What’s the Best Room for Your Router?

At a glance

Looking to set up internet in your new home? The best place to put your Wi-Fi router is as close to the center of your home as possible. Depending on your new home’s layout, that may be a living room or an office, but it most definitely isn’t the basement or an out-of-the-way closet. Nobody puts Wi-Fi in the corner—or at least, you shouldn’t.

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Where to put your router for wired connections

Where to put your router for wired connections

If you use your router only for Ethernet-wired connections, router placement matters less. But you’d want to put it near your computer and other devices—unless you want Ethernet cables running all over the place.

How do I choose a place for my router?

In general, you want your router to be in the middle of things so Wi-Fi can reach as much of your home as possible. But a few factors affect where you can and should put your wireless router—like where you have access to a network jack or appliances that may affect your Wi-Fi signal strength.

Let’s run through what you should do and things to avoid when choosing a home for your router.

Aim for a central location

Yes, we’ve said it twice already, but putting your router in the center of where you use the internet will give you the best chance of spreading Wi-Fi signals to your whole home and avoiding dreaded dead zones.

A “central location” doesn’t necessarily mean you should install your router in the dead center of your house. We mean that your router should be pretty close to the middle of the areas in your home where you use the internet.

For example, if you need internet connections in your living room and home office, putting your router between those two spaces should work. And if you have a two-story home but primarily need Wi-Fi coverage on the first floor, make sure it’s on the first floor.

Here’s a quick list of places NOT to put your router:

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Basement
  • Attic
  • Closet
  • Garage

Avoid walls and physical obstructions

Walls, ceilings, furniture, and other big stuff can weaken Wi-Fi signals. You want to place your router so that Wi-Fi signals can follow the path of least resistance to necessary spots.

Put your router in an open space, preferably higher up (because Wi-Fi signals travel outwards and slightly downwards). Make sure there are as few obstructions as possible between the router and the areas where you need the best internet speed and reliability.

Of course, Wi-Fi signals can work through drywall, doors, and the normal trappings of a home, but Wi-Fi is only so strong, and you want to give it the best chance of reaching the corners of your home. You don’t want a dead spot in your bedroom preventing you from watching YouTube videos in bed.

These are the worst physical obstacles for Wi-Fi:

  • Water
  • Concrete
  • Brick
  • Metal

All these materials absorb or block Wi-Fi signals more than drywall and wood studs, so you want to avoid surrounding your Wi-Fi router with them. We mentioned earlier that the kitchen and bathroom aren’t great places for a router—that’s because the amount of water, pipes, and appliances that are usually in these areas can make it difficult for Wi-Fi to spread.

Watch out for signal interference

Appliances and electronics like microwaves, baby monitors, cordless phones, and Bluetooth speakers can mess with Wi-Fi signals because they use similar radio frequencies. Try to avoid putting any of these things too close to your router, or you might get some signals crossed.

Actually it’s a good idea to keep your router a bit of a distance from other electronics in general—they’re just full of wires and things that can block your Wi-Fi.

Another possible cause of signal interference is other Wi-Fi networks. If you live in close quarters to your neighbors, their Wi-Fi network could cause problems for yours (and vice versa). A fix for this issue is to change your Wi-Fi band channel to one your neighbor isn’t using. And as a courtesy, don’t put your router right up against any common walls if you can help it.

FAQ

Does modem placement matter?

Your modem’s location doesn’t matter as much as your router. A modem usually hangs out near your main network jack. Most people keep their modem and router near each other for convenience, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Even if you have a 2-in-1 modem and router or a gateway, you could get your own router and move it away from the modem if you need better Wi-Fi range. You’d just have to put the gateway into bridge mode using device settings so you don’t accidentally end up with two competing Wi-Fi networks.

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Modems vs routers

Modems vs routers

A modem translates the internet signals from your provider into something that’s usable for your home network. It’s like the internet’s doorway into and out of your home. Routers manage your network, sending information to the correct devices and protecting your network from malicious data that tries to sneak in. Routers are also what create and manage your Wi-Fi network.

What can I do to get rid of dead zones?

Wi-Fi boosters are good for stretching your signal into one annoying dead space, and mesh routers create a blanket of Wi-Fi signals from multiple points, which can eliminate dead zones in even the biggest homes. A single router can do only so much, even if it’s in the best location in your house.

The first thing to try to get rid of a pesky dead spot or two is get a Wi-Fi booster, like this one from TP-Link. A Wi-Fi booster catches your existing Wi-Fi signal and stretches it a bit further by redistributing the signal.

If you need a bit more oomph to fill your space, a mesh Wi-Fi system like Google Nest Wifi is probably your best bet. These are made up of multiple routers that work together to cover your home in a blanket of Wi-Fi—so you don’t have to worry as much about finding one central location for your router. Mesh systems are best for large homes or homes with difficult layouts (say, you have a bunch of brick walls that Wi-Fi can’t get through).

How should I adjust my router antennas?

If you want wide coverage, keep your antennas straight up. If you want tall coverage—like if you’re in a multi-story home—lay an antenna on its side.

Router antennas are usually omnidirectional, meaning that they spread Wi-Fi in an even plane around the antenna. The signals usually spread out and down, not up. But if you lay an antenna down, it spreads the signals up and down rather than out.

About Rebecca Armstrong

Rebecca Armstrong
Rebecca is a natural techie and the friend you turn to when your Wi-Fi randomly stops working. Since graduating from the University of Evansville with a degree in creative writing, Rebecca has leveraged her tech savvy to write hundreds of data-driven tech product and service reviews. In addition to HighSpeedInternet.com, her work has been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ and iMore.