Where Is the Best Place to Set Up Your Router?
The best place to set up your router is in a central, unobstructed location to ensure your home Wi-Fi network has a strong signal anywhere in your house. Moving your router even just a few feet might save you from endless connection problems and allow you to get the most out of your internet connection. To get your router in the best position, do the following:
- Put your router in a central location in your home.
- Minimize obstructions between your router and your devices.
- Elevate your router off the floor.
- Keep your router away from other electronics.
Of course, homes come in all shapes and sizes, and there are often other practical limitations on where you can put your router.
As such, we’ll take a closer look at how Wi-Fi signals work and what this means for your home network.
How do Wi-Fi signals work?
Every Wi-Fi router has one or more antennas for transmitting its signal. On some routers, these antennas are built in to the structure of the device, but more often the antennas stick up from the router like the rabbit ears of an old television and can be moved and adjusted.
Each antenna puts out a signal as a series of electromagnetic waves. Most Wi-Fi routers are equipped with omnidirectional antennas, so these signals go out in all directions but are strongest in an elliptical shape perpendicular to the antenna. In other words, if you imagine the signal in the shape of a donut, the antenna would stick straight through the hole.
Adjusting your antennas
If your router has adjustable antennas, it’s a good idea to point them in different directions. This allows you to spread out your signal to reach more of the house, but it can also help devices make a stronger connection. Receivers work best when they’re parallel to the antenna, so antennas pointing in multiple angles makes it more likely that the receiver in your laptop or smart TV will line up with one of them.
It’s also important to remember that while the area covered by your Wi-Fi signal is big and round, the signal itself goes in a straight line. This means that if an object is blocking the signal between the router and your device, the signal can’t curve around it (although you will get a bit of signal bouncing off other surfaces).
How to maximize router signal strength
When positioning your router in your house, the goal is to put it somewhere that takes advantage of the shape of your Wi-Fi signal and avoids interference. Here are some basic rules to help you do that.
Put your router in a central location
Since the Wi-Fi signal goes out in all directions, the best way to make sure that all of the rooms in your house are in range of the signal is to place the router in the most central location possible. Most modern routers have enough range to completely cover a moderately sized home if placed near the center.
Minimize router obstructions
As you probably know, Wi-Fi signals have a low enough frequency that they can pass through objects like walls. Still, passing through objects weakens the signal, so you want to avoid it as much as possible. An ideal situation would be to have line of sight between your device and the router. For devices in other rooms, you’ll want to place the router in the spot where its signal has to pass through the lowest number of walls in order to reach the device.
Also, remember that other obstructions besides walls can weaken your Wi-Fi signal. Large pieces of furniture, like couches, do a good job of absorbing signals that try to pass through them.
Elevate your router
Often you can improve the signal of your home network by simply raising your router off the ground. This helps avoid large pieces of furniture that might block your line of sight, as well as preventing a good chunk of your signal from being transmitted straight into the ground. You can do this by setting it on top of a table or bookshelf if you have one nearby. You can also purchase a wall mount for your router as well.
One exception to this rule is people with multistory homes. Since you still want the router in the most central location, the best place for a router in a two-story home would be near the ceiling on the first floor or near the floor on the second floor. In either case, remember to consider the placement of your furniture so you don’t block your signal.
Avoid other electronics
Just as walls and large objects can interfere with your Wi-Fi signal, so can electronic devices. TVs and computers certainly fall into this category, but the biggest culprits are microwaves. The radiation put out by a microwave to cook your food is pretty close to the wavelength of Wi-Fi signals, so it’s almost guaranteed to cause problems for your Wi-Fi if you set them up side by side.
Tips for dealing with Wi-Fi dead zones
Even if you’ve found the ideal spot where you’d like to set up your router, there are often practical considerations that prevent you from doing so. Cable and fiber jacks are often installed on the exterior walls of a building, and some homes simply have unusually shaped floor plans. If this is the case, there are still a few more tips and tricks you can try to improve your Wi-Fi coverage.
Prioritize high-use areas
While a central location is the best way to reach every room of your house, you might care more about some rooms than others. For example, if your home office and living room are on the same side of the house, you might want to put your router closer to those rooms—even if it means a weaker signal in the kitchen.
Having Wi-Fi dead zones in your home is never an ideal situation, but if you’re going to have them anyway, it’s best to choose where they go.
Use Ethernet cables
Depending on the layout of your home, you might end up with dead zones where you simply can’t get a good Wi-Fi signal. This might be in a room that was a later addition to the house or simply an area that’s in the shadow of an abnormally thick wall. An easy solution to this problem is to use an Ethernet cable. Unlike a Wi-Fi signal that’s transmitted in a straight line, you can wind your internet around any obstacle with a long enough Ethernet cable.
This solution is somewhat less practical for very large homes, but it’s great for people who really want to put their computer in that little nook with no Wi-Fi.
Get a specialized router
If your home is simply too big for your router to handle or has an overabundance of dead zones, you might want to invest in a different kind of router. Long-range routers allow you to cover a much larger area with a single router. There are also Wi-Fi extenders and mesh routers that can allow you to both cover a large area and transmit your signal around obstacles.
For more tips and tricks, check out our guide to getting wireless internet in every room of your home.
Author - Peter Christiansen
Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.
Editor - Cara Haynes
Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.