Want Better WiFi at Home? Raise Your Router
A stronger signal and more consistent speeds starts with the right router placement
Are you looking for a better WiFi experience in your home? Go up!
Ready for a round of gaming without lag, a night of streaming sans the spinning circle or a video call with family that doesn’t buffer or freeze?
Up, up, up! Place your router as high in your home as possible.
One of the most overlooked—but simplest—keys to getting more reliable connectivity and more consistent speeds throughout your home is the placement of your router. When it comes to wireless networks, the higher, the better.
Wait, wait—what’s WiFi? Breaking down some basics
Before we get to the “where and why” of router placement, it’s important to lay out some internet basics about WiFi and understand the technology that makes it possible to connect wirelessly.
WiFi—what we commonly know as wireless internet—is the technology that allows you to connect your computer, tablet, television, gaming system, smartphone, smart home technology and other devices to the internet without a direct connection to an Ethernet cable.
At some point, we’ve all experienced slow internet speeds, a weak signal, a dropped connection and trouble connecting in general. Many of these issues are associated with the nature of wireless networks and how they operate. In other words, there are some challenges that contrast with the benefit of mobility—being able to take your device everywhere you go.
WiFi travels through radio waves rather than through the direct cable connection of a wired device. Part of your router’s role is to detect and distribute the internet signal to your connected devices. The challenge is that a strong, consistent signal is not always certain, because many external factors affect the movement of radio waves, and in turn, your signal, speeds and ability to connect.
Your router is the star—let it shine.
It’s tempting to want to place your router somewhere out of sight, in an inconspicuous spot or maybe just in the corner near the outlet where you plugged it in. Sure, it might work for a while, but in the wrong places, you’ll never get the full potential from the router—and that will eventually trickle down to every connected device and your overall wireless experience.
Think of your router as a lighthouse casting its bright beams of light over a vast ocean at night. You want that light—just like your signal—to reach as far and wide as possible so that every connected device can benefit from your bandwidth.
Steer clear of signal snatchers
It’s neither possible nor practical to completely avoid every physical thing that interferes with wireless signals—of which there are many—but knowing some of the biggest culprits will at least help you know what to avoid if possible.
Household objects and materials, from floors, doors, mirrors, brick walls, windows, cordless phones, microwaves and baby monitors all can potentially interfere with, partially block or absorb wireless signals.
Other common signal-blocking materials are metal, concrete, water, wood, sheetrock and stucco. Furniture, metal appliances, water, nearby WiFi networks and even people can obstruct signals by varying degrees.
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The best (and worst) places for your router
Your router is a small box with a big job to do. When it comes to fast and reliable connectivity throughout your home location is everything.
With that said, here are some places to rule out:
- On the floor
- Under furniture
- Near windows
- Next to a fish tank
- In a drawer, closet or enclosed cabinet
- In the basement
- In the garage
- Close to other electronics
Ideally, your router should be set up in a high, central place, out in the open but away from as many obstructions as possible. A bookshelf, desk, or tall cabinet are a few such places to consider. Try a few different spots—you might notice a difference in signal strength and reach. Even a few feet of space can make a difference with wireless signals.
What you should know about older technology
Technology quickly becomes obsolete, and technology such as your router are no different. When you introduce new technology into your network over time, there is a decreased chance with each passing year that that newer device will properly communicate with your router.
Routers contain firmware that implements updates over the lifetime of the device, but updates only stretch so far. Wireless standards and security features are improving all the time. Older generation standards have lower bandwidth limits. Eventually, an older device won’t be able to keep up. The average life of a standard router is about three to four years.
Do you need more help with your WiFi? Check out our library of resources at arvig.net/managedwifi.