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How to Extend WiFi Range with Your Existing Network

In this highly connected world of today, Internet has become an indispensable part of our society. It opens up a new world for people around the world. It’s shaped and revolutionized every aspect of our society by allowing its users to stay connected at all hours. It opens access to previously inaccessible things, brings huge economic benefits to people around the globe and helps all humanity thrive and prosper. The permeance of WiFi into our lives has shaped the way we see the world and it brings everything to our fingertips. It makes our life much simpler, quicker and more enjoyable: with just a tap on your smartphone, you can get access to information at all times within seconds.

Given its important role in communication, data networking and public Internet service, WiFi technology can mean a difference between prosperity and stagnation in a constantly evolving industry. One of the most important things to be addressed when installing a wireless network is your WiFi range. Slow speeds, dead zones and dropped connections can bring devastating outcomes to your business by ruining your Zoom calls, interrupting your video conferences, etc. And for somebody who has to work or study from home during the lockdown, a weak WiFi connection could greatly jeopardize his or her efficiency and productivity. And if you have a spacious home or property that your WiFi network cannot fully cover or it doesn’t reach the places you want it to, such as driveways, garages and backyards, then you may need to find some ways to extend your WiFi range and improve your network performance.

“Struggling to get WiFi throughout your home? Don’t worry! There are a few ways to solve this problem and ensure you get strong WiFi signals in all corners of your home.”

How Far can a WiFi Signal Travel?

The wireless network normally uses radio waves for data networking, and the WiFi signal gradually degrades as it travels further from its source, which is known as path loss. So this is why you’ll get no signal at all in some parts of the house. Knowing your WiFi range is crucial in network expansion since depending on which frequency you’re using, the network range could vary from brand to brand. A WiFi router that runs on 2.4Ghz can reach up to 45 meters indoors (obstructions like walls will block the signals) and 90 meters outdoors (in a clear line of sight), while a router that operates on 5Ghz usually has a shorter effective range but a faster network speed, because according to the 802.11 protocol, the higher the data rate, the shorter distance covered. The newer 802.3ac router that supports both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz can reach a greater distance to support signal transmission up to 180 meters. But still, this isn’t enough for complete WiFi coverage throughout your home.

Why Do You Need to Extend the WiFi Range?

A high-speed and fully-carpeted WiFi network has become a necessity in today’s society, while a poorly-planned wireless network can turn out to be a nightmare for both residential and commercial applications. Setting up a network without thorough consideration will result in poor coverage and inadequate signals, which can negatively impact your users, so it’s imperative that you should extend your WiFi range farther away. And when you’re expanding your offices to house more employees, to accommodate the influx of new users and devices, the network must be expanded to make sure everyone can get quick access to the Internet and enjoy instant information exchange in the workplace.

Challenges when extending the WiFi range: Struggling with poor WiFi range? You’re not alone. Despite the steady development of WiFi technology, there are still many obstacles that may hinder the performance of your wireless network. When wireless signals pass through physical obstructions like walls, doors, pipes, etc., some of them will bounce off the surfaces of solid objects and some will be absorbed, so the signals will be severely compromised before reaching the destination. And in outdoor applications, they have to pass through multiple trees and foliage which will greatly reduce their signal strength, and bad weather can also wreak havoc on even the most solid wireless signals. And places with irregular floor plans and unusual layouts will also weaken the wireless connection significantly.

Tips on Extending Your WiFi Range

Installing new wall jackets and network cables in an existing building could be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to extend your WiFi range outside, from floors to floors and across the buildings without having to spend a large fortune. To enlarge your WiFi coverage in a more budget-friendly way and without complicated modifications, you can utilize your existing network directly to boost the WiFi signals to travel farther.

Tip #1: Money-Wise Network Upgrade with Your WiFi Router

Utilizing your existing network by simply by modifying your WiFi router is a budget-friendly way to extend your WiFi coverage to hard-to-reach rooms and places.

