Whether you’re trying to speed up your Wi-Fi connection or access it from your garage, yard, or shed, the methods for extending your Wi-Fi range are generally the same:
- Change your router’s current location and/or settings.
- Install a mesh network or Wi-Fi extending device.
- Use an Ethernet cable.
- Utilize another router.
Knowing which methods to use and when will help you understand how to extend your Wi-Fi range, hopefully without spending too much money on upgrading your internet plan or buying more devices.
How to Extend Wi-Fi in Your House
There are a few steps you can take to extend your Wi-Fi signal inside your home and get more out of your internet service:
- Move your router. The first step to extending Wi-Fi range within a home is to place your router in a central location. It sends the Wi-Fi signal in all directions, so be sure the area you choose is free from clutter and not near any walls. Having items, especially those with metal (like the sheet behind drywall), around your router can impede your signal.
- Change your frequency. Most routers these days are dual-band routers, which lets you choose between a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz band. Using the 2.4 GHz band will give you almost double the range (410 feet) of the 5 GHz band (230 feet). You can tell which band is which by looking at the name of the network you’re connected to. Most 5 GHz connections have “_5G” at the end of the network name.
- Find an open channel. The 2.4 GHz band has more range, but it’s also more prone to interference from other Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as microwaves and baby monitors. To get the most out of the signal, find an open Wi-Fi channel using Wireless Diagnostics (on Mac) or NirSoft’s WifiInfoView (on WIndows). You’ll need to log in to your router to change the active channel.
- Upgrade your router. Newer Wi-Fi standards have about twice the range of the older ones. If your router doesn’t support 802.11n or 802.11ac, it’s probably time to get a better router.
- Use a mesh network or Wi-Fi-extending device: These devices will pick up and carry your Wi-Fi signal farther than a single router. They’re a great solution for extending your Wi-Fi network into your yard or garage, as well as eliminating slow or dead zones around your house. These devices are especially helpful if you have multiple stories, an attic, or a basement.
How to Extend Your Wi-Fi Range Outdoors
Extending your Wi-Fi range outdoors may require an outdoor access point, depending on how far you need to extend your range. The average Wi-Fi range is 150 feet indoors and 300 feet outdoors. Taking your router outside is not recommended. Unlike an outdoor access point, some of which can cover up to 800 square feet, most routers are not built to withstand inclement weather.
Be mindful when purchasing an outdoor access point. Each has its own maximum speed at which it can transfer data. For example, if you have a gigabit plan and purchase an access point with a maximum speed of 300 Mbps, you will only be able to get speeds up to 300 Mbps when connecting to that access point. In other words, even a high-speed internet plan could give you slow internet service if you're bottlenecking things with your wireless access point!
You could also use a mesh network, but mesh networks can cost more than outdoor access points. Like routers, most mesh networks are also not built to withstand harsh weather.
How to Extend Your Wi-Fi to Another Building
Getting a Wi-Fi signal through a single wall is hard enough, but getting it through two external walls into another building is just impractical. Even if you can get a signal, you’ll likely be dealing with frequent Wi-Fi connection issues.
A better way to extend your Wi-Fi range between buildings — as counterintuitive as it sounds — is to use an Ethernet cable. An Ethernet cable is more reliable than a wireless signal, but you will need to make sure it’s properly protected.
Use wire covering or other materials to protect your cable(s). It’s best to find one made from a more durable and flexible material like PVC.
How to Extend Your Wi-Fi Range With Another Router
Using an additional router is a popular option to extend and/or boost your Wi-Fi signal, especially if you need Wi-Fi in your garage or another building. In these cases, what you’re really doing is turning the second router into an access point or a wireless bridge — it’s a great way to save money and avoid cluttering your home with new devices.
You’ll need to assign your second router a new private IP address that’s within the range of your current router’s IP address, as well as turn off or change its DHCP settings to make it an access point.
Your router’s default private IP address should be printed on a sticker on the device. If you’ve changed the default IP address or if the sticker has worn off, you can find the current IP address using one of the following methods:
The fastest way is to use Command Prompt.
- Search for “cmd” or “command prompt” in the windows bar and double-click to open it.
- Type “ipconfig” in the command prompt window and hit Enter.
- Your router’s IP address will be next to Default Gateway.
- Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner.
- Go to System Preferences.
- Click Network.
- Highlight Wi-Fi by clicking on it if it’s not already highlighted.
- Click on Advanced (it’s near the bottom right).
- Go to TCP/IP.
- Your router’s IP address will be next to Router.
- Go to your command center by clicking on the time in the bottom right of your screen.
- Click on the network you’re using, to open settings.
- Click Network.
- Your router’s IP address will be under Gateway.
To access and change your old router’s settings, visit the manufacturer’s support page. Each router has a specific procedure to change it to an access point, so be sure to follow the steps properly.
If you’re trying to extend Wi-Fi inside and/or outside your home, the first thing you should do is make sure your router is in a central, decluttered location and that it’s using the 2.4 GHz band. Extending your Wi-Fi range is necessary if you have dead zones around your home or areas you frequent, but don’t confuse extending your range with increasing your speed. If you experience slower speeds in one area of your home, using a device like a mesh network, an old router, or a range extender can give you a stronger connection.