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Looking for a way to boost wifi in my house. The signal doesn't reach all the spots and is often quite weak. After some research I don't know what is best. What are the advantages of repeaters over access points (if there are any)?

I'm about to buy a Apple Airport Extreme and set it to bridge mode. Is it wasted money to use the AE only in bridge mode?

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There are zero signal-quality advantages to repeaters over additional access points. Their benefit comes in the increased ease of installation. Avoid using repeaters if you are able to install access points.

Repeaters are essentially a workaround. They are used to extend the range of a WiFi network where it is difficult to install additional access points with their own dedicated Ethernet connection back to the modem or switch.

Latency increases slightly every time the signal bounces off another repeater as it has to be received and then rebroadcast, which adds a few milliseconds at each repeater in the chain. Repeaters also have less bandwidth than additional access points. It is a less efficient solution all around.

A repeater further down the chain depends on upstream repeaters having good signal at all times. If any repeaters upstream are subject to WiFi interference or saturation of the repeater's bandwidth, a downstream repeater's signal will suffer. The same cannot be said for additional access points as they are hardwired into the router via Etherent. There is much less than can go wrong with an access point than a repeater and fewer potential points of failure.

Repeaters are, to varying degrees, slower and less reliable than access points, but are easier to install.

I would suggest a third option: Ethernet over power line WiFi extenders:

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These are as easy to install as regular repeaters as they are simply plugged into a power outlet in your house (with one extra plug at your modem, to feed the internet into your home electrical lines); however, as the WiFi extenders receive their internet connection from the power lines in your house, they are usually significantly faster and more reliable than WiFi repeaters.

Think of these as a close cousin to the typical WiFi extenders that use Ethernet, just with a different type of hard-wired connection back to your router, rather than a type of WiFi repeater. The performance is technically slightly below that of Ethernet, but it doesn't require you to retrofit your house with Ethernet and offers significantly better performance than a WiFi repeater.

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It depends of your needs.

If you want a more stable solution with better performance the best option is to install an access point connected to the main router with an ethernet cable. This is more work due to the installation of the cable, but this is the best solution in terms of performance.

On the other hand, if you install a repeater you don't need to wire your house, but your wireless speed will be reduced a 50%. An access point could work as a repeater, but the configuration is harder and the speed loose also apper with the wireless mode.

  • the house is wired already so setup effort is only minimal.. are there any other disadvantages of access points? – keevw Apr 18 '16 at 10:49
  • Nothing is perfect but i think that an access point is the best solution in your case. Personally as a proffesional in the sector i preffer others AP (like this) but with the Apple Airport Extreme it will work. To obtain the maximum performance ensure your devices support wifi ac (IEE 802.11ac), If not the maximum speed will be limited by the device, not the AP. – Angel Sanchis Apr 18 '16 at 11:30
  • i was looking at unify ap's but after reading some blogs/forums i thought that they were difficult to set up or a dedicated computer has to be turned on in order to keep their software running – keevw Apr 18 '16 at 13:16
  • One computer is needed in order to configure the APs, but once the APs are configured you can turn off the computer without loose the connection. Related with configuration is not the easier, but with a good understand of the english and following a guide almost everybody can configure it. Anyway the best option is those you are more comfortable. – Angel Sanchis Apr 18 '16 at 13:30

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