Laggy internet connections and weak Wi-Fi signal to your devices around your home can be frustrating, but there could be an easy fix! With just a few simple adjustments, you can boost your Wi-Fi signal and enjoy a fast, reliable connection from all corners of your home.
Your router is the most likely culprit, as this is essentially like an internet switchboard that takes the connection from the wires in your wall and transforms it into a Wi-Fi signal that disperses throughout your home. As Wi-Fi enabled devices like tablets, phones, laptops, and other electronics are increasing in popularity and replacing the old desktop PC, your router is one of the most common places for connection problems to occur.
So, let’s look at a few simple hacks to boost your Wi-Fi signal at home and get your internet humming away like magic.
Upgrade your router
If you’ve held onto the same router for a few years (or more), chances are it has expired past its use-by date. Technologies move fast, as do improvements to internet connections and capabilities, so old routers are likely to be outdated and, in some cases, may also be hindering your ability to access higher speed internet.
Check out our guide to choosing one of the routers we have on offer, and our handy advice about routers if you’d like to use your own.
Upgrading your router doesn’t necessarily mean binning the old one. Makeuseof.com has listed a dozen different ways you can reuse your old router so it doesn’t wind up in landfill.
Check the placement of your router
Where’s your router right now? Is it on the ground or stuck in a corner of your home? If so, you’re not getting the most out of your Wi-Fi signal.
Imagine your router is like the misting setting on a spray bottle that sprays Wi-Fi internet throughout your home. And, like a spray bottle, the closer a device is to the router, the better the signal will be.
To get the most coverage, or for the spray of internet signal to cover the most distance, make sure that your router is:
- In a central location within your home. This allows the signal to disperse more evenly in multiple directions. It may be worth getting an extension cord to ensure it’s in the best spot, or if you have a larger or multi-storied home, invest in a Wi-Fi extender or mesh network (more on that later)
- Positioned higher up. In fact, the higher the better. Like a spray bottle, if you spray it while it’s on the ground, most of the contents are lost on the floor, but if you raise it up high, the spray covers more area. For better coverage in a two-storey home, it’s best to place your router on a high shelf near the ceiling on the first floor or on the ground on the second floor.
Avoid obstacles, walls, and interference
Wi-Fi signal can travel through some materials okay, but put too many barriers between it and your device and it’ll start to struggle.
Large metal objects like fridges, filing cabinets, or even hidden metal pipes and ducts running through walls are major impediments to Wi-Fi signal, as are large amounts of water, like aquariums. Wi-Fi signal doesn’t bounce the way that sound waves do, so a router sitting by a window only gives you (and your thieving neighbours) better Wi-Fi on the other side of that window.
Other devices and household appliances can also interfere with your Wi-Fi signal. Some of the worst offenders are cordless phones and baby monitors, wireless Bluetooth speakers, old garage door openers, and, the worst of them all, the microwave. Even elevators and TVs can interfere with the signal.
The best solution is to make sure your router is at least 3 metres away from your microwave and around 1.5 to 2 metres away from other electronics.
As for dinosaurs, we suggest keeping those as far away from your router (and you!) as possible.
Reposition your router’s antennae
Not all routers will have an external antenna. If you’ve bought a router through Superloop, our TP-Link Archer VR-400 router has one, but the eero Mesh router has an internal one. If you’re using your own, yours may vary.
For routers with an internal antenna, the best advice is to make sure it’s sitting in a position it’s meant to. For example, if it’s designed to sit horizontally, don’t try to cram it vertically on a bookshelf, and likewise, if it’s designed to sit vertically, don’t then lay it flat on a table or on the ground.
For routers with an external antenna, make sure that the antennae are positioned at a 45-degree diagonal direction so that you get the broadest area coverage for your Wi-Fi signal around your home. If you have a two-storey home, position the router’s antennae so they’re parallel to the ground, or at zero degrees, to make sure you get better, more even coverage across both floors. This may also depend on where your router is located.
TP-Link tested it out and demonstrated how much difference the angle of those antennae make to the strength of your Wi-Fi signal. As noted, the angle may depend on the size and layout of your home, but the difference is clearly notable.
Wi-Fi extenders & mesh networks are your friend
As noted earlier, finding a central location in your home may not be easy, and for larger or multi-storey homes, or even homes that are longer or that have more wall interference, you’re going to find there are a lot of internet dead spots. This is where Wi-Fi extenders and mesh networks come in.
A Wi-Fi extender acts as a secondary base where your signal can jump off from. It’s sort of like a save point in a video game. Installing one of these in your home will do wonders for boosting your Wi-Fi signal, especially in the further corners of your home. If you're not sure which extender to get, check out PC Mag’s top picks for range extenders.
The downside of Wi-Fi extenders is that they use the Wi-Fi from the base router, so you may find some annoying lag, which could be especially annoying if you're playing online video games or making video calls.
If you’re already buying a new router, chances are its coverage will be better than your old one anyway. However, you still may find some dead spots, especially in multi-storey homes. Makeuseof.com suggest that you can use your old router as a Wi-Fi extender.
Another option is to invest in a mesh network, such as the eero Mesh. If you have more than one of these, you can connect them all up and they will each provide equally strong signal and range throughout the home rather than the piggybacking that a traditional Wi-Fi extender will do.