Reliance on the Internet and network connected devices has become part of our lives. Wireless connectivity makes it more convenient to access Internet services from virtually anywhere as long as we are within range of a Wi-Fi signal.
It has become more important now than ever to have a good Wi-Fi signal and throughput in order to keep in touch with the things we love online. There’s nothing worse than not being able to check your friends Facebook profile or check out the latest sports or celebrity gossip as and when you need it! First world problems, we know…
The strength of a Wi-Fi signal is dependent on several factors including how the router, AP or repeater has been installed, interference from other devices and networks, and obstacles such as metal and concrete walls.
So lets run through 10 ways to boost your Wi-Fi signal strength for your home or workplace.
10 Ways to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal
Ok, so here’s 10 ways to boost wireless signal…
1. Minimize the effects of interference from other appliances
Several electronics devices may interfere with the wireless signal and should be kept further away from the router or rather place the router away from the equipment. You can use a wireless network analyzer to determine the sources and magnitude of the interference. Even without the analyzer, you should be careful with the location of equipment such as security alarms, microwave ovens, automatic garage door openers, cordless phones and television remote controls etc.
2. Use a repeater
The repeater is a wireless device that extends the range and strength of an existing signal. The wireless repeater also referred to as a range expander, or extender, is a standalone device that can be positioned within the range of an existing wireless router or access point.
It works as a two-way relay station for the wireless signals, takes the weak signal, boosts it, and increases the coverage area. Or works even better, as a standalone access point, that cales back to your main router.
Be very careful setting up though. Range extenders should connect to your router using Ethernet cables if possible for best results. If you have to extend via wireless, spend some time experimenting adjusting the position of the extender.
Netgear EX6200 AC1200 Wireless AC Range Extender / Repeater
The EX6200 is a powerful Wireless AC range extender that is backwards compatible with Wireless N devices. It also comes with 5 Gigabit Ethernet cable ports for those with wire only devices.
3. Add a wireless amplifier
A wireless signal amplifier can be attached directly to the router’s antenna connector, to boost the Wi-Fi signal and increase its strength. A bi-directional amplifier works best since it amplifies both the download and uploads speeds. The amplifier is different from a repeater, in that it only increases the signal strength but does not extend its range.
4. Restart your router regularly
You’ve heard the expression “turn it off and on again”, well it is good for your router every now and again. This can be done manually or be scheduled to automatically restart at a particular time of the day either using a power outlet time, the inbuilt configuration utility or the open source DD-WRT utility (if you have it installed).
Why does rebooting work? Well, it can be for various reasons. Old age, an overheating router, or a memory leak due to working for so long – are just 3.
5. Use of better security to lockout unauthorized access
Unauthorized users may hack into your wireless access point or router and use part of your bandwidth, slowing your network and eating your data allowance! This can be avoided by using a strong security such as WPA2. However, this is not foolproof and additional measures such as using a non-trivial wireless password and disabling the WPS may be required to help secure the network.
6. Increase the transmit power
Using the configuration utility of your router, the power used to transmit the signal can be increased, even though care should be taken to prevent the router from overheating and getting damaged. Safe maximum signal power for the majority of routers is about 70 mW but it advisable to operate at about 50mW. This provides a strong signal and extended range.
Be very careful with this option. Boosting power can also boost noise and make your wifi much worse. It can also impeded on your neighbors! Not cool.
7. Find the perfect location
Another way to boost your Wi-Fi signal is to place the router in an open location at the center of the intended coverage area, and have the antennas in the vertical position. This is especially the case it you use a single floor.
If possible avoid obstacles such as concrete walls, metallic doors and walls, all of which may degrade the signal.
8. Find the right Wireless Channel
Select a channel with less interference to avoid WI-Fi degradation from other wireless networks in the neighborhood. Wireless routers are capable of operating on 3 non-overlapping channels on the 2.4GHz range (up to 12 on 5GHz) and tools such as Acrylic Wi-Fi Analyzer or Inssider can determine the clear channels with less interference.
9. Upgrade your firmware to DD-WRT
Upgrade the wireless access point or router to the latest manufacturer’s firmware or an open source firmware such as the DD-WRT. In particular, DD-WRT gives you a variety of security and signal boost tools amongst other enhanced functionalities.
Want to learn more? Read our post on the best DD-WRT routers
10. Use DIY wireless signal extender
This is done by carefully cutting and folding a few sheets of tinfoil or other similar metallic materials. These are made into a parabola which can be used to wrap up the antenna. The parabola improves the strength of the Wi-Fi signal in addition to making it more directional. True story…but this is option is a bit of a last resort and if you have zero money to spend!
Tin Foil Antenna?