Increase Your Laptop’s Wireless Range By Plugging In

by Anil Polat · 7 comments

wall socketAlthough we’ve talked about hacking wireless networks in the past but sometimes your connectivity problems are much more straightforward – like being slightly out of wifi range. There are a number of tools you can use on your laptop to get around flaky Internet connections but one of the most simple is to plug in. No, not plug in your laptop to an Ethernet connection (which works too) but rather, get some electricity from the wall.

The reason this works is due to the fact that when your laptop is running off  battery power it slightly cuts the energy it devotes to resource hogs. The most obvious one to our human eyes are dimmed screens but slightly reduced electricity to the wireless card is less conspicuous. Your laptop’s wireless card takes up a significant amount of power to run optimally (just turn it off to see your estimated battery life jump) and when you’re near a strong connection a 10% reduction in power isn’t often noticeable.

That said, when you’re in a hostel in Thailand desperately trying to upload photos to Facebook or maintain a Skype call, plugging in to a power outlet might make the difference.

[photo by: jeck_crow]

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Drina Murphy November 4, 2011 at 12:53

Great tip, however the battery on my laptop is so naff, I have to plug it in anyway as it lasts all of ten minutes! ;)

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2 Anil P. November 6, 2011 at 06:20

I suppose the bright side is you always get a the best your wifi card has to offer!

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3 Joel Brown July 14, 2012 at 00:28

This is a great tip. Absolutely something I will have to try out, next time I am trying to connect to a wireless signal in a terminal when I am sitting on a cruise ship in port.

Do you know if there is a way to see the power being supplied to the card and if it is being reduced in any way? I am using a MacBook Pro

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4 Anil P. July 14, 2012 at 08:55

Unfortunately there is not an app that I know, though if you use an external wireless card the effect is apparent and can be monitored more easily. The other way I know of is to open up the laptop and monitor energy consumption directly. Try emailing Apple support though, they might be of some help or at least give you general specifics on how much the energy is reduced for your particular model.

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5 Katie December 1, 2012 at 13:57

Great tip. Will be very helpful, thanks.

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6 Anil P. December 3, 2012 at 14:07

Cheers!

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