Today’s households depend on reliable, stable, and speedy Wi-Fi connectivity to communicate, entertain, work, and learn. Too many, it’s become a utility as important as running water and electricity. But unlike these services, Wi-Fi is a lot more finicky. One day videos stream at lightning speed, the next, Internet-enabled devices struggle to connect. Commands from remotes fail to reach light switches, AV equipment, and other smart technologies. Video chats are riddled with jitter and buffering.
What’s causing these issues? You might be surprised to learn that the materials and furnishings within a home are often suspect. By understanding the common household roadblocks, you can take the correct measures to minimize them. Here are the 9 biggest contributors to Wi-Fi bottlenecks and tips on how to combat them without drastically altering a home’s architectural or interior design. Yes, you can have it all. A professionally installed network enhances your lifestyle and keeps the interior décor in check to provide a smart and beautiful home environment.
1. The Walls – Any time Wi-Fi signals pass through a solid surface they risk degradation. If the wall, cabinet, ceiling, or other architectural feature comprises tile, metal, stone, brick, concrete, or some other dense material, the potential for disruption is even
greater. Installing additional wireless access points in strategic locations can help signals sidestep these structural hurdles.
2. Flooring – Floors made of marble, concrete and other solid materials make it hard for Wi-Fi signals to travel throughout a home. Heated floors are even more problematic. Just as the roadblocks within the walls can be bypassed with the right equipment installed in the right places, so can the stubborn materials within flooring.
3. Certain Appliances – Microwave ovens, refrigerators, baby monitors, and other devices often operate on the same radio frequency band as a home’s Wi-Fi network, which creates signal interference. Networking systems that let you choose between two radio bands can help appliances and Wi-Fi equipment coexist peacefully. The appliances and kitchen design can stay intact as long as there is an access point close by.
4. Water – Water blocks and absorbs Wi-Fi energy, so features like fish tanks and water walls can make it harder for the signal to pass through. When integrating water features in a home, make sure to utilize the proper number of access points to bypass these connection barriers.
5. Windows – Large banks of windows lend beauty to a home, but they do nothing for Wi-Fi performance. In fact, they can severely cripple it, especially if the window panes are insulated with a Low-E-rated coating. Made of a transparent metal film, the coating helps conserve energy but causes Wi-Fi signals to bounce off, leaving the space disconnected.
6. Mirrors – Similar to how the reflective qualities of Low-E windows impact Wi-Fi is the metal backing used in most mirrors. The bigger the mirror, the greater the potential for signal interference and Wi-Fi dead spots. Limit the size and number of mirrors to preserve
the performance of your Wi-Fi network or increase the access points to mitigate any issues.
7. Elevators and Metal Blinds – Again, metal never mixes well with Wi-Fi, so elevators—common in apartment complexes or multi-story homes—and metal blinds are serious Wi-Fi deterrents. They can reflect, refract and degrade Wi-Fi signals, making connections slow, spotty, and unreliable but not irreparable when there are access points nearby to get Wi-Fi back on track.
8. Neighboring Wi-Fi Networks – Nearby Wi-Fi activity from neighbors who are utilizing the same radio frequency channel can cause Wi-Fi problems. Thankfully, it’s a relatively easy fix. Changing the channel of the Wi-Fi network usually does the trick.
9. Furniture and Art – The composition of furniture and artwork can impede Wi-Fi signals. It can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly which pieces are causing problems, but their material makeup can offer clues. Remember: the denser the material, the more effort it takes for a Wi-Fi signal to get through. Adding additional access points to assist with signal movement is the best practice.
To ensure the most stable, speedy and comprehensive Wi-Fi coverage in a home, it’s best to have premier-grade networking equipment specified and installed by an experienced home systems professional. They have the tools and the knowledge to analyze the Wi-Fi environment, identify problems, and specify and deploy solutions that deliver the best Wi-Fi performance possible while preserving the architectural and interior integrity of a home. At Access Networks, we believe that technology shouldn’t interfere with a home’s design intent, and have engineered our networking products to blend seamlessly into the home environment.