How to Test WiFi Signal Strength

In 2020 we have lots of WiFI enabled devices in our homes and office spaces and we only collect more as time goes on. If you’re having trouble streaming video, playing online games, loading websites, and so on, the issue could lie in your signal strength. You can’t improve your WiFi signal strength without first knowing the current health of your signal. There are several reasons that your signal strength might be lacking and you can get to the root of the issue by running a WiFi signal strength test.

What Is a Good WiFi Signal Strength?

If you run a WiFi signal strength test and just get a bunch of numbers, then this won’t be of much use to you. You need to understand what these numbers mean. Put simply, you need to know what is considered a good signal strength and what is considered a poor signal strength.

WiFi signal strength is measured in dBm (decibel milliwatts) and the figure is always expressed as a negative value. This is because the figure actually represents the noise of your signal on a scale of 0 to -100. Values closer to 0 represent more noise, or to put in another way, louder signal.

WiFi Signal Strength Scale

  • 90 dBm: Extremely poor strength. Utilizing your WiFi is extremely unlikely and even connecting is unlikely.
  • 80 dBm: Connected to the network by probably unreliable. You will not be able to complete most WiFi-based activities.
  • 70 dBm: A weak signal that would only be suitable for very ‘light’ tasks like sending and receiving emails, or browsing the web.
  • 67 dBm: A reliable signal strength and also the minimum required for (non-HD) video streaming.
  • 60 dBm: A good signal strength and will be suitable for all tasks.
  • 50 dBm: Excellent signal strength. You are very unlikely to experience connection issues or have your connection randomly drop.
  • 30 dBm: This is the maximum signal strength possible. However, it’s worth noting that -30 dBm wouldn’t be a good goal to try and achieve. You have to be very close to the access point to get this strength and this isn’t feasible in the majority of situations.

How to Test Your WiFi Signal Strength

You don’t need to be a networking Wizz to test your WiFi signal strength and take meaningful action. There are lots of powerful and user-friendly tools out there that can help you get to the bottom of your signal problems. For example, with NetSpot you can troubleshoot your WiFi, conduct advanced WiFi analysis, and create WiFi heatmaps. You can create a WiFi site survey and analyze your signal strength with the free version of the app, or you can opt for the paid version to get access to even more powerful features.

Download NetSpot

You simply download and install the app, and then you are only a few clicks away from discovering your signal strength. First, you need to upload your area map and mark your location. NetSpot will then get to work analyzing the WiFi signal across the whole area as you move around. This process will highlight areas of weak signal, any signal leakages, areas of high interference noise, and more.

How to Increase WiFi Signal Strength

Your WiFi signal strength test is complete! You now know where your WiFi falls on the scale, as well as the problem areas in your home or office. Now it’s time to make some changes. Here are the best ways to improve your WiFi signal strength. You don’t have to do all of these. You might find that your signal strength gets a significant boost from implementing only one or a few of these suggestions.

  • If possible, move your router to a centralized location. Your average WiFi router actually has a range of 150 feet (or 46 meters) indoors. However, there are typically lots of obstacles or radiation inhibiting materials blocking your signal from getting this range. To give your router the best chance of reaching all areas of the house equally, place it in a centralized spot.
  • Don’t place your router near the microwave. They have been known to cause interference and weaken your signal.
  • Consider switching your channel from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz.
  • Consider investing in a signal booster.
  • Remove obstacles where possible. WiFi signal does not travel well through water so placing your router next to your aquarium is a bad idea.
  • If you think your signal issues stem from interference from other devices using the 2.4 GHz band, then it might be time to look at some alternatives. However, don’t just start replacing everything. Modern baby monitors and many other devices are now designed to not use 2.4 GHz and access points are designed to handle this interference. Only start replacing devices if you have exhausted other options.

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