How to Extend WiFi Range Without Losing Speed
When you need to stay close to your wireless router in order to use the internet with no lag issues, then you probably have a problem. And you are not alone. Most people who use wireless technology suffer from issues such as weak signal and limited range. You know that your wireless router has a prescribed distance by which you can get a decent connection, but did you know you can extend this range?
Some methods in extending the range of your wireless router can dramatically decrease speed, but nobody wants that to happen. So before deciding on a method, remember that there are WiFi repeaters or range extenders that can reduce speed. This guide will give you tips on how to extend the range of your WiFi router, but without having to sacrifice the speed.
Why is My WiFi Signal Weak?
All wireless signals travel using radio frequency transmissions, pretty much the same with radio and over-the-air television. Thus, its signal and strength are affected by the same factors that affect any technology that makes use of radio waves. These factors include the following:
- Radio signal interference from other devices or appliances that also sends out radio waves;
- Old and outdated wireless device or equipment;
- Broken or damaged receiving device;
- Physical obstructions such as concrete walls and metal frames. These obstructions can reduce the range by 25%.
Furthermore, the range if a wireless network heavily depends on the number and the type of wireless access points that it consists of. Wireless access points include the wireless routers within a computer network. For instance, a basic home network with one wireless router can accommodate one family. Office networks, on the other hand, normally have a lot of wireless routers, and thus can cover the whole office building.
Before dwelling into the methods in extending your wireless network’s range, it helps to know what radio frequency it uses. Mostly, home network routers operate in the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band.
How to Extend WiFi Range Without Losing Speed
While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why your WiFi signal is weak, there are troubleshooting steps that you can resort to. Ultimately, the best solution will be to purchase a new router, especially when the current one you are using is the free router given by your ISP.
Ultimate Tip: Change your router to a DD-WRT router
DD-WRT is a firmware that you can install on your wireless router in order to improve its performance (which includes range and speed). As a matter of fact, DD-WRT can turn your router into a super router. You can do a lot of things when you have a DD-WRT router, including setup either an OpenVPN or PPTP client. Here are the features of a DD-WRT router that make it into a super router:
1. Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) Protocol
This allows for easy sharing of files, printers, media and others between devices within a network.
2. Network Attached Storage (NAS)
Enables users to connect hard drives and USB disks to your router, turning it into a network drive that anyone within the network can access.
3. Advanced Quality of Service (DD-WRT QoS)
This feature allows users to control bandwidth allocation by splitting traffic between networks, and allocating a dedicated bandwidth for specific devices and software.
4. Network printers
Printers that can be accessed by anyone within the network can be attached.
5. Wireless bridging
This feature makes it possible for you to extend the range of your wireless signal as it turns your router into a wireless repeater.
6. DNS caching/DNSmasq
DNS caching improves connectivity speeds to a website by speeding up host name lookup.
The DD-WRT flashed router can be used as a VPN client, thereby protecting and securing all devices within the network. Even devices that don’t support VPN clients, such as Apple and Roku, can unblock geo-restrictions with the use of DD-WRT.
8. Adjust antenna power
With this feature, users can extend the wireless range of their routers.
9. Advanced performance graphs
DD-WRT’s advanced network tracking and user interface makes troubleshooting easier.
Check out our in-depth guide on DD-WRT to find out more.
There are already DD-WRT flashed routers available in the market these days, but if you have the knowledge and expertise, you can flash your router by yourself. You only need to make sure that the current router you have is compatible with DD-WRT.
Sadly, ISP-supplied routers are not DD-WRT compatible, so you may have to purchase a new one. While you’re at it, go for a DD-WRT flashed router.
If purchasing a new router is something you don’t want to avoid, as much as possible, then try out the following tips in extending the WiFi range of your network.
Change the Location of Your Router
Remember that an average wireless router has a range of 150 feet or 46 meters indoors, and 300 feet or 92 meters outdoors. True, these figures may be enough for typical households, but as mentioned before, there could be physical obstructions and radio interferences that can weaken the signal.
When choosing a location for your router, consider the following:
- Place your router at the center of your house.
- Place your router somewhere high and above the ground.
- Make sure that it is far away from other electronic devices like WiFi TV, wireless mouse and keyboards, and Xbox.
Avoid turning on different wireless devices at one time
Appliances and devices that makes use of radio frequencies can cause interference, making your WiFi signal weak. These include microwave, baby monitors, wireless audio equipment, wireless cameras, cordless telephones, RF video transmitters, and satellite TV receivers.
If you think that your wireless signal is weak due to interference, you can turn off the other devices in your home that are also using wireless signals, but turn them off it one by one. After turning off each device, check the signal of your wireless router to see if there is any difference.
When you notice a significant change after turning off a specific device, then that is the reason for the interference. You’ll make sure to avoid turning on this specific device while using your home network. Furthermore, to avoid any more interferences, just limit the number of wireless devices that are being used at one time in your home.
Change the channel of your wireless router
The wireless frequencies that most routers use vary from the common 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz because each main frequency have channels within it. It is akin to the lanes in a highway. When there are a lot of cars in one lane, the tendency is that the traffic is slower on that particular lane. The solution is to switch lanes.
For your wireless range, find an empty channel or a channel that has a few cars in it in order to increase your range. The steps below will help you in finding an empty channel.
- Download a WiFi Analyzer application on your mobile device.
- Scan your surroundings using the app, and you will see which frequency has more traffic, and which ones have lesser traffic.
- Once you see which frequency is not used by others, you can switch to it by going to Wireless > Basic Settings.
Use a Homemade WiFi Extender
A WiFi extender can help boost the strength of the your router’s signal and extend its range at the same time. You can buy WiFi extenders online, but there are also DIY methods of making a WiFi Extender using materials found in your home such as tin foils and cardboards. A homemade WiFi extender can save you a lot of money with the same result.
A number of wifi extender designs such as Windsurfer and Deep Dish are available online The materials you need are the following:
- Printouts of the design from Freeantennas.com
- Cardboard such as old cereal boxes
- Aluminum or tin foil
- Paper clamp to hold the materials together while the glue dries
Your router is an integral aspect of your home network that has a direct effect your connection speed and range. A weak router translates into a weak signal and range, while a super router allows you to maximize your internet connection. Sadly, most routers that your ISP provides fall into the weak category. They are mostly outdated, and only has the most basic of features.
If you want to make the most out of your router, the tips provided in this article are quite effective, as attested by a lot of people already. You can change the location of your router to make sure that it is at the center of your home and with as less physical obstruction as possible. Make sure also that you limit the number of wireless device that’s turned in in your home at a time. For more technical people, changing the channel of your wireless router can do wonders, and creating your very own WiFi extender can work also.
Ultimately, however, the best solution is to install DD-WRT firmware into your router, or purchase a DD-WRT flashed router instead. This way, your router becomes a super router, enabling you to take advantage of so many features such as DNS caching and VPN.