Wi-Fi Booster/Extender for domestic use

My domestic WiFi Internet system has become unreliable. It seems reliable from rooms close to the router, but my office is about 50ft and two x 90deg turns away. Until recently, the WiFi was reliable throughout the house. But of late is has become less so in the office.

I am contemplating a simple, inexpensive WiFi extender to see if that solves the problem.

Any recommendations? Any systems to avoid ?

Many thanks in advance, Don.

What current system do you have?

I used a few and they were fine but essentially created to separate networks. So walking around you seemed to fall between the two.

I replaced it with the BT Complete (is that what they call it? Black discs) which works very well.

I’ve also moved my Master Socket to a more central location which is definitely worth considering.

Hi Matthew,

The router is ZYXEL supplied recently by John Lewis Broadband.

It replaced a Thomson router, also supplied by John Lewis Broadband about 15 years ago. This became unreliable a few months ago, hence the ZYXEL replacement.

My iPad has no connection problems (even with the mobile cell net switched off). My Surface Laptop seemed reliable in the office using Windows 10. Coincidentally with an “upgrade” to Windows 11, the Internet WiFi became somewhat unreliable.

I’ve heard a few stories of issues with WiFi extenders. If funds allow, I would look at adding a MESH setup with probably just two modules. They allow proper reliable handover of communication when moving around your house.


Hi Don,

Depends on what you need, and possibly which devices will be moving around. But trying a quality extender is a great first step.

At our house in Canada, I already had a few wired points on the top two floors, and so replaced the router wifi (ie switched it off) with a group of Ubiquiti Access Points… I probably have way too many now but coverage is excellent. This hw system can be used as a mesh (ie some AP using a wifi backhaul), but in my case all AP have wired backhaul (which is the best / fastest / most reliable but most complex if you need to add any wiring… like I said, I had three wires installed already, plus the main router in the basement).

Here at our apartment (my wife works abroad), the situation is closer to what you describe: good coverage from the router wifi itself in most spots but the main bedroom is far from the router, around a corner, and with multiple walls (from the en suite), etc., and no signal in about half the room.

Noting that there is a handy electric outlet right at the corner, with line of sight to the router and into the bedroom, I bought a TPLink wireless extender. Probably over-spent at 100€, but went for what appears to be their top-of-line model: RE655. It plugs in to the wall, has a discrete look with fancy antennas, is easy to install and program.

If you use the existing SSID and password for the wifi being extended, things like iPhones and iPads will move seamlessly to the stronger signal (perhaps with a slight hiccup, eg walking into bedroom while on a FaceTime call). You don’t need mesh for this functionality with anything more modern than say an iPhone 5 (I don’t know exactly when this was added, but it’s been ages). Static things, like a laptop on a desk or a MuSi Qb simply don’t care: they see a strong wifi and connect.

The reason I got the RE655 rather than the equivalent-but-lots-cheaper RE650 is its mesh capability. If things hadn’t worked as I hoped, I could buy a second one, wire it in right at the router, switch off the router wifi, and use the two APs as a mesh network (the original one has no possibility of a wired backhaul). In retrospect, I should have started with the much cheaper version and “traded up” if I needed mesh capability after all. Oh well, lesson learned!

Bottom line: buy a good, modern high-throughput wifi extender model; set it up with your existing SSID and password for both bands; put it as close to the corner / mid-point between the router and the dead spot as you can. You’ll get better than 50% of your router’s direct wifi speed, and it will be very reliable. Get it from somewhere you can return and upgrade if it doesn’t do what you want and you need a more complicated solution. Avoid the 20€ models, they are way too slow for your modern expectation of speed and performance.

Good luck!

A simple wired extender is all you will need. Even a repurposed router will work. You do not need an expensive Mesh system to extend your Wi-Fi.

How expensive is it? A couple of hundreds of dollars, a paltry sum compared to what you paid for your HIFI!

In my experience, extenders are rubbish compared to mesh. Spend the money on mesh, you won’t regret it.

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Extenders are really poor and can make matters worse as they halve your Wi-Fi capacity due to the way they work. They typically use the same wireless radio as your main network to relay the data back to the host, effectively halving throughput.

Mesh systems are much better as they are either connected to the network at convenient places in the house or use a dedicated back-haul frequency to communicate to other units thus avoiding the issues of extenders.

I installed the TP-Link Deco M4 system in my house. It’s only just over £100 for 3 units and it’s been really reliable and quick. Other units from Netgear, Google, Amazon, BT etc. should also be suitable but the TP-Link system does seem excellent value.

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Is there some specific reason wi-fi would become less reliable? Has anything changed?

I’d it used to work fine and now it’s not something has changed so it’s either hardware, software, or interference…. Try hard resetting everything first and update any drivers for the hardware your using. Ask the network provider to reset the line if it’s fibre.

Most often the issue with wireless is the crappy router’s that get given out by networks. I know when I bought a decent router it made a huge difference to the network performance

Same here. Full, fast coverage over the whole house (and Garden) from the 3 units. Very easy to install and setup too.

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Rather than assuming that the wifi & network infrastructure is the cause I’d be investigating that aspect of it.

Plus one.

Might be something simple like disconnecting the laptop from the network. (Not just disconnecting the WiFi) Then reconnect, lettings W11 sort out the optimum settings.

I use a Ubiquiti access point and it works very well in a challenging situation - 3 foot thick stone walls and a 300 foot garden.

I’m not certain Mike.

Six months ago, all seemed fine. I was happily using my ancient ThinkPad with Windows XP and the Internet access was via our 'phone landline and the Thompson Router supplied by John Lewis Broadband. The router was located in our entrance area and served the entire house using WiFi. I also have an I-Pad Mini and Mrs D has a MacBook Pro - neither of which has had any problems connecting to the Internet regardless of where they are in the house. Very occasionally, the ThinkPad would loose connectivity and I would have to re-set the connection from the ThinkPad.

During September/October, Naim brought the Forum “up-to-date” with a modification that rendered my ThinkPad/Windows XP unable to access the Forum. This coincided with an increase in the frequency that the Internet kept dropping out on the ThinkPad.

I bought a new Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 at the start of November. This was running on Windows 10. Connectivity was no better than the old ThinkPad, with frequent drop outs. In January, John Lewis Broadband sent me a replacement Router (ZYXEL) and that improved things a lot. Not a single drop out during January.

1st February, and Microsoft offered the free upgrade to Windows 11. The options were “install now” or “Never install” - well, at least that’s what I seem to recall. I opted to “Install Now”. It took ages to install eg 2 hours or more !!

And guess what, internet access is back to frequent drop outs.

Of course, I do get good, reliable connectivity if I relocate to kitchen, reception, dinning room etc but I do most of my work in an office that is a bit remote from the entrance hall - but never a problem during the past 15 years or so !!

So yes, I have changed a couple of things ie the Router and the Laptop. From ancient to modern !!

Frustrating !!

Thank you james. I’ve put that on my list of possible options.

Thank you HouseholdNaim. I’ll certainly have a look at the Windows 11 internet connectivity options. I need to become familiar with Windows 11 in general.

Thank you Frank. Good idea. Disconnect the computer. Reset the Router/WiFi. Search and reconnect the Router.

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Thanks Pev. I don’t have 3 foot stone walls but … recommendation noted, cheers