In this post, we are going to take a look at three router performance hacks that may extend the life of your old router or make your newer router perform better. We will look at how to boost the wifi signal with aluminum foil, how to increase wifi signal with a can. The hacks in this post cost virtually nothing and are fun to try out. Here are three examples of how to boost wifi speed. Not guaranteed but worth a try.
Table of Contents
Wireless router performance hack zone
- Hack #1 Plastic Bottles Over Antennas
- Hack #2 The Tinfoil Method
- Hack #3 DIY Antenna Booster Ideas
If the tips below do not improve your Wifi signal performance then biting the bullet and getting a new router or mesh network is probably the best idea. Luckily routers are not that expensive. Many good routers are available at Amazon as well as mesh networks that are a little more pricey but will boost your wifi signal over a larger area.
Also before you start any hacks, the placement of your router may be your main problem and by simply placing your router in a better location will improve your wifi signal. See my Ultimate Router Placement Guide and learn more about router placement.
The Hack Zone
This post is for the person that wants to squeeze another year out of their old router and experiment with a few things that are already around the house. If you have read my post Your Ultimate Router Placement Tip Guide and put your router in the optimal spot. But you have one problem; you have pretty much zero budget.
Make do with what they already have and have a little fun in the process. I have researched a number of hacks tried out a few to see if they do work and here are the best ones.
Some may work as explained but some may not work for your particular situation. I have done my best to present good information and if anyone has their own hack or disagree with some of the hacks presented, add it to the comments below, I would love to hear your take on this topic and share it with my readers.
Wi-Fi Sweet Spot App
Take some Wi-fi speed readings.
First, do a little testing around the house to see where your problem areas are and what you are starting with. There are a number of free speed test apps available. I used Wi-Fi Sweet Spot. I liked it because you could log a number of readings. But be sure to write them down because if you close the app the data will be gone.
Hack #1 Plastic Bottles over Antennas
According to this video, you can quadruple your Wi-Fi speed with this hack. The presenter explains that there is a lot of different signal interfering with your Wi-Fi signal.
This simple DIY method made with things from around your house can make a significant difference in the performance of your Wi-Fi signal.
This hack is made with a few simple items you have around your house
What you need
- Plastic water bottle. One for every antenna on your router
- Table salt
- Electric tape
- Remove any label on the plastic water bottle.
- Put around ¼ Tsp. or less of salt in each water bottle.
- Put a teaspoon of water in each bottle.
- Put a cap on each bottle and shake the bottle for a minute or so this will cause the salt to dissolves and coat the inside of the water bottle with a salt-water solution.
- Dump out water solution and let water bottles thoroughly dry out.
Now that your water bottles are dry, you will notice a white salty film inside the bottle this is what you want. This is where the magic is.
That film is a bunch of tiny salt crystals and these crystals are known as lattices that can polarize radio waves that pass through them. Similar to sunglasses that polarize and block certain UV rays.
Removes interference waves similar to sunglasses that polarize and block certain UV rays.
The properties of the salt film and electrical tape will create a type of filter, that removes interference waves and helps optimize the electromagnetic waves going in and out of your router.
- Wrap with electric tape in three evenly spaced places around each bottle you need. The properties of the salt and electrical tape will create a type of filter that optimizes the electromagnetic waves going into your router.
- Now place water bottle over each antenna on your router
This is what the final result should look like and best of all its very attractive and real conversation starter. If all goes well you should now see an improvement in your signal.
Try these methods out
I would have liked to try this out to report back to you, but I do not have antennas on my router. I have a square router provided by my Internet provider. So this posed a problem.
How could I replicate this Hack on a router with no antennas? I wanted to cover the whole unit with a plastic shell. I first thought a plastic vinegar bottle might work, but I found it too small for my router, but it could work for smaller routers than the Bell 2000 model I have.
What you need
- One large plastic container. The thinner the plastic the better
- Table Salt
- Electric Tape.
I found around the house a large empty laundry detergent plastic bottle. Gain to be exact but I think a number of other brands will work as well.
Hint: Costco size Landry detergent. I thoroughly rinsed out all the remaining detergent until I had no more suds.I now put a little water and salt into the container and shook it for a minute or so. Dumped out the excess fluid and let the container dry.
After the bottle dried inside I cut the top part off and wrapped it a few times with electric tape and then placed the bottle over the router. The end result was not very attractive but for experimental purposes, it will serve the purpose.
I then went around the house retesting Wi-Fi strength in different areas. After I compared the results to my first test with no hacks.Overall results from my testing. I tested signal strength in various areas around the house. I did three sets of tests once with no modifications, second with tinfoil only and a third time with the plastic container over the router.
