Home and Garden

Embrace the wonders of wireless at home

Electronic devices enable us to access information, communicate and engage in entertainment. Consumer electronics also have transformed the typical household.

Data from the Consumer Electronics Association, CTIA and U.S. Census Bureau paint a picture of just how immersed in new technology society has become. Statistics indicate the typical home of 2.6 people has an average of 24 electronic gadgets in use, including one or more smartphones. These devices include eReaders, HDTVs, laptops, tablets, printers, digital cameras, DVRs, Bluetooth speakers, portable GPS devices, and more.

To meet the demands of all of these devices, some homes need an electronics overhaul, including beefing up the capabilities of Internet connections and wireless networks. Many Wi-Fi routers claim to be capable of supporting as many as 255 connected devices. While this is theoretically possible, having that many devices on a standard home wireless router can compromise how well a network works. The results may include slow Internet browsing abilities, long lag time and even connection interference or droppage. When considering renovation projects around the home, it may be worth it to pay attention to electronic devices and their connectivity.

Start with the router

The wireless router in your home is a technological workhorse. When the router goes down, your devices follow suit. Without a router you will not be able to access the digital signal from your Internet Service Provider and send it out to all of your devices.

Many older routers broadcast on a 2.4GHz signal, the same as many other radio devices. Crowding on the 2.4GHz spectrum could cause slowdown during the busiest times of the day for Internet traffic. It may be worth it to invest in a new router that can search for other channels that have less traffic and broadcast through them.

Test your speed

Relatively inexpensive software can show you your Internet speed numbers to see if your connection is meeting the speeds promised by your ISP. If your speed is slow when tested at various times in a given day, you may want to upgrade your service package to a faster service plan. If the speed is adequate, you can invest in some other options.

Get new hardware

Routers should be placed in a central location so that the signal can be accessed throughout the house. But router placement may depend on where your cable or fiber optic lines enter the home. If router signal interference seems suspect in slower connections, hardware, such as a greater-range antenna, wireless access points, and wireless repeaters can help expand your router signal throughout the house. Speak with a wireless network expert about the options that may be best for your home.

Another consideration is a Wi-Fi plug that uses existing electrical circuits in a home to expand the signals offered by the router.

Expand your gadget list

Once a wireless signal is verified and confirmed as adequate, you may be interested in additional devices that can tap into the wireless network and make your home run more efficiently. Manufacturers now offer everything from wireless door locks that can be controlled with a smartphone to wireless flash memory cards that can easily transfer photos from a camera to computer to wireless lighting control throughout the entire house. With wireless speakers, you can instantly beam music to any number of units in a home or use a NAS (network attached storage) drive as a backup for photos, videos and other large files.

Technology is changing the way people utilize their homes. Making sure a wireless network is up to par can make using devices easier and more efficient.

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