large metallic items, so don't place your WiFi booster nearby.
Contact Signal Boosters Today
To learn more about boosters, repeaters, and extenders, give us a call today. Signal Boosters is a leading provider of cell phone signal boosters for homes, vehicles, and commercial buildings. We specialize in consumer-friendly kits as well as customized RF systems for cellular, public safety two-way radio, DAS, and WiFi.
Additionally, high-quality cell phone signal amplifiers are available on our website. Signal Boosters is here to assist with any issues you might be experiencing with poor cell service and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. For additional details on our products and how they can help you, contact us today.