1) Relocate your WiFi router

As previously mentioned, the regular WiFi router can only support a transmission range of 45 meters indoors and 90 meters outdoors. While it may seem it’s enough to cover small and medium-sized houses, the obstacles and other sorts of interference inside the house will cause the signals to degrade and result in poor coverage. So where you place your router can have a dramatic impact on your network performance. Moving your router to a more centralized location that is free from physical obstructions like walls and doors will be of great help to broadcast the signals. And if you hope your router delivers its true potential signal ranges, don’t just place it near your computer or other network devices. Place it high with a clear line of sight to cover a larger space and avoid any barriers.

2) Adjust your router antenna

Another simple way to extend your WiFi range is to adjust your router antenna. Most people are caught in the stereotyping thinking that pointing the antennas up straight is the best way, but it isn’t always the case. Here’s how to position router antennas for the best performance: a. if you’re using a router with two antennas and only want coverage for one floor, then you should point them perpendicular, i.e. position one antenna vertically and another horizontally; b. for coverage on more than one floor, the WiFi antennas should be pointed at different angles; c. if your router has three antennas, point the middle one straight up and the other two at a 45-degree angle; d. If there are four antennas, position two of them straight up and the rest of them at 45-degree angles in opposite directions.

3) Switch router frequencies from 5Ghz to 2.4Ghz

Changing your WiFi router’s channel could generally make a difference. If you want to get the best coverage from a router, you should choose 2.4Ghz over 5Ghz. Even though the 5Ghz router supports a faster network speed, it uses a narrower wavelength to broadcast the signals and it’s more susceptible to physical obstructions, which means it cannot penetrate the wall, door, or desk as well as the 2.4Ghz band does. Moreover, 2.4Ghz is better at delivering signals at a greater distance Also, if your neighbors are also using the 5Ghz band, changing your router’s channel will allow it to operate on a different frequency, clearing up the interference issue.

4) Use a spare router to extend the WiFi range

Another inexpensive way to boost the range of your wireless signal is to use a spare router that is no longer in use and connect it to your main router, but it’s not without its complexities and limitations. To make these two routers work together, you’ll need to configure one router to ‘Master’ and the other to ‘Slave’. First, you need to determine the IP address and Subnet Mask of the ‘Master’ router by configuring the router settings on the web browser. Then, you need to reset the second router to default factory settings by hard-pressing the reset button for 10 seconds. Next, connect the ‘Slave’ router to your computer using an Ethernet cable. Once you log into the system, you need to change the wireless channel, wireless settings and security modes to sync with those in the ‘Master’ router, but you can use a different SSID name to distinguish it from another router. Lastly, you have to connect these two routers with the Ethernet cable. The main drawback of this approach is that you have to the second router must be hardwired to the main router through cabling, while it isn’t always possible to run new cables in your house. Moreover, you’ll have to make sure the main router has a spare Ethernet port to connect to the ‘Slave’ router, or this approach will not work.

Tip#2: Use Wireless Access Points in Multi-Floor Buildings

Even if you’ve installed a robust WiFi router in your home, a single unit may not be able to provide enough coverage to all rooms, but by utilizing a wireless access point, you can ensure that the WiFi signals are available in every corner.

What is the Wireless Access Point?

Considering the challenge of delivering seamless WiFi coverage to the typical home or floor, the wireless access point was developed to allow you a greater range of coverage indoors and outdoors of up to 100-300 meters. To use a wireless access point, you need to have multiple spare Ethernet ports available on the wall where the unit can plug into in order to feed back into your main home network, or you’ll have to connect it to the main router using the Cat5 cable. So if you have a few dead zones in your house and your house happens to have some unused Ethernet ports left, It functions very similarly to the WiFi extenders, even though it doesn’t simply pick up the wireless signals and resend them to the network devices.

Powerline Adapters

Powerline adapters are a type of wireless access point that allows you to transmit the signals through the standard power outlets in your home. It’s a cost-effective way if you want to extend WiFi coverage to one particular room like the garage to create a new WiFi hotspot. It provides instant internet access to hard-to-reach rooms as long as you have a power outlet available on the wall. Simply plug one powerline adapter into a power outlet near your router and connect it to the router using a short patch cord. Then plug the second powerline adapter that is built with the WiFi feature into a power outlet in the other room such as a garage or a loft. As long as these two powerline adapters stay in the same building where the router locates. Most of the time, the powerline adapter shares the same speed as Ethernet. But that will depend on how your building is constructed. If you live in a building that has a very complex electrical layout, then you could possibly suffer a slower network speed.

