How to replace your router's Wi-Fi antennas
If you have purchased an inexpensive router, I guarantee that it includes cheap, low gain antennas. And this is a pity, because by simply replacing those low-end components, you can significantly improve Wi-Fi signal range and data transfer speeds.
Most (if not all) routers are shipped with omnidirectional antennas; this detailed guide will teach you everything there is to know about them. If you don't have time to read it, though, it is important to understand that these types of antennas radiate signal equally in all directions. It's a useful feature, but only if the router is placed in the center of your home; otherwise, a lot of useful Wi-Fi signal will be wasted, and your network may be exposed to hackers.
So, start by determining what type of antennas you will need. If the router is supposed to send signal to several rooms that surround it, an omnidirectional antenna will do the job perfectly. However, if you need to direct a Wi-Fi signal beam towards a certain area of your home, a high gain directional antenna will work much better. Finally, if you want to move the router out of the way, hiding it in a cabinet, for example, and still get a good Wi-Fi signal coverage, you should use sma extension cables, which will allow you to move the antennas anywhere you will want to.
It is obvious, but you won't be able to replace the router antennas if they are placed inside the router case; you need a router that has external antennas, like the ones in the picture on the right. Fortunately, most routers use external antennas that can be replaced easily, by unscrewing their jacks.
Often times, the router manufacturer itself will sell higher performance antennas on its website, so to ensure 100% compatibility, that should be the first place to look when you are interested in purchasing a higher gain Wi-Fi antenna. Of course, if the router manufacturer doesn't sell high gain antennas, you should purchase them from a different company.
The good news is that most Wi-Fi antennas operate using these two frequencies: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. So, if your router supports both frequencies, it probably has two different antenna sets. Be sure to purchase antennas that were built for the frequency that your router is utilizing.
Always keep the router turned off while you are detaching the old Wi-Fi antennas and attaching the new ones. Once that the new antennas are in place, power on the router, and then use a Wi-Fi signal measuring app like this to evaluate the wireless signal strength. By replacing a 5dBi antenna with one that has a 14dBi gain, you should benefit from a 9dBi signal strength increase, which is equivalent with 300%. This doesn't necessarily mean that the signal will propagate on a distance that's three times bigger than the initial one, of course. Nevertheless, Wi-Fi signal range and data upload/download speeds should be significantly improved.
Even omnidirectional antennas can be forced to send a stronger signal towards a certain direction. If you want to have a strong Wi-Fi signal in a particular room, you can point the antennas towards that direction. Another idea is to place some aluminum foil behind the antennas; that foil will act as a reflector, beaming the wireless waves towards the desired direction.
Of course, a stronger Wi-Fi signal will be easier to pick up by the cyber criminals in the area. So, ensure that you are using the latest wireless data encryption protocol and utilize a strong, long Wi-Fi network password. It goes without saying that your router admin panel should be protected by a strong password as well; otherwise, a hacker could easily log into it, and then get access to your network.
As you can see, it is easy to replace the Wi-Fi antennas that come with your router. And if you do this, I guarantee that the results will be very impressive