Have you ever wondered why you can stream HD video perfectly in one room but if you go only one room over you can barely load your email? The culprit is likely a WiFi dead zone. A WiFi dead zone is an area of your home that doesn’t receive any WiFi signal even though it should. Sometimes WiFi dead zones can be in the next room or on the next floor up, but sometimes they can be in a specific corner of a room that generally has great signal. It all sounds very mysterious and strange, but there are technical reasons behind WiFi dead zones and we’ll get into those here. But before you can start tackling your WiFi dead zones, you first need to know where they are. The best way to do this is with a WiFi heatmapper.
Why Are Wireless Heat Maps Important?
When analyzing your WiFi network, you have two options. You can either look at the raw data like the RSSI value (signal strength), noise level, and so on, or you can look at a visual representation of your network. Both approaches have their benefits, but creating a WiFi heatmap is the best approach for finding and fixing your WiFi dead zones.
By having a visual representation of the signal strength in different areas around your home, you can begin to look around your home for things that can be improved. Do you have a dead zone next to your microwave? If so, it might be causing interference because it operates on the same frequency band as your WiFi (2.4 GHz).
How Do Wireless Heat Maps Work?
A WiFi heatmap is a detailed map that displays the signal strength in each area of your home by using colors. Warmer colors such as red and orange represent excellent or good WiFi strength. The colors gradually decrease in warmth, becoming cooler as the WiFi becomes weaker. If you have areas of your home that are blue in color, then these areas have very weak WiFi.
How to Use NetSpot’s WiFi Heatmapper
Most WiFi heatmapper apps on the market will have similar functionality, but they won’t all work the same or provide the same level of detail. Some WiFi heatmapper apps can be confusing to use and are therefore not practical for the end-user. When looking for a WiFi heatmapper, you want an app that offers a great user experience because it’s simple to use, but also allows you to drill into the more complex details of your network. NetSpot does both of these things extremely well, so we’re going to be using NetSpot for our demonstration of how to build a WiFi heatmap.
- Download and install the NetSpot app on Windows or macOS.
- Open the app and switch the tab from Discover mode to Survey mode.
- Next, click “Start a new survey”.
- You will now be asked to create a name for your survey and upload a map of your area if you have one. If you don’t have one, then no problem. You can create a new map within the app.
- Once you had uploaded or created your map, it’s time to start the WiFi heatmap process. Carry your laptop around your home. You will notice that green circles appear to display the areas you have already covered (walked through).
- Once you have covered the entire area, it’s time to analyze your results.
How to Find and Fix Wireless Dead Zones
You should now be able to see all WiFi dead zones on your map. It’s important to determine why you have dead zones before you can fix them. For example, if the room furthest away from the router has a very weak (blue) signal, then this is most likely a limit of WiFi range or the number of obstacles the wireless signal has to pass through. The only way to fix this is to move your router to a more central location or install a WiFi range extender.
If you have spotty signal in some rooms, it might be due to interference from WiFi connected devices in those rooms. It could be that too many devices are trying to talk over each other and this is causing the dead zone. If this is the case, then you could benefit from changing your WiFi channel instead of having it on auto.
Another thing you can do is raise the antenna on your router. This may seem like a ridiculously simple solution, but you’d be surprised how often it works. This can help the WiFi reach rooms further away at the top of the house. You can also change your antenna for a more powerful one. There are two basic types of WiFi antennas, directional and omnidirectional. Much like the names suggest, directional antennas focus the WiFi in a specific direction, whereas omnidirectional antennas give 360 coverage.