Can you help me choosing WIFI range extender?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by petalino, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. petalino macrumors regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    Hi everyone.

    I am looking to extend my WIFI router reach 2 floors down and 100 feet sideways in a concrete floor and walls 5 story building.

    Currently using a Motorola Surfboard Gigabit Router for Cable, which barely reaches a MacAir at the destination downstairs. The signal is there, but its very weak.

    Looking to buy a WIFI range extender, but have no idea which one would work best. Costco has this one: 300N 5 Port Universal WB Edition, Amped Wireless High Power WiFi Range Extender & Smart Repeater:
    600mw output power

    and a recent MacRumors writeup mentions this one: BearExtender Turbo.
    700mw output power

    I should add that I cannot place the range extender just anywhere between the Motorola router and the downstairs location. My only options are either in same room as the original router or at the destination itself.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I think with this limitation, you are not going to be happy at all with this solution. Normally one would put the extender somewhere halfway where the signal is still good and can then be extended, but putting it at the destination then trying to extend an already bad signal is just not going to work very well.

    Have you considered using ethernet over power line adaptors to get the signal near where you need it then maybe extend with wifi.
  3. petalino thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    I have not considered it, but it does look interesting.
  4. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Blasting all that way is gonna be an issue, especially if you have no intermediate access. Generally speaking you're sort of in airport class wifi broadcasting, and even then the floor is an issue.

    What you probably need to do is to get a router with a directional antenna near a window, with the antenna mounted outside and pointing towards a receiving antenna out a window two floors down. The 100' sideways might do doable without more, or run Ethernet to another AP.

    The key here is more in the antennas than the routers. I believe the Bear people also used to make directional antennas for their original USB based Bear; perhaps that with the extender on an extension cord in the place most likely to pick up the signal might work. Or check the Alfa products, they make some similar products.
  5. topmounter macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2009
    FEMA Region VIII
    You may want to take a look at commercial-grade gear from someone like Ruckus Wireless.

    A range extender isn't much use if you can't place it in an intermediate location.
  6. brilliantthings macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2011
    This is the only way to go. I have powerlines running all through my house some plugging directly into the computer, others into a wifi router. It's the best way to truly extend. I use Airport Express as the wifi extender.
  7. BearExtenderUSA, Apr 2, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014

    BearExtenderUSA macrumors newbie


    Apr 2, 2014
    Berkeley, California
    BearExtender 1200 USB Wi-Fi Booster for Macs

    Hi petalino,

    My name is Jen from BearExtender.

    Our BearExtender 1200 model for Mac may meet your needs better. BearExtender 1200 has a 1200mW Wi-Fi Amplifier, high sensitivity -96.5 dBm receiver and 5 dBi antenna.

    We have a 45 day return policy, no restocking fee and shipping is free so you can test it at your location.

    Since you can currently detect the signal weakly, BearExtender 1200 has a very good chance of bringing that signal up to a stronger, dependable one.

    BearExtender 1200 would be plugged into the USB port of your MacBook Air downstairs.

    Contact me if you have any questions.


  8. petalino thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 21, 2010
    Thank you very much for the recommendation. I am almost sold on it.

    Just one question:
    This Bear Extender seems to connect to the Mac directly, which means that it can be used only for one computer? It does not supply a WiFi signal itself, but only boosts it? Is this correct?

    Is there a Bear Extender which would connect to a weak signal, boost it and transmit a Wifi signal to use on more than one computers in the remote location?

  9. BearExtenderUSA macrumors newbie


    Apr 2, 2014
    Berkeley, California

    That is correct our current models connect via USB, so they only increase the Wi-Fi reception and signal strength for the particular Mac it is plugged into.

    BearExtender 1200 and our older Mac USB models do not broadcast their own network. They simply allow you to pickup signals at farther distances with greater signal strength due to the onboard high sensitivity receiver and amplifier.

    So BearExtender 1200 should greatly help with your MacBook Air at the downstairs location.

    Regarding the second part of your question, last week we announced a new BearExtender model that can do exactly that (take a weak signal, then rebroadcast a new stronger networks). BearExtender Edge is the model you read about on the MacRumors homepage during the Macworld conference.

