Getting a perfect WI-FI signal is quite difficult if you’re not standing next to the wireless router. Nobody wants to stand next to the router the entire day, and that’s why it’s important to improve your WI-FI signal strength.
First, let’s discuss why WI-FI signal strength is important, what affects it, how it depends on wireless frequencies, and how to boost your WI-FI signal. After reading this article, your wireless signal might become much more reliable.
Why Is WI-FI Signal Strength Important?
To elaborate and highlight the importance of WI-FI signal strength, we need to talk about the uses of WI-FI. There are a ton, and we use WI-FI every day to connect wirelessly and surf the net, scroll through social media, etc.
Apart from surfing, we use wireless technology to form wireless networks that allow the smooth functioning of the IoT (Internet of Things). For those appliances and devices to work well, we need good WI-FI signal strength, and that’s why it’s important.
What Affects WI-FI Signal Strength?
We know why WI-FI signal strength is important, and that’s why it’s necessary to know what disrupts that signal and makes it weaker. Here are some of the common things you can expect to affect your WI-FI signal:
- Obstacles: There are concrete walls all around us in our home, and they are the ones that block the signal. Other solid objects might block or disrupt the wireless signal and make it weaker.
- Appliances and other gadgets: There are gadgets that run on similar frequencies as our WI-FI network. Also, there are appliances that run on those frequencies, and these can affect the signal strength.
- WI-FI networks: As there are frequencies from gadgets and appliances around the house, there are also frequencies from other wireless networks that can affect our WI-FI signal strength.
- Router settings: The next thing that can affect your WI-FI signal strength is the router settings. Usually, the default router settings are not set up for the best performance of your wireless network.
- The distance: Finally, the thing that affects our wireless signal is the distance from the router. This can also be an issue if the router isn’t positioned for optimal performance, and there are walls, distance, other obstacles, etc.
WI-FI Frequency Signal Strength
Another thing that affects the WI-FI signal is the type of frequency your wireless network runs on. There are three known frequencies for most routers. The most common frequency in use is the 2.4GHz frequency, and it’s the most reliable one for distance.
WI-FI Signal Strength: 2.4GHz Frequency
The 2.4GHz frequency band has a longer reach than the 5GHz band, and it’s quite reliable in distance. However, with walls around us, the signal strength needs to have some kind of penetration capability.
When a 2.4GHz frequency passes through the wall, the signal strength gets reduced. It’s pure physics. A long wavelength suffers less reduction when passing through solids. The signal will take a hit of at least one bar.
So, it will drop to two bars, and if it passes through another object, it loses one more bar and is left at one bar. This is still quite good, and you can have a steady connection with two bars, but one bar is bad.
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WI-FI Signal Strength: 5GHz Frequency
With a 5GHz frequency, the WI-FI connection can be faster with low latency, but the wavelength is short. Short wavelengths get more reduction when passing through obstacles because they can’t penetrate the walls as easily.
This means that where you would’ve gotten two bars with the 2.4GHz frequency band, you would probably get one bar with the 5GHz frequency band. Finally, once you lose the connection to the 5GHz band, the device can automatically connect to the 2.4GHz.
What Do WI-FI Bars Mean?
WI-FI signal is transmitted using frequencies, and the primary measure for the strength of the frequency, or in this case, the WI-FI signal strength in dBm (decibel-milliwatt). The WI-FI signal strength is measured in negative dBm. There are two bars and a dot, all of them signifying a certain strength:
- Full signal: Two bars and a dot mean that the signal strength is excellent and that it’s anywhere between -40 dBm and -60 dBm.
- Medium signal: One bar and a dot mean that the signal strength is good, and it’s anywhere between -60 dBm and -86 dBm.
- Low signal: Only the dot means that the signal strength is poor, but it’s still possible to connect, and it’s between -86 dBm and -100 dBm.
Remember, having the best WI-FI signal strength doesn’t mean that you’ll have the fastest internet connection. This largely depends on your ISP, but it’s important to have a strong WI-FI signal because of the wireless network which isn’t only the internet.
Boosting Your WI-FI Signal Strength
There are five tried and tested ways to make your WI-FI signal stronger and to make it work better for you. We recommend trying some of these methods even if you believe the WI-FI signal strength is good.
- Update Router Firmware
There are two ways to do this. The first way is to log into your router and find the firmware section to see if there’s a new firmware version available. The second way to do it is a factory reset.
There’s a Reset button, press it and wait for 30 seconds. The router is going to perform a factory reset, and it’s going to update to the latest firmware version automatically. A newer firmware version will improve the overall quality of your WI-FI.
- Check the Frequency Band
This method involves logging into your router and going to the Wireless section. Once there, you can access the general or the advanced settings to see which has the Frequency band box available. See if you have the right band turned on and click Save.
- Change the Antennae
Another thing you can do is change the antennae on your router if you think they’re an issue. There are always stronger antennae you can buy, and by attaching them to your router, you might get a better signal in your house.
- Reposition the Router
The most recommended way to improve your WI-FI signal strength is to reposition your router. Put the router in a position that’s not surrounded by walls or near appliances that emit different frequencies. Also, keep it in a central position, and avoid placing it close to mirrors or aquariums.
- Buy a New Router
If none of the previous methods work, get a new router. This is, perhaps, the best method to improve your WI-FI signal strength, and it might be the most efficient one if you’re using an outdated router or gateway.
WI-FI signal strength is becoming increasingly important every day, and poor signal strength can be frustrating. With the information on different wireless frequencies and the recommended ways to improve your WI-FI signal strength, you can make your wireless network much better.