A More Reliable Option: Mesh WiFi

If running cable isn’t possible, there is a very cost-effective option that can work under the right circumstances. Mesh WiFi is an integrated network system that consists of the main router that directly connects to your modem and two or three mesh nodes that act as satellites to bring seamless connectivity to every corner. It can be easily thought of as a series of access points spread throughout your home. Unlike the traditional WiFi routers, they all belong to a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password, so you can easily access one of these wireless stations. The mesh WiFi is specially designed for places that suffer weak or incomplete WiFi coverage. It is highly scalable and customizable. You can purchase more mesh nodes to extend the WiFi range if the initial set isn’t enough to cover the whole place. Each mesh mode can communicate with the main router and talk to each other directly, and it only needs an electrical hook-up to function properly. But some mesh modes can only accept PoE power, you should use the PoE injector to power them. Though the installation process of each mesh system may differ, they all follow the general procedure: 1) connect the main node to the router with an Ethernet cable and power them up; 2) download the app on your phone and log into your account; 3) enter the serial number of the main node; 4) add the satellite nodes one at a time; 5) After each node is added, go to each room it’s located to test if it’s successfully connected.

Tip#3: Optimize WiFi Connection with Outdoor Network Bridges

If you want to extend your WiFi range outdoors over long distances, investing in a good pair of wireless network bridges is definitely a good choice since the average WiFi router and the wireless access point can only support a limited wireless transmission range.

What is the Wireless Network Bridge?

Wireless bridging is a technology developed to extend the network connectivity via infrared or microwave transmission between physically isolated locations where cable connection is not viable. The wireless network bridge joins different segments of networks together over a wireless channel by enabling two access points to connect over long distances using their radios. By deploying the wireless network bridge, you can cover a larger physical area with higher throughput to build a point-to-point (P2P) or point-to-multipoint (P2MP) connection between cross-building offices, neighboring districts, and nearby towns, etc.

Wireless bridges are very similar to access points but they are designed to serve different purposes. The central difference between the two devices is their functionality. The wireless bridge is designed to integrate two divided networks through a radio link to facilitate data sharing, while the access point connects multiple wireless devices with a router to provide Internet access to devices that are out of the transmission range of the router. Simply put, the access point acts as the extender of a WiFi network, and some wireless APs can even provide the functionality of the wireless bridges to connect two network clusters.

How It Works?

The wireless bridge is completed by a pair of access points and the communication between two devices is very bidirectional. They don’t simply work like an ‘emitter+receiver’ unit in which one access point unilaterally broadcasts the radio signals to another. When the bridging is working, the master AP located in Building A will pick up the packets from the wired port (the one connected to the main network) and transfer them to the other AP, so that the client AP in Building B can connect to the network on Building A to create a dual-radio network portal over the wireless bridge. In the network bridging, the traffic is forwarded at Layer 2 to prevent any direct tempering on the devices and fend off cyberattacks. Moreover, the network bridge will read both source and destination MAC addresses and only forward packets to this exclusive link to avoid unnecessary data flows and reduce bandwidth waste.

Recommended Product: 5GHz 802.11ac Outdoor Wireless Bridge

This wireless bridge is an excellent solution to extend WiFi network coverage. It’s designed to work with 5Ghz networks and comes with a superb network speed of 900Mbps and excellent coverage of up to 3km to help set up multiple IP cameras over long distances. Similarly, this device is equipped with a Gigabit PoE port and 1*10/100Mbps LAN port. It offers a clean and smooth connection Since it’s made for outdoor applications, this entire unit is weather-sealed, covered in a casing of IP65 ratings, ideal for applications in outdoor and harsh environments like parking lots, highways, and oil pipelines, or other combustible places. This wireless network bridge supports encryption modes like WEP, WPA, TKIP/AES and IEEE802.1x.) and has an invisible SSID to avoid any direct tempering on the device.

