The optimal router position for perfect WLAN reception

The WLAN signal in your home is too weak? A physicist wants to have found the solution and has created a WLAN formula for the ideal location of the router.

Everyone has experienced it at one time or another: as soon as you are in another room in the apartment where the Internet router is not located, the WLAN signal is very weak. It takes forever for a page to load on the network. This is exactly what physicist Jason Cole wanted to put an end to and sought a solution. He developed a WLAN formula that determines the best possible location for the router in the home. He published his formula on his blog “Almost looks like work”.

“A few posts ago, I was concerned with optimizing WLAN reception in my home and chose a simple method for calculating the distribution of electromagnetic intensity,” Cole explains on his blog. He wanted to achieve better reception by solving the Helmholtz equation. The equation is a partial differential equation designed to show how electromagnetic waves propagate through space.

The alleged WLAN formula

Jason Cole created a floor plan of his apartment to determine the optimal location for his router to improve the WLAN signal. The floor plan acts as a kind of resistance index map for the physicist, where walls have a very high resistance index and an empty room has a resistance index of 1. Cole set up the WLAN antenna as a small radiation source. From this, he obtains an electromagnetic intensity map.

This results in different representations of his apartment, in which the router is always in a different location. In the floor plan representations, the blue waves stand for a weak WLAN signal, the black areas for no Internet reception at all, and the red waves for a strong signal.

“In fact, the distribution of magnetic field strength appears to be extremely sensitive to each parameter, whether it is the position of the router, the wavelength of the radiation, or the resistance index of the apartment door,” Cole writes.

The result

Jason Cole concludes that the signal streams out of the router when it is in the ideal location, as seen in the video. At the beginning there are a few reflections, but as soon as there is too much area between the receiving and the transmitting device, the WLAN signal increasingly deteriorates.

Once the user is in the red wave range, i.e., the range in which the router’s signal can be received well, the WLAN signal can only be improved by moving closer to the device. This means that the closer a user is to the router with his end device, the better the WLAN signal can be received. The further away from the router the user is with his device, the worse the WLAN signal will be.

Since every apartment has a different floor plan and therefore different resistances for the WLAN signal, it is not possible to make deductions for the generally ultimate router location based on Cole’s illustrations.

atechbook says

“I feel like I can’t adequately receive my router’s Wi-Fi signal in many areas of my home. I like Jason Cole’s approach of calculating the perfect location for the router. However, the technology is unfortunately still in its infancy. I look forward to improved successors.” – Madlen Schäfer

Jason Cole has developed an app with his formula to show users where the best location for the router is to receive a strong WLAN signal. The app can be downloaded from Google Play for 0.63 euros.

Room characteristics and WLAN antenna play a major role

Im Grunde ist die Funktionsweise aber zu hinterfragen. The result entspricht im Wesentlichen einfacher Strahlenoptik oder vereinfacht gesagt: “Wenn man den Router sieht, hat man guten Empfang. Wenn man ihn noch hinter einer Ecke sehen kann, ist der Empfang ebenfalls noch ok, wenn man ihn nicht mehr sieht (Wand), ist der Empfang schlecht”, erklärt Dr. Helge Todt, Physiker an der Universität Potsdam auf Nachfrage von atechbook. Weiterhin habe Cole bei seinen Überlegungen lediglich homogene Wände berücksichtigt. In Wohnungen stehen aber meistens noch mehr Gegenstände, wie Möbel oder Pflanzen.

Last but not least, the radiation characteristics of a WLAN antenna are also important. More is radiated across the antenna than along it. This is not taken into account in Cole’s simple calculation; the physicist assumes an optimal alignment of the antenna.

Also interesting: why you should turn off your router every now and then

Increasing WLAN range

Besides the right location, there are a few other tricks that help to increase the range of the WLAN signal. In any case, you should make sure that no major obstacles interfere with the reception. Plants or objects with metal should not be placed near the router. Also, it may help to radio on a different channel and change the radio channel of the router. This is because your neighbors may be using that channel as well, causing interference to the signal.

Also, always update your firmware. A WLAN repeater, an external antenna or an additional router can also increase the range of your WLAN signal. Ideally, the router should be located in the room where you surf the net most often with different devices.