Wi-Fi Extender versus Wi-Fi Booster: What’s the Difference?

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In the past, the term ‘Wi-Fi booster” was a catch-all phrase for any device that extended a Wi-Fi signal, and people today still talk about a "Wi-Fi extender" and "Wi-Fi booster" as though they are the same. They are different devices that work in different ways but serve similar purposes. They both improve the coverage of a Wi-Fi network. A Wi-Fi extender has a more complex setup than a booster and is more costly to install. If you don’t know the difference between the two, the following information should help to clarify the wifi extender vs booster.

Wi-Fi Extender Definition

A Wi-Fi extender, also called a wireless range extender, can pick up an existing Wi-Fi signal from a router or access point and amplify it to extend the network range. It is a device between the Wi-Fi router and the user device that strengthens the signals coming from the router. This provides coverage to areas that are out of range. You can effectively double the coverage of your Wi-Fi network to reach different floors, the far corners of your home or office and even your yard.

Wi-Fi Booster Definition

A Wi-Fi booster, also called a signal booster, acquires the signal from a wireless router or access point and makes it stronger. It doesn’t sit between the router and the user's device. An antenna makes the Wi-Fi signal more powerful without the need for additional networks or passwords. This type of device is useful for boosting the signal in areas where the signal strength may be weak due to distance or interference.

Pros of Using a Wi-Fi Extender

  • Extend Wi-Fi Range: Using a Wi-Fi range extender means you can access the internet from areas in your home or office that were previously inaccessible because of extended network reach.
  • Affordable: Wi-Fi extenders are relatively inexpensive compared with some other network devices, such as routers. They are more costly to set up than boosters.
  • Prioritize Wi-Fi Signals: You can prevent certain users from hogging the network by prioritizing Wi-Fi signals for different users.

Cons of Using a Wi-Fi Extender

  • Slower speed: The speed of the wireless network may be slower.
  • Limited bandwidth: An extender only extends the bandwidth of the original router. The more devices connected to the network, the slower it will be.
  • Installation: Set up of a Wi-Fi extender is more difficult than a booster. You may have to set up units around your home to build a strong network.
  • Interference: Wi-Fi extenders can interfere with other wireless devices, such as Bluetooth devices. This can cause signal degradation and make the network slower or unstable.

The effectiveness of a Wi-Fi extender is limited by various factors such as the speed of the internet connection coming into the home, the areas in need of coverage and the Wi-Fi demands of the family.

Pros of Using a Wi-Fi Booster

  • Better Wi-Fi Signal: Wi-Fi boosters strengthen the Wi-Fi signal and can effectively eliminate dead zones and boost internet speed.
  • Cost-effective: Wi-Fi boosters are generally more affordable than upgrading to a more powerful router or installing additional access points. They are also cheaper than Wi-Fi extenders and easier to install.
  • Compatible with Most Devices: Wi-Fi boosters are compatible with most devices that connect to Wi-Fi. This includes smartphones, laptops, tablets and smart home devices.

Cons of Using a Wi-Fi Booster

  • Limited range: A Wi-Fi booster strengthens a signal and can increase speed, but the range can be limited.

Overall, a Wi-Fi extender or booster can both be great solutions, depending on what you need. Compared to extenders, Wi-Fi boosters can offer faster speeds and support more devices at once. An extender doesn’t strengthen a signal but amplifies it. It can be a great help if you want to extend internet coverage. You need to weigh up the pros and cons of each before you consider making a purchase.

Wi-Fi Extender and Booster Applications

Wi-Fi speed may need to be faster in some areas of your home. This can happen if your Wi-Fi router is located upstairs in a home office, and you often need to access the internet downstairs. It’s hard for a single wireless router to cover a large home; a Wi-Fi extender can solve the problem. It will also help to access the internet outside, such as on a screened porch, outside by the pool or in a detached garage.

You may have some areas in your home where the Wi-Fi signal disappears all together. These dead zones could be caused by obstacles such as thick concrete walls that prevent the signal from passing. Wi-Fi boosters can boost Wi-Fi signals in dead regions and can also help with improving Wi-Fi speed. If you want faster internet, you may not have to buy a new router if you use a booster.

WiFi extenders and boosters can help to upgrade your WiFi network’s speed and add new capabilities.

You can use a Wi-Fi booster if you need to connect two or more hosts through the IEEE 802.11 protocol, but the distance between the two is too great to establish a direct connection.

The choice of a Wi-Fi extender or Wi-Fi booster will depend on your demands and your budget. Before you make a purchase, make sure you check the features and specifications of your devices and router. You need to look at factors like supported channels, standards, bands and security modes.