Wireless access points can be very useful for extending your wireless capabilities and providing WiFi to the public or to different groups of users.
They can be a great way to split your internet into separate WiFi networks and there are plenty of use cases where they can be great for business and home use.
In this article, we’ve listed the 9 best wireless access points so that you can find something that suits your specific needs.
Best Wireless Access Point for Home
TP-Link AC1200 – It is a great option for home use. It comes with a stylish design, a detachable antenna for better range, and supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks.
Best Budget Access Point
TP-Link Wireless N300 2T2R Access Point – If budget is your concern, N300 2T2R is the perfect option. Like the AC1200, this device also has a detachable antenna for a better signal range. It only supports 2.4GHz, but if you are looking for the best range, this will be perfectly suited for home or a small business.
Best Access Point for Travel and Outdoor Use
ZyXEL Wireless N 3-in-1 Travel Router – If you need a wireless access point that allows you to connect multiple devices to wireless networks whilst on the go, you’ll appreciate the ZyXEL wireless N. This device supports a 2.4GHz connection and is almost as small as a credit card.
9 Best Wireless Access Points Available
The TP-Link AC1200 is an affordable choice for anybody that is looking for a wireless access point for home or for a small business. The TP-Link AC1200 has a stylish design that lets it blend in with other computer hardware.
The device has a detachable antenna that makes it easier to increase signal range. Speaking of the signal, the TP-Link AC1200 can use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels and you can create multiple access points if necessary.
You can also set up the TP-Link AC1200 in client mode to allow a device without wireless access to connect to devices wirelessly. The only downside to the AC1200 is that it cannot be mounted to the ceiling or to a wall.
Outdoor usage: Not suited for outdoor use.
Features: 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels, detachable antennas.
- Supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels
- You can create multiple wireless networks to connect to
- Cannot be mounted on the ceiling or wall
The NETGEAR Dual Band wireless access point is another great option for anybody looking for a home access point.
This device is easy to manage and set up and comes with detachable antennas to improve signal and range.
You can use this device to create a wireless point from an existing wireless network or use it to allow a non-wireless device to connect wirelessly to an existing network.
The NETGEAR Dual Band features both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks and even includes four ports that can be used to easily manage a large multi-device wired network.
Keep in mind that the NETGEAR Dual Band wireless access point is not designed for outdoor use or for mounting.
Outdoor usage: It is not suited for outdoor use.
Features: 2.4GHz and 5GHZ channels, detachable antennas, four Ethernet ports for extending your wired network.
- Included Ethernet ports are a nice addition
- 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels available as default
- Build design isn’t as great as other options, especially when outdoor use is considered
The TP-Link Wireless N300 2T2R access point is the perfect budget option in this list. Not only does the TP-Link N300 retail for close to half the price of other access points on this list, it’s still a very useful device.
The TP-Link N300 does only have a 2.4GHz connection, so whilst you won’t get the fastest speeds, the range is incredible.
Antennas are included to improve range even further and the design of the TP-Link N300 is good enough for it to sit unnoticed almost anywhere.
You can also use the TP-Link N300 to connect a non-wireless device to your existing wireless network – you can refer to the user manual for instructions on how to do this.
Outdoor usage: The TP-Link N300 is not suited for outdoor use.
Features: 2.4GHz network, detachable antennas.
- Great option for those on a budget
- Build quality and design is nice
- Only a single 2.4GHz connection is available
The ZyXEL Wireless N 3-in-1 Travel Router is a travel wireless access point with a surprisingly large selection of features. Not only is the ZyXEL Wireless N 3-in-1 Travel Router the size of a credit card, but it has the ability to connect your devices to wireless networks across the world.
There are a number of great features to consider when buying the ZyXEL travel router. Firstly, this access point allows you to connect multiple devices to a single wireless network. If you are staying at a hotel, for example, this gives you the freedom to connect your devices to a more stable connection.
This device also allows you to send your traffic through a secure connection – this will help you to avoid those snooping in on the websites you visit or using access points for criminal activity.
The ZyXEL travel router does only have a 2.4GHz connection, but when you’re traveling, range is often more important than speed, so this is not much of an issue.
Outdoor usage: Yes, but it cannot deal with rain or dust.
