Wi-Fi extenders - Do they work? Recommendation?

Sister-in-law wants to put a smart TV in the bedroom that’s at the far end of her house from her DSL modem and wi-fi router. The wi-fi signal drops dramatically right outside of the bedroom door. We’ve tried 3 different routers and the signal dies at the same place, no matter which router we tried.

Running an ethernet line from the router to the far bedroom isn’t feasible, so I’m thinking that a wi-fi extender may be a possibility. I’ve never installed one nor actually seen one in use. So can anybody on the Dope recommend an extender or give me some helpful hints for the installation of one? Do these extenders actually work? Any caveats when installing one? I found some threads on this topic from 2013 and 2014, but I’m hoping that somebody has more recent information to share.

Or, alternatively, is a power line adapter a feasible way to extend the network? Again, I’ve never installed or used one of these.

Any info that can be sent my way would be beneficial!

Power line adapters can work quite well. You need to have both outlets on the same “leg.”

Thanks, beowulff. As I understand it, the power line adapter ‘receiving’ end offers an ethernet port to which the smart TV (or other device) could be plugged in. Could another wi-fi router be plugged into this port instead?

They do work. I stayed at a budget hotel in Hawaii that didn’t have decent Wi-Fi so I brought my own Wi-Fi extender with me and suddenly the whole floor had coverage.

Almost any of them should work and they are extremely easy to set up. I would stick to reputable brands like Linksys or Netgear. They cost less than $50.

Quality wifi extenders do work but they will impose a speed penalty because they cannot both transmit and receive at the same time so they swap between those two tasks. So you take about a 50% speed loss. Unless you are in a very dense urban area this won’t matter for the purposes of a Smart TV.

Powerline is also speed limited compared to Cat5 network cable but plenty fast enough for Smart TV. The two ends of the powerline link have to be on the same leg of your electrical system, and that’s not up to you, it’s up to whoever wired the house when it was built. You may have to try different combinations of outlets to find two that join up.

Yes, you could plug in another wireless extender to the other end of the powerline equipment and extend the coverage that way. There are different routers / extenders that would behave differently depending on their available options. If all you need is for devices to get onto the Internet using wifi then you don’t need to worry much about that. If you want all your devices to talk to eachother (like maybe you have a smartphone app that acts as a remote to the TV) you need to make sure they’re configured as one big network.

D-Link and Linksys make extenders and they tend to have mode switches on the side or in their web page configurations to use them as routers, extenders, or access points. If you connect one to the end of a powerline box, you probably want it in AP mode.

Thanks, Shag. Something like this?

They work pretty well. I have the Linksys mesh system (https://www.linksys.com/us/c/whole-home-mesh-wifi/) and it seems to be pretty representative. There are several systems out, I just picked this because I was familiar with Linksys equipment in the past and it seemed to check most of my boxes. I have 3, 2 are mesh (one downstairs, one upstairs and one in the patio part of the house) and that gives me full coverage throughout the house (it was very spotty before).

I have this model:


It works fine, with a caveat: devices connected to the repeater have a lot less bandwidth (in theory, at most half) of devices connected to the main network. This is because the repeater has to spend half of its time/bandwidth repeating, and can’t devote all of it to the device.

If you do buy one, I’d recommend getting one with an ethernet port like the one linked above. That way you can also use it to power any non-wifi network device you might have sitting around, like an old Xbox or something.

Besides repeaters and powerline devices, don’t forget a directional or hi-gain antenna. Sometimes mounting an external antenna in a better location makes a significant difference in coverage area.


That’s by far the best solution, but you have rejected it out of hand.

They work fine. I have this one.

No physical access to either crawl space or attic.

Can you get a Wifi access point positioned near enough the deadspot to cover it? This is a device which is hard-wired to the router.

Unfortunately, no.

There are a few other solutions besides an extender. When a friend had this exact problem, his solution was a set of MoCA adapters, essentially devices that transmit Ethernet over coaxial TV cable. You don’t hear much about them these days but it seems like an elegant solution if all the cabling is already in place.

He was very happy with that solution but for whatever reason it didn’t work in the cabling system in my house. I tried a set of powerline adapters instead and these actually work quite well, even though it’s now an obsolete older generation; I understand the newer ones are far better. But I can stream HD from the upstairs router to the TV downstairs with no problem, which is better than I can do with WiFi, which is a bit problematic in some areas of this house if you need reliable high speed throughput. The thing with any powerline adapters is that it’s very sensitive to the characteristics of the power cabling in your house, and what works great in one place may not work at all in another. This house is quite new with modern wiring, which probably helps a lot. And, as someone already said, it can be problematic if going across the legs (phases) in the power panel.

I have never had much luck with wifi extenders or powerline extenders. However, my new mesh network (google wifi) has been incredibly effective.

As I understand, there’s a difference between wi-fi extenders and mesh networks.

My old wi-fi extender connected to the existing home network and created a new network - i.e. the original home wifi network and the extender were separate wifi networks (separate SSID). My device could connect to either one, but not necessarily switch automatically.

A mesh network is one network (one SSID) made up of multiple routers. My device would connect to the strongest signal as I walk around the house.

I currently use the Google Wifi router, which is a mesh network system. It was very easy to set up. One router is connected to the cable modem, the others just need power. I now have good signal everywhere including the front yard and garage.

Interesting. How many Google wifi devices do you have in your installation? Is the setup easy or complex?

How many Google routers do you have in your installation?

Get your handyman to look into running a cable. This will always be the best solution by far. If that really isn’t possible. The “mesh” type works if your WiFi spectrum isn’t full of interference; can your phone “see” more than 5 networks? Then maybe go powerline: powerline can work beautifully but is even more fiddly than WiFi; there are a million things that can fuck it up.