    BearExtender Edge will ship later in the summer:


    Meanwhile some BearExtender 1200 customers use the Mac OS X Internet Sharing Feature to manually re-share the stronger signal with the help of the internal AirPort card.

    When using Mac OS X Internet Sharing and BearExtender 1200, other Wi-Fi devices can connect. Here is an example:

    Router (upstairs) <-- Extended distance --> BearExtender <-USB-> MacBook Air (downstairs) <-> AirPort broadcasting via Internet Sharing <-> iPad

  10. brilliantthings macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2011
    Not trying to take away anyone's business, but how can that be better than the powerline solution? There's no comparison.
  11. BearExtenderUSA macrumors newbie


    Apr 2, 2014
    Berkeley, California
    Powerline is a good solution for certain homes and user needs.
    Some people prefer the mobility and freedom to move around wirelessly versus being tethered to a single location via ethernet cable.

    For example, MacBook Air does not have an ethernet port, so one would also need to purchase a Ethernet adapter, then run an ethernet cable between the adapter and the wall outlet where the powerline adapter is plugged in.

    Some older homes also have older wiring that does not work well with powerline systems. You did mention earlier that one could plug the powerline adapter into a second router and that is certainly an option.

    Powerline is also not portable in the sense that you cannot use it with a router where you do not have physical access to it, such as when traveling.

  12. brilliantthings macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2011
    Thanks Jen. Have a read of my post above. An Apple Airport Express can plug into a power line several floors away and create another area of the wireless network. The MacBook Air doesn't need to be tethered at all. The Bear Extender require that you have a dongle plugged into your laptop.

    But you're right, if there are two different electrical circuits in the house, it won't work. Not very common though.


    Whoops. You did read my post. Just saw your note.

    You can also take the Airport Express travelling.

    Personal choice I guess.

    I'd take Airport Express plus powerlines any day. The other advantage is that I have 6 powerlines throughout the house. A very affordable option too.


    And one more thing....

    I use each airport express as an Airplay dock connected to speakers. Really great.
  13. brilliantthings macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2011
    What did you end up getting?
  14. Makwak macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2014
    I have tp link powerline adapters the come in wireless versions too. I plugged one to my modem and power socket the other in room below in another power socket then with cable to my imac and voila. Cheap and cheerful.
  15. brilliantthings macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2011
    That's exactly my setup. OP was thinking about getting this BearExtender thing. Don't think you can beat power line.
  16. coatli macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2014
    Hi all!:)
    If anyone would please explain to me what option to buy, I would be soooo grateful!
    I am so overwhelmed with all these different technical complicated options--
    extenders,adapters, powerlines, airport express, etc....
    I was thinking to buy a bearExtender 1200 for my iMac (desktop not laptop), but now after reading all these comments I no longer have any idea.:confused:

    Here's my situation:
    I just bought a new iMac (my first mac ever, i was using windows), and I rent a little studio cottage on a land with 12 other renters, and we all share the same router. Sadly for me, I am last in the long line from the router end of the land to my end! So I get the last remaining dregs of wireless juice after everyone else has been streaming, gaming, etcetc...
    Therefore, I need something that would draw more strongly the signal into my iMac. As it is, i get such a teeny weak signal that i cannot use internet at all on my Mac. (i am currently writing this on my windows, which I use with slow but halfway decent signal boosted by a TP-Link adapter someone gave me a long time ago.)

    If anyone can simply tell me, they think i should buy this or that, plug this into such and such, or whatever, simple enough for a relative newbie :eek:
    who never had computer lessons to understand, I'dbe super grateful!!!!!;)
  17. brilliantthings macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2011
    I still think that the ideal solution is to plug a power line into the common router and then a powerline directly into your mac.

    The way this works is:
    -the powerline box plugs directly into the wall powerpoint and is connected to the router using an ethernet/network cable.
    -another powerline box plugs directly in a wall powerpoint next to your computer and the powerline is connected to your computer using an ethernet/network cable
    -the data (or internet connection) is transmitted between powerlines through the house's power cables

    This only works if your room is on the same phase as the router. ie. there has to be only one fusebox or equivalent in the house. You won't know this for sure until you test it. This is the one I have:

    Costs about $50 for the pair.