Features: 2.4GHz network, works as a router, included Ethernet cable.
- Very small and portable
- Great for travel
- Only supports 2.4GHz
If you need a rugged wireless access point that can withstand the cold and rain, the TP-Link N300 Long Range is something you’ll want to consider.
This is designed specifically for outdoor use and can be perfect for connecting outdoor WiFi applications.
The high powered antennas ensure that the WiFi range and signal will be as strong as possible. Power over Ethernet allows owners of the TP-LINK N300 Long Range to power it with a single Ethernet cable and now power cable.
The device also has IP65 waterproof qualification and free controller software for easy management. The TP-LINK N300 does only have 2.4GHz capabilities, but this provides users with higher range, as opposed to faster speeds.
With that being said, the TP-LINK N300 can still reach speeds of up to 300mbps. Multiple WiFi networks can be created with this device and the bandwidth of these networks can be remotely managed.
Outdoor usage: This device is suitable for long-term outdoor use.
Features: 2.4GHz, detachable antennas, IP65 waterproof qualification.
- Withstands the wind and rain for outdoor use
- Easy to set up and manage multiple 2.4GHz networks
- No support for 5GHz channels
If you don’t mind spending a little more on an outdoor access point, the EnGenius Wave 2 is a great device. The Wave 2 has dual band technology, which means both 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections are available.
The EnGenius Wave 2 also has a waterproof rating of IP55, which means it’s protected from water. It has 4 different antennas, all of which are detachable. If size is an issue, the form factor of the EnGenius Wave 2 without the antennas is very small.
It is designed to allow multiple devices to connect to the internet, and controls are included to manage networks and bandwidth settings.
Outdoor usage: The EnGenius Wave 2 is suited for outdoor use.
Features: 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels, 4 detachable antennas.
- Suitable for outdoor use thanks to IP55 certification
- Surprisingly small, especially when antennas are removed
- More expensive than other single bands (non 5GHz) options
The TP-LINK N300 wireless ceiling mount is essentially the same hardware as the budget TP-LINK access point we showed earlier in the list.
The difference with this version is that the exterior design has changed – this device is better suited for mounting. You can mount this particular wireless access point to a wall or a ceiling, which makes it a perfect option for those that want to keep the device out of sight.
This device supports power over Ethernet which means you only need a single Ethernet connection to get it to work. This allows you to get high speed and great signal no matter how far away the TP-LINK N300 is from the main router.
Software and included user manual makes it easy to setup – you can also follow steps to great guest networks or multiple WiFi networks.
Outdoor usage: This TP-LINK N300 is not suited for outdoor use.
Features: 2.4GHz, mountable.
- Easy to mount on walls and ceilings
- Very easy to set up
- Only 2.4GHz is available
- Slightly more expensive than the other N300 model
The Ubiquiti Ap-AC Long Range is a wireless access point for those that care about form factor and design.
The antenna has been intelligently designed so that it fits inside a small disc-shaped chassis. Despite the small form factor, the range and signal is still very great. This device also supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHZ networks and it’s very easy to set up thanks to the included user documentation.
You’ll find that there are very few devices that provide high-quality WiFi signal and still manage to fit into such a small design. Controller software is included to make it easy to manage multiple WiFi networks from a centralized location.
Outdoor usage: The Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC is not suited for outdoor use.
Features: 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels, non-detachable antenna
- Great range thanks to the interior antenna
- Very slim form factor and great design
- Far more expensive than less minimalistic wireless access points
If you are still looking for a minimal wireless access point but don’t want to break the bank with the Ubiquiti Unifi, the TP-LINK EAP225 is a great choice. The TP-LINK 225 is half the price of the Ubiquiti Unifi but it features many of the same specifications.
This device also has a very small form factor and can be mounted on the ceiling or a wall.
Both 5GHz and 2.4GHz channels are available and supported documentation makes it easy to create multiple WiFi access points. This is the perfect business solution for those need to extend their WiFi network across multiple channels.
A power over Ethernet adapter is also included which makes it easier to power this device when using a standard power outlet isn’t possible.
The EAP225 comes with a number of other features that make it great for business. Controller software makes it easy to set up and control hundreds of access points from a single location. It’s also possible to set up a guest authentication system that lets guests connect to your WiFi networks via SMS or Facebook authentication. TP-LINK also includes a limited lifetime warranty with the EAP225.
