A physicist has calculated the best place to put your router

Forget the trial and error – mathematics has proved where the best spot to place your router is.

Physicist Jason Cole has figured out a formula that can work out the best place to position your wireless router, and it ultimately depends on your house’s floor plan.

Cole started investigating the science behind router placement in an attempt to optimise his wifi signal.

To do this, he first mapped his floorplan, assigning refraction values to the walls, and then used the Helmholtz equation, which allowed him to model the electromagnetic waves being emitted by his router.

Over on his blog Almost Looks Like Work, Cole describes the tricky mathematics that followed (bonus points if you can follow that equation).

Initially, he came up with the unsurprising solution that putting your router right in the middle of your home results in the best wifi signal. 

But, of course, it doesn’t necessarily look great to stick a router in the middle of the living room, and it’s not always feasible given power points etc.

To investigate further, Cole modified his model to take into account the absorption in wall materials such as concrete, and to stop perfect reflections forming a standing wave.

This gave him a model that looked much more like wifi signals.

Finally, he concluded what many of us already suspect – the further away you are from the router, the tougher it’ll be to try to catch the tendrils of signal.

But if positioned properly, you can place your router in a spot that fills nearly every room of your house with beautifully oscillating waves of wifi, like in the video below.

Cole has now even created an Android app that lets you map your own wifi signal around your house, to help you work out where your router should go (without the need for pages of formulae). You’re welcome.

A version of this story was first published in September 2014.

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