What to look for when buying a WLAN repeater

Streaming series on the couch or listening to music online in the kitchen – many people take this for granted. All the more annoying when the Internet hangs or is completely gone. It can happen that the router can’t distribute an area-wide and evenly strong WLAN signal in every corner of the home. A WLAN repeater can help.

WLAN repeaters may seem inconspicuous at first glance, but they prove to be real everyday heroes when in use. atechbook explains what factors to look for when buying a repeater and answers the most important questions on the subject.

The most important facts in brief

WLAN-Repeater verbinden sich über Funk mit dem Router. Ein Großteil der Modelle wird dafür in eine Steckdose oder einen USB-Port gesteckt. Es gibt aber auch Produkte, die über ein Netzwerkkabel mit Strom versorgt werden. Das A und O bei einem WLAN-Repeater sind die Frequency bands sowie die Data transmission rate. Noch wichtiger ist jedoch deren Compatibility with the router und gegebenenfalls anderen Komponenten des Heimnetzwerks.

WLAN repeaters are often mistakenly referred to as WLAN amplifiers. This is incorrect, as the WLAN signal is not amplified, but merely passed on.

What is the difference between WLAN and WiFi?

What you should consider when buying a WLAN repeater

If you want to expand your home network, you should make sure you buy the right WLAN repeater to go with your router. You should therefore clarify a few important aspects beforehand and include them in your decision. It is easy to make the wrong purchase, since not only the device itself, but also the interaction with the home network plays a major role in WLAN repeaters.

Compatibility with the router

Welches Repeater-Modell für den persönlichen Gebrauch das richtige ist, hängt immer zuerst von dem eigenen Router ab. Ersterer sollte unbedingt mit diesem kompatibel sein, sowohl auf Frequenzebene als auch bei der Data transmission rate.

It is therefore not advisable to buy a WLAN repeater with lower values than supported by the router. Even values far above this do not reduce the performance, but they are a waste of money. It is recommended to buy a WLAN repeater that is on par with the router of the home network in both points.

Frequency bands

Mit der Frequenzebene sind die Begriffe 2,4 GHz (WLAN n), 5 GHz (WLAN ac) oder neuerdings sogar 6 GHz (Wifi 6E) gemeint. Dabei handelt es sich um die Frequency bands des WLANs, über die beispielsweise Router funken, also Daten übertragen. Bei WLAN-Repeatern wird in Hinsicht auf die Frequency bands zwischen drei verschiedenen Arten unterschieden:

Single-Band Repeater

As the name suggests, these WLAN repeaters only use one radio band – it is 2.4 GHz. The available WLAN rate is halved because the repeater both receives and transmits over the 2.4 GHz band at the same time.

Dual-band repeater

A dual-band repeater operates on 2.4 GHz and on 5 GHz. This speeds up data transmission considerably, as both transmitting and receiving can take place simultaneously thanks to so-called crossband repeating.

Tri-band repeater

A tri-band repeater transmits over 2.4 GHz via the N standard and over 5 GHz via the AC standard, just like a dual-band repeater. However, the latter is present twice in tri-band, albeit separately: One radio unit covers the lower channels of the frequency range, the other the upper ones. This enables the highest overall speeds.

Data transmission rate

The data transfer rate is specified in Mbit/s and shows how fast the connection is . Different values are possible based on the frequency band and the WLAN standard.

It is important to know here that the specified Mbit/s are only achieved in absolute ideal cases. This means no interference from, for example, walls or other devices that work with radio waves – from the neighbor’s home network, to the microwave, to the baby monitor, obstructions are almost impossible to avoid.

LAN port

Ein überwiegender Großteil der WLAN-Repeater verfügt über LAN ports. Standardgemäß einen, mit steigender Preisklasse aber für gewöhnlich auch mehrere. Diese lassen sich nutzen, um kabelgebundene Endgeräte an der Leistungsverbesserung der Datenübertragung teilhaben zu lassen. Dabei handelt es sich beispielsweise um Spielkonsolen oder Fernseher.

But WLAN-capable devices can also be connected via the Ethernet to reduce the risk of interference. This is a major advantage over WLAN. A decisive disadvantage, on the other hand, is the small number of end devices that can be connected simultaneously in this way.

What to know about WLAN repeaters

In the following, we would like to provide basic knowledge on the topic of WLAN repeaters, which can be interesting and useful before buying. In order to clarify the most frequently asked questions, we have researched the most important information and summarized it briefly and in a bundle.

What is a WLAN repeater?

A WLAN repeater is a mostly small and handy device that optimizes the quality of the Internet connection within a network. It acts as a bridging device for weak points that occur due to insufficient range of the router. This means that fast Internet can also be used on end devices outside the range of a router.

What types of WLAN repeaters are there?

First and foremost, there is the classic WLAN repeater, which connects to the router via radio and thus forwards the signal. In recent years, however, there have also been new, intelligent solutions for comprehensive and high-quality WLAN – mesh WLAN, which works with repeaters, among other things.

Classic WLAN repeater

The standard version of the repeater is plugged into a socket at a suitable location and connects to the router’s home network via radio. Then, starting from the repeater, another wireless network is created, which extends the range of the WLAN as a whole. The exact characteristics of this network depend, among other things, on the number of frequency bands used and the data transmission rate.

Mesh repeater

A mesh network consists of various components – these include routers and access points as well as repeaters. These form a closed network that communicates constantly with each other. In this way, end devices in the home network are automatically connected to the device that can provide the best possible bandwidth at the location.

How much does a WLAN repeater cost?

Wie bei so vielen technischen Produkten gehen auch bei WLAN-Repeatern die Preise auseinander. Ein Durchschnitt über alle Varianten hinweg lässt sich daher nur sehr grob definieren: die Spanne zieht sich von etwa 20 bis hin zu 150 Euro. Aber wie so oft sind den Kosten auch hier nach oben hinweg keine Grenzen gesetzt. Es gilt verständlicherweise: je umfangreicher, desto teurer. So können simple Single-Band Repeater schon für kleines Geld erworben werden und auch für zufrieden stellende Dual-Repeater der Mittelklasse kommt man mit einer Preisspanne von 40 bis 70 Euro gut davon. Wenn der Fokus allerdings auf besonders hohen Data transmission raten, einem Tri-Band-Repeater oder aber auch der Integration in ein hochqualitatives Mesh-Netzwerk liegt, dann sind dreistellige Beträge meist nicht zu umgehen.

Summary

A WLAN repeater is a classic and reliable solution to combat wireless holes and interruptions within your own four walls. When buying a repeater, the frequency bands, as well as the data transfer rate of the repeater itself and the router at home should be considered first – compatibility is a decisive factor. Furthermore, a close look at the available LAN ports should not be underestimated. The choice is between classic repeaters and those intended for integration into a smart mesh network. We present particularly recommendable models here:

The best WLAN repeaters for stable Internet

Prices vary depending on the requirements. The simplest WLAN repeaters can be purchased for under 20 euros and do their job reliably. High-end devices, on the other hand, can fundamentally raise the level of a home network and the WLAN strength within it, and enable the highest level of comfort when using laptops, TVs, cell phones and the like – this is reflected accordingly in the costs.