How To Extend WiFi Range
If the wireless network coverage in your home isn’t quite covering all the desired areas, we’ve found the solution. This method will also make your WiFi faster in current areas where WiFi is slow due to the distance from your current router.
We tested a few routers with the hopes we could manage extending the WiFi with a single device. We were unsuccessful. We tried flashing two routers with DD-WRT and found the coverage to be better, but required some advanced knowledge and had the annoyance of having to connect to different WANs as we roamed the area.
The best device we found to cover well over 4,000 sq. ft. (371 sq. m.) was Orbi by Netgear. Satellites can be added to the Orbi system if a larger coverage area is needed. In our testing, we found the 1 router/1 satellite kit system to be very adequate.
Our objective was to get coverage in a 3,500 sq. ft. (325 sq. m.) home with coverage extending to an outdoor patio and carport. Total area needing coverage is about 5,000 sq. ft. (464 sq. m.)
For testing purposes, the main WiFi router was always located as close to the middle of the house as possible.
Methods We Used To Test Better WiFi Coverage
Method 1 was using the provided WiFi router from the ISP (ZyXel P-660HN-51). We tried elevating the router, changing channels, changing frequencies and had no luck getting coverage beyond the inside of the house. In some areas in the house, the WiFi coverage would drop.
Method 2 was adding range extender antennas to an already owned Linksys WRT54GL. When this was put in place, we disabled WiFi on the router provided by the ISP to eliminate interference. Coverage was only slightly better than the ISP router. Speeds were no faster or slower. We changed channels, changed frequencies, and elevated the router. The results were the same with only slightly extended coverage.
Method 3, I took to Facebook and asked my friends which WiFi router they thought has the best coverage. The two most popular answers were the Nighthawk AC1900 and the Nighthawk X6 AC3200 both by Netgear. Although the coverage did extend slightly with both of these routers, WiFi didn’t quite reach all areas we needed. I will say that network speeds on both of these routers was noticeably faster. My devices connected faster and pages loaded quicker. So if you need to extend your coverage slightly further or simply want a faster and more stable WiFi, I’d recommend either of these routers, hands down.
Method 4 was flashing 2 Linksys WRT54GLs with DD-WRT while having range extender antennas on both routers. After some semi-advanced configuring on both routers that took well over an hour, they linked up without issue. The coverage worked very well and extended to all areas we needed. Network speeds were also consistent. The biggest negative to this setup was the WiFi wasn’t seamless. At one end of the house you needed to be connected to Network1 while at the other end where the Network1 WiFi didn’t reach, you had to connect to Network2. This isn’t a problem with static devices like Roku’s, desktop computers, etc. However, if you’re roaming the house with your phone or other portable devices, manually switching to the strongest network was definitely an inconvenience. This setup was in place for over a month’s time and the routers only lost each other once or twice. A simple power cycle of each router got them reconnected.
Method 5 was Orbi. I only recently learned about Orbi from my mom. I’m a techie, she’s not. It’s proof that no matter how old you are, you can still learn from your mother. : ) Orbi works similar to Method 4 where you’re connecting two devices to extend coverage. I was dreading the setup due to my previous experience with Method 4. However, the instructions were extremely simple. Setup was a snap (if non techie mom can do it, so can I). I was up and running with Orbi in less than 30 minutes. WiFi coverage over the desired areas was successful. The 1 router/1 satellite kit says it’ll cover up to 5,000 sq. ft. (464 sq. m.). In our test, it’s well beyond the claimed coverage range. Plus the connection is seamless. You only see one SSID (WiFi network). When roaming the area with a mobile device, you can watch the network signal degrade for a second and quickly go back to full strength as it alternates between devices. This system has been in place for a couple of weeks and the router and satellite have remained connected to each other without any issues.
In summary, there are several options out there to extend your WiFi network coverage. I hope our testing will save you some time in choosing the right device(s) for your scenario.