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Where to position your router for the best Wi-Fi performance

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Troubleshooting why you’re experiencing a slow Internet connection involves checking several possible causes and factors. Is it a loss of signal? Did you try power cycling? Is it beyond your direct control? The list goes on.

On top of that, you should also consider if you have positioned your router correctly in your home. Because its placement matters for better Wi-Fi speeds, which in turn helps you get a better Internet connection.

Why do you need to position your router at a certain location? With Wi-Fi 6 technology starting to gain a foothold in the market, routers are getting better at delivering the fastest speeds. And yet, even routers with the latest tech still rely on positioning to maximize their efficiency. The farther you are from the router, the weaker the signal becomes. Add walls and other physical obstructions, and your connection to your Wi-Fi network gets spottier.

Where is the optimal location to position your router?

You need to assess which rooms where you most often use the Wi-Fi, and then find a central location for your router between those rooms. At best, position the router so that wherever you are in your house, there’s only a single obstructing wall between your connecting device and the router.

With a multi-story house or building, you need to place the router in the middle floor. Also, make sure the router’s position is free of nearby electronic devices.

How badly can walls degrade the router’s Wi-Fi performance?

Without any obstructions, a router on the 2.4 GHz frequency can cover a radius of up to 410 feet (approx. 125 meters) or theoretically even up to 820 feet (250 meters). The router’s wireless coverage drastically reduces once you introduce a physical object—be it a tree, door, or wall—between the router and your connecting device.

Likewise, a router’s transmission speed also degrades significantly when it’s blocked from view by a physical object. For example, the high-end Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 router in a Tom’s Guide review was able to deliver up to 733.4 Mbps at 100 feet, but it only maxes out at 501.8 Mbps at 150 feet. Behind a metal wall barrier, the router could only transmit up to 444.3 Mbps.

Why should you keep the router away from other electronics?

Even with the prevalence of higher frequency bands used by newer Wi-Fi networking standards, many routers still use the 2.4 GHz band. While slower in terms of transmission, this frequency band reaches distances farther than what Wi-Fi 5’s (802.11ac) 5GHz and Wi-Fi 6’s (802.11ax) 6GHz bands could.

Unfortunately, the 2.4 GHz band is congested; toys, baby monitors, microwave ovens, and several other electric and electronic devices emit signals in the 2.4 GHz band. If they’re nearby your router, they can cause interference and slow down your Wi-Fi connection. It’s highly recommended that you keep your router away from these devices, especially ones that emit high levels of electromagnetic radiation.

See also: 5 things to know before selling your old router or modem

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Are there tools to help you find the best location for your router?

To help you find the sweet spot for your router, get apps and networking tools that can provide you with speed scores and Wi-Fi performance reports. Analysis tools are especially useful for dense residential areas, such as condos where you can have neighbors who also have their own wireless networks. For example, a nifty tool for analyzing the wireless networks within your proximity is the WiFi Analyzer for Android. It provides visual charts of nearby Wi-Fi networks and shows you what frequency channels are least congested, which means they’re the best channels to use when setting up a new wireless network. Another free alternative is Metageek’s inSSIDer.

Can you hide your router from view?

So you’ve heeded the advice and placed the router at a central location. But seeing how its design doesn’t complement well with the aesthetic of the room, you want to hide it. That’s fine, some routers are hideous behemoths. But there are two big buts.

The first one is already mentioned but is worth repeating: make sure the antennas aren’t obstructed to avoid degradation in Wi-Fi performance. Second, ensure the router remains well-ventilated. Routers can get too hot and reach a threshold temperature with which they start malfunctioning. Most routers are designed with vents, so make sure nothing is blocking these vents in order to allow air to flow. Your router’s manual should also indicate its operating temperature to help you find a suitable location.

Is a single router enough for your Wi-Fi network?

It depends on the capabilities of your router. Your current router might not be up to the task, especially if it’s an older model that you should consider reselling instead so you can get a new one that better fits your needs.

The area of your house will also dictate how many Wi-Fi access points you need. A 1,500 sq. ft. home should be fine with one router with one Wi-Fi access point, but a home larger than that will require multiple access points.

Also worth considering is the number of devices connecting to an access point. Theoretically, a wireless router can accommodate more than 200 wirelessly connected devices simultaneously. But realistically speaking, a single wireless router can handle 25 devices or less.

How can you extend your Wi-Fi network?

With a huge home or several users, you’ll need to look into ways of extending the coverage of your wireless network to reduce dead spots at your home. A common method is to use a Wi-Fi extender. As the name implies, this device can boost the range of your existing Wi-Fi network. However, extenders typically reduce the Wi-Fi speed by half.

Perhaps the best option for covering a large home is to use a Wi-Fi mesh system. Like extenders, a mesh system helps establish a wireless network with a larger coverage area but without reducing the wireless transmission speed, provided you are still in good range with the mesh devices. You can usually get a simple Wi-Fi mesh system as a bundle in today’s home Internet subscriptions. When bought separately, mesh routers and accompanying accessories can be costly.

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One Comment

  1. You need to know the speed of your internet connection if you don’t plan to do any local transfers. If you are matching that, then there’s little reason to worry. If you aren’t, it is worth investing in a good router. You get what you pay for. Extenders are usually more trouble than help. I believe TP-Link makes a fairly affordable mesh solution. Also, you should be aware of conflicting with channels of any neighbors. There are many available channels, but when you account for channel width etc, you only usually have 3 choices. So, if you are on the same channel as someone nearby, move chan