I have a basic D-Link “n” router. The signal does not penetrate well throughout my house. What is the best way to get excellent coverage everywhere? I was thinking of adding a wireless access point at the opposite end of the
There are a couple of good approaches to extending your wireless network for your laptop or other wireless devices. Depending on the characteristics of your home, adding one or more wireless access points may well be the best
On the other hand, they’re not appropriate for all situations, so I’ll look at a couple of common alternatives as well.
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The common setup looks like this:
The internet comes into a wireless router (which is nothing more than a combined router and access point), and the wireless connection is available to anyone in range.
The most common problem is either distance – when the laptop you want to connect wirelessly is too far away – or some kind of obstruction that blocks the wireless signal.
That block can be anything from an actual wall to electrical equipment that just happens to also interfere with the wireless signal.
Additional Access Point
The “traditional”, and typically the best solution is to add an additional wired access point (not a router):
The access point connects via cable to one of the router’s available wired connections, and that cable then bypasses the interference, or bridges the distance, so that an additional access point can be placed closer to the laptop that needs it.
In general, if you can manage getting a cable in place to do it, this is generally the preferred approach, and the most robust. You can, for example, place a switch at the end of that cable and hook up additional wired equipment in addition to that wireless access point.
To address your plan: opposite ends of the house sounds like a good plan, but keep in mind where you expect the computers to be used the most and perhaps optimize placement for that. For example, my wireless access point sits in my family room, where my wife and I frequently use our laptops when at home.
A wireless repeater is nothing more than a wireless device that hands off communication between two points:
The repeater is placed “somewhere” between the wireless router and the computer you want to have connect wirelessly. I say “somewhere” because this can get tricky – it needs to be close enough to the wireless router to get a good signal, yet also close enough to the laptop or other computers connecting wirelessly to be able to provide them with a strong signal as well. In the diagram, I’ve placed the repeater on one side of the wall or interference, but in reality it could be just about anywhere as long as those two “close enough” criteria are met.
Placement can be an issue. I’ve also heard that wireless repeaters can adversely impact throughput in some cases. (Caveat: I’ve never used one myself, opting for the wired solution wherever necessary.)
Another approach that is frequently mentioned is simply to get better antennas – either for the wireless router, the remote laptop, or both.
By replacing or adding larger or directional antennas on the equipment involved you can occasionally increase the range of the wireless signal. A larger or directional antenna on the wireless router can produce a stronger or clearer signal. A larger or directional antenna on the remote device gives it “bigger ears” with which to hear the signal available.
I’ve heard of this solution working well in many circumstances – typically increasing the range of unobstructed wireless signals. But like the repeater, it can also be somewhat difficult to set up and get working. If a wired solution is not an option, and you have the ability to experiment with this solution I’d probably rank it as my number two choice – though a distant number two.
The specifics of what’s available will depend on your router, your laptop, and perhaps even your own ability to get creative (a common example cited is the “can-tenna” made out of a potato chip can that can create a highly directional – home made – antenna).