    What type of router is it?
  18. brilliantthings macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2011
    Option 1 in this diagram:

    Attached Files:

  19. coatli macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2014
    thanks so much for your superkind answer!—although, i think i ought to re-state my situation: i am not sharing a house,
    but rather i am renting my own studio cottage on a land, and sharing the one router on the whole land,
    with 12 other people, all renting their own dwellings on this land.
    Everyone else's place is much closer to that router than my own.
    my place is clear across a 1/4 acre property from that router.
    The router stays in the couple's apartment who caretake the property. They get to call all the shots, and they choose to keep it right next to their own computer. They live clear across the land from my cottage. I have begged them to move it, even just to their front window so it aims at my place a bit more, butt hey are unwilling to do even that.
    In this case, since the router is not in the same house as my iMac computer, would i be unable to have this setup you describe work?
    As far as fuseboxes go, does being on the same "phase" mean that if a fuse was blown in my cottage, that same fuse would be blown in the room where the router lives?
    I do know that if, say, my power goes out in half my cottage because it overloaded when i ran the oven and music system at the same time, I still have power in the other half, because they run on different breakers. But when i go across the land to flip the switch back on, it is in the same metal box, even though on a different switch in that box.
    If this is still relevant, the router is, according to my realtek 11n USB wireless LAN utility, "type: infrastructure", and "mode: N,G." Is this what you meant by "type of router"?
    If i am guessing correctly, this powerline setup you describe replaces a more cumbersome option of hard-wiring everything from router to final destination (ie. my iMAC), and the big long USB cable that would stretch from on end to the other would be replaced by wiring that already exists in the house wall's electrical system. Is this correct?
    If so, it seems like i'd probably have two obstacles keeping this from working:
    1. i couldn't run a superduper long wire clear across the land, nor is there any wall-system across it connecting my place to the caretakers', and
    2. the caretakers have always proven themselves to be unwilling to lift a pinkie to make the other renter's lives a bit easier, and so i feel its extremely doubtful that i could hope to ask them to allow a powerline box that i provide them to plug directly into their own wall powerpoint, and connect that to the router using a cable. (Its hard to even get them to call a plumber out to fix my sink, unless it's a true emergency, sadly enough…and i've been a faithful,courteous, quiet renter for nearly 7 years here too…sigh)
    Anyway, considering the land layout and all, please let me know what you think about my wirless setup options— if you think i'm guessing right about it all, perhaps BearExtender or such might be a good option?


    BTW that extended home diagram is an ingenious design!
    I'm amazed that the circuitry can handle all that power distribution!
    Great to have in mind,if i find myself in such an environment someday. :)
  20. brilliantthings macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2011
    What an annoying situation!

    The fusebox arrangement sounds promising.

    The other option is to connect the primary powerline into another router belonging to a renter who you have a better relationship with. The closer they are to your area, the more likely you are to be on the same circuit.

    Running a long usb cable is no good. But you could run a long ethernet cable.

    If powerline works, though, that'd be a simpler option.

    Get a powerline starter kit and talk to your neighbours.


    PS There's very little power required when compared to mains power. That's why option 2 works so well. I've got 6 of them!
  21. TechThule macrumors newbie


    Mar 26, 2011
    I have a similar situation in that I have an airport router in my main house and needed to extend the range to an outbuilding where my son dwells. He was too far away to link with the Airport Extreme in my house via his MBP.

    Since he is on a separate electric meter, it was not an option to transmit through the house wiring.

    I purchased a new Airport Extreme for my house, and was able to set up the old Airport Extreme as a client to the new router in the main house using Airport Utility. Apparently the antenna on the Airport Extreme is more sensitive to that on his MBP. There is some degradation of the download speed, but it is faster than 3G. Otherwise it is a satisfactory and relatively low cost solution, compared to a monthly service fee from an ISP.

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