We bring you a guide on how you can amplify WiFi signal in your house, where we will try to explain everything you need to know to achieve it. We are going to try to do it without too many technicalities, and in a simple way in which you can understand everything. We will start by telling you how to improve your WiFi signal of the router that you already have without having to buy anything else.
But we are also going to explain some alternatives that you can buy, such as Mesh networks, repeaters or PLCs. You will be able to know what particularities each of them has so that you can make an informed purchase. And finally, we will do it by telling you some characteristics that you should look for in a new router in the event that you decide to invest in one.
And as we always say in our forum, it is possible that some of you have extensive knowledge on the subject and want to share your own tips and tricks. To do this, we suggest you do it in the comments section, so that all readers can benefit from our knowledge shared via this site.
Finally, before starting I also want to warn you that in this article we have tried, as we usually always do in Basics, to leave the technicalities aside to try to give more colloquial and understandable explanations by all. Therefore, throughout the article you will have several links to other more technical articles from Engadget in case you want to delve into some topics. Follow these tips to amplify WiFi signal and boost your work.
Make sure your current router is properly seated
Before you start spending money to amplify WiFi signal, it is best that you try to get the most out of what you already have. In this case, you should know that placing the router in the right place can help you greatly improve your WiFi range of its signal, and it is not the same to put it in one place than in another in your office, or in one corner or another of a room. There are things you should keep in mind.
When you hire your fiber or your connection, the technician who comes to your house simply places the router in a place closest to the cable connection. He is not going to spend time looking at how your house is to put it in the place where it has the best coverage, that will depend on you.
It is recommended to place the router in the center of the area you want to cover. If you are on a floor, then try to be in the most central part of that floor as possible. If you put the router in a room that is at one end of your house, for example, the signal will have to go a long distance and go through many walls to reach the room at the other end, which will end meaning that there will be very bad coverage in that room.
But there are times that this is not enough either, since some obstacles can affect the range of your WiFi. The walls and doors of your house hinder the propagation of your wireless signal, and depending on its distribution, thickness or density, the signal will be more or less attenuated. Other household devices, such as wireless intercoms, microwave ovens, or cordless home phones, can also interfere with your WiFi network and it is good idea to amplify WiFi signal.
Therefore, in addition to having it in a fairly central area of your home, it is equally important that it be an area clear of obstacles. As much as you put it in the center of your floor, if it is in a closed room and surrounded by furniture or other gadgets, it will not be as effective as off-centering it a bit and being in an open place. In multi-story homes it is also preferable to look for the central floor for the same reasons.
Routers aren’t always pretty, but as ugly as they are, they should always be seen. This means that, for the same reason to avoid obstacles, you should never leave the router in places such as a closet or false ceiling. Remember, you always have to leave it as free of obstacles as possible so that the signal reaches its maximum range.
Finally, to say that it is also important to place the router in a relatively high position. These devices usually send waves downwards, and if we don’t, we will be wasting part of their range. By this, I mean that placing it on the floor will always be less effective than on a table, and if it is a raised table it will always be better than on a low piece of furniture.
Antenna placement matters too
Although not all routers have antennas, those that do have an extra advantage. They may not always be aesthetic, but antennas matter, and their placement also when trying to amplify WiFi signal that the router emits throughout your home. And it is that if you simply put them in any way or directly both in the same direction looking for aesthetics, you may not be taking advantage of them.
It is advisable to place the antennas perpendicular to each other, having one horizontal and the other vertical . This is something that an Apple engineer said a few years ago , ensuring that radio reception is maximized when both the client and the access point coincide with polarization, come on, when the antennas are oriented in the same plane.
The bottom line is that the antennas have to draw a 90 degree angle between them. No, with this trick you will not see that your WiFi is now much faster, but it helps to improve the coverage in our devices and that they do not suffer so much when they are somewhat far from the router. This technique helps to amplify WiFi signal easily.
Keep your router firmware updated and amplify WiFi signal
It is god idea to update router firmware time to time for security reason and to amplify WiFi signal. The firmware is the basic program that controls the electronics of any device, including routers. It is a program that knows what a device has to do, and makes sure that it does it by making it work as well as possible. As if they were instructions on which how well everything works depends.
When a router is brought to you or you buy it, it comes with firmware installed. However, this firmware may not always be up to date , and in this case you could be missing an update that slightly or substantially improves some features of the router.
