Sometimes the router in a home Internet system doesn’t cover all areas equally, leaving dead spots. If the simplest fixes don’t solve your problem, you may need a Wi-Fi extender or a mesh system. Check out our tips for bringing those dead spots to life.
Try the simplest fixes first
If your router is at one end of the house, you may have dead zones at the other. Try relocating your router to a central location and elevating it, ideally above your head.
Upgrading your router to a newer model may also help. If your router is from your Internet service provider, ask for an upgrade, or buy one yourself and send back the provider router. (Be sure to get this charge removed from your monthly bill.)
If a new router properly placed doesn’t solve your coverage issues, you may need a Wi-Fi extender or a mesh network.
A Wi-Fi extender
A Wi-Fi extender does what it sounds like: It extends the Wi-Fi signal throughout a house. Wi-Fi extenders amplify the existing signal so it fills the dead spots. If you choose to add a Wi-Fi extender, you’ll see the extender network as well as your original network when you log on to your computer. Each will have its own service set identifier, or SSID. Depending on where you are in your home, you will log on to the stronger network. Using a Wi-Fi extender may mean that if you move with your laptop to a different part of the house, you will have to switch Wi-Fi connections on your computer.
Extenders can be as simple as a device that plugs into an electrical wall socket. Others are desktop models with Ethernet ports. Most Wi-Fi extenders cost $20 to $50.
A mesh network
A mesh router network has two, three or more routers that act as nodes in one unified network. Each node shares the same signal, and you log onto one network with one SSID. Wi-Fi coverage is uniform throughout the house. When setting up the network, the device instructions will recommend how to distribute each router throughout the house. You can add nodes as needed. Mesh networks are best for large houses with sprawling floor plans.
Mesh networks are more expensive than Wi-Fi extenders, with most between $100 and $300.