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I have a Netgear WG311v3 WiFi card. There are ceiling mounted routers in the corridor outside. Some people try to orient the antennas of the router towards their rooms so that they get better signal strength. I am not sure if it makes a difference. Does signal strength have a bearing on the direction/orientation of WiFi antennas?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Most routers have omni-directional antennas (which send the signal in all directions except in the direction of the "stick" - actually some signal even goes a little up there, but the main part goes "around"). So, no in most cases.

If the router is equipped with some kind of directional antenna, then the direction would matter.

Some links on the subject:
wifi antenna types
WiFi antenna

Just one other thing ... HeatMapper - check it out (courtesy of Molly). It is a wonderful little application for measuring the signal with very nice visualization properties. Lemon easy to use.

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mine is most likely an omni-directional one. thanks for clarifying. – Rohit Banga Jan 22 '10 at 4:07
my router looks something like…. – Rohit Banga Jan 22 '10 at 4:07
@iamrohitbanga - Yes, i checked it before writing that first part, just to be sure. If the router is in horizontal position (and I really can't see how it can stand vertically, being roundish and all that), you should all have the best signal with antennas standing up (like in the picture). – Rook Jan 22 '10 at 4:12

I have tried moving the aerials, pointing them in different directions however, when it comes down to it, I have personally only seen it improve the signal about half of the time and it is not always noticeable.

There is no way to know if it will work with yours in advance, but from my observations, pointing it in a single direction sometimes gives you a tiny (And I mean tiny) better signal if you were right on the edge - I am talking about when moving your laptop a few CM means the difference between a signal and no signal.

If you have a fairly descent signal, I have not seen any improvement what so ever for moving an aerial. My guess would be that the benefit of the signal reflecting off of the walls and objects outweighs the benefit of having the aerial pointing directly at you.

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Every antenna has a radiation pattern associated with it. If you can visualise your antenna as a light bulb, you can get an idea of how it works. A directional antenna is sort of like a torch, with a reflector behind the bulb to direct the radiated signal in a a particular direction, resulting in a conical radiation pattern. An omnidirectional antenna usually has a pattern that is more like a toroid or doughnut with good coverage all around the horizontal plane, but weaker spots at the top and bottom. Knowing the type of antenna you have in your device can help you determine whether or not pointing it any direction will help or make things worse. For example, pointing the tip of an omnidirectional antenna to a room that requires good coverage is a bad idea because you are essentially pointing the hole of the doughnut, i.e. the weakest part of the radiation pattern to the room. Hope this helps.

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