Therefore, it is important to make sure that your router’s firmware is always up to date. This is not always easy, because although many update it automatically, there are times when some models may need you to update them manually.
This is not always going to be clear, so you can do two things. First, you can look in the router’s instruction manual to see if it specifies how updates are done. But if not, you can also go directly to the configuration page of your router and look for an option to check for updates. This page, as we have told you a few times, is reached by typing the IPs 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 in the browser.
Choose between the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi bands
Many of today’s WiFis have dual-band technology. In these cases, the router creates two different WiFis for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands . Each of these bands has different characteristics, so it will also be important to choose the most appropriate one for each device you connect , and thus make the most of your network. This is only for two-band routers, because there will be others that only have one and generate a single WiFi network. This will help to amplify WiFi signal.
|CHANNELS||14 overlapping channels||25 non-overlapping channels|
|INTERFERENCE||More interference||Less interference|
|MAXIMUM SPEED||Less connection speed||More connection speed|
|NETWORK RANGE||Higher range||Lower rank|
|STANDARD||IEEE 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n|
(B, G and N)
|IEEE 802.11a, 802.11n, 802.11ac|
(A, N, AC)
As you can see in this table above, the 2.4 GHz band tends to have more interference, which can cause the connection to be slower. It also has fewer channels, which we will talk about a little later, making all connected devices have to “fight” over how little space there is for everyone. The great positive point is that the 2.4 GHz WiFi has a greater range , giving coverage to areas of the house where the 5 GHz does not reach.
On the other hand, the 5 GHz band has less interference because it is more recent and less used, and has more channels to distribute the devices, so it is more comfortable. Its range is better and it has more trouble overcoming obstacles, but it has a higher maximum connection speed, which makes the devices connected to them have better connection.
With these characteristics in mind, taking advantage of the possibilities of your WiFi with each device will depend on which band you choose to connect it. In the event that the coverage reaches you well, the 5 GHz WiFi is the best for devices that need a higher connection speed, although they will have to be close to the router or amplifier you have so that the distance does not play against.
For devices where range or coverage is more important than speed, the network to choose will be 2.4 GHz WiFi. Therefore, this could be the option for laptops and tablets, while perhaps consoles or laptops they may work better on the 5 GHz band. At least as long as they are supported, as some less modern devices may not support the 5 GHz bands.
You should know that a few months ago the first WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E routers began to be announced, which have a new 6 GHz band. However, this technology is still too new to see it in the routers of the operators, so which will only be an option if you want to buy a new router.
In any case, you should know that these new standards offer important improvements , such as a small increase in the maximum speed per device, and that above all, it improves the performance and amplify WiFi signal with many connected devices, something that is increasingly common in our houses. There will also be an improvement in latency, which will be much lower, and also security with the new WPA3 standard.
Find the least saturated channels to amplify WiFi signal
You can also improve and amplify WiFi signal by changing your WiFi channel. Imagine that the channels are roads, and you can choose which way the WiFi signal of your router goes. Maybe a canal, a road, you and some neighbors are occupying it, so there is more traffic and the circulation is slower. In these cases, it is best to change the WiFi channel to circulate on a less traveled road. If there are signals from the neighbors’ WiFi interfering with yours, you will also have less range in the signal.
To change this you can go to the configuration page of your router, which you access with the IPs 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1. In there, usually on the same page where you change the basic values such as the SSID name, there is another option called Control Channel or channel control. It is used to choose one of the channels through which your router can operate . It will usually be set to automatically choose the least congested channel, but this is an auto mode that is not always entirely reliable.
The number of channels depends on whether you use a 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz WiFi, so this is a configuration that, if you have a dual-band router, you can apply to either. The 5 GHz bands have more channels, but the 2.4 GHz bands have only 1 to 13, and you have to be aware of congestion, especially if you live in communities with many neighbors.
There are programs and apps that will help you know which channels are the most congested. One of the most recommended is WiFi Analyzer for Android, which analyzes the status of the channels around you. The app does not ask you for passwords or strange accesses, it simply shows you which is your router of all those around you, and it will tell you which channel you are on and which is the recommended one right now.
Using this application, I have been able to see that my router has been automatically configured to use channel 1, but that the least congested channels with which the connection would be better for me are 8, 9 and 13. Come on, that the automatic mode of the router has not hit, and now I have the necessary information to change the channel manually and improve the signal and speed of my WiFi without great inconvenience.
