How to choose an access point and why you need it

Communication

How to choose an access point

We have seen wireless internet become a standard for homes and businesses in recent years. With many choices of routers, there are also other devices like range extenders and wireless access points. But should you really care about getting an access point? How to choose an access point? Here we give you the complete answer. 

Wireless access point and range extender

A wireless access point (WAP) is a device which is the same size as a router. It creates what is known as a wireless local area network. Access points are connected with an ethernet wire to a router, switch or hub which feeds them to project the WiFi signal in areas around them. 

This means if you have an area in your home or office that is not covered by the router WiFi signal, you can connect it to an access point in this area to make the signal available there. 

Range extenders aren't the same as access points and their name also suggest what they do. Range extenders are devices that are used to extend the range of the signal of the same wireless network. They are wirelessly connected to routers and they should be put in places where signal is still strong, not in dead spots like WAPs. 

Range extenders can be used, for example, when routers are installed in a floor and the next floor has areas with strong signal and also dead spots. The signal will still be strong directly above or under the router. So, an extender can be placed there where the signal is powerful. It will then extend the range of the signal eliminating the dead spots on that floor.

Compare prices of access points and buy here

Routers and access points 

It is totally understandable now that routers aren't like access points. The router is mainly a hub for the signal or the local area network. It can manage other devices. The wireless access point; on the other hand, is a device used to extend the range of the WiFi connection through a wired connection with the router to enable more coverage of the router WiFi signal. 

Access points can't operate as routers generally but the opposite is possible. Wireless routers can be used as access points. But since routers are more expensive, that is not done in most cases.

Who needs a WAP? 

WiFi repeater (range extender)

Range extenders aren't usually used by businesses, as they can't be efficient enough for large offices. They are used more in homes to extend Internet coverage to another floor or a far off room. Range extenders also support a limited number of devices connected at the same time, which is usually not suitable for businesses as the limit doesn't usually exceed 20 devices. 

Range extenders usually don't increase the bandwidth of the connection. So with more devices connected, it won't help in keeping the connection reliable. 

Access points aren't as limited as range extenders. They can handle up to 60 connections, so they are used by businesses. As they are connected through wires, they can cover larger places and make the connection reliable in large buildings efficiently. People who have larger homes can use wireless access points to enhance WiFi coverage. 

How to choose an access point? 

Ceiling mount access point

Price of the device 

Purchasing decision is almost always influenced by price. But the question is why some devices are more expensive? Apart from different manufacturers, it could depend on the quality of the device and its specifications, such as the maximum allowed number of connected devices. 

Ability to upgrade 

Wireless LAN standards are being upgraded rapidly. So if you plan to get an access point that can be used in a future upgraded network, then you should consider the WAP that is best for this. A WAP that supports longer firmware updates is upgradeable. 

Operation temperature 

Not all wireless access points are designed to operate in the same temperature range. If you are planning to put your access point in a place you think is hotter than usual, then you should consider choosing an access point that handles higher temperatures. It will be worth it as these devices are temperature sensitive. They may be damaged in a short time if operated at a higher temperature than designed for.

Device installation and support 

Tools like HTTP and Telnet help in easier configuration and management of your device. You should keep that in mind when you choose an access point. Also, you can check how easy the device can be installed to double check that it is convenient for you.

How to install a wireless access point? 

How to install and choose an access point

Connect the router to the access point using an ethernet network cable. The cable connects to the WAN port in the access point. If the router is already connected to a computer with the cable, disconnects it and plug it into the WAN port of the access point. 

Connect your wireless access point to your computer using an ethernet network cable. One end should be at the ethernet port of your computer and the other should be in the LAN port of your access point. 

Turn your router on and wait for two minutes until it boots and the internet connection is ready. Then connect the power adapter of your access point into the electricity outlet. Wait until the access point also boosts and is ready to be used, which should be like a minute. 

Turn on the computer and use the CD or software to reconfigure your access point for the first time. You can refer to instructions from the manual for more specific details. 

Bottom line

Wireless access points are more widely used by businesses and they are sometimes used at homes of larger areas. With them being efficient once they are set up, range extenders are also an excellent choice for homes. There are many manufacturers of access points, who also make routers, including TP-Link, Cisco, Netgear, D-Link, Aerohive and others.

Compare prices of access points and buy here

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