Do Wi-Fi Extenders Work Through Walls? (Detailed Answer)

Wi-Fi extenders/boosters/repeaters are pretty well known about in a general sense, but there can be some confusion around exactly how (and how well) they work. For instance, do they actually work through walls, floors and other solid objects? Is the signal they broadcast strong enough to pass through walls, to the point where they can be used over longer distances and across multiple rooms?

Wi-Fi extenders can and do work through walls, but performance varies and is never guaranteed. The more walls the extender’s signal has to pass through, the more the signal strength and speeds will be reduced, lessening their effectiveness.

In other words, yes, they can work through walls, and that is in fact their most common use case. But if you start adding too many walls in the way, they may no longer work, or deliver only a sporadic signal which keeps dropping out. They work best over short to medium distances.

Extenders Can Work Through Walls

The good news is that the best use case for a Wi-Fi extender specifically involves them working through walls, so it’s definitely possible and indeed intended for this to be the case, though not always guaranteed.

In general, a Wi-Fi extender is most effective in reaching so called Wi-Fi “dead-zones” in the home, where you current router either delivers a very weak signal to, or cannot reach at all. This is where the Wi-Fi extender can be used to act as a “bridge” or mid-way augmenting device, to capture the router’s signal and create it’s own access point with a signal that CAN reach this dead-zone that the router couldn’t.

The devices that were struggling before can now connect to this newer, and stronger access point broadcast by the extender, and you’ve hopefully solved the problem of that particular “dead-zone”.

This problem is usually created in the first place because the router wireless signal has to travel through too many walls, and it’s weakening too much. Using an extender might mean it has to travel through one or two less walls to reach the devices versus using the router, which is the difference between no signal (using the router) and an at least acceptable signal (using the extender).

This is the best use case for these products, and they can still work in this way, as long as there aren’t too many walls for the signal to pass through to get from the extender to the connecting devices.

Where To Install Extenders For Best Performance

To get the best performance out of Wi-Fi repeaters, they are best installed within reasonable range of both the main host router and the connecting devices or wireless “dead-zone” you’re hoping to reach using the extender.

Around 5-10 meters from the router and devices are generally optimal, and this can be through walls, but the less obstacles, the better to maintain signal strength and speeds.

In general, it’s better to have only one wall maximum between the router and the extender, and also one wall between the extender and the connecting devices. They can potentially work through more, but performance is less guaranteed and you’re more likely to get lower speeds, signal drop-outs and red/orange light errors on your repeater.

See the video below for a good demonstration of how to best install and use Wi-Fi extenders.


  • Try to find an outlet with no obstructions, and halfway between the router and the “dead-zone” (where this is not possible in homes, experiment with using different outlets and see what works best).
  • Make sure the extender is within range of the router so it can ALWAYS pick up the signal and not drop out. Try to keep it within 15-30 feet (5-10 meters), and only through one wall maximum if possible.
  • Try not to place extenders behind or under furniture or other obstructions.
  • If the extender has antennae, point them in the direction the signal is needed and the router.
  • The more walls through which the signal must pass, the less likely performance will be guaranteed.
  • In open spaces, try to place the extender in the direct line of sight of the router, with no walls in the way (ideal scenario)
  • In more difficult situations in homes where the router and the “dead zone” are diagonally opposite each other (e.g., the router is in the lower front room and the signal needs to reach the upper rear room), it’s trickier and you may have to do some experimenting. I have this problem now and I get the best results when I connect the extender to the upstairs landing. It’s still close enough to the router to pick up the signal, so it works quite well, but does lose connection sometimes. Try out the downstairs and upstairs outlets and see what gives the best speed/signal.

Click here to see our extenders page, with links to some popular, reliable models in different price ranges

Which Band Works Better Through Walls? (2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz)

Most newer Wi-Fi extenders now come with dual band functionality as standard now, meaning they can actually broadcast two SSIDs/networks just like routers – a 2.4 GHz extender band and a 5 GHz extender band.

There’s a lot of hype around dual band in general in networking now, but particularly in terms of extender function, it’s largely unimportant, as we cover in our this post.

