To be honest, I never gave much thought into exactly where a router should be to get the most use out of it. The location of it didn’t really matter to me as long as it turned on and those funny little symbols lit up.
Recently, friends, that mindset changed.
As I sat in my new apartment, I sunk a lot of time researching how to get the most out of my internet equipment. At first I was surprised to see that placement did matter, but the more I dug deeper the more I understood the simple concepts behind the optimal positioning of your router.
It really comes down to accommodating for the range of WiFi given off by the router, as well as the orientation of the antennae on the router (or the router itself) and what obstacles might be in place that affect the WiFi signal. We’ll go more into detail on these concepts, and I’ll also share some tips on what to look for in a router according to the size of your apartment.
Why Placement Matters
When figuring out where to put a router, it’s easy to think that any place that’s near the modem will do. I thought that, at least, but not after I did some digging.
I found that you have to keep in mind that routers aren’t just a one-and-done deal that you can set and forget if you want the most efficient use out of them.
Routers are, unsurprisingly, pieces of technology that have various environmental factors that can affect how well they work.
The amount of areas, floors, and rooms in your apartment that you want to have WiFi coverage relies heavily on where your router is placed.
In my time of using routers and somewhat learning what works best with them, I’ve come to realize that you have to see the whole layout of the home when placing your router, and how that layout relates to it.
Having Coverage In Mind
As you start to see the entirety of your home in relation to your router’s location, probably the most important thing to keep in mind is the overall coverage of WiFi given off by your router.
Think of the WiFi coverage as this huge circular shape emitting from the router, with the router being at the center. Your main goal is to have equal coverage across the entire apartment.
With all this established, the best place for the router would be the center of the apartment.
If you were in a two-story apartment, you’d get the most equal coverage out of your router if you placed it in the middle of the floor on the second story. For a three-story apartment and above, you’d place the router in the middle of the floor of the story closest to the apartment’s center.
Of course, this isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing setup. As long as you have the router reasonably close to the center of the apartment without looking weird, though, you can expect close to the same results. Besides, it beats having the thing tucked away into a corner on the bottom floor.
Router Placement Tips
Now, I fully expect you all to trust your own preferences in regards to how you want your router setup to look. I’ll be the first to say that whatever seems “aesthetically pleasing” to me will most likely not seem the same to someone else.
So, while I won’t be telling you where to put your router in your own house, I will be suggesting some things that I’ve found in my research to think about.
One of the big things I’ve read about router placement, apart from having it close to the center of the building, is to keep the router off of the floor.
Apparently, some floors can absorb the WiFi signal and act as a sponge, which could hinder the coverage to any rooms below and around the router.
I also found that outer corners are places to avoid putting your router. I have a visual that better describes this scenario, while also explaining the kind of in-your-face reason why it’s just not optimal.
Lastly, and I don’t know how I could’ve missed this when having internet problems in the past, please try not to put your router directly next to or inside(?) any metal objects or shelf-type structures. A lot of science stuff that I don’t really understand goes into why you shouldn’t do this, but I’ll try to expand on it in this next section. I’ll also go into other things that might affect your wireless internet.
What Affects WiFi Signal
Starting this section off is metal. Metal, as you may hopefully know, is pretty much everywhere in a teched out apartment.
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s utterly unavoidable when finding a good spot for your router. Just use your head (as well as some of the helpful tips I’ve noted above, wink) and you’ll be well on your way to deducing the optimal home for your WiFi.
Other things found in a teched out apartment that affect your signal are multitudes of wireless electronics. A good rule of thumb is if a wireless thing utilizes the WiFi, you can be sure it will affect the overall internet speed.
Something that’s present in all apartments is the dysfunctional family of other WiFi networks that are apparently all budding heads together and won’t treat your new-kid-on-the-block network any different.
Let’s go into how these things can cause your wireless internet speeds to not be as advertised.
How These Things Affect WiFi Signal
In this subsection, we are starting, again, with metal. From what I was able to find and interpret into layman’s terms, metal can act just as much as a sponge as your floor can regarding WiFi signal. I’ve seen that metal can even block the signal.
Wireless electronics that use the same WiFi network as you do are pretty self-explanatory as to why they inhibit the signal since they kind of make the network crowded with limited bandwidth to go around. I see it as trying to feed a room full of an increasing amount of people, with the food being in limited supply.
However, I’ve found that other wireless electronics can cause this effect to happen, as well. Things like baby monitors, soundbars, heck even microwaves can use frequencies close enough to the ones your router uses to cause problems.
Lastly, and I think this is most important because it most applies to anyone who just wants internet in an apartment complex, I stated above that the vast amount of other nearby WiFi networks can have a negative effect on your signal.
Now, the basic gist that I got from reading various explanations for this is that the area you and your router reside in can be pretty congested, network-wise.
Your router trying to find the least crowded “channel” to operate on causes the interference and the slowness of your internet.
Another explanation I found was that, sometimes, the congested “channel” itself could be the reason for interference, due to the sheer amount of people’s routers using it.
Like I said earlier regarding obstructions to WiFi and trying to avoid them, it won’t be 100% possible to stay interference-free with your internet.
This is the case especially with having neighboring networks around, unless you plan on somehow throwing everyone else out of your apartment complex!
Just use common sense with this stuff, and try to make the best out of your current living situation.
What To Look For In A Router According To The Size Of Your Home
There are so many different routers to choose from these days. I can say personally that it definitely took some time to narrow down what router I wanted for my living situation.
I’m not claiming to be an expert on routers or someone who even knows exactly everything to look for in a router, but I do know that I’ve gained some nuggets of wisdom in my own searching.
So, one of the main things that mattered to me when looking for a router was the range of coverage. I found this to be usually measured in square feet and sometimes advertised on one of the product images. When I couldn’t find it there, it would generally be within the technical specs instead.
I don’t know for sure if the measurements for the range are completely exact, but I do know that the router I bought (the TP-Link Archer A7) had a listed coverage of up to 2,500 square feet, which fits well enough in my small one-bedroom apartment.
So, if you know the size of your house or apartment in square feet, and the router you’re looking at has a WiFi range that exceeds that, I’d say it’s a safe bet that it’ll work for you.
However, before making a purchase, I’d suggest doing more research into the technical aspects of a router to see exactly what you’d like. These could include software features, hardware features, system power, and capable internet speeds.
Overall, it’s your router and your place so do what you want and go crazy. I hope this article’s been somewhat helpful to your apartment internet prospects. May your internet speeds be high and your WiFi interference be low, and thanks for reading!