Location, location, location—that adage definitely applies when it comes to coaxing stronger WiFi from your router. In fact, all those things that make your home, well, a house—doors, walls, windows—are impediments for WiFi signals. Here are a few router placement tips to keep those signals moving along.
Higher is better. If you live in a two-story house, placing the router on the second floor promotes wider reach. The device’s antennas work something like an umbrella: The higher you put them, the more coverage you get below them. Just remember that floors slow signals down. So you may not want to put the router in the attic—especially if you want strong WiFi in the basement.
Seize the middle ground. Doors and walls are trouble, too. That means the closer the router is to the center of your home, the better off you’ll be. Does that mean you have to install it in the guest bathroom? No, but if you can find a spot close by, you may improve the signal elsewhere in the house. If that requires moving wires, your service provider might be able to help.
Likewise, if the router sits in a room with a closed door, open it. That’s one less barrier to slow down the signal.
Shift the receiver. It’s just as important to think about the placement of the devices receiving the WiFi signal. For starters, don’t put the Apple TV in a cabinet behind closed doors. It might even help to move the device just a few inches back, forward, or to the side.
Remember the rabbit ears. You might find as many as eight antennas on some routers. They’re not there just to make the device look impressive. They really can make a difference. On 802.11ac routers, for example, they can actually segregate signals, pulling those from a device streaming video to one antenna and those from a device used for Web browsing to another.
Because WiFi signals bounce all over the house, you have to fiddle with the positioning one antenna at a time. Think of the old-school, rabbit-ear TV antenna technique. If shifting the first antenna doesn’t improve the WiFi, move on to the second, then the third…
And, just because you don’t see antennas on your router doesn’t mean they’re not there. They may well be inside the device. To redirect them, simply rotate the router or change the orientation (from horizontal to vertical or vice versa).
Pop your corn before the movie. If you’ve got an older, 802.11n router, devices you wouldn’t expect can interfere with the WiFi signal in your home. That includes baby monitors, old cordless phones, anything running Bluetooth, even your microwave. So if you’re planning to stream a movie, finish popping the Orville Redenbacher before you turn on the Netflix.
This article originally appeared on Consumer Reports.
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