The bottom line on this is that if you’re looking to pass an extender signal through multiple walls, using the older 2.4 GHz band is probably best.

Here are some bottom line points on this:

  • 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi is generally known to work better over distance and pass through solid objects better than 5 GHz Wi-Fi
  • 5 GHz Wi-Fi by contrast is generally known to be better at shorter range, travel less well through walls, but provide better speed and less interference/congestion when used in ideal conditions.
  • But the usual use case of Wi-Fi extenders (over distance and through objects) is often not optimal for 5 GHz Wi-Fi connectivity, so the benefits are likely to be negated.
  • The cases when a 5 GHz extender connection is likely to deliver the better speeds it is theoretically capable of, are precisely when an extender tends not to be needed anyway (closer range, less walls in the way, when the main router signal probably works fine anyway).

The bottom line on this is that the “dual band” feature on extenders is often over-hyped and largely redundant. If you’re only connecting a few devices and over longer distance and through walls, you’re probably better just connecting to the 2.4 GHz band and forgetting about 5 GHz.

What If I Can’t Get A Reliable Signal Using An Extender?

At least some users of Wi-Fi extenders will have problems getting them to reliably and consistently work, especially passing the signal through more walls. Wireless connectivity is fickle and variable that way.

If the extender keeps losing connection with the router, you’ll often get “connected, no internet” errors on your devices, indicated they’re connected fine to the repeater, but the repeater itself has lost connection with the router.

If you are encountering this problem, here are some quick troubleshooting tips:

  • Move the extender to a wall socket close to the router again, and leave it there for a few minutes to refresh it’s connection, then move it back again (that’s what I have to periodically do with my current extender setup).
  • If you’ve got the opposite problem of devices losing connection to the extender’s network, you’ll need to move the extender closer to the “dead-zone” for better reception, while also making sure it doesn’t lose connection with the router.
  • Also more generally try experimenting with the extender in different wall sockets and test the signal quality to see if it improves placing it in a certain spot versus others (they save settings when moved so it’s OK to do this).
  • If you’re on the 5 GHz band, try switching to the 2.4 GHz extender band for better performance over distance. Very occasionally swapping the opposite way may help – there’s no harm in trying it. But usually 2.4 GHz is going to be better through walls.
  • Consider other home networking solutions like powerline adapters (don’t rely on Wi-Fi passing through walls) or Wi-Fi Mesh (more powerful versions of Wi-Fi extenders).

See our full article for more detailed help if you can’t get a consistent signal using a Wi-Fi booster through walls.

My Own Experience Using Extenders Through Walls

I’ll cover my own current experience with using a Wi-Fi booster, as it actually demonstrates the point on the signal passing through walls, and also the limitations and compromises that are sometimes necessary when using these extender devices.

I’m currently needing to use a TP Link Wi-Fi extender, since I’m literally diagonally opposite from the router, as far away as I can get from it, and the signal is basically unusable in my room. The router is installed in the front downstairs room, and I’m in the upper rear room, so the signal from the router is traveling through too many walls and floors to reach my room effectively. I get either zero signal from the router, or a very weak one that keeps dropping out.

So I’ve used an extender as a bridging device, and although it’s not perfect, it at least delivers me a usable internet connection when I couldn’t get one before. I tried it in a few different places, but found the best performance to be placing it on the upstairs landing, further away from my router, but closer to my room.

The router signal is having to travel through one wall and one floor to reach the extender (which it does at least most of the time), and then it has to travel through one wall to reach the devices in my room from the extender.

And it works fine most of the time, although the extender itself does sometimes lose connection with the router, and has to be moved downstairs again for a few minutes to refresh it’s connection. So with my setup, the extender still works passing through walls, but intermittently drops, and it’s pushing towards the limit of where it’s usable. Any more walls the signal would have to pass through, I might struggle to get it to work properly.

Therefore to reiterate the earlier point, Wi-Fi extenders can work through walls and floors, but the less the better. One wall between the router/extender and one wall between the extender/devices is usually OK. Any more than that, they might still work but you might also start to get signal drop outs and unreliable performance.

Click here to see our extenders page, with links to some popular, reliable models in different price ranges

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