How to Position a Wireless Access Point or Router

When you're setting up your wireless home network, one of the most important things to consider is where to put your router or access point. To maximize the signal strength of your access point or router, and thus the performance of your WiFi home network, you want to keep three factors to a minimum: distance, obstructions, and interference.

The greater the distance your device is from its network computers, the weaker the signal gets. Also, it is imperative that you keep the signal path from your device to your computers free from obstructions and interference, which can result in signal loss.

Here are some positioning guidelines you may want to follow to ensure optimal network performance:



Don't settle on just any location for your access point or router. Experiment by placing the device in several promising locations and comparing your network's performance before settling on a final resting place. This is the most concrete and practical method to ensuring a good signal.


Choose a Central Location

Try to place your device in a location that is central to all the computers in the network. If you only have one wireless computer, installing your device near this is best. However, if you have more than one computer requiring a wireless signal, you may have to sacrifice the optimal network performance of one computer for good network performance in all computers. Computers far away from the signal may receive only 10%-15% the bandwidth of those near the signal. So position your device centrally to all computers to ensure each gets coverage. If you plan to use one computer in multiple locations, place your device central to your most frequently used locations.

For security reasons, you should also try to place your device in the center of your house, to decrease the amount of signal that leaks outside your home (and can thus be detected and exploited by others).


Avoid Physical Obstructions

Any physical obstructions or barriers along the "line of sight" between the computer and the base station will weaken a WiFi signal. While avoiding walls may not always be possible, you may be able to avoid furniture and other barriers by positioning your router or access point on or near the ceiling.


Avoid Reflective Surfaces

Sometimes WiFi signals can bounce of windows, mirrors, metal, and steel. This can lessen the network range and degrade the signal. Avoid reflective surfaces.


Avoid Interference

Install your router or access point at least three feet (one meter) away from other home appliances that send wireless signals. Examples of such appliances are microwaves, cordless phones, baby monitors, and home automation equipment like X-10 devices. If it transmits signals in the range of 802.11b or 802.11g (2.4 GHz), it can generate interference.

Electrical equipment like electric fans, other motors, and fluorescent lighting can also generate interference. Avoid electrical equipment.


Fine Tune the Signal

You can often adjust the base station antennas to improve performance, and antennas on access points and routers can also be rotated and re-pointed to better pick up and transmit WiFi signals. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for best results.


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