Access Point vs Extender: What’s the difference?

WiFi technology has made great strides, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution for workplaces and homes. Wireless networking devices are becoming increasingly widespread, especially Access Points and Extenders, two common types of wireless networking equipment.

Connecting WiFi devices to a wired network is made possible by an access point. As a result, it acts as a sort of central node for all of your WiFi gadgets. Range extenders function by extending your WiFi network’s coverage. In its defined territory, an access point can boost network coverage by 100%.

We all spend plenty of time at home, so it’s inevitable that when our WiFi stops working, we notice it. Since so many devices rely on your home WiFi, the network may begin to deteriorate. Is there anything you can do about it? The solution includes Access Points and Extenders, which is why we will compare both the technologies in this guide. 

Access Point vs Extender: Which Should You Choose

The technical word for a centralized Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) hub is an Access Point. An Ethernet cable connects numerous networks and devices to the same Local Area Network (LAN) and broadcasts a WiFi signal to a specified area. 

An Extender is used to extend a wireless network’s range. The Extender does this by duplicating the WiFi router’s signals and creating a second network. It serves as a WiFi signal amplifier.

The best WiFi solution is a matter of personal preference. Everything relies on your priorities when deciding between wireless access points and extenders. Comparing the two WiFi options can help you decide which one is better. Check out the WiFi access point vs Extender comparison table below.

Basis of ComparisonAccess PointExtender
SignificationVarious wireless devices can connect to the same local area network (LAN) using this as the coreThis wireless device acts as a signal booster to enhance the coverage area of an existing wireless network
Network Builds networkDuplicate an existing network
Best suited forWorkplaces and large homesHome networks 
Network qualityDoes not lower network qualityNetwork quality depreciates by half
AffordabilityExpensive and technical Affordable and easy to install

What is an Access Point

There are two types of access points: wired and wireless. A wired access point connects wired networks together. To put it another way, an access point has the capability of establishing a wireless network from scratch. Offices and other large buildings are the most common places to find this device. 

What is an access point
Access Point

It’s an uncomplicated system to use. An Ethernet connection links the access point to a wired router, allowing it to broadcast WiFi throughout the specific area. An access point can be installed and connected to the router via an Ethernet wire to expand your WiFi range for rooms without a router. 

More than 60 connections can be handled simultaneously by the device. Installing numerous WiFi access points around the facility ensures uninterrupted service.

Access Point: Pros 

There are various benefits to purchasing an access point to enhance your network that you should be aware of. Check out the pros of an access point below. 

  1. At any given moment, an access point can serve multiple connected devices (ranging in hundreds). Consider a scenario in which hundreds of people in a huge office attempt to join a single network. They won’t have any issues accomplishing it.  
  2. Depending on the model, an access point may be able to reach hundreds of meters away. In comparison to a typical wireless router, its range is significantly greater. 
  3. The networking capabilities of an access point are greater than those of a standard wireless router. Multiple network devices and networking protocols can be supported by it. Because of this, it is ideal for high-traffic areas such as workplaces. 

Access Point: Cons

Installing an access point isn’t always the best option. Indeed, access points have drawbacks too. Consider the following cons of an access point: 

  1. The cost might be rather considerable if your company requires a substantial number of access points. Many businesses opt-out of this option to save money and instead go with a cheaper but less reliable connection. 
  2. An access point is part of a larger package. To put it another way, an access point is useless on its own. An Ethernet hub, for example, is required to round out the setup. 
  3. Wireless networks do not perform as seamlessly as cable networks in terms of speed and stability.

What is a Range Extender

Your home WiFi connection may be great in certain spots but terrible in others. If you’re streaming Netflix, working on papers, or playing games, you may not be receiving a stable WiFi connection across your home. 

What is a Range Extender
Range Extender

A Wireless repeater or range extender can be of assistance in this situation. With this gadget, you can add a second WiFi network using the signal from your primary router. A separate wireless channel is used to rebroadcast the network. 

Range extenders can have placement issues. To rebroadcast your WiFi connection, the extender has to receive a strong enough signal from your router. It won’t function as desired if it doesn’t have that.

Range Extender: Pros

It’s not uncommon to see range extenders touted as substitutes for the access point. Range extenders have multiple pros to consider.  

  1. Homeowners should use range extenders, not giant organizations. Consequently, they are the most cost-effective solution. A range extender is an excellent option if you’re on a tight budget. 
  2. Installation is a breeze with range extenders. The setup will take you no more than a few minutes. Most are plug-and-play, so all you have to do is connect them. 
  3. A WiFi range extender offers a broader range for your network while also improving the quality of your WiFi signal. This is a significant upgrade for your house, even if it’s not as powerful as an access point.

