It's time to face the truth.
You're probably taking your home Wi-Fi for granted. After all, it’s usually reliable and fast enough to stream some great content from Netflix, or upload photos to Instagram.
But what happens when you add a new iPad or the latest Xbox? Or your gamer kid starts streaming their gaming sessions on Twitch?
Your once-snappy router might fall short of its potential.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get more oomph out of your Internet connection with a few simple tweaks.
The first step is selecting the right Wi-Fi router for your home network — because not every router will meet your specific needs and budget.
We’ve got you covered with an overview of the most popular brands and models available today plus advice on how to choose the best wireless router for you.
Wi-Fi Basics: What to Look for in a Router
Before figuring out which router suits your needs, you have to understand the four main factors that affect their quality.
1. Broadcasting frequency: First and foremost, your wireless router needs to broadcast a strong signal at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.
The 2.4 GHz frequency provides better range while the 5GHz frequency provides better performance and speed. Besides, a large chunk of households has at least one smart device (smart speaker, smart bulb, or door lock) that works only on the 2.4GHz frequency.
2. Range & Access Points: Most Wi-Fi routers broadcast a signal that covers a circular area of about 150 feet (or 50 feet if you live in a dense urban environment).
If your home is much larger than that, you might need to buy a specialised Wi-Fi system with multiple access points. You may also want to consider installing a mesh system like TP-Link Deco or Netgear Orbi to provide more robust Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home.
3. Wireless standards: There are multiple wireless standards out there. Your router should be able to offer support for at least one of the latest ones.
802.11ax is the best option for fast, reliable connections with minimal buffering and lag issues. If you’re not sure which standard your router supports, check the specifications on the box before you make a purchase.
4. Antennas: Antennas play a significant role in signal strength and range. Make sure your router has at least two external antennas for increased range and reliable connections.
5. Additional features: After you've covered the 4 factors above, don’t forget about the other features that might be useful for you, like parental controls and guest networks.
Wi-Fi standards: 802.11ax vs 802.11ac
Wi-Fi standards are used to measure the speed and range of a router.
The most recent standard, 802.11ax, is capable of delivering speeds of up to 9.6Gbps. This is fast enough to stream Ultra High Definition (UHD) content and supports multiple devices.
Before the ax standard was introduced, the older 802.11ac standard was the most popular Wi-Fi technology, which is still used to this day.
Although 802.11ac routers are still highly capable, they operate only in the 5GHz frequency and can’t compete with the latest standards when it comes to speed and range.
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Router
Now that you know what to look for in a Wi-Fi router, you can figure out which specific model is right for you. You can start by considering the following factors when choosing a router:
House Layout: The size and layout of your house affect the wifi range. If you live in a big, multistory home, you may want to consider a Wi-Fi system with multiple access points.
Number of Connected Devices: If you live in a crowded household with multiple high-bandwidth activities (like gaming, video streaming, and online shopping), you’ll want more network capacity. This means finding a router that can handle more connections and has enough bandwidth to accommodate all your devices and activities.
Internet Service Provider(ISP) Compatibility: While most routers will work with any ISP, you should make sure that the model you prefer is compatible with your current Internet plan. Ideally, you want to find a router that works with your cable modem. If you’re not sure which modem to choose, contact your ISP to find out what types of modems they support.
Connectivity: If your home is wired for Ethernet connections, look for a router that supports gigabit Ethernet ports. If you’re planning to connect smart home devices, look for a router with support for Internet of Things (IoT) standards.
Note: If you want to confirm whether your router will work with smart home devices, reach out to the wizards at Wozart by clicking here.
Guest Access: If you like to host friends and family, a guest network lets you keep your regular network private while giving visitors Internet access.
How to Find the Best Place to Put Your Router
You may have heard that the best place to put your router is up in the ceiling — which is true, as long as you have access to the roof or attic.
While it might not be possible for every homeowner, mounting your router high up will allow it to broadcast a strong signal throughout your home.
If you can’t mount your router, try to position it in an open area away from walls, metal objects, and appliances that interfere with the Wi-Fi signal. You may also want to consider investing in a Wi-Fi extender if your router is in an inconvenient place.
The Internet is an important part of our daily lives, and it's only going to become more essential as time goes on. Luckily, it's also something that can be improved over time, and that is particularly true of Wi-Fi.
While it is important to remember that it is always best to make sure you have a reliable Internet connection, it's also important to know that there are steps you can take to make sure your Wi-Fi is as good as it can be.
By knowing what to look for in a router and making sure that you put it in the best place possible, you can be sure that your Wi-Fi is as strong as possible.