If you’re cutting the cord, you’re probably all excited about the money that you are going to save. However, before you go and spend all of your savings on a brand new flat screen smart TV, you need to ensure that your home network is suitably designed to let you enjoy the splendor in comfort.
You probably have WiFi at home already from your existing provider, and sadly you have also probably experienced the spinning wheel of death as your YouTube stream “buffers” when you’re not in the same room as the router. You see, WiFi signal strength is impacted by a variety of different factors – what materials your home is built from, the size of the house, the router itself and even other bits and pieces of technology that you might have in the home.
While it might seem that there is nothing you can do to influence the signal strength, in reality, there is one thing that is in your control – namely the location of your WiFi router. The important fact to realize is that your router basically broadcasts in a sphere around itself – if your router is next to an outside wall for example, well then you might have excellent signal strength in your backyard, but a terrible signal in your bedroom! This is probably not your objective so here are some tips to help you get the best possible signal.
Water puts up a lot of resistance to radio signals, so keep your router away from your fish tank or aquarium. Aside from liquid, radio signals are impacted by metal – having your router mounted behind your TV might look good, but you’re probably reflecting some of the WiFi backward which is not helpful.
Locate Your Router In A Central Location
This might be self-evident, but in case it isn’t, put your router in as central a location in your home as possible. You want the signal to have the highest opportunity to impact multiple rooms. This might be easier said than done as many cable companies, have specific cable outlets where you need to connect your router, and these might be in or near outside rooms. If this is the case, use power-line adapters which allow you to utilize the wiring in your home as an internal network. This will let you move the router to any location that has a power outlet!
Understand Your Appliances
You might or might not be surprised to find that your WiFi slows down while you’re warming something up in the microwave. While this might not be a significant impact if you’re a single guy and not near your laptop, when WiFi in the whole home slows down at dinner time, it’s not just a figment of your imagination. Microwaves operate at the same frequency as routers, and the radiation that escapes from these appliances can have an impact on your signal. Try to keep your router at least 3 feet away from any other appliances or devices that broadcast radio waves. In addition to microwaves, consider:
- baby monitors
- cordless phones
- other home automation equipment
While I mentioned a central location earlier, the point that I didn’t make is that even if you put it in a central room in your home, you need to ensure that the router is as high up as possible. As previously mentioned, the signal that the routers generate is shaped like a sphere, so up and down matter a lot!
Try to Utilize LOS
LOS or Line of Sight is a crucial factor with wireless routers. You want to minimize the obstructing walls between the router and your device as much as possible. If you have access to multiple access points, ensure that they have reasonable proximity so that the signal provided at the tertiary locations is not significantly degraded. Avoid reflective surfaces like mirrors and metal wherever possible.
Utilize the Antenna’s
If your router has antenna’s point these in the directions with the weakest signal. By rotating the antenna, you can fine-tune the signal, and it does make a difference. Pointing an antenna up helps get a better signal horizontally so this might be somewhat counter-intuitive but it is worth experimenting with. If needed, get a repeater that can connect directly to the router and use that as a booster.
WiFi routers are both a blessing and a curse. They free you from the tangle of wires and cables cluttering your home and open up so many possibilities, but when things slow down, it can be very frustrating. If you use the tips provided above though, you should have no problems going forward. Plus, you will be able to enjoy the internet a lot more!