Choosing the Best Spot for the Router in Your New House
Congratulations—you’re about to move into the house of your dreams and connect to fiber optic internet. One of the next steps will be finding the best place to put the Wi-Fi router so your internet connection works the way you want it to. The router placement makes all the difference when you’re streaming, gaming and working or learning, along with all the other ways you’ll use the internet in your new home.
If a technician with your internet service provider (ISP) is going to install the router and get your internet up and running, they can advise you on the ideal router location. In the meantime, or if you’re planning to do the installation yourself, read on for tips on where to place the router.
What does a router do?
A router is a hardware device that transfers data from the internet to your computer and other devices. It can be wired, using an Ethernet cable, to share data, or it can be wireless, in which Wi-Fi uses antennas that are either built inside your router or are visible on top of it.
Note that a router is not the same as a modem, which is a device that converts the data from your ISP into a format your devices can use. It’s the router that then sends this translated data to your devices. In other words, a modem converts internet signals into data that the router can use to provide connection to your devices. Some combination devices are available that do include both a modem and router.
How does Wi-Fi work?
With Wi-Fi, the devices in your home don’t need a physical cable connection to communicate with each other. Instead, Wi-Fi transmits information between your devices and router through the air using two radio-wave frequencies. Either of the frequencies—2.4 gigahertz or 5 gigahertz—may be used, based on how much data is being sent.
Does it really matter where I put the router?
Yes, it really does. The location of your router impacts the reach of its signal and how effectively it can communicate with devices throughout your home. A good spot can mean faster Wi-Fi speeds and fewer connection problems.
If you’ve already placed the Wi-Fi router in your new home, or even if you’re not moving and just want to check on your current setup, one way to see if it’s in the best location is by performing a speed test using a laptop, smartphone or tablet. If the results are unsatisfactory, you or the ISP technician can move the router to a better place by running an Ethernet cable from the modem to the new location and connecting it to the router. You may need to test a few different locations to find just the right spot.
The best router locations
For the strongest signal and fewer internet connection problems, follow these tips for the best places to put a Wi-Fi router in your home:
- A central location so that all rooms are in the router signal range.
- Although Wi-Fi signals can pass through walls, this may weaken the signals, especially if your home has brick or concrete walls. Putting the router in an unobstructed place, such as near an open doorway, will help the signal travel farther.
- As furniture can also block the signal, elevate the router by placing it on a shelf or in a wall mount.
- It’s best to place the router in the middle of your home. If you have a two-story house, place the router on the second floor rather than on the first floor or basement.
The worst router locations
Due to obstructions and possible signal interference, locations to avoid placing your router include:
- Inside a closet or cupboard.
- On the floor, where the signal can transmit into the ground or be blocked by furniture.
- Near a microwave oven. A Wi-Fi router’s signals are the same frequency as a microwave’s, which may cause interference and connection problems.
- Close to a baby monitor, cordless phone or another electronic device whose signals can also interfere with the router’s.
- Close to a mirror or other reflective surface that may distort the signal.
Tips to improve your Wi-Fi signal
Once you find the best location for your router, here are ways to ensure you’re getting the strongest Wi-Fi signal possible:
- If the router has external antennas and is located on the first floor of your home, adjust them so they’re vertical. If the router is on the second floor, adjust the antennas so they’re sideways.
- If you live in a condo or townhouse, to avoid a slower connection when your neighbors are using the same Wi-Fi channel, you can try changing the channel on your router.
- To eliminate dead zones and improve the signal in a large home, consider setting up a mesh Wi-Fi network with multiple routers, or use Wi-Fi range extenders.
- Whether staying in your current home or moving, it’s smart to upgrade to a new router, as older ones have slower Wi-Fi speeds and may also be less secure.
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