Mesh networks, PLCs and WiFi repeaters
So far, we’ve given you tips to improve your amplify WiFi signal without spending money. But there are times when this is not enough, and then it is time to make the decision to buy a WiFi repeater, a PLC or a Mesh system to improve the coverage of your network throughout the house. They are products that seek to help you with the same, but with different prices and methods, so it is important to know them well.
WiFi repeaters are in many cases the cheapest alternative to expand the coverage of your network. What they do is capture the signal from your home WiFi network and amplify WiFi signal so that it reaches further. The signal that the WiFi repeater amplifies is exactly the same as the one sent by your router, with the same name for the WiFi and the same password.
PLCs are an alternative to WiFi repeaters. They also extend the signal, but instead of receiving the WiFi that the router sends through waves, they obtain the signal through the electrical wiring . It usually consists of at least two devices, one that you plug in next to the router and connect it to it through the Ethernet cable, and through the electrical wire it reaches the repeater, which emits a WiFi that can be cloned with the same name and password or different according to your needs.
Therefore, these first two are two alternatives that do the same, but with some differences in their way of functioning. If your house is small you may be able to put a repeater between your router and the area where you want to wear the WiFi is enough, but if it is great, then you can do it with a PLC through the wiring. Some PLCs, in addition, also have Ethernet outputs to connect them directly your devices directly.
And then there are Mesh or mesh networks , which are a more expensive alternative, but which is also usually more complete and complex. It is a WiFi network made up of several components, all with the same name and password. On the one hand, you have the router or base station that receives the signal from your operator’s modem or router, and then you have the nodes, also called satellites or access points, which are the ones that act as repeaters.
Therefore, it is as if you had a receiver like those used by PLCs, and it emits a signal that reaches a repeater network that works in a unified way. The idea is to create a homogeneous and intelligent WiFi network, in which you will always be connecting to the repeater that sends the best signal to a device, although you will not notice a difference between switching from one to the other. They also usually offer extra options, such as monitoring the network from the mobile or creating WiFis for guests.
Here, which of them to choose always depends on each case and the needs and budget of each person. Mesh networks are in many cases the best possible option to amplify WiFi signal without changing the router, although being the one that offers the most control options and the most advanced, they also tend to have somewhat higher prices.
PLCs are also a fairly viable option, although they may not be as effective or send as powerful a signal depending on how direct the wiring is that runs from the plug next to your router to where the receiver that sends the new signal is. Plus, they aren’t nearly as cheap as amps either, which are the more modest option for those on lower budgets or smaller floor.
You can also buy a new router to amplify WiFi signal
But if you are willing to spend money to amplify WiFi signal and network, another alternative is to buy a new third-party router or neutral router that improves the performance of the one the operator has given you. Here, what you should know is that these routers will be connected directly to your operator’s, since replacing your operator’s router is something much more complex.
However, connecting a neutral router to your operator’s will make the second one only act as a link between the fiber and your connection, and the WiFi network will be provided by your new router. Some carrier routers are not very good , but connecting a good neutral router to them can make your WiFi network improve substantially.
As for what to ask of a new neutral router that you are going to buy, there are a few minimums that should be met. The first thing would be to make sure that the router has 3 or 4 free Ethernet ports, to be able to connect other devices directly to the router, and in case you want to use wired Ethernet links or PLCs at home.
Already put to buy, another minimum is that your router has WiFi and interface in 2.4 GHz of at least 300 Mbps and WiFi AC in 5 GHz of 867 Mbps. Take a good look at the maximum speeds that they are capable of offering, and try not to be lower than what you have contracted to be able to take advantage of all your fiber.
But these are the minimums. The recommended thing if you want your investment to serve you for the next few years is that the router also has at least WiFi 6 or 6E, preferably WiFi 6E, since it is the latest standard that has been launched. This type of router is possibly more expensive, but it also has a higher connection speed, which can be up to 40% higher than WiFi 5 or AC, and better response with many connected devices.
It is also recommended that the router have a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port as extra connectivity, since this way you can connect content on a USB stick or external hard drive that you can send by streaming to the devices you have connected, without having to carry the USB to TV or other connected devices.
And although this is more difficult to know without trying it, you should also find out about models to see which ones have a good user interface, which is simple to use but offers all the advanced settings you may need, such as passwords, the possibility of turning it off and on. the WiFi, change the frequency channels, and so on. Some operator routers have these functions blocked, so being able to take advantage of them will help you a lot to improve your network.