Wireless Access Point vs Extender – What’s the Difference? (Explained)

Wireless Access Point vs Extender – What’s the Difference? (Explained). In this post, we will explain the major difference between the two network devices with detailed specifications and highlights.

Are you looking to extend your wireless network? Two stand out options are available for your requirements: wireless access points (AP) or range extenders.

But what’s the difference between the two hardware devices? Understanding the difference between the two network devices can confuse most people. We got you covered.

So, without further ado, let’s start with Wireless Access Point vs Extender – What’s the Difference? (Explained).

What is a Wireless Access Point?

A wireless access point is a networking device enabling devices and networks to connect through a wired network using WiFi. Also, it helps you to share your internet connection stably with a connection speed similar to that offered by your modem. You can create a centralized hub with minimal latency that transmits and receives information over a LAN.

Moreover, a wireless access point can connect to the router using an ethernet cable or is a part of the router. You can use a wireless access point to enable different wireless devices’ access to any network resources on the LAN. An integral component of a wireless LAN infrastructure, a wireless access point can operate as a standalone device.

Therefore, independent access points are ideal for large businesses and small offices to enhance the coverage of the wired network. The wireless AP’s advantages and disadvantages can help you get a better picture.

Generally, access points offer excellent flexibility to extend the number of devices most businesses need. You can connect desktops, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets to the WiFi network.

But here are the advantages and disadvantages offered by the wireless access point.

Advantages of Wireless Access Point

1. Great users access

Firstly, an access point can allow 50+ users access and offer the ability to send and receive signals with minimal latency. If your wireless network extender requirements are for a large area, an access point can offer you an excellent solution. Users can avoid network interruption within the LAN and access the internet.

2. Multi AP interconnection

If you have business space, the coverage provided by a single access point can limit the accessibility. You can extend the coverage using a multi AP interconnection to enable users to roam seamlessly in the network. Also, it provides flexibility in your work environment, improves network performance and strengthens internet accessibility.

3. Flexible networking

Wireless networking in commercial locations involves many wireless devices. So, you can use different networking patterns according to your environment and requirements.

An AP offers various modes like simplex AP, wireless client, wireless bridge, multi point bridge, etc. These modes make it very flexible. In addition, access point offers features like Access Control List (ACL) to help you improve security and easily manage users.

4. Broader range of transmission

Importantly, a wireless router generally covers a few meters of wireless transmission, but an AP increases the reach to 100-300 meters. The increase with the help of wireless access points can extend signal coverage proportionally.

Surely, it enables users to move in the network with no network latency freely. If you have a large office space, the number of users increases, requiring extensive wireless network coverage. The access point offers the best solution with a broader range of transmission.

Disadvantages of Wireless Access Point

1. Inability to use alone

Apart from large hotels or public places, people don’t prepare AP when there’s a mention of building wireless networks. Have you thought about why people first consider installing wireless routers instead of wireless AP?

The primary reason is that you can’t use a wireless AP alone. It cannot connect to the ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Loop) modem. You require other equipment like controllers, switches, ethernet hubs, etc., to use it.

Many individuals find it less convenient and troublesome compared to a wireless router.

2. High cost

Since, wireless APs are ideal for large enterprise wireless networks, therefore it requires more wireless APs to cover the area. Also increases the overall installation cost for the network expansion and can go out of your budget.

So your priority is to control cost, which may result in you avoiding using wireless AP. For cost cutting, you can use home wireless routers with lower performance.

3. Poor stability

With wireless networks you choose air as a transmission medium and cable networks take cables as a transmission medium. Hence, It’s simple to understand that cable networks are faster and more stable.

With wireless AP, you don’t get great stability and it can make people choose cable networks over wireless AP.

Up next with Wireless Access Point vs Extender – What’s the Difference? is to explain Extender.

What is Extender?

Next wireless device is a wireless repeater or “extender”. Simply put, a wireless networking device to extend your wireless network coverage area. If you experience poor network performance, or you cannot access your network in certain locations. A wireless extender can solve your major network connectivity issues.

Evidently, it bridges poor WiFi signal at specific locations and helps to repeat the wireless signal from your router. The repetition expands the extender’s reach by creating a second network and boosts the coverage of the main router.

