Spectrumwifi: This article teaches you how to boost your Wi-Fi router’s range to reach its full, advertised potential. Extending your router’s reach past its maximum isn’t typically possible without using external equipment, such as a range extender.
Things You Should Know
- Position your router to maximize performance. Keep it as high as possible and in a central location. Position it a few feet away from the modem if they’re separate.
- Move any items that may cause signal interference. These include cordless phones, microwaves, baby monitors, security alarms, and TV remote controls, among other things.
- Make a DIY range extender. Using a tin can can increase your router’s range in one direction (though it will dampen it in the other).
- Invest in a range extender. These cost between $35 and $100. Most work with all routers, but if possible, purchase one that is made by the same company as your router.
Know your router’s maximum range. Most commercially available routers can reach between 100 feet (30.5 m) and 150 feet (45.7 m). Your router’s packaging and manual should cite a specific number.
- If you determine that items well-within your router’s maximum range aren’t receiving its signal, follow the steps in this method to increase your router’s output.
- If the items on which you want to receive your router’s signal are outside of the maximum range, you’ll either need to move them closer or use a range extender.
Remove obstructions from your router’s path. Physical obstructions such as furniture, cabinet doors, walls, and appliances can all dampen your router’s signal. If you want to experience your router’s full signal, you’ll need to position it so that the signal isn’t impeded by physical objects.
- Obviously, things like walls and floors can’t be moved for your router—you’ll just need to move or adjust obstructions where possible.
Position your router for optimal performance. While the location of your Internet cable will dictate the general location of your router, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your router’s range is emphasized:
- Place your router as high as possible in a central location
- Keep your router several feet away from the modem if the two are separate
- Try to establish a direct line of sight between the router and your main Internet-connected item (e.g., a computer).
See if you have signal interference. Since your router uses the same wireless channel (2.4 GHz) as most other wireless items, your router’s signal can get diluted or interrupted by wireless items which stand between your router and your Internet-connected item (e.g., a computer). Try to turn off or move any of the following items:
- Cordless phones
- Microwave ovens
- Baby monitors
- Security alarms
- Television remote controls
- Automatic garage door openers
Make sure your router is using the 2.4 GHz channel. Many routers are “dual-band”, meaning that they support both the common 2.4 GHz channel and the less-common 5 GHz channel. If your router is a dual-band model, make sure that you’re connected to the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network for maximum range.
- You can connect to the proper Wi-Fi network from inside your computer’s or mobile’s Wi-Fi menu. The 2.4 GHz channel will usually just display your Wi-Fi network’s name, while the 5 GHz channel will have “5 GHz” or “Media” after its name.
- While the 5 GHz channel often allows for larger downloads and faster, uninterrupted Internet, its range falls somewhere between half and one-third of the 2.4 GHz channel’s range.
Note: This will limit your router’s range in the opposite direction.
Upgrade your old router. If you have a three- or four-year-old router, its performance will invariably decrease; no amount of rearranging or additional hardware can solve that. Buying a new, up-to-date router may be the best solution in this case.
Buy a Wi-Fi extender. Wi-Fi range extenders do exactly what their name implies: they take your router’s signal and repeat it so that you can connect to the network without moving your router or your Internet-connected item. There are countless models of extender available both in stores and online, so just pick one with high reviews and a comfortable price tag.
- You can expect to spend between $35 and $100 on a decent Wi-Fi extender.
- Most Wi-Fi extenders will work with multiple router models, but buy one from the same company which made your router if possible.
Find a wall outlet near your router. It’s best to set up your range extender while in the same room as your router, so try to find a place to plug in your range extender within 20 feet of your router.
- If your extender is wireless, turn it on and then skip this step and the next one.
Find and press the WPS button on the router. You’ll usually find the WPS button on the back or bottom of the router. This will connect your extender to the router.
- If your router doesn’t have a WPS button, you’ll have to follow the Wi-Fi extender’s manual’s instructions on setting up the extender without WPS.
Position your Wi-Fi extender unit. Once your range extender has been connected to your router, find a wall outlet about halfway between your router and the room into which you want to extend your Wi-Fi signal and plug in the extender.
- Make sure your range extender isn’t near another wireless item (e.g., a microwave).
- Your range extender will most likely have to plug into an outlet near the floor, which will limit its range. You can solve this problem by using an extension cable.
- Although some modern range extenders don’t harm your Internet speed, many will cut your Internet speed by as much as half.
Connect to your router. Using your computer, smartphone, or tablet, select your router’s Wi-Fi network name in the Wi-Fi menu—it should now be available courtesy of the range extender—and enter the password to connect.
Some Wi-Fi hardware companies produce “mesh” network items, which are essentially networks of two or more miniature wireless routers that you place throughout your home. While expensive, mesh networks provide equal coverage and prevent dead zones.
Older and traditional homes have walls made from wooden studs, while newer construction in office buildings, malls, and condominiums are often constructed with metal studs in the wall. Metal studs can interfere with a router signal quite badly, so consider your building type when diagnosing your signal.
Boosting your router’s signal without following your country’s procedure regarding wireless signals can result in a fee. Check your area’s legislature to make sure what you’re doing is legal.