The Best Place for Your Wireless Router

It's all about signal strength

What's the Best Placement for Wireless Routers?

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The performance of a Wi-Fi home network depends on the signal strength of the wireless router, wireless access point, or base station. When a wireless client falls out of range of the base station signal, the network connection fails. Clients positioned near the boundary of the network's range likely experience intermittent dropped connections. Even when a wireless client is within range, its network performance can be adversely affected by distance, obstructions, or interference.

What's the Best Placement for Wireless Routers?

To position wireless equipment for optimal network performance, follow these guidelines.

Choose the Best Location for the Wireless Access Point or Router

Place the device in several locations to determine the location with the best signal. While trial-and-error may not be the most scientific way to find a good spot for the equipment, it is often the only practical way to assure the best possible Wi-Fi performance.

Install the Wireless Access Point or Router in a Central Location

If you have only one wireless device, install the base station near this client. For multiple wireless clients, find a good compromise position. Clients that are far away from the router may obtain only 10% to 50% of the network bandwidth that clients near it receive. You may need to sacrifice the network performance of one client for the good of the others.

Avoid Physical Obstructions

Any barriers along the line of sight between a client and the base station degrade a Wi-Fi radio signal. Plaster and brick walls tend to have the most negative impact, but any obstruction including cabinets and furniture can weaken the signal. Obstructions tend to be located closer to floor level, so installing the router high on a wall may improve the signal.

Avoid Reflective Surfaces

Some Wi-Fi signals bounce off windows, mirrors, metal file cabinets, and stainless steel countertops, lessening both network range and performance.

Avoid Installing the Router Near Appliances That Send Wireless Signals

Keep the router at least three feet away from anything that sends wireless signals in the same frequency range. Such appliances include microwave ovens, cordless telephones, baby monitors, and home automation equipment. Appliances that transmit in the 2.4 GHz frequency range are most likely to generate Wi-Fi interference.

Install the router away from electrical equipment that generates interference. Avoid electric fans, other motors, and fluorescent lighting.

Adjust the Router Antennas

Adjust the antennas to improve performance if the best location you find is only marginally acceptable. Antennas on wireless access points and routers can be rotated or repositioned to fine-tune a Wi-Fi signal. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the best results.

Other Ways to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal Range

If you can't find a suitable location for your wireless gear, you can, for example:

  • Upgrade the base station antenna.
  • Install a Wi-Fi repeater (often called a range extender or signal booster).
  • In extreme cases, add a second router or access point to extend the range of the network.

These are just some of the ways you can boost the range of your Wi-Fi network.