If you are looking to increase the coverage of your Wi-Fi network in your home or office a Wi-Fi extender is what you need. It acts as a bridge between your router and the location where you want to improve the strength of your Wi-Fi signal. It achieves this by rebroadcasting the existing Wi-Fi signal.
However, a common question among those looking to buy one is; can you install a wifi extender on your own? How easy are they to set up?
Wi-Fi extenders are not exactly plug-and-play. Once you plug in your Wi-Fi extender to a power outlet you need to take an extra step to configure it with your router. Configuration can be done using a computer browser, a tether app on your phone, or using the Wi-Fi Protected Set-Up (WPS) button.
Even though the setup process might sound intimidating, you can install them on your own.
How To set up a Wi-Fi Extender
You can configure your Wi-Fi Extender using the following ways:
- Using a browser on your laptop/computer
- Using a proprietary application on your phone
- Using the WPS button
The following video shows the different ways you can use to set up your Wi-Fi Extender:
Using a browser on your laptop/computer
This method involves plugging in your wifi extender to your power outlet and then connecting to the extender’s local Wi-Fi network. The extender’s Wi-Fi network should appear automatically in your list of available Wi-Fi networks. Usually, the network will have no password or the password will be provided in the user manual.
The next step will be to open a web browser and then enter the IP address of your Wi-Fi extender. This should also be provided in the device’s user manual. Doing this will open the extender’s setup page which will automatically guide you through the configuration process.
Be sure to set a strong password during the process to keep your network secure. You’ll also be presented with the option to choose between 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz if your device is dual-band.
Using a proprietary application on your phone
Some networking companies develop a corresponding phone application to go with their devices. Usually, these apps can be downloaded on iOS App Store or Google Play Store on Android. An example of such an application is the TP-Link Tether App developed for TP-Link Wi-Fi extender users.
Compared to using a computer to configure your Wi-Fi extender, using a phone application is much easier. This is because the setup wizard guides you through an easy-to-follow configuration process until you successfully establish a connection with your router.
Using the WPS button
Using the WPS button to synchronize your Wi-Fi extender is the easiest way to configure your Wi-Fi extender. However, for this method to work, both your router and WiFi Extender must come equipped with a WPS button.
When using this method, always start by pressing the WPS button on your router followed by the one on your extender.
Point to note: During the configuration process it is advisable to have both the router and the Wi-Fi extender in close proximity to each other to avoid connection issues. Once you’ve established a connection between your router and Wi-Fi extender, the Wi-Fi extender should be placed somewhere mid-way between the router and the location where you want the Wi-Fi signal to be amplified.
How To know if Your Wi-Fi Extender is working
You can know if your Wi-Fi extender is working by looking at the signal LED light indicator. If the connection to your router is successful, it should turn a solid color. Also, if the Wi-Fi devices connected to your Wi-Fi extender can connect to the internet then your device is working.
The internet status of your Wi-Fi extender can also be confirmed via a browser on your computer. You can do this by logging into the set-up page and then going to settings. If there’s a successful connection the internet status should be normal, and no error should appear.
Effects of leaving a Wi-Fi extender plugged in all the time
You can leave your Wi-Fi extender/booster plugged in all the time since it consumes very little power (about 6 watts on average) and it’s not always practical to have to wait for your extender to boot and reconnect with the router each time you want to access the internet.
However, if you are concerned about exposure to the EMFradiation given off by your Wi-Fi extender, it is advisable to unplug it when it’s not in use, especially if it is in your bedroom or is plugged in very close to you.
Keeping your Wi-Fi extender plugged in or unplugged has little effect on its lifespan since it has no moving parts. How long your Wi-Fi extender will last is dependent on the quality of the components used by the manufacturer and the environment it is placed in. For example, hot, dusty environments are likely to cause overheating which leads to premature device failure.
Wi-Fi extenders compatibility with routers
Wi-Fi extenders are not compatible with all router brands, however, they should be compatible with most router brands. Compatibility issues might arise due to a difference in the hardware/technology used or if the firmware is outdated, altered, open source, or non-standard.
This is especially true if you are trying to pair an old device with a new one.
If possible it is good to pair a router and Wi-Fi range extender from the same brand. This avoids problems to do with compatibility and makes configuration easier, especially with the WPS button or via a proprietary phone app. Also, you get to enjoy any extra features offered by the brand.
Effect of unplugging Your Wi-Fi extender
If you unplug your Wi-Fi extender, the Wi-Fi signal will be lost in the area where the signal had been amplified. Once the Wi-Fi extender is plugged back in, it will boot and reconnect with the router as long as it’s still within a reasonable range. You don’t have to repeat the setup process again since it retains its current settings even after it is unplugged.
However, If you are planning to move your Wi-Fi extender to a new location that has a different router, then you need to reset your device and repeat the configuration process.
Wi-Fi Extenders electricity consumption
Wi-Fi range extenders do not use a lot of electricity. On the low end, they consume about 2 watts while on the high end about 20 watts, with 6 watts being the average. The amount of power consumed by a Wi-Fi extender is dependent on how long it stays on, hardware design, features, and set frequency (2.45 GHz OR 5 GHz).
Plugging a Wi-Fi extender into a surge protector
You should not plug in your Wi-Fi extender into a surge protector since it can interfere with the high-frequency required for powerline networking. In fact, networking companies such as NetGear, TP-Link, and Linksys recommend that you avoid plugging in powerline adapters into surge protectors, power strips, and extension cords since this can slow down network speed.
You do not just plug in a Wi-Fi extender and start using it. You have to establish a connection between your Wi-Fi range extender and router. Fortunately, the setup process is easy and you don’t need a technician to do it, especially with the use of the WPS button or phone application.