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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