Struggling to get a stronger WiFi signal? Try these tips

A speed test is a great way to see just what kind of connection you've got with your WiFi.
A speed test is a great way to see just what kind of connection you've got with your WiFi.(
Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 9:18 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - With parents working from home and children learning virtually, a strong internet connection is more important than ever.

If you’re struggling to get a solid WiFi signal, there are some things you can try on your own before shelling out cash to strengthen your signal.

Whether you live in an apartment or house, the first thing you need to do is test the signal.

Nicholas De Leon is a senior reporter at Consumer Reports. He has done a lot of research on this topic, including everything from boosting your WiFi signal and where to place your router, to whether WiFi range extenders work.

De Leon recommends starting with a speed test. is a free website where you can test your internet signal.

“The number that we try to give folks, it’s not an official number, it’s kind of like a soft guideline, is 100 megabits per second,” he said. “That is more than enough for a million Zoom calls, a million kids trying to remote learn, for Netflix and Hulu, and for XBox. You could even cut that in half to 50 and that’s also still more than enough, but you don’t want to try to stretch 10."

The next recommendation is to check the location of your router.

“What you don’t want is to have it sort of tucked away while everyone is on the first floor or the second floor. The WiFi signals are just going to have a difficult time kind of penetrating through the walls. You can sort of really get in the weeds here and it depends upon home construction and what the walls are made of,” said De Leon. “It sort of depends upon the construction of your home at a certain point, but just to give yourself a chance try to keep it as centrally located as possible and on the main floor.”

If you’re still getting a weak WiFi signal, you have a couple of options. There are separate devices you can purchase to improve the signal throughout your home.

“You can invest in a mesh router. It’s a new type of router that instead of having one device, they usually come in packs of three. All three of those devices kind of work together to bring WiFi throughout your home. The problem with those is that they can be a little expensive, but there’s like a huge range of price there. Anywhere from like $200 to we’re now seeing ones that cost $500, $600," he said.

Depending on your internet needs, there’s another option: WiFi range extenders. This is a device that’s separate from your router.

“It’s about the size of like a phone. It plugs into the electrical outlet and what it does is it basically does what it sounds like it does. It extends the range of your WiFi network. Depending upon the model that you get and depending upon the underlying technology that it uses and depending upon your exact needs, an extender may be totally fine or it may not even be worth the money at all,” explained De Leon. “Where extenders get interesting is that they are usually pretty cheap. They start at like $30 to $40 online. An extender is great for the person who is just trying to get like a home office. They have WiFi in their home, but the home office is just a little slow. It doesn’t work in there. Okay great, you use an extender and it will extend the WiFi into the home office. It won’t extend it into the basement. It won’t extend it into the attic. It will extend it just that little bit into that one little nook and cranny of your home.”

To read more about optimizing WiFi signals in your home, click here.

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