WiFi: how to choose the location of your internet box to improve coverage

To improve WiFi coverage in your home, the first advice is to choose the location of your internet box. In this quick tutorial, we offer some tips for defining the ideal location that will maximize the WiFi signal strength in your home.

Is your WiFi connection more or less stable depending on the location, or even unusable in certain rooms where it is necessary, such as your bedroom or the veranda? It is probably time to review the location you have chosen for your box. WiFi waves do not indeed have superpowers: they propagate more or less well depending on the materials to be crossed. Furthermore, the characteristics of the antenna greatly influence the way in which the signal is broadcast.SUMMARY

Check that your WiFi is correctly configured

Before going any further, connect to your router and check that the WiFi connection is correctly configured. Often – this is especially true in the city – the boxes of your neighbors can create interference with the signal of your box, so that even if you carry out the following steps of this tutorial, you will not succeed in improving the power and the stability of your wireless connection.

For that :

Bring a plan of your home and report the partitions, load-bearing walls, and metal frames

An aspect too often overlooked by users is to consider the surrounding building materials. It is very important to know which walls your WiFi signal can easily cross, on which others it is likely to be reflected, or to be too attenuated. The advice “place your router in the center of your home” is out of date and in most cases will not give you satisfaction.

Thus the partitions are generally transparent to WiFi waves. But load-bearing walls tend to attenuate the signal, especially if the latter are reinforced by a metal frame. A thick wall containing metal can completely prevent the WiFi signal from passing to the other side. In other cases, a metal wall can paradoxically cause a stronger signal in another place in the house, simply because the metal tends to reflect WiFi waves.

Several other materials can influence the signal. Water absorbs up to 95% of WiFi waves – so a wet wall can block the signal more than a dry wall *. Bricks and concrete also tend to absorb much of the signal if they are thick enough. The panes on the other hand are normally transparent to WiFi waves, although the heat can slightly modify this property.

Once this data on your plan, you can already carry out a first optimization of the location which will avoid the most obvious obstacles, and will play, if necessary, the reflective property of metallic materials. In the case where your home has several floors, it will probably be advisable to install your box in the best possible location with regard to the materials that make up the walls upstairs, and on the floor. This advice does not apply, however, if the floor on your floor is too thick (and / or has a metal frame).

If you are on one floor, prefer a location a little higher (not directly on the floor), and do not hide your box behind books or objects (let alone metal) that will disturb the signal. The box indeed sends the signal in all directions, and a little height can sometimes gain a little coverage.

To be completely exhaustive on water, it should be emphasized that the human body, mainly composed of water, also stops WiFi waves. This may explain why your connection degrades when you receive people at home (when they did not necessarily connect their devices to your WiFi). If you are in this case, we advise you to invest in repeaters.

Make a heatmap to verify by A + B that the new location improves things

The map of your home will again be useful to you. Bring red, orange and yellow crayons (or other gradients at your convenience), and use this tutorial to precisely measure the strength of the WiFi signal depending on the location. Then roughly color the areas according to the signal strength.

The purpose of this mapping, which our Anglo-Saxon friends call a “heatmap” is to visualize otherwise invisible waves. You will immediately see the strengths and weaknesses of your new location.

Help your router with repeaters and access points

Depending on the configuration of your home, but also its size, you may realize at the same time that you have reached the limits of what your router can do. In which case, there are solutions:

  • WiFi repeaters : these repeaters receive the wireless signal from your box and repeat it with maximum power. This may be effective in increasing the signal strength, but does not always improve the quality of the connection according to our tests. We therefore recommend the following options instead.
  • Repeaters / Access points with PLC : this is the same type of device, but instead of connecting to your box via WiFi, these devices use line carrying current, which makes it possible to obtain a better connection quality
  • Repeaters / Access points with Ethernet : same thing here except that the connection to the router is made directly via an ethernet cable. Depending on where you live, this can be a practical option or too restrictive. However, it is this type of device that offers the best power and quality of connection on arrival.

Attention, before choosing a repeater or access point, there are several things to consider. First, most of these devices restrict your speed to 100 Mbit / s (because they accept a “Fast Ethernet” input at 100 Mbit / s). If you have faster access, you will probably want to avoid this inconvenience: you should know that repeaters and access points with Gigabit Ethernet port are not legion and that it is often very badly specified on the packaging. An example of this kind of fast devices is the  TP-Link RE650 (89 €).

Read also:  Windows 10 – how to find the WiFi code effortlessly

Besides these solutions, there are also the mesh access point constellations (Mesh) which are supposed to improve the connection – but we have not yet been able to test them to confirm it. In addition, their configuration, in particular the choice of channel, should not be overlooked so as not to cause additional coverage problems.

Was this tutorial useful to you? Any suggestions to improve it? Share your feedback in the comments.

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