Weatherproof design, long range and is fast enough to handle several devices pulling down a lot of data at once. Easy setup.
Manufacture advises using only devices it makes for power, but can be powered by just about any PoE switch or an injector.
Great choice for an outdoor mounted unit due to weather resistant design and range.
A bit more difficult to set up than some competing products.
Ridiculously easy to set up and it is a flexible unit — range extender, wireless access point, wireless bridge and router.
It's not strictly a wireless access point, so that means mounting options are limited and range is not as far as some competing products.
Powerful, great range, plenty of mounting options and reliable as a tank.
Expensive and setting it up is difficult.
WiFi has become an essential part of life: It brings our social networks, our jobs, as well as movies and TV to our mobile devices. As we live more of our lives online, having stable, dependable WiFi at home has become a necessity – so what can you do about dead spots where you get no signal?
Wireless access points are the perfect solution for any home that has a few problem areas where better WiFi is needed. A single wireless access point, when connected to your primary wireless router, acts as a secondary broadcast location for your same network. With a wireless access point installed, you get more of the network your devices need without the need for configuration changes to any of them.
Read our wireless access point shopping guide to get informed on the features and specs that matter, then check out our recommended wireless access points in the table above.
There are a variety of ways to establish or improve a WiFi signal in your home, and there are many different devices that approach wireless networking differently. Before you pick out a wireless access point, make sure you understand the competing technologies and what your connectivity options are.
Wireless access points, or WAPs, work in partnership with a wireless router – their primary function is to extend the reach and speed of an existing WiFi network. They connect to a wireless network through either a wired Ethernet connection or by joining it wirelessly. Wireless access points are particularly effective in situations where you need to increase WiFi coverage in multiple areas: they’re completely scalable, so increasing your WiFi network’s reach and speed is simply a matter of adding more WAPs. Wireless access points are also ideal for people who have WiFi “dead spots” in their home.
If you’re not sure how many wireless devices you have, download a network analysis app to your smartphone. Many apps are able to show you a complete list of all the devices connected to your network.
Mesh networking devices represent an entirely different method of boosting a WiFi network’s speed and range that is often confused with wireless access points. A mesh network is one in which multiple identical broadcast nodes work together to provide WiFi coverage – every node is involved in every data relay, providing it to your devices as quickly as possible. Mesh networks are considered more resilient than networks using wireless access points (if one node has a problem, the others self-correct), but because most mesh networking kits include multiple nodes, they’re significantly more expensive than a single wireless access point. Mesh networks are ideal for larger homes or homes with multiple low-coverage areas.
Not all homes are ideal for wireless access points. If you find that a wireless access point isn’t the right solution for your space, consider a powerline networking kit, which transmits data over your home’s electrical power lines.
Wireless access points are only as effective as where they’re placed – and in general, the higher the better. Most wireless access points are designed to be set up in one of three locations:
Ceiling- and wall-mounted wireless access points are typically the size of a smoke detector, and ideal for covering entire rooms. Keep in mind that wherever you mount your wireless access point, it will need both power and, ideally, a wired internet connection.
You can test the WiFi coverage in your home by downloading a speed-testing app to your phone and running speed tests at various locations. As you identify areas of particularly low signal, keep a list and plan on placing one or more wireless access points accordingly.
When it comes to the cost of wireless access points, there are two price ranges to be aware of.
As you’re shopping for a wireless access point, consider these tips.
Some wireless access points only support older, outdated wireless protocol standards. Make sure the wireless access point you buy supports the 802.11ac wireless protocol (the fastest standard currently). If it doesn’t support 802.11ac, don’t buy it.
Once you’ve set up your WiFi network, use your wireless access point software to set up a separate guest network. Using a guest network allows you to provide WiFi to friends and family when they visit without granting them unsecured access to your entire network.
Q. Should I buy a wireless access point that’s made by the same manufacturer as my existing router? Will it still work if they’re not the same brand?
A. Wireless access points are agnostic for the most part, and brands and product lines can be mixed and matched based on your needs. However, there are some significant advantages to using complementary products from the same brand – for example, if you buy a wireless access point made by the same manufacturer as your wireless router, you may be able to manage both devices from a single interface.
Q. Can I use a wireless access point with the wireless router I rent from my internet provider (ISP)?
A. It depends on the specific model of wireless router provided to you by your ISP. Most ISP-provided wireless routers support third-party wireless access points, but it’s worth a call to confirm. If your rented wireless router doesn’t support adding a WAP, you might consider buying a wireless access point that does – and save yourself those pesky rental fees while you’re at it!
Q. Do I have to be a technical person to set up a wireless access point? How complicated is it?
A. If you’ve already been through setting up your WiFi network, adding a wireless access point isn’t much more difficult – it’s typically a matter of connecting the WAP to your network and configuring the included software. If you’re not comfortable with technology, you may need to ask a friend for help, or consider a mesh networking setup, which will be much easier to set up and administer.
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