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In this article, I will share some tips on how to correctly position WiFi routers to improve your home’s WiFi coverage significantly. I will also talk about a new web app from AmpliFi, called the AmpliFi Web Controller, that can help you with finding the perfect position for your WiFi equipment based on your home’s floor plan.
Factors that influence WiFi coverage
The strength of your WiFi signal is determined by four primary factors:
- Distance to the router
- Electromagnetic interference from other devices
- Obstacles between your router and wireless endpoints
- Wireless band selection (2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz)
Your wireless router emits radio waves to cover a specific area with WiFi. The coverage area depends on your router, its antennas, and their output strength, usually measured in decibel milliwatts (dBm). The coverage claims of most router vendors are based on perfect conditions. That means the promised coverage is only achieved if the router is in direct line of sight with connected devices and without interference. But unless you live in an empty loft and position your wireless router in the dead-center of the room, you will never have perfect conditions.
All electronic devices emit electromagnetic waves that can interfere with your wireless signal if you place them too close to your wireless router. Common culprits for interference include other wireless devices, such as routers, access points, or even phones.
Any object that you place between your wireless router and your connected devices can reduce the signal strength. Examples include drywall, appliances, furniture, windows, doors, etc.
Below is a list of common household objects and their impact on your signal strength as measured in dBm:
- Drywall (3 dB / 4 dB)
- Cubicle (3.5 dB / 7.5 dB)
- Wood (3.5 dB / 6.5 dB)
- Brick (12 dB / 20 dB)
- Concrete (12 dB / 20 dB)
- Glass (2.5 dB / 7 dB)
- Glass double pane coated (13 dB / 20 dB)
- Glass bulletproof (10 dB / 20 dB)
- Steel (16 dB / 28.5 dB)
As you can see, the denser the object, the more it weakens the signal. The numbers in parenthesis indicate the reduction for both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz band. For example, a layer of drywall reduces the signal strength by 3 dB on the 2.4 GHz band and by 4 dB on the 5 GHz band.
It is also important to understand that there is a significant difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz signals. Based on simple physics, the higher the frequency, the more susceptible the signal is to interference. Given equal conditions, the 2.4 GHz band usually has a longer range than the 5 GHz band. Most modern routers support both bands, and many even support them on the same network name (SSID). Example of such routers include the Apple AirPort base stations and, of course, AmpliFi’s mesh-networking devices.
The advantage of op