Step-by-Step Tutorial

The wireless network bridges normally work under two topologies: point to point (P2P) and point to multi-point (P2MP). In the first scenario, the bridge simply connects the networks in two separate locations and is normally used in cross-building applications. While the P2MP aims to connect multiple networks and mix them into the same network. But in network bridging, the connection is largely point-to-point.

Where to Install the Wireless Bridge?

A clear line of sight (the path between two access points) is important for a wireless bridge to work at its full throughput, which is especially true for less urban areas, or the signals would radically deteriorate as they’re passing through trees, building, etc. Make sure the APs are installed as high as possible with as much of a clear line of sight between the two units as possible. You can install them on the rooftop or mounted on a tower and pole.

How to Install the Wireless Network Bridge?

To set up the wireless network bridge, you will need a router, a pair of wireless APs, a PoE injector, two power adapters and some Ethernet cables. In this case, we’ll take the 450Mbps Outdoor Wireless CPE as an example. The wireless bridge is equipped with a Gigabit PoE port and a Fast Ethernet wired interface, so you can set up at least 2 IP cameras at once. It comes with the next-generation WiFi standard of 802.11ac and runs flawlessly at 450Mbps at an extended range of 1km. Now, follow the instructions below to complete the setup.

1)First, use an Ethernet cable to connect one of the LAN ports on the router to the Gigabit PoE/LAN port of the wireless network bridge. Plug the power adapter into the wall outlet and plug it into the network bridge to activate the device. When the device is online, the digital channel (1-8) will display at the rear. Power another network bridge and make sure the two wireless bridges are aligned on the same level and face-to-face.

2)Then, set up the master AP and slave AP. Switch ‘master’ to ‘slave’ on the slave AP and synchronize the channel on both devices to make sure the ‘master’ and ‘slave’ APs stay on the same channel. And you can alter the configuration by pressing the reset button. Then check the signal indicators on the wireless bridge to ensure the devices are successfully matched.

3)Take another Ethernet cable to connect the LAN port of the ‘slave’ AP to the LAN port of the PoE injector. Power the injector with the DC12V power adapter, and connect it with the IP camera with a third Ethernet cable. If you want to install another IP camera, you can connect it directly to the ‘slave’ AP and power it with an external power supply.

How to Power the Outdoor Network Bridge?

Powering network devices in remote places is challenging, especially when your device is installed outdoors. But we’ve concluded three ways to help you power the wireless network bridge in hard-to-reach areas: using a PoE injector or installing a solar power system.

1) PoE Injector

And for some wireless APs that are naturally built with a PoE interface, you might as well use a PoE injector to power the client AP. By using the PoE injector, constant power delivery is guaranteed with an uninterruptible power supply and the conversion from AC to DC power also lowers the risks of power outages/overloads and power failures. Once connected to a power source, the PoE injector will simultaneously convert the received energy to DC power and send it to the wireless bridge. And it will initiate a power handshake procedure to identify if the connected device is PoE-compatible and decide how much power is required. And if the power handshake fails for any reason, then the power will be immediately cut off to ensure the safe operation in outdoor applications.

2) Solar Power System

Since power outlets are often unavailable in hard-to-reach areas, it would be too impractical and expensive to run a traditional wired power source to the edge devices, but the solar power system allows you to install the wireless bridge and IP camera in remote locations, extremely helpful for applications such as oil and gas, construction sites, parking lots, remote gates and ranches. First of all, you have to calculate your power load. You need to figure out how much energy your solar panel can produce, and you need to know the amount of peak sunlight hours your location gets. Place the solar panel in a location where it will not be shaded for shading of even a small part of the panel can result in low power generation. And you’ll need a solar charge controller to control the amount of charge coming in and out of the battery and the battery will receive the power from the controller and supply it to the connected electrical loads. The setup is very straightforward when you’re using our 10A Solar Charge Controller. First, mount the solar panel on the roof and use a power cord to connect the solar panel to the controller. Use another power cord to connect the battery to the controller. Finally, connect the edge device to the controller, and then the whole system is completed.

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