Wireless AP vs Range Extender: Which Wi-Fi Solution Is Better?

Updated on Feb 17, 2023

Suppose you are searching for solutions to extend the wireless network. In that case, you may encounter several hardware devices that offer the function, among which wireless access points (AP) or range extenders are on the list. There are many vendors in the market advertising configuring extenders into wireless AP and the two devices can be used interchangeably, which can confuse customers. This article will show in detail the characteristics, differences, and how to choose between wireless access points and range extenders.


What is Wireless access point and Range Extender?

Wireless AP

For enterprise businesses, it's common to connect desktops, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets to the wireless Wi-Fi network, and access points offer great flexibility to extend the number of devices that most businesses need.

Wireless AP solutions provide the following advantages and disadvantages:


  • Wireless AP enables dozens or hundreds of users to access at a time. For the campus enterprise network environment, it’s convenient for users to roam from room to room without enduring the torture of network interruption.

  • Wireless AP supports improved wireless network performance than a range extender and the wireless signal will not be affected as the number of deployed AP adds.

  • Users are able to deploy wireless AP at any location where there is an Ethernet cable. Wireless access points can be compatible with PoE standards and be connected to PoE switches via a single Ethernet cable for both data and power, which eliminates the need for additional power lines or outlets.

  • Additional ap access points feature such as Access Control List (ACL) can identify guess access to improve security and easily manage users within the wireless network.


  • Wireless APs must be hardwired into a router or switch by a network cable.

  • If power is not accessible, a PoE network switch or PoE injector is often needed to power it. For some applications where PoE devices are not deployed yet, it is necessary to replace the previous non-PoE devices with PoE devices.

Range Extender

A range extender extends the reach of an existing Wi-Fi network. It works by taking an existing WiFi signal, amplifying it, and transmitting the enhanced signal. Wifi extender can be a very cost-effective way to extend wifi to stationary devices.

The range extender Wi-Fi solution offers the following advantages and disadvantages:


  • The range extender is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to expand wireless network coverage and range. It is easier to set up and configure range extenders than to deploy a wireless network with APs.


  • Though Wifi extenders are easy to configure, the Wi-Fi speed can be halved by the received signal from the main router.

  • The precise location where wifi extenders are placed is important because being too far from routers can cause a loss of internet connectivity.

  • Range extender introduces more interference into Wi-Fi networks because it should use the same frequency and channel to communicate with the primary router.

Difference Between Wireless AP and Range Extender

Though both wireless AP and range extenders boost Wi-Fi signals, each device has its features.


Functionality difference

Wireless AP is a hardware device connected to a wired LAN as a communication hub, continuously receiving and transmitting data in the wireless LAN. Each wireless AP basically has an Ethernet interface for wireless and wired connections.

Different from Wireless AP, the wifi extender plays an auxiliary role. The wifi range extender is a device that takes the radio signal of a wifi access point (AP) and rebroadcasts it to create a new set of extended service set identifiers. The range extender helps to extend the range of the AP Extend where wired networks can't go.

Efficiency difference

Wireless AP has no negative impact on network quality. While wifi extenders allow for maximum flexibility, the available bandwidth is essentially halved if the service user and bidirectional transmission use the same wireless communication channel.

Cost difference

However, there is also a price gap between the two devices. Adding a range extender is more affordable than setting up a new wireless access point.

The following comparison table will help you better understand the differences between the wireless AP and range extender.

  Wireless AP Range Extender
Definition A networking hardware device that receives data by wired network and sends or receives wireless traffic to or from nearby wireless clients. A device that picks up signals from a wireless router and retransmits the signals to clients.
Function Forming wireless local area LANs and acting as a central transmitter and receiver of wireless radio signals. A bridge between router and Wi-Fi device that is outside the range of the Wi-Fi router.
Network Type It creates a wireless network. It replicates an existing network.
Network Quality Network quality is not affected. Network quality deteriorates by 50%.
Cost Expensive. Cost-effective.
Supported Area Large business and large offices. Home or small business.

Wireless AP vs Range Extender: How to Choose?

Overall, the range extender is ideal for applications where few Wi-Fi devices are connected to it. As for high-density network applications requiring high-quality Wi-Fi signals, wireless AP is the overwhelming choice. That's to say, if you need a cost-effective method to extend wireless network range in your home, range extenders will do just fine; but if you live in a large-sized home and you are discontent with the current network speed your router can supply, or you are deploying Wi-Fi networks for campuses or enterprises, it is worth upgrading to the latest standard wireless AP.

Evaluate these two Wi-Fi solutions by comparing their pros, cons, and differences, and you probably already have the verdict. In fact, the answer to which Wi-Fi solution is better can be subjective. Whether wireless access points or range extenders are better depends on what you want to accomplish.

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