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Many people would prefer to keep their routers out of sight with the inside of a cupboard being one of the more popular choices when it comes to positioning a router, but can this affect the Wi-Fi signal and reduce the effectiveness of the router?
A router can go in a cupboard; however, the Wi-Fi signal strength will not be as good as if it were placed out in the open. When a router is hidden and out of sight, it is less effective and can result in the Wi-Fi signal not reaching as far as it should and the connection becoming less stable.
In this article, we’ll discuss the disadvantages of placing your router in a cupboard and how positioning it out in the open is a better alternative.
Should a Router Be Placed in a Cupboard?
A lot of consumer-grade routers aren’t the prettiest things to look at, which is why many people will choose to place theirs in a cupboard where it is out of sight.
This is OK to do in the sense that the cupboard isn’t going to block the Wi-Fi signal emitted by the router completely, however you will likely notice a degraded signal when compared with positioning the router out in the open, like on top of the cupboard itself.
It really is just a case of trying it and see how you find the signal to be.
If you would prefer to place the router in a cupboard and are willing to accept that the Wi-Fi signal may not be as good, absolutely go for it.
In fact, you may not even notice a difference, especially when your devices are close to the router and the signal doesn’t have as far to travel.
You are more likely to find it to be an issue when the signal has further to travel to reach your devices. Even if the signal can reach those devices that are further away, you’ll probably find that the signal is less stable and you could potentially experience dropouts.
The likelihood of a stable signal not reaching the devices that are further away is less when the router is placed out in the open instead.
My advice would be to place your router somewhere where it is visible instead of putting it in a cupboard as this will generally result in being more effective and providing a more reliable Wi-Fi signal.
Do Certain Materials Affect Wi-Fi?
Of course, there are many different materials that cupboards can be made from, which does beg the question as to whether there are any that can have a particular impact on the strength and reliability of a Wi-Fi signal.
The most common materials used in the manufacture of cupboards include:
- Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF)
- Wood Veneer
You’ll be pleased to hear that none of these materials have a huge impact on Wi-Fi signal loss, but as we have already discussed, it is best not to place your router in a cupboard if you can help it.
The biggest culprit for weakening Wi-Fi signals, or in some cases blocking it altogether, is without a doubt concrete. Regardless of whether it is reinforced with metal or not, it is the worst building material for allowing wireless signals to pass through.
Although not as bad as concrete, bricks and masonry blocks can block Wi-Fi signals, whereas drywall and plywood have very little impact on signal loss.
The take-home message here is that the material that your cupboard is made from is very unlikely to have an effect on wireless signals and so shouldn’t be an influencing factor if you are debating whether to place your router in a cupboard.
What Are the Disadvantages of Placing a Router in a Cupboard?
There are several disadvantages that come with placing your router in a cupboard in addition to the Wi-Fi signal strength not being as good when compared to the router being positioned out in the open.
Firstly, the router itself is not as easily accessible, and running cables to it can be awkward.
Some cupboards will have a small hole on the back that is intended for running wires and cables through, but if there isn’t, you won’t have an easy way of getting the cables you need into the back of the router.
You could always drill a small hole in the cupboard for the cables, but not everyone would be willing to do this and potentially damage the cupboard.
Placing your router in a cupboard can also lead to it getting hotter than it should be due to the lack of ventilation, which is actually one of the primary reasons for routers to go bad and fail.
During the time that routers are powered on and working, which is typically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, they are generating heat.
This can lead to them getting too hot and not having a sufficient amount of ventilation to cope with the excess heat being generated.
As well as having the advantage of potentially improved Wi-Fi coverage, placing your router out in the open can help extend its lifespan when compared with placing it in a cupboard.
Finally, cupboards that house routers are typically placed on the floor due to the need to get cables to them, where, unfortunately, it is more likely to gather dust.
If dust were to find its way into the internal components of the router, it along with the heat that gets generated through normal use could lead to it suddenly failing without any warning.
It’s also unlikely that the router will be the only item placed in the cupboard, so other appliances that also generate heat and can gather dust placed nearby can only make things worse.
Where Is the Best Place for a Router?
When it comes to positioning your router, there isn’t a single place in your home where it will provide the fastest and most reliable Wi-Fi signal, but I do have a few tips to consider when deciding on its location.
First of all, you will want to place it in a central location whilst avoiding the kitchen. In most homes, this will be the living room or the dining room.
Wireless signals get dispersed outwards at 360 degrees, so it makes sense to place the router in a room that is central whilst not placing it in the very center point of the room as it will simply be in the way.
My recommendation would be to place your router in the most central room of your home and then determine the center-most wall within that room.
This means the router is kept up against the wall and out of the way whilst hopefully being able to provide a reliable signal to each corner of your home.
Even if it is the most central room in your home, absolutely avoid placing your router in the kitchen.
The reason for this is because of the amount of metal that is typically found in kitchens, with many objects like pots, pans, and electrical appliances being made from it.
Metal is well known to disrupt radio waves; which Wi-Fi signals essentially are.
Microwaves can have a particular impact on the quality of Wi-Fi signals as they are not only made from metal but also operate on the same 2.4 GHz frequency band as your wireless router.
When a microwave is being used, a very tiny amount of radiation escapes which can also have an effect on the signal.
Once you have decided on the best position for your router, it’s also worth considering the position of the antennas, especially if you live in a multi-story home.
Positioning the antenna upwards will help the Wi-Fi signal reach further laterally, whereas placing them sideways will provide a better signal vertically.
If your router only has one antenna, you will have to decide which position will benefit you most, but if it has two, I would suggest pointing one of them upwards and the other out to the side.
Considering how easy it is to re-position the antennas, I think it is always worth doing regardless of how much of a difference it makes to the wireless signal you receive.
For more tips on choosing the best place for your router, check out this article.