Range Extender: Cons

Even though wireless range extenders are great for apartments and condos, they aren’t meant for business applications. Large places, such as offices, shouldn’t have them installed. Range extenders have the following cons: 

  1. A range extender can only improve the network coverage area by roughly 50%, whereas an access point can expand it to 100%. 
  2. You can anticipate higher wireless interference from other networks if you use a range extender. 
  3. Using a range extender puts you at risk of being attacked by other users. This is because the range extender generates a new network that isn’t inherently secure. If that happens, there will very certainly be a cyber invasion.

Access Point vs Extender: What’s the Difference

While they belong to the same category, access points and range extenders are indeed different. Both are capable of enhancing your WiFi connection. Access points and range extenders differ in several ways.

Terminology

Although the terms access point and extender are sometimes used interchangeably, they have distinct functions. An access point is a networking device that connects wireless devices and networks to a wired network through wireless technologies such as WiFi. In contrast, an extender, also known as a repeater, is a networking device used to expand your wireless network’s coverage area.

Functionality 

An access point is a piece of hardware that acts as a centralized hub for a wireless local area network, giving various wireless devices accessibility to any available bandwidth that the device or user is authorized to access. Ethernet cable is used to link it to a router or built into the router itself. To increase your router’s coverage, a wireless extender duplicates the router’s wireless signal and creates a secondary network on your system in the process.

Affordability 

Adding an extender or multiple extenders is often more convenient and cheaper than adding an access point or two. To establish a network connection with the access point, you’ll need to install cables around your home or put up power-line adapters. On the other hand, Extenders are ideal and cost-effective for home networks but ineffective for large workplaces. 

Efficiency 

Because wireless extenders are half-duplex and can communicate in only one direction at a time, wireless range extenders limit data throughout. The data speed is halved for every wireless link that uses the same frequency. An access point has the capability of increasing network coverage in its assigned region by 100 percent. It is more efficient than a range extender, and more suitable for big spaces like offices. 

Access Point vs Extender: Which is Better for Businesses

Concerning home WiFi networks, range extenders are exceptional, but they are inefficient for large spaces like offices. This is because they can only handle a handful of devices simultaneously. Although range extenders improve the range of a WiFi network, they do not enhance the amount of bandwidth available to users. A range extender may cause your connection to slow down based on how many devices you have connected simultaneously. 

On the contrary, access points are capable of supporting more than 60 devices at the same time. Users can walk freely from floor to floor without encountering network outages thanks to installing access points around the office. As users go across the facility, their devices will effortlessly transition from one access point to another without losing their connection—the transition is so smooth that the users will hardly notice the switch. 

Advantages of Wireless Access Points

In a situation where you have workers and visitors connecting via multiple devices like laptops, smartphones, PCs, and more, dependency on a wireless network may increase quickly and reach the threshold. Access points can allow up to 60 concurrent connections, providing you the flexibility to expand the number of devices allowed on your network. Check out the advantages of using a wireless access point below: 

  • A business-grade access point can be put almost anywhere as long as an Ethernet cable can be routed through it. In addition, newer models are compatible with Power over Ethernet Plus, often known as PoE+ (a hybrid Ethernet and power cable), eliminating any need to establish a different power line or install an outlet close to the wireless access point. 
  • Additional basic capabilities include Captive Portal and Access Control List (ACL) compatibility, which allows you to restrict guest access without jeopardizing network security, and also manage multiple users inside your WiFi network with ease, among other things.
  • Several access points are equipped with a Clustering capability, which allows an IT administrator to monitor, install, manage, and safeguard a WiFi network as a singular entity instead of a collection of individual access point setups.

Frequently Asked Questions

After comparing WiFi extender vs access point, let us answer some more burning questions concerning the two wireless technologies. 

Is an access point better than a range extender?

An access point can boost network coverage by 100% in the designated area. On the other hand, a range extender is less efficient, increasing network coverage by just 50%. 

What is the difference between extender and access point?

The primary difference between an Access Point and an Extender is that the former acts as a centralized hub to which various wireless devices and networks are linked. However, the latter acts as a connectivity booster to ensure no interruptions in your wireless network.

Do access points extend WIFI?

An access point is a piece of hardware that establishes a WLAN in a workplace or huge facility. An access point transmits a WiFi signal to a specific region by connecting to a wired router, switch, or hub through an Ethernet connection. If a specified area in your office falls outside the router range, you may build an access point at the spot and connect it to the server room through an Ethernet cable routed through the ceiling.

Does access point reduce speed?

Access points do not reduce the internet bandwidth. Thus there is no deterioration in internet speed. Access points shouldn’t slow down your internet speed even if you have many devices and routers connected (even if they’re on separate levels).

Conclusion 

We recommend getting a range extender if you want to boost the performance of your wireless network at home. Offices should opt for an access point(s) to seamlessly handle the large coverage area. 

We hope our WiFi access point vs Extender guide helps you understand the distinction between these two wireless technologies. 

About Nathan

Hello! I'm Nate. I work for an internet company during the week, so you'll probably see me on here jabbering about the internet and building websites, which is my main side hobby.

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