Ask LH: Can I Get Decent Wi-Fi With A Router In A Cupboard?

Ask LH: Can I Get Decent Wi-Fi With A Router In A Cupboard?

Dear Lifehacker, My parents have an issue with their home Wi-Fi. The router is situated in a cupboard and this means reception is often patchy. However, I’d like to keep this location as there are also ethernet cables routed from the cupboard to other rooms. Is a wireless access point my best solution? Any recommendations?

Thanks, Cupboard Love

Door picture from Shutterstock

Dear CL,

The good news is that there are several options open to you.

Assuming that there’s a power outlet in the cupboard, then you could look investing in some powerline Ethernet adapters. Connect one to the power outlet in the cupboard and the other elsewhere in the house. This will extend your wired network without needing to run any new cabling inside the walls or under the floor. This has worked at my place where running cable was impractical and wireless range was impeded by the building structure.

There are powerline Ethernet adaptors that include a wireless access point.

Another option is wireless repeater. You place this in your home at a point where it can receive the wireless from the cupboard it then relays it further along.

It’s also worth checking the settings of the router you have. We’ve tested routers in the past that dial down the wireless signal power as a power-saving feature. Double-checking the settings might be a good place to start.

Does your router have external antennae? If so, does moving them make any difference.

We’ve also had success with flaky wireless by tweaking the transmission frequency at the router. Most of the time, things work well by letting the router automatically choose what channels to use. However, you might find manually setting the channel yields a better result. It’s possible that there’s some electromagnetic interference in play. By manually tweaking the channel by trial and error you might get a better signal.


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  • I have a similar problem. Although its not inside a cabinet, its far away from my CPU and PS4.

    Did a quick search and found a lot of options. Anyone has a simple model that will work with the ethernet cables? I dont need wireless repeaters.


  • Here are some options:
    1. Take the metal doors off the cupboard and replace them with wooden ones.
    2. Use the “ethernet cables routed from the cupboard to other rooms” to plug your access point(s) in in the other rooms.
    3. Buy a wifi access point with standard sma-rp connector, then use a cable to put your wifi antenna outside the cupboard.

  • Assuming you don’t have metal cupboard (google faraday cage) Buy a better wifi router. The newer ones (802.11ac) have longer range.

    I have an asus rt-ac68u and have installed asuswrt merlin firmware. It is the official source code with a few ‘tweaks’. One of the tweaks is to boost the power output from the router. I did this until I got (decent) reception from the back shed.

  • Got myself a couple of Belkin power line adapters the other week. This allowed me to run Ethernet over the power lines to my Bali hut and put an old wi-fi router out there so I can surf the web from my hammock. Don’t know about other brands, but the Belkin Ethernet over power line kit is relatively cheap, easy to use and seems to work well.

  • If you want good wifi – get a proper wifi router – none of this dlink, netgear, belkin crap. Ubiquiti specialise in wifi gear and their Unifi UAP wireless routers are awesome. I have a single Unifi Pro which I’ve mounted on the ceiling in the middle of my house – it looks much like a smoke alarm but gives me coverage over the entire 720sqm block easily – including IP cameras at the extremeties. If you need more than one they mesh seamlessly – and the Pro has dual 2.4 and 5.8GHz frequencies so if there’s noise in your area it will use whichever is best. Citytechnology stocks the whole range.

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