Let’s look at its pros and cons for a detailed understanding of the extender.

Advantages of Extender

You can reap the WiFi range extender advantages in different scenarios according to various aspects. The below listed WiFi extender pros highlight how useful and cost effective a WiFi extender can be.

1. Great coverage in wide open area

Firstly, a WiFi Extender or repeater is an excellent solution when you require wireless network coverage of a large residence.

Also, integrating a wireless extender can broaden the range of your wireless network throughout your premises. Well, it acts as a repeater to strengthen the signal of your router.

2. WiFi Extender is simple to set up

Secondly, WiFi range extenders with an automatic configuration and plug and play functionality. You don’t require technical knowledge to set it up. Just unbox a device, plug in the power socket, and launch it within no time.

You won’t face an overhead for a WiFi extender installation. It’s also easy to maintain and troubleshoot the WiFi extender using basic knowledge.

3. Budget friendly

Additionally, you don’t require additional network equipment to use or install a wireless range extender. Well, it enables you to save greatly and is the most budget friendly network device to extend your network coverage.

Also, a WiFi extender installation requires no extra wires or legwork. As the devices are pre configured, you don’t need to worry about additional installation investment issues.

The pros of a WiFi extender are highly appealing but let’s also check the other side of the coin.

Disadvantages of Extender

You may come across these cons using a WiFi Extender. Have a look.

1. Poor signal

On one side, a WiFi range extender strengthens signal strength but can emit weak signals. The extender can create a connectivity issue if your router gets older or unpatched.

Remember, that choosing a new router and wireless range extender can also shrink the network bandwidth for all the network devices.

A repeater’s bidirectional approach to receiving signal processes and rebroadcasting it across various channels reduces signal strength.

2. Lower speed

Evidently, a weak signal downgrades the speed of your WiFi network, once the signal passes through the repeater. Also, a wireless range extender only works to extend the signal, and your network quality will get worse.

3. Incompatibility issues

Often, configuring a range extender using a different brand router can turn into a task at hand. In turn, tt may lead to interoperability or incompatibility issues. You should purchase the same brand extender as that of the router.

Furthermore, the repeater uses its network name (SSID) and password, which can differ from the SSID of the router. You can face complexities if you set up a different brand extender.

We hope your basics are clear. It’s time to filter out the key difference between the two network devices.

Now with Wireless Access Point vs Extender – What’s the Difference? it is time to compare both tools.

Wireless Access Point vs Extender - Key Differences

Although you might have a fair understanding of both network devices, here is the head on comparison.

Cost Effectiveness

On one side, you can increase the network coverage up to 50% with range extenders compared to 100% with the access point.

But it’s cost effective and easier to add an extender or two than to set up new access points.

Functionality difference

Here, the access point is a centralized hub on a wireless LAN, enabling various wireless devices to access the network resources.

In contrast, a wireless extender repeats the signal from your router to expand its reach by creating a second network.


From one point, using wireless range extenders minimizes efficiency because wireless LANs are half duplexes. Also, it allows two way communication but not simultaneously, so the data throughput will suffer.

On the other hand, Access point connections have no impact on the efficiency and the quality of the network.

Wireless Access Point vs Extender - Comparison Table

The below listed comparison table can help you better understand the difference between range extender and wireless AP.

Range Extender Wireless AP
Supported Area
Home, or small business
Large business and offices
Cost effective
Network Quality
Network quality degrades
No impact on the Network quality
Network Type
It replicates the existing network.
It creates a new wireless network.
It’s a bridge between the router and the WiFi device outside the range of the WiFi router.
It can form a wireless local area network and act as a central transmitter and the receiver of wireless signals.

Thank you for reading Wireless Access Point vs Extender – What’s the Difference? (Explained). We shall conclude. 

Wireless Access Point vs Extender - What's the Difference? (Explained) Conclusion

Both, wireless access points and extenders are two great network devices to extend your wireless network. We hope you got a great idea about the differences between wireless AP and extenders. However, both devices deliver identical results but are ideal for different scenarios.

You can choose the ideal network device for your residential or commercial space based on your requirements and budget.

Please take a look at Radius wireless content over here

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x