Your router is in the wrong place. Here’s where to move it to speed up Wi-Fi

Few things are more frustrating than a slow home internet connection. It’s a huge headache if you’re working from home, if you’re trying to install smart home gadgetsor if you wish unwind with some Netflix at the end of the day. So what can you do if your Wi-Fi always seems unstable, no matter what internet service provider you have or how many devices are connected to it?

The good news is that there is an easy way to optimize your Wi-Fi network and fix these problems, and it will only take you a few minutes.

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There are many factors that determine the speed of the Internet and while there are a some tricks or guidelines you can follow To improve overall wireless speeds and coverage in your home, one of the most crucial factors is the location of your router. And the best place isn’t always where the technician installs it. So read on to learn about the best place in the house for your router and other tricks for faster Wi-Fi. You can also check out our picks for the best Wi-Fi 6 routers, the best mesh routers and the best wifi extenders. (And if you have a mesh router, be sure to check our guide on where and how to set it up rightmashed potato.)

See Also: T-Mobile Home Internet Review

Choose the right router for your space

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First things first: it all starts with choose the right router or other equipment. Not all routers are created equal, and the size and layout of your home will determine the type of wireless network you need.

For most apartments and smaller homes (less than 1,500 square feet), a single wireless access point should suffice. That said, if your router is several years old, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer model with support for 802.11axOR Wifi 6. This is the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology and will give you the fastest possible wireless speeds and the best overall coverage.

For larger, multi-level homes, it’s worth considering making the switch to a mesh network to offer even coverage throughout the home. Once you have your main access point in place, if you find that a far corner of your home doesn’t have robust wireless coverage, simply add another node to that area. Problem solved.

To find out more, check out our list of the best mesh routers of the year (our first choice is the TP Link Deco W7200). If you need more guidance, check out our Router buying guide.

Remember: whether you have a single access point or a mesh network, the location of the primary access point still matters.

OK, so where’s the best place to put your router?

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Learn about all the different routers at your disposal: Wi-Fi routers, mesh networks, and more.

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When you first move into a new house or apartment, the modem is usually installed along the wall in one of the farthest corners of the house. This is simply because that’s where the line enters the house and the technician’s job is to set up the connection, not optimize the network. That part is about you.

It’s tempting to leave everything where the technician installed it. But this is unlikely to be an optimal location to have your router.

Choose a central location

Routers send the signal in all directions, so if it’s left in one corner of the house, a significant percentage of the wireless coverage is sent outside the home. That’s why the best solution is to move the router to a central location to optimize the signal.

Setting up a router across the house from your modem can prove problematic. You may need to manually run a particularly long CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet cable under the floor or along the bottom of walls, or enlist the help of powerline network adapters, which use your home’s electrical wiring to broadcast an Internet signal from a point to another. But the better wireless coverage will be worth it.

Turn up the router

Routers tend to spread their strongest signals downwards, so it’s best to mount your router as high as possible to maximize coverage. Try placing it high on a bookshelf or mounting it on the wall in an inconspicuous place.

Search online and you’ll find many custom wall mounts made for specific routers, such as this sticky support for the Eero Pro 6 network router. If you’re struggling to find a good elevated seat, something like this might be a great solution.

Avoid other electronic devices

Try to choose a location away from other electronic devices and large metal objects. The more walls, large obstacles, and electronics there are near the router, the more chances there are that something is interfering with the signal.

One type of electronic device to especially avoid is the microwave oven, which emits a strong signal in the 2.4GHz band, the same wireless band your router operates in. You’ll also need to be careful not to stick your router behind a large TV, which can cause electronic interference by physically blocking or interrupting the signal.

Along with electronics, keep an eye out for bulky furniture that may be limiting signal range. Wi-Fi doesn’t travel well through water, for example, so if you have an aquarium in your home, try to avoid situations where it will be between your router and the device it needs to connect.

Those weird antennas really matter

Some routers have no antennas at all, but others have up to eight. These antennas help direct the signal. If you have two or more antennas on your router, do not point them all in the same direction.

Instead, make them perpendicular to each other: place one horizontally and the other vertically. Or slightly change the position of all antennas to cover a wide range of angles. You may need to experiment a bit to find the most effective setup.

The signal from each of these antennas will come out as a wave traveling in all directions and that wave will be perpendicular to the antenna itself, so a vertical antenna will be more useful in single story homes, while a horizontal or angled antenna it will emit a signal that travels upwards, which may be more useful in a multi-story home.


Wi-Fi mapping software like NetSpot can help you visualize the strength of your network, making it easier to spot weak spots.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Map your signal

In worst case scenarios, it may prove useful to map the signal in your home to see where there might be gaps or problem areas in your coverage. Several years ago, we used NetSpot software to map signal strength throughout the CNET Smart Home — finally, we took a look at the weak spots in our Wi-Fi network, which helped shore things up by moving our hardware to more optimal locations.

If you’re considering upgrading your router, be sure to check it out CNET’s picks for the best routers. For homes with children, be sure to do this explore your router’s parental controlsmashed potato.

Taylor Martin contributed to this story.

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