Boosting a wifi signal
August 7, 2011 6:21 PM   Subscribe

My wireless router isn't strong enough to reach my bedroom. What is an inexpensive solution to boost my signal?
posted by rastapasta to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
How "isn't strong enough" are we talking here? I used to live in a really long apartment; our cheap solution to getting a signal all the way from the back porch to the living room was to duct tape the router high in the middle of the wall (as opposed to sitting on a table in a corner). Got us approximately another 15 feet on each side. I already had the duct tape. That's about as inexpensive as it gets.
posted by phunniemee at 6:26 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Move the access point closer to the bedroom.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:27 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try a different channel, also, in case interference is the problem.
posted by empath at 6:31 PM on August 7, 2011

Tomato can boost your signal, depending on your router.
posted by trogdole at 6:33 PM on August 7, 2011

Do you have an N or a G router? If you have an N capable wireless card in your computer, it might be worthwhile to make sure you have an N capable router. Made a difference for me, at least.
posted by jasper411 at 6:41 PM on August 7, 2011

Inexpensive? You can make a wifi antenna with a beer can.
posted by ajackson at 6:44 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are several DIY wireless boosters. Just google search 'DIY wireless Booster'. I recently made one out of tinfoil that looked a bit like a sail that I placed on the router's antenna. It worked pretty well, not well enough, but it made a difference.
posted by anoirmarie at 6:57 PM on August 7, 2011

Locking the connection down to 802.11b will extend your range, at the cost of speed. If you're just using the connection to get the internet to your room this cost will probably not be noticeable.
posted by pompomtom at 6:58 PM on August 7, 2011

If you're using 2.4GHz, try switching to 5GHz. There are less things using that band, so there is less interference. Note that you'll need a high-ish end router and wireless card for this, which also help.

I run a 5Ghz network in my apartment and it's amazing. With 2x2 MIMO on the client and 3x3 MIMO on the router, I get about 160Mbps anywhere in the apartment. (And that's 160Mbps TCP, not 160Mbps-the-wireless-driver-says-thats-the-connection-rate!) With 2.4Ghz, I get about 18Mbps.

So that's an order-of-magnitude speed enhancement just by using a less popular frequency.
posted by jrockway at 7:13 PM on August 7, 2011

5GHZ has a horrible range, I would not recommend doing so if you can't even get a signal at 2.4GHZ.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:17 PM on August 7, 2011

Try this.
posted by Webbster at 7:24 PM on August 7, 2011

I extended my weak wifi with a netgear range extender - plugs into wall outlet and then is setup to hook onto existing network. I believe the widget was $80ish. Required little fussing.
posted by countrymod at 7:26 PM on August 7, 2011

I use a netgear extender as countrymod does. Works like a charm.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:03 PM on August 7, 2011

You can make a Wind Surfer antenna booster using card stock, aluminum foil, and some glue, which will direct your signal in a specific direction instead of letting it radiate out. Kind of like the beer can solution, minus the beer.
posted by ikaruga at 8:23 PM on August 7, 2011

If you have an old router around, you can flash dd-wrt ( and set it on repeater mode. It'll take the strongest signal (from your main router) and simply re-broadcast it seamlessly. It basically does the same thing as the Netgear extender, except it's free if you have an old wireless router lying around. If you're not confident flashing, you can buy pre-flashed ones on eBay -- just search for "dd-wrt".
posted by PSB at 8:25 PM on August 7, 2011

You also might be on an overused channel. inSSIDer is a great tool to graphically see how many wifi signals are in your immediate area, and try and find a sweet spot channel wise.
posted by Sphinx at 9:00 PM on August 7, 2011

This has been asked many times before. Best bet is to get a bigger antenna before trying anything more expensive.
posted by knave at 10:43 PM on August 7, 2011

I had this problem when I lived in Germany. German houses are notorious for their wifi-signal blocking construction. I discovered the joy of Powerline networking. Since then, all my game consoles are plugged into the internet via Powerline networking adapters. They are relatively inexpensive (~$50).
posted by Master Gunner at 11:18 PM on August 7, 2011

I had the same problem with my PC and used a Powerline adapter (£35 from Amazon) which connects my router to my pc using the electricity ring.

The result is that the desktop PC is now the fastest internet connected device in the house.
posted by mr_silver at 12:34 AM on August 8, 2011

Are you sure it is the router that can't get to your computer, or your computer that can't get to the router? This is hard to test for, obviously, but if this is the case, boosting the output power of the router isn't going to solve the problem. Best answer is to move the router.
posted by gjc at 4:36 AM on August 8, 2011

Not exactly cheap but this thing has worked wonders in our house:

Amped Wireless SR300 High Power Wireless-300N Smart Repeater
posted by dabug at 9:56 AM on August 8, 2011

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