I have experimented with many Wi-Fi routers for home use. Here are some tips on buying a wireless router, installing & configuring a home Wi-Fi router. If you come across an acronym (tech jargon) that you are not familiar with, you can ignore it or just Google.
Buying a Wi-Fi router
Here are some pointers to check before you buy a Wi-Fi router for a typical home usage and get best Value for Money.
Ports & Interfaces
Home router should have at least one WAN port and four LAN ports . Some routers refer to them as an uplink (for the WAN port) and wired connections (for LAN ports). WAN port generally sits apart or coloured differently from the other ports to make it easier to identify, but it otherwise looks the same as the LAN ports.
WAN Port or Uplink port (that connects to your service provider) can be of two types based on your ISP
(a) RJ45 Ethernet : If your ISP gives you an Ethernet interface ( ISPs like Tikona , Fiber Broadband or Cable Broadband service providers )
(b) RJ11 ADSL : If your ISP provides Service over Telephone lines
Some routers have both types of Interfaces. Select WAN port type based on your ISP requirement
Single Band or Dual Band?
Wi-Fi routers in India can operate in 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands. All smart phones, Pads, Tabs & Laptops will support 2.4GHz but same is not true for 5 GHz band. 2.4GHz band coverage inside home will be better than 5 GHz.
Thus, for simple home Wi-Fi, 2.4GHz device would suffice. You will not need a dual band router for home usage.
While buying a router, you will notice speed numbers like 300Mbps, 900Mbps, 1900Mbps and 1Gbps….. . All these numbers just show how much raw speeds can be achieved under “Lab conditions”. It's highly unlikely you'll ever see those actual speeds, though.
Fast router speeds don't have anything to do with how fast your Internet connection is. That speed is set by your tariff plan subscription from your Internet Service Provider.
I would recommend buying an 802.11n “300 Mbps” router.
This will give you best Capacity, coverage and compatibility. 802.11n routers can run in "mixed mode" so that 802.11g wireless devices can connect as well.
A Wi-Fi router with multiple antennas will improve coverage inside a home using “Antenna Diversity" “MIMO” or “Beam-Forming" especially in presence of reflections from Inner walls. However more than 3 Antennas will not give you any advantage (Law of diminishing returns).
For better understanding of Advance Antenna techniques , you may like to read viewtopic.php?f=62&t=228
Most routers will experience performance degradation as number of devices increase. This is limited by hardware (CPU /Memory etc.) and in some Models this limit is arbitrarily set by the manufacturer in the firmware. Most times the limit is not mentioned neither in the manual nor in the technical specification. When more clients are connected than a router can support, your router may just hang or reboot, increase latency or trickle speed.
For typical home usage you should consider buying a router which can support 20-30 devices/clients without perceptible performance degradation or hang/reboot.
Most established brands or Popular should support enough clients for typical home usage, but for unknown brands better to research online before buying.
Here is a good compilation of routers CPU RAM Flash specs .
Router Installation & Placement
While you can place your Wi-Fi router at any place in your home, here are few pointers to get best coverage.
- Do not install near to the Window. External interference will kill capacity. And half of radio energy will be out of Window.
- Install where it is open, at least, on three sides. A wall on one side will act as good reflector.
- A brick /stone/masonry wall will kill coverage completely in blocked direction.
- A wooden/Glass window/door/partition will reduce coverage by half in blocked direction.
- Install at least 3 ft. above the ground, above the furniture line. Higher the better
Think of your Wi-Fi router as a 100 W light bulb. Imagine if a light bulb is kept at the place in your home where you want to install your home Wi-Fi router. Your coverage would be similar to where the light can reach in an otherwise dark home. Light intensity would signify signal strength.
Typically a home Wi-Fi router can cover 1000-1200 Sqft. Area.
For larger houses, you can use multiple Wi-Fi routers connected thru LAN cables. Do not use wireless Range extenders /Repeaters. They reduce Capacity and increase latency.
If you do not have LAN cables across rooms, you can use Home Plug AV2 with Wi-Fi which uses your Electricity wiring to connect multiple routers in home. Configure same SSID (Network Name) across the routers so you can roam inside your home. Keep LAN IP address range exclusive.
Configuring a Router
It is fairly straightforward for typical home installation. You need to connect your PC/Laptop to a LAN Port with a Cat5 Cable. Open your browser & give default IP address (written in Manual), Admin user & password. Configure your router with help from the User Manual.
For more details , you can read thru several Model specific posts on this forum
Usually configuring SSID (Network Name), Security setting and Passkey configuration should be sufficient to get going. Hiding your SSID is not good enough. Use highest security level supported by your Router typically WPA2 with AES encryption.
More details on security
Do not forget to change Admin User name/ Password before you log-out.