WiFi signal strength: how it works and how it can be improved
Tired of waiting for pages to load, sitting through buffering movies, and receiving that dreaded "No Internet Connection" notification while trying to use your WiFi at home? We understand if you are. As smart home device adoption continues to rise, taking the time to ensure these devices have a strong WiFi signal strength to properly operate is of great importance. This is why we wanted to share today's blog, which focuses on how WiFi signal works, why your WiFi signal strength may fluctuate in certain parts of your home, and how it can be improved.
Where does my WiFi signal come from?
Your WiFi signal originates from where the WiFi connection is established in your home— the wireless router. For signal, wireless routers use a certain frequency band, either the 2.4 GHz band or the 5 GHz band. Within these bands are smaller bands called WiFi channels that provide the means for our wireless networks to communicate with our wireless devices.
How is my WiFi signal transmitted?
Your WiFi signal is transmitted using radio waves. There are two main steps:
- The device's wireless adapter translates data into a radio signal
- The wireless router receives the signal, decodes it, and sends information to the Internet using its physical Ethernet connection
What affects my WiFi signal strength?
There are a number of factors that can affect the strength of your overall WiFi signal strength. For starters, your house itself could be affecting your WiFi's performance. Whether there is dry wall, a wooden door, brick walls, or concrete in the way, your WiFi signal is ultimately affected as it needs to be transmitted through these different materials. However, factors like these are probably out of your control.
Let's talk about the factors affecting your WiFi signal strength that are in your control, like the location of your wireless router. If you are having problems with your WiFi and your router is on the opposite side of the house, that may be the culprit. Therefore, moving your router to a central part of your house could be the answer to your WiFi signal problem.
Another factor affecting your WiFi signal strength could be the the wireless channel your router is using. Certain channels are more common to experience interference from other networks or devices, so changing the channel your router is using may help. (We talk all about what WiFi channels are best to use and how to change your WiFi channel here.)
A third factor affecting your WiFi signal strength in your home could very well be the number of devices consuming bandwidth on your network. You may be in an area in your house that typically has a great WiFi signal, but all of a sudden, you begin to experience intermittent speeds. This may be caused by certain devices on your network hogging the available bandwidth, and thus leaving your device without enough to properly operate. The key here is to be mindful about which devices are in use, and to turn off that 4K streaming smart TV when no one's watching it. (A fun fact: Minim customers are not only given deep insights into their bandwidth usage by device, but also have the option to perform speed tests for their entire network or individual devices.)
How can I improve my WiFi signal strength?
Certain devices or tasks require a specific amount of WiFi signal in order to be usable. But we don't want our devices to just be usable, we want them to function seamlessly and without interruption. In addition to the steps above, you can also do the following to improve your WiFi experience:
- Update your router's firmware/get an updated router (Another fun fact: Minim handles this for customers)
- Split devices between multiple networks (different WiFi router, or "Guest Network" option on existing router)
- Use an extender or mesh network
- Ensure strong security settings are set so unwanted devices aren't getting in
- Switch between the two WiFi frequency bands (If you have a dual-band router, you can choose; otherwise, your router is designed to only use one of the two)
More WiFi 101 topics you may like:
- WiFi channels explained
- WiFi boosters, repeaters, and extenders: What's the difference?
- WiFi extenders vs mesh networks [pros and cons]
- How do I interpret my WiFi speed test results?
- WiFi frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
- WiFi channels explained: What is WiFi channel width?
- 3 steps to find the best WiFi channel for your router