For most people, having a reliable and speedy Internet is a commodity deemed incredibly important in the running of our every day lives. If you are considering a loft conversion, it is therefore essential to think about whether your current Wi-Fi solutions will be enough to cover your new living area, and if not, what the best way to rectify this is.
So, what are some of the available options when it comes to extending your Wi-Fi signal into your loft?
1. Hard wiring up to the loft and adding an additional access point
This is probably the most effective way to extend your Wi-Fi, but it is also the trickiest. The problem arises because it requires your router to be wired to each access point by Ethernet cable, which means that unless you already have this set up in your loft conversion, wiring will need to be fitted into the walls to create the new access points.
An access point is different from a router, so if you opt for this method of Wi-Fi signal boosting, make sure to buy the correct one. You should only need one router for the whole house, and the access point acts as an extension of the back of the router and simply allows supplementary Wi-Fi access rather than having any sort of control over the network itself.
2. Getting an external antenna for your router
For something a little simpler, this could be an easy fix for furthering your Wi-Fi signal strength. An external antenna increases the range of the Wi-Fi that would then reach to your converted loft area. More recent routers are increasingly found with internal antennas built in, but for those that don’t offer this, the majority of routers does have, or at least support, an external antenna.
Usually, the external antennas you find with routers are fairly cheap and omnidirectional, which means that they send equal signals in all directions. Depending on the layout of your home, it may be worthwhile replacing the standard antenna with a high-gain one, which sends more concentrated signals in one direction. This is particularly beneficial if you have an area of narrow living space, or if your router is in one area of a room and you need the Wi-Fi to predominantly extend the other way.
3. Using a repeater router
If you find that using an antenna doesn’t create a strong enough signal to be detected in your loft, an alternative option is to install another router as a repeater unit. This effectively retransmits the Wi-Fi signal from your primary router, but because the second one is strategically positioned in a different place, the combination of both gives wider network cover. You may have a spare router lying about at home, but otherwise these can be purchased.
When you plug your second router into the first’s LAN port, you should run the setup utility and assign the same netmask, gateway and SSID as your main router. The DHCP of the spare router needs to be turned off too. Finally, the second router needs to be positioned in a place with the weakest Wi-Fi signal, so find the right spot somewhere in the new loft area.
4. Using repeaters or extenders
Rather than using a spare router to extend Wi-Fi into the loft, you could buy a specific wireless repeater or extender device. This will also retransmit the signal. It is advised that these are placed halfway between your router and the device or area you want to cover, so that the repeater is placed at the outer limit of where good Wi-Fi signal is found in your home.
There is a difficulty in that using a repeater will give slower internet access for those that are connected to it, when compared with the speed when connected to the main router, but depending on what you use the internet for, this may still be acceptable.
5. Transmitting signals via the mains electrical wiring
If you don’t already have Ethernet ports throughout your house, you may consider using the mains electrical wiring and plug sockets to create access points. An adapter is plugged into an electrical socket and connected with the router, which then enables the network to be connected with the electrical lines.
If you have success with this, further adapters can be plugged into different outlets in your house and connected to your computer, either with an Ethernet cable, or by connecting the adapter to a wireless access point that then allows your device to detect the Wi-Fi. Another option is to buy a router with an already built in wireless access point and use this to extend the coverage.