Published on April 28th, 2020
Let’s face it. You want the best possible WiFi coverage and strength you can get. Unfortunately, the reality is, some part of your home or office appears to have better signal than others.
You see, this unreliable, spotty and patchwork network coverage could have been avoided if you had planned the positions and configuration of all APs before WiFi deployment.
But, how do you know the right position and configuration for your APs, if you don’t even know what the WiFi heat map looks like or which part of the home or office has the strongest signal?
Don’t worry, in this piece, you will learn about how a WiFi heat map works, how to create one for your home or office and finally, how to read the results so you can make informed decisions before deploying your WiFi.
How Does A WiFi Heat Map Work?
A WiFi heat map is an actual map of a home or office with a WiFi signal overlay that indicates spots in the building that have strong and weak network signals.
Usually, the heat map uses color coding to differentiate areas with strong WiFi connections from areas with spotty or weak signals.
Darker colors like dark red show areas with a strong signal and as the signal drop cooler colors indicates weaker wireless signal spots.
WiFi heat map helps you find dead zones (areas with weak or no signal) in your home and office so you can make appropriate adjustments to achieve desired coverage.
How To make A WiFi Heat Map
Now, you know how a WiFi heat map works, it’s time to learn how to make one. So, before mapping your WiFi coverage, you will need the following:
A WiFi heat map software – Thankfully, there are several solutions available on the market you can use depending on your needs and requirements.
A WiFi enabled device – A smartphone or laptop with WiFi capability.
A sketch or map of the space you intend to heat map. You don’t necessarily need a professional drawn survey of the area you are heat mapping.
A hand-drawn sketch that includes all the real-world reference points in your home or office will work just fine.
If you have your home’s or office blueprint, that’s fine too. But be sure to scan the map since you will need to import it into the WiFi heat map software
Installing The WiFi Heat Map Software
A quick Google search for ‘WiFi heat map software’ will throw up many results. But for the case of this guide, we will use the NetSpot app.
We selected NetSpot because it is a straightforward, easy to use app with an intuitive interface.
And also, because the app is compatible with any device and all the major operating systems.
So, regardless of the device or OS, your gadget is running on: Mac, Windows, or Android, NetSpot has it covered.
Downloading and installing NetSpot is straightforward. Head over to your app store, search for the app and download.
Once you have the app downloaded, launch it and complete the installation.
WiFi Heat Mapping Proper
At the top left-hand side of the screen, you will see a “DISCOVER- SURVEY” button. Select ‘SURVEY’
Upload your floorplan. If you don’t have a floorplan ready, use the draw a map function to sketch out a plan.
Set a reference point by clicking two points on the map and inputting the actual distance between them.
Walk to a corner of the space and tap at the point on the map that corresponds to where you are standing. Standstill and wait as the app take its first measurement until a green circle appears.
Walk to another corner and repeat the same thing. Continue until you have scanned the whole space.
Click the ‘Stop Scan’ button at the bottom left of the app to see the visualization of the heat map.
How To Read A WiFi Heat Map
Now you have got a WiFi heat map of your space, how do you make sense of it?
At a glance, the heat map should tell you which part of your space has the weakest wireless signal.
As mentioned earlier, NetSpot uses color coding to indicate WiFi signal strength. Dark red shows the wireless signal is strongest while blue identifies the spots with weakest signals.
So looking at the heat map of your space, you can tell which part has stronger signals and areas that need adjustments.
By studying the heat map, you can plan a strategy on how to fix the problem. For instance, simply moving an AP to a new location might be all you need to improve the signal strength.
However, you may want first to identify why the signal is weak at that spot in the place.
Could it be the AP is near a concrete wall? Or is there a metal cabinet or refrigerator between the AP and the part with a weak signal?
Once you have identified any physical obstacle that could be responsible for the weak wireless signal and eliminating the same or moving the AP away from it can make all the difference.
Best WiFi Heat Map Software
Not all WiFi heat map software is created equal. While all the apps you will see perform the basic function of helping you to improve wireless signals in your space, others were created to go beyond that to give you a seamless, hassle-free experience.
- NetSpot – Hands down beat other apps on this category. It is the only WiFi heating app that is designed for both professionals and home users alike.
- SolarWinds NPM – A no-frills app that helps you monitor network performance and also provides WiFi heats maps.
- Ekahau HeatMapper – Provides detailed information about your WiFi coverage plus details about any interfering networks and nearby noise.
- Acrylic WiFi Heatmaps – Want an in-depth analysis of your wireless network or perhaps you want to design or monitor network performance? Acrylic WiFi heat mapper is sure the tool for it.