Wi-Fi Installation Best Practices

Wireless at home has become the connectivity standard method nowadays. Smartphones, tablets, laptops all connected through the almost omnipresent Wi-Fi home network. Wired ethernet is just reserved for specific situations like a NAS or other high-traffic devices that can sit near the router or gateway. Wi-Fi at home is not anymore some kind of luxury, but closer to a utility like electricity or water, it is just expected to be there and work.

In a production environment, chaos engineering lets you find out how to cope with abnormal conditions in a safe way, avoiding an outage in the future. Learn how to use Chaos Engineering for Resilient Software

Network Layout

The first thing to understand is what you need for your Home Wi-Fi at a hardware level. Users or customers will have a myriad of devices they use to connect to web sites and apps; on the other hand, there should be some network access devices. At the elementary level, you will have two different types of devices, modems/routers/gateways, and user devices.

The Wi-Fi coverage, power level, and ultimately service level users will depend heavily on the selected access devices and their locations. 

Wi-Fi is an RF technology and, as so, is affected by elements in its propagation path like walls and furniture. The location of your Wi-Fi router on our home is of the utmost importance in the coverage you’ll get. Basements or the second floor, for example, may require a Wi-Fi extender, as the signal may not get there with proper levels. It is not uncommon to have your full plan speed near the router, and less than half of that speed a couple of rooms away.

So, choosing your Wi-Fi router location wisely can make a dramatic difference in your house. As a rule of thumb, try to locate it near the center of your home, Wi-Fi irradiates from the antenna in all directions, so if you put it in a corner, a significant amount of energy will be sent outside. Secondly, try to install it a bit high, Wi-Fi antennas tend to irradiate downwards, so avoid the floor and small furniture. Also, avoid putting it near large metal surfaces. Finally, your microwave is your Wi-Fi enemy, they both use the 2.4Ghz frequency range, and so microwaves interfere Wi-Fi. Keep both things as apart as possible.

Wi-Fi Standards and Frequencies

Wi-Fi is the generic name for a family of standards developed by the IEEE (https://www.ieee.org/) under the 802.11 name that has evolved during the years. The table below shows the different evolutions of the standard:

Table from IEEE
Table from IEEE


From last year the Wi-Fi Alliance ( see https://www.wi-fi.org/who-we-are ) has established a new naming convention for the different standards, looking to avoid some confusion. So now you may also find your router or device as certified for Wi-Fi 4 / 5 / 6 as stated below:

  • 802.11n technology will now be referred to as Wi-Fi 4
  • 802.11ac technology will now be referred to as Wi-Fi 5
  • 802.11ax technology will now be referred to as Wi-Fi 6

Hardware Requested

The first Wi-Fi routers were just single band (2.4Ghz), single antenna ones. Nowadays, there are many options to suit your needs. Always select a dual-band 2.4 / 5 GHz one, this will increase your options, with 2.4 bands usually more occupied (other neighbor networks in range, interfering) but with more coverage, and the five band with less coverage but lesser congested and with higher speeds.

Second, the number and type of antennas matter. You may have internal ones or external ones, with the second being preferable in terms of power and coverage. RF propagation is a complex subject and well beyond this blog, but in general, more antennas are better and try to put them in different angles. Even though this may look a bit sloppy, it’s better for your Wi-Fi. The best situation happens when both transmitter and receiver antennas are in the same plane (aligned), so using multiple angles increases the chance any of them are aligned or close to with your tablet or smartphone antenna position.

With a big multi-story house, just one Wi-Fi router may not be enough in any case. Here you can add Wi-Fi repeaters or even Powerline network adapters (a device that will use your power cabling to transmit and distribute an ethernet signal that can be converted to Wi-Fi on the other end of the line).

Secure your Network

Finally, a few words on security. It’s not uncommon to find a lot of home networks wide open or with just default passwords, easily accessible for anyone with a minimum set of Wi-Fi skills. Change default security configuration on your router, select WPA2-AES as your encryption method, and select a password that is not a word of a dictionary. A mix of upper/lower case letters, numbers, and symbols is the best approach. Lastly, do not keep the suggested eight characters, go up to 14/15 at least.

In a production environment, chaos engineering lets you find out how to cope with abnormal conditions in a safe way, avoiding an outage in the future. Learn how to use Chaos Engineering for Resilient Software

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