How to Boost the Wi-Fi Signal In Your Home

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If your Wi-Fi connection is fine when you are in the same room as the router but degrades when you are in a different room, there are a few things we can try to boost your Wi-Fi signal. Even if you have a large home, there are ways to extend the coverage so that you can get access to your network from any room, though you may not have the best signal in every room of the house.

Move Wireless Devices Away From the Area

If there are other wireless devices like wireless phones or baby monitors in the area where you are experiencing problems, try moving them to a location where you don't often need your Wi-Fi connection.

Many wireless devices operate on the same frequency as a wireless router, so you can experience a loss of signal strength if you are near the wireless device.

Move the Router Closer

The wireless signal can also be degraded by going through walls or other solid objects. And if your router is on one side of the house, it can be degraded by the time it gets to the other side of the house. It's best to position the router in a central location that is free of walls or other obstructions.

Also, it is good to note what the signal may need to pass through on its way to spots that receive a poor connection.  The signal doesn't like to go through solid objects, and it especially hates electronics.  This can include appliances like a refrigerator or washing machine.  Repositioning the router by raising it higher off the ground can sometimes do wonders for how far the signal can travel.  

Tips on Positioning Your Wi-Fi Router

Change the Channel on Your Router

Believe it or not, a single setting on your router may be the answer to all of your problems.  This one is for those who don't mind getting into the router settings, and more importantly, actually know how to get into the router's administration page.  This is usually accomplished by navigating to a specific address in your web browser.

The most common channels are 1, 6 and 11, and for good reason.  These are the only channels that don't overlap, so they'll give you the best signal.  However, most routers are set to "automatic" by default, which means the router may automatically be selecting a poor channel.  Try cycling through those three channels to see if it helps the signal improve.  

Buy an External Antenna

It's not always possible to move the router, but many routers support an external antenna. You won't be able to position an external antenna too far away from the router, but if your router is stuck under your desk with no good way to move it out into the open, an external antenna can be a great way to get the signal to broadcast from a better position.

External antenna's come in two varieties: omnidirectional, which broadcasts in all directions, and high gain, which broadcasts the signal in a single direction. If you are simply trying to get the signal to broadcast from a better position, the omnidirectional antenna is your ticket. However, if your router is on one side of the house, the high gain can be a great way to boost the signal strength.

Remember, the high gain external antenna only broadcasts a single direction, so if your router is in a centralized location, it might not be the best solution.

Tips for Troubleshooting a Weak Signal Even When Near the Router

Buy a Wi-Fi Extender

If you have a really big house, you might want to buy a Wi-Fi extender. This device essentially logs into your Wi-Fi network and then rebroadcasts the signal, allowing you to log into the extension and get a better signal strength when further away from the router.

Remember, the Wi-Fi extender must be getting good signal strength to work properly, so you don't want to place it in the same area where you are getting a poor connection. Try splitting the difference. Also, remember that walls will degrade the strength, so place the repeater accordingly.

It's usually better to place the Wi-Fi repeater closer to the router to get good signal strength than further away. Oftentimes, getting the signal repeated will allow it to be clear of obstructions between the repeater and where you want to use it, resulting in a really nice boost to signal strength.

Buy a Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router

"802.11ac" may sound like a random series of numbers and letters, but it actually represents the newest standard in Wi-Fi technology.  One of the biggest features of the new standard is the ability to figure out where your device is located and focus the signal in that direction rather than just sending out the same signal in all directions.  These "beams" can help increase the signal in parts of your home that are having trouble.  Apple began supporting 802.11ac with the iPad Air 2, but even older iPads may see an increase in signal strength with an 802.11ac router.  

Unfortunately, they are more expensive than normal routers.  If you want to save some money, look for a dual-band router.  These routers produce two signals for the iPad to use and can increase the speed of the iPad's Internet connection.  

Buy an Apple 802.11ac AirPort Extreme from Amazon  

Build a Mesh Network

This solution is best for those in larger houses that need multiple routers and a single extender just won't cut it. This includes houses where the primary router sits in the middle of the house and Wi-Fi availability dwindles at the edges of the house as well as multi-level houses. Generally speaking, mesh networks work best when the house or office space is above 3,000 square feet, but even smaller areas can benefit from a dual-router mesh network, which acts similar to a primary router and an extender. 

The idea behind the mesh network is to get blanket coverage by positioning routers at good locations throughout the space in order to provide a strong, even signal. Mesh networks tend to be easier to set up than extenders because they are designed to run as multiple routers. If you are getting poor signal and have a larger home or office space, a mesh network may be the best solution.

Here are a few good brands to check out:

  • Linksys Velop. Considered one of the best mesh networks available, these Lynksys routers use three bands for a great signal and usually run around $450 for a pack of three.
  • Google Wifi.  Who would know networking needs better than Google? A well-designed approach that can be used as a single router or as a mesh network. A set of three will cost under $300.
  • eero. Easy set up and great for houses, this mesh network costs around $400.
  • Check out all of the best mesh networks available.

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