How to Extend the Range of a Home Router Antenna
By Steve Lander
Your wireless router contains a radio that works just like any other radio. Many of the same things that let your car's radio pull in faraway stations or that make your TV's antenna less effective also affect your router. Placing it properly can go a long way to extending its range and giving you better wireless coverage throughout your home.
More Height. Less Metal.
The higher you can mount your router, the better its performance will be. A higher mounting position effectively lets its signal rain down on the devices in your house. It also puts it closer to the second story, if your router is on the first floor. While you might be tempted to put your router on top of a refrigerator or metal file cabinet to get the extra height, though, don't do that. Metal can block or interfere with Wi-Fi signals and actually decrease your router's range.
A Central Location
Most routers have omnidirectional antennas. This means that they radiate their signal in a circle around them. If your router is located near your home's outside wall, half of its signal will go out to your yard instead of into your house. To maximize your antenna's range, move your router as close to the center of your house as possible. That way, you're using all of its signal and range.
If you can't put your router in the middle of your house, another option is to make a reflector and locate it behind your router and its antennas. Reflectors can be made out of tinfoil and cardboard and work to bounce the signal that would be radiated backwards to the front of the router, countering its omnidirectional antenna and giving you more signal strength where you need it. To make a reflector work, it needs to have a proper curve and shape, but plans are available on the Internet.
External Antennas and Extenders
Ultimately, though, if your house is large or your router is poorly positioned, you might not be able to get adequate signal strength from a built-in antenna. If your router has removable antennas, you can attach a more powerful antenna to increase its range. Alternately, you can install a range extender in your house. Range extenders pick up your Wi-Fi signal and use it to create a new hot spot. Devices that are closer to the extender than the router can use its signal for a better Internet connection.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.