We know different ways, tricks and curiosities to improve the coverage of our WiFi network and that the signal reaches all corners of the home. Among others, we emphasized the following options: reuse an old router, use a repeater-amplifier or a wireless access point.
Which is better, which system is best for me, is it more powerful, faster, easier to install, cheaper and more reliable? Well, then we will try to answer these and other questions.
Recycling my old router
Over the years, most have been storing at home different models of routers, either neutral purchased by us and that were outdated, or those that have been offered by the operators and that in the end never happened to pick up. These computers can have a second life if we use them as alternative WiFi access points to our current router to improve the connectivity in some room that the signal is reluctant to reach.
The idea is very simple and passes the old router in the problematic room to create your own wireless network and connect it to the main router in three different ways: a WiFi connection, an Ethernet cable or a PLC adapter. Let’s see the drawbacks of each method.
Starting with WiFi, it would be that they both connect wirelessly, but if what we have is coverage problems, it does not seem like the best option to use (besides it is not supported by all routers). The direct Ethernet cable is undoubtedly the best choice, although we will have the problem of bringing it to the room, which can cause possible aesthetic inconveniences and serious WAF conflicts difficult to solve.
Finally we have the option of the PLC, which uses the power grid. It is a good alternative if ours is of quality, although the saving of reusing the old router may be that we go to buy the PLC. (If we have some at home unused it may be a good time to do so).
Once we have decided on an interconnection system (I recommend the direct cable or if not choose another system to extend the WiFi) we have to configure the old router to do its function. The process depends on each particular model, but basically it changes the original IP of the old routerso that there is no conflict with the new one and forward its DHCP requests to the IP of the main router (which is usually 192.168.1.1).
This done, now would be the time to configure the WiFi network in the recycled router with the usual parameters, passwords and other technical paraphernalia and we would already have a wireless access point in the problem room at practically zero cost.
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Advantages and disadvantages? The first advantage as we have already mentioned is the price. The router does not cost us anything and we will only have to buy an Ethernet cable if we do not already have it. As disadvantages we find that it is not a “plug and play” type process. It is necessary to walk around with the configuration of the router, situation that can give us some problem.
There is also the issue of performance . The routers of the operators do not usually shine by their benefits. Reusing a model that we have in the drawer for years may not be a good idea if we are looking for maximum speed and minimum delay, as it will probably hardly be compatible with the latest wireless standards (hopefully with WiFi 802.11 a / b / g and up to 54 Mbps) and it is likely that in the end only useful for basic web browsing, instant messaging, social networks, etc. but not for more demanding applications like streaming video.
Wireless access points, repeater-amplifiers
The other great option with which to take a wireless network to all corners of the home is to use new hardware specific to this function, such as an access point, a repeater or an amplifier. They are not the same? Well yes and no, since the name depends on the functions that incorporate and how to market the manufacturer. We may find devices that integrate one, several or all functionality (access point, repeater, extender, amplifier, etc.).
For example, a basic access point, without extra functions, will allow us to create our own WiFi network independent of the main router. We can place it in the same room as it, connected by an Ethernet cable and probably have more coverage, power and real speed than the wireless network as they are prepared to specifically meet this task.
However, if our problem is to carry the signal to a room far away, to another floor, etc. where the routers have not given us a good solution because there is a lot of distance, multiple attenuation by thick walls, etc., it is probable that with the access point we have a similar problem unless it is of great power or we place it near where we need the connection. Here we are again with the inconvenience that we will need to carry the local network through an Ethernet cable if we want the best performance, something that in many cases will not be possible.
Some will tell me that the access points are usually much more powerful, that give less problems and that on the Internet there are with powers of scandal with which to penetrate any wall that annoys us. You are right, but beware of buying models abroad with stratospheric powers, as you may have some displeasure with the limits, much, the radiated power of this type of devices.
Be that as it may, if our only chance is to place the access point in the same room as the router and still we still have coverage problems in remote rooms, then an intermediate amplifier-repeater may help us.
They are basically responsible for detecting the wireless signal, regenerating it and amplifying it to come out as new. There are those with and without wired and capable of operating with very different configurations out: repeater mode, bridge mode, only as an access point, as a customer, etc.
Its installation is usually immediate and passes by plugging them into the wall and perhaps pressing a synchronization button. The problem is usually that, if the initial WiFi signal is very bad, we will have to look for an intermediate place in the house so that the coverage reaches well to all ends.
That is, if our problem room does not arrive well the original WiFi signal (hence the problem room), put one of these amplifiers in said room probably will not solve anything. We will have to place it in an intermediate room, losing some of the total power it offers us.
Which option is best of all? We have seen (we would lack the PLC adapters with WiFi, who already commented the other day) It depends on our needs, expectations and how much you want to spend.
If we do not need a very fast connection and we can deploy a network cable to the desired location, old router recycling will be the most economical option, although since we have the cable, it would be best to spend a little more and put an access point of quality with which to forget of problems for a few years.
If we can not pull cable down the floor or walls, then probably what suits us best will be to use a repeater-amplifier at an intermediate point in the house. They are usually cheap, simple to install and usually do their job as long as the WiFi signal arrives is decent.