Stowing away an often bulky and unsightly WiFi router can make a positive difference in the atmosphere of your home or office – but placing it next to the wrong device can severely limit its range.
Most WiFi routers broadcast their signal on one of a few standard frequencies, 2.4 gigahertz (GHz), 5 GHz, and 6 GHz.
Of course, if you place other electronic devices nearby that operate on the same frequencies, your connection may be subject to interference.
But there are a few other less intuitive ways you can slow down your own internet speeds.
Below are seven common household items that may slow you down when surfing the web:
Experts say putting a router in the kitchen near a microwave is one of the worst places
Shiny surfaces such as metals and mirrors
Like microwaves and radio waves, light is part of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum.
Just as light reflects off a shiny surface and your reflection reflects back at you, a large mirror or shiny metallic sheen can deflect a wireless router’s signal in unintended directions.
These eye-catching home decorations could be contributing to mysterious “signal dead zones” where even your brand new devices might struggle to stay online.
Microwave popcorn is essential for watching your favorite streamers, but that doesn’t mean the kitchen gadget should be anywhere near your router.
Electromagnetic radiation emanating from your microwave ovens can effectively create a 2.4GHz radio signal, just like many standard WiFi routers, which is why you may notice a glitch in your movie when you go back to snacking during the break .
Adding amplifiers and upgrading technology will also have a positive impact on the internet signal at home
Large furniture and other dense items
An imposing antique closet, grandfather clock, or dense marble sculpture, much like a large aquarium, can weaken your router’s signal if it’s in the way.
The wavelengths of the common WiFi frequencies for a “local area network” or LAN channel are 4.92 inches for 2.4 GHz, 2.36 inches for 5 GHz, and 1.97 inches for 6 GHz.
These radio waves are significantly shorter than the waves used in radio or old TV broadcasts, so there’s a little more chance of degradation when passing through a solid object. This process is known in technical terms as damping.
Bottom Line: Don’t hide your WiFi behind something big.
How to improve your WiFi signal
- Avoid putting a router in the kitchen
- Don’t put it near closets or narrow areas of the house
- Stay away from metal, as experts claim it can interfere with the signal
- Centralize the router in an area of the house that you use most often
- Raise the router to a height between 5 and 7 feet off the ground
- Place the router in a wide, open area away from brick, plywood, and sheetrock
- Add boosters and keep the tech up to date
- Enter a password for your wireless router
You may not have seen a cordless phone since you last saw the original 1996 horror film Scream, but if you still have one of those ’90s antiques at home, consider that too they can save energy like microwaves Your download speeds are unforgivingly high.
Again, as with microwave ovens and cordless phones, any Bluetooth device such as speakers or digital projectors can interfere with the WiFi signal if they are too close to the router.
Given the fluctuations in signal strength, you should test a few distances yourself to not only get the best sound, but also the best reception before landing on a suitable spot for your speakers.
There are some unusual and brand-specific instances where everything from baby monitors to fluorescent lights has been shown to be able to interfere with an internet connection by emitting frequencies close to standard wireless GHz ranges.
Moving unneeded electronic devices away from your router, or testing their proximity by trial and error, can uncover the culprit holding you back.
If none of the above measures work, you should consider buying a powerline adapter, WiFi extender, or other tool that can boost the internet signal.
Adapters use the electrical wiring in a home to transmit broadband signals to different rooms. These devices can be plugged into two outlets, the experts explain, expanding wired connectivity in any desired space.
The only trick is finding one that suits your decor.
Aquariums and other large liquid containers
If large enough, a volume of liquid can absorb radio wave frequencies, blocking all exchanges between your router and your laptop, phone, or tablet.
The same phenomenon is why submarines use SONAR, which is based on sound waves, instead of RADAR, which is based on radio waves, which just aren’t that useful in the depths of the ocean.
Sometimes even small drops of water can be enough to get in the way.
As two computer researchers put it in The Conversation, “Wireless signals outside the home or building can be affected by rain because water droplets can partially absorb the signal, resulting in reduced coverage.”