How to Get the Same Wireless Strength in the Basement

by Elizabeth Smith
Routers with two antennas offer greater signal coverage.

Routers with two antennas offer greater signal coverage.

In many homes, the wireless Internet router is placed on the main level, which results in a strong signal throughout the first and second floors. Because basements often have thicker walls and a considerable amount of cement, the Wi-Fi signal is often weaker. By adjusting your wireless setup, you can increase signal strength in the basement for home theater systems, offices, or general use.

Creating a Central Setup

Chances are, the initial location of your router was chosen based on the cable connection. According to Microsoft, the closer the router is to your computer or wireless device, the better the signal strength. In a building with two stories, move your router to a central location on the first floor. If your router is mounted on the wall, moving it to the floor can help improve reception in the basement. In a single-story building, try placing the router in the basement to create a more even signal distribution.

Adjusting Antenna Position

Router antennas are generally omnidirectional, which means that they send the signal in all directions. While this is technically true, there is a natural loss of signal, usually in the downward direction. According to Cisco, omnidirectional antennas generally have little to no coverage directly below the antenna, which can be a problem if your basement computer is located under the router. If your router's antenna is pointed up or at a diagonal, adjust it so it is level with the floor; doing so may increase the signal strength to devices that are located in the basement.

Reducing Signal Interference

Many home electronics use wireless signals, including cordless phones and game controllers. Too many devices in a small space can interfere with your router's signal, making it even harder to reach lower levels. The easiest way to reduce signal interference is to move other wireless devices at least three feet away from the router, if not more. Consider other objects that degrade the wireless signal; common culprits include large metal objects, brick walls, cement, and devices like microwaves. If your router is on top of the refrigerator or a metal desk, move it to a new location to cut down on signal interference. In some cases, reducing interference is as simple as changing your router's channel; doing so can help you escape a slow, crowded channel.

Upgrade Router Equipment

When it comes to routers, not all models are made equal. In general, routers marked with the "N" classification tend to have better signal strength; if you are using an older or lower-quality router, consider replacing it with a faster model. For a cheaper upgrade option, replace your router's existing antenna with a high-gain antenna or an external antenna that you can move to create the best signal distribution. You might also add a wireless repeater to the network to amplify and broadcast the signal to the basement. Place it about halfway between the router and the basement computer for the best performance; in many cases, you may need to mount the repeater on the ceiling in the basement.

About the Author

Elizabeth Smith has been a scientific and engineering writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers and corporate publications. A frequent traveler, she also has penned articles as a travel writer. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and writing from Michigan State University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images