Signal and Interference
The signal is the bars that fill up to show you the strength of the wifi connection.
The signal should be stronger if you are next to the router, and weaker as you are farther away. There are more placement tricks though, the signal is often weakest above the router, strongest on the same level as it, and weaker when below it. You want to have your router positioned on or above the floor of your house where you use most of your devices. Routers with external antennas are preferred (some wifi routers have internal antennas, which can give slick spaceship looks, but they are weaker). External antennas can be orientated to help the signal in different areas. For best all-around signal, if there are two antennas they should be placed on 45 degree angles, like the old rabbit ear V. The signal is strongest perpendicular to the antenna angle, so orientating the antennas horizontally instead of up and down (vertically) can help the vertical connectivity on another floor, where wifi tends to struggle most. Wifi broadcasted from the basement is not only going to struggle from the router being below and weakening the signal, but it’s also trying to shoot through the metal in the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical in a typical basement ceiling to get to the main floor.
Router Placement Checklist
- In Central location
- Off of the floor
- Away from sources of interference and microwaves
This is cool. Here’s a page with some wifi visualizations to show what it looks like. There are two animated gifs on the page, so they can take a couple of moments to load, but it’s well worth it.
External Antennas. If your router has screw on antennas, make sure they are screwed in tightly to get a full connection. If you have trouble getting the signal to a specific spot in your house, you may be able to help it with a stronger antenna or a directional antenna. These antennas are made for the 2.4 GHz range, so they will not work for a 5 GHz 802.11ac pure connection (802.11ac is the latest wifi standard, more on the 802.11 standards below).