Question: I have a wireless network installed in my home but have found several places where I receive poor reception or lose my network connection completely. What factors will affect my wireless network signal the most?
Answer: The most important item to keep in mind about wireless or Wi-Fi networks is that they are really a system of radio frequency transmitters and receivers. With this in mind, there are a number of factors that can impact a wireless network’s range (coverage area) and data speed (throughput) both in the home and in an office. These factors include: hard surfaces, hidden objects in walls, metallic objects, RF (radio frequency) generators, and water filled objects.
These can include stone or marble, thick paneling, and stucco. These can be both vertical (stone work in a kitchen, stone work around a fireplace, brickwork) and horizontal (floor coverings, tiles, stonework) when trying to get wireless coverage between floors.
This can includ large objects such as refrigerators and ovens, duct work, kitchen wall coverings (stone or metal), the hood over a stove, filing cabinets, metal bookcases and foil-backed insulation.
Radio frequency (RF) generators
These can impact wireless networks by directly interfering with the signal. These items can include microwave ovens, cordless phones (2.4 GHz models) and baby monitors. Wi-Fi Routers and access points have a range of channels or subsets of the 2.4 GHz frequency spectrum that Wi-Fi networks use. Changing the channel on the router or access point can many times eliminate these interference related problems.
Not easily detected but items within walls can include heating and air conditioning ducts, chimneys, foil-backed insulation, heater and dryer vents, pipes and cabling.
Large objects filled with water
Water filled items can also cause potential problems. These can include large fish tanks, water heaters, and hot tubs.
The Kitchen, A Potnetial Wifi Dead Zone
A common problem area of a house for Wi-Fi reception is the kitchen. Thick metallic appliances, hard stones surface, wall covering (stone or metal) ventilation hoods, and radio interference from microwaves and appliance motors can frequently make kitchens a challenging area for wireless networks.
It is helpful to keep these items in mind when planning or troubleshooting a wireless network.