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Home Wireless Networking: Router Placement Guide

28.02.2009 (6:51 pm) – Filed under: How To Guides

Using wireless in your home is as easy as going out to a store, buying a wireless router, and hooking it in to your internet providers connection. However, a careless approach can backfire and lead to both slower connections, or dead zones in the house that could be easily remedied with the careful selection of the placement of one’s wireless router.

First and foremost, one needs to decide where wireless coverage is absolutely needed, be it single room, a whole floor, or the entire house. Depending on coverage needed and the layout of the house, it may become necessary to use two separate routers, or a router and an access point. For those wondering, an access point is like a wireless router, except that it only provides wireless coverage unlike the router which acts as a gateway for internet traffic into your home.

Now, once you have the list of rooms that need coverage take a look at it. Are the rooms adjacent to each other? Rooms that are clustered together, will make optimizing the coverage easier. For rooms to be adjacent they can either be next to each other, or on top of each other. Your wireless router sends out the signal in an omnidirectional pattern. If the rooms you want coverage in are not adjacent to each other that’s ok too, we’ll just need to do a little careful planning.

While it may seem like common sense, the best location for your router is most likely in a central location relative to where you want coverage to extend to. This being said, it can sometimes be difficult to achieve based on where your internet connection comes into the house. A few ways around this for the craftier folks out there, is to try things such as running a cable through a heating vent, up around door frames, or to get your cable company to put in an additional cable run. Though the last choice there might incur a service fee.

Central location or not, it is best to understand what can affect the spread of a wireless connection. The most obvious first answer to that is walls. Walls no matter how thin will cut the signal of your wireless by at least a little bit, the more walls obviously the more resistance to sending your signal. Beyond that, of course the thicker the wall the more of an effect you will notice. What you might not know is that certain things in the wall can have a bigger impact. Concrete, metal, electrical lines, and water all have a fairly noticeable impact. Water especially can be detrimental if you are trying to send the signal through a bathroom or kitchen, or through an area that often has several people in it. Remember a human body contains a high level of water which can absorb the signal and weaken it. Back to the bathroom note, you can have a good signal at one point, and then see it drop as a shower is running, something to keep in mind when placing your router. Also of note, cordless phones, baby monitors, and microwaves can also cause interference.

With all these considerations to keep in mind it may seem like this is still going to be a daunting task. First, remember that these items that can weaken a signal will not stop it all on their own, a signal can pass through a few walls if need be. The best advice is to find something as centrally located as possible, and one that minimizes walls, and water interference. If you are still having problems after placement, and having done your best to minimize interference, you still have a few options. Not all wireless networking products are created equal. Do some research and get devices that aim to boost signals further. Wireless N products, while still in draft mode are becoming very common, and many of them have boosted signal making it easier to send through walls and to multiple floors in a home. The biggest advice for that is to make sure you do research on the different models and see which ones are best for sending strong wireless signals.

One Response to “Home Wireless Networking: Router Placement Guide”

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