Wi-Fi strength signal test results
|Area||No Modifications||Tinfoil Only||Plastic Cover|
|Hot Spot||46.9 Mbps||46.8 Mbps||49.8 Mbps|
|Laundry Room concrete wall Problem Area||37. 7 Mbps||34.3 Mbps||33.5 Mbps|
|Bedroom Problem Area||18.0 Mbps||16.3 Mbps||40.7 Mbps|
|Upstairs 2 floors up||44.9 Mbps||48.4 Mbps||48.9 Mbps|
|Garage 35 ft away from Hot Spot Problem Area||20.1 Mbps||34.4 Mbps||35.5 Mbps|
I did all three tests at around 9 AM the same morning. Often the time of day will affect Wifi speed due to increased internet use at certain times of the day. As you see from the results there were some improvements.
Hack #2 The Tinfoil method
I discovered during my research and testing of the different Wi-Fi range hacks in this article that simple tinfoil really made the most difference. You can just surround your router with tinfoil and try to see if that makes any improvement.
If you find it makes a difference, you can then use a cardboard box and tinfoil to make something a little more sturdy and practical to get at wires and ports.
What you need
- Cardboard or cardboard box
With a little crafty skill, you can shape yourself a reflective tinfoil surface that can really make a difference.
Hack #3 DIY Antenna Booster Ideas
Here are a few more methods to try. I tried the Windsurfer booster a few years back and I did find it made a difference and improved Wi-Fi signal in a few problem areas.
I have seen the pop can method in a number of videos and I do believe it works, but what I don't like is the overall finish of many I have seen with sharp jagged edges.
This project is pretty simple. All you need is a piece of cardstock paper a little glue and tinfoil. Download the PDF pattern for the windsurfer follow the video instructions and with a little craft skill, you can make one in 10 minutes.
Bonus Hack. Pop Can Mode
If you're good at cutting metal then give the Pop Can method a try. But beware take your time.
When cutting the cans they can easily turn into a jagged mess that can easily cut you. And if your router is accessible to young kids it could be a real hazard. Check the video below for step by step instructions.
Don't forget router placement is very important and can make a huge difference in Wifi signal strength. See my Your Ultimate Router Placement Tip Guide to learn about router placement.
- See my full review NETGEAR Orbi Home Wi-Fi System Review
- See my full review Google Wi-Fi System Router Review
6 Reasons To Upgrade Your Wireless Router
- Enhanced Security: Newer routers use WPA2 Encryption instead of WEP. Routers encrypted with WEP are very outdated and can be hacked very easily. WPA2 provides a much more secure network.
- Guest Access: You can easily set up a separate network name and password. Network
- Attachment Storage: A USB port in the back allows you to attach an external hard drive. This will allow you to share your music, videos, photos, to all the computers or smart devices that are accessing the wireless network.
- Simultaneous dual-band: The feature splits the band into two bands 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz band is used by many household appliances like microwaves. The 5 GHz frequency is used by streaming media. This will greatly reduce the amount of interference that you get from older single-band routers.
- Parental controls: This will allow you to restrict access to certain sites, at particular times of the day and on certain devices. A real way of regaining control of the internet in your home especially when you have children. Provided your kid hasn't figured out the neighbor's password.
- Relatively inexpensive: You can spend a lot of money on a router but there are also many good quality routers in the $100 to $250 dollar price range that will serve many households wifi demands. Not that much considering a modem in the 80s cost $500 and that new Apple Phone cost $1200.
So there you have it a few methods to try and improve the performance of your wireless router before you go and buy a new one.
The hacks on this post cost virtually nothing and are kind of fun to try. But be realistically Wifi demands have significantly increased, and older routers just don't cut it anymore so going out and buying a new router is probably your best bet.
With today's larger homes a single router will most likely not be sufficient. With smart appliances and building materials that are not Wi-Fi friendly all add to diminished Wi-Fi signal strength and will create a number of dead zones.
An extender or a mess networks can give a good wifi signal over a larger area and reduce the number of areas with a weak wifi signal. The nice part is mess networks were formally for commercial use and very expensive, the price has been reduced, and there are many systems available for the average consumer. See Amazon for mesh networks
If you have a hack you would like to share. Put it in the comments below.
Reviews to help you learn more about routers and streaming media players
- See all our my router reviews
- Google Wi-Fi System Router Review
- Linksys WRT1900ACS Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router Review
- Amazon Fire TV 2 Box 4K Review
References for this article.