Replacing the Wi-Fi Antenna on a Wireless Router

Antenna replacement is usually an easy and effective upgrade

What to Know

  • To improve antenna performance, replace with stronger omnidirectional antenna, high-gain directional antenna, or external antenna.
  • Omnidirectional antenna can have difficulty reaching long distances because its signals expand in all directions.
  • High-gain directional antennas increase signal receptivity in a particular area by focusing the signal in that direction.

Wireless network routers and access points contain Wi-Fi antennas that radiate signals equally in all directions. These antennas are called omnidirectional, and they make router setup and placement easy. When the router is installed in the center of a home and wireless clients are distributed throughout the rooms, an omnidirectional antenna directs the signal to all the corners of the house.

Improve Router Performance

Sometimes, it is better to replace the router's built-in antenna with a different one. An omnidirectional antenna can have difficulty reaching long distances because its signaling power expands in all directions. This can result in a "dead spot" in your home or business, where the signal can't reach.

A wireless router and a person using smartphone on living room at home ofiice
CASEZY / Getty Images​

Improve the router performance with new antennas:

  • Replace the existing omnidirectional antenna with a stronger omnidirectional antenna.
  • Replace the existing omnidirectional antenna with a high-gain directional antenna.
  • Add an external omnidirectional or directional antenna to the router.

Replacing an Antenna

Check your router manufacturer's website. You may be able to purchase enhanced replacement antennas for a specific model router. Even if the manufacturer doesn't carry replacement antennas, plenty of universal antennas are available on the web.

Determine your router's networking standard before you buy an antenna. It may be wireless-N or wireless-AC technology (labeled 802.11n or 802.11ac, respectively) or another specification. You must buy a compatible antenna.

Upgrading the router antennas does not require any tools. Just screw off the old antennas and screw on the replacements.

If the router's antennas cannot be screwed off, they probably are not replaceable.

Adding an External Antenna

Some router manufacturers sell external omnidirectional and directional antennas that are stronger than the router's built-in antenna. A stronger omnidirectional antenna is more likely to reach faraway locations in the business or home.

Because Wi-Fi connections are distance-sensitive, a stronger connection often leads to increased network performance. Many routers provide an external antenna jack that allows a simple connection for the new antenna. Consult the router product documentation for details before ordering a new antenna.

High-Gain Directional Antennas

Greater Wi-Fi range can be achieved with a high-gain directional antenna that increases signal receptivity in a particular direction. By focusing the signal, a high-gain antenna allows the signal to be better controlled and aimed toward the area of the home where the wireless devices are located.

When a Stronger Signal Isn't Better

A wireless antenna that is too strong can create network security issues. The use of strong omnidirectional antennas can result in Wi-Fi signals that bleed outside of a home or business into neighboring areas, where the radio signals can be intercepted.

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