Outdoor usage: The TP-LINK EAP225 is not suited for outdoor use.
Features: 2.4GHz and 5GHZ channels.
- Easy to mount on walls and ceilings
- Great business solution thanks to remote management options
- Setup is not as easy as some other wireless access points
Wireless Access Point Buying Guide
When looking for a wireless access point to buy, you must consider a number of things, including the reliability of the network signal, the potential cost, and capabilities for outdoor use.
We have provided a buying guide below to help you learn more about wireless access points, how they work, and which one should be picked.
What is an Access Point and How is it Different From a Range Extender?
Firstly, let’s start with a range extender. With a range extender, you are taking an existing WiFi connection and extending it over longer distances.
The WiFi connection will start from the main router, and it will then travel to the range extender. From there, the WiFi is then repeated across a larger distance. Using a range extender can be a useful way to cover bigger distances and remove any weak areas of a signal in a home.
It is similar to a range extender but it serves a different purpose. It will still connect to the WiFi network and extend it across a greater distance. The difference, however, is that an access point creates a brand new WiFi network for devices to connect to. It won’t use the same network as the router it takes the network from.
A wireless access point is best used for creating open WiFi networks for public places like cafes or libraries, whilst a range extender is better used for situations at home where you’d like a single network to reach larger distances.
How Wireless Access Points Work?
Whether you have a wireless access point as a standalone device or an access point built into your home router, you’ll learn that they use the same technology to work and provide the same functionality.
It essentially transforms a wired network into a wireless one. Once you have connected it to your router, WiFi enabled devices can connect to the network through WiFi.
Like mentioned above, most routers already have a wireless access point included – this means, for most individuals, wireless access points aren’t needed.
Types of Access Points
So far, we’ve explained the basic wireless access point technology. This technology is used for different scenarios and these can often fall into different types.
For example, outdoor wireless access points are usually designed to allow coverage of greater distances so that people can access a WiFi network whilst outdoors. More importantly, outdoor wireless access points are more rugged and can withstand things like water and dust.
Ceiling and wall mounted wireless access points are designed for indoor use – they are made to be as slim and minimalistic as possible so that they can be out in the open without ruining the interior aesthetic of a building.
Many of these styles of access points use a technology called power over Ethernet – this allows them to be powered via a single wired connection that connects to the main router. Not only does this allow for a stronger signal, but it removes any additional wires that may otherwise be needed to power the device.
Best Tips for Buying
When you buy a wireless access point, there are a number of things to consider. Firstly, you need to think carefully about what it is you’ll be buying the access point for.
If you need an outdoor wireless access point, for example, you will need to find a device that is more rugged and more suited for the everyday wear and tear that outdoor appliances must handle.
Price is also an important thing to consider – balancing price is key to ensuring that you get a device that is reliable but within your budget. Shopping around will often give you some good results on the best prices – you can also look above to see our best suggestion for the best budget wireless access point.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is the actual wireless signal and range you can expect from your wireless access point. Look for devices that support a 2.4GHz network if you care about range, and look for a device that supports a 5GHz connection if you want a device that has faster speeds at closer ranges.
Alternatively, you can find a slightly more expensive dual-band wireless access point that features both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels.
Features to look for:
The features you’ll want to look for when buying a wireless access point are as follows:
- 4GHz and 5GHz network channels
- Power Over Ethernet (PoE)
- Wall mounted capabilities
- One button setup
- Antennas for stronger WiFi signal
Installation and Setup of a Wifi Access Point
To begin with, you’ll need to unbox the wireless access point and attach any antennas if they are included. Next, you will need to connect the power adapter to a power outlet if your wireless access point does not have power over Ethernet.
For the next step, connect an Ethernet cable to it and connect the other side to your home router. After that, follow the quick start guide to find the default admin login page for the wireless network.
You’ll also find the default WiFi network name and password here. Once you’ve used the default WiFi network details to connect to the new wireless access point network, you can follow the instructions in the user manual to log in to the admin page – you can then follow the steps provided to change your new WiFi network name and password.
Alternatively, you can choose to remove the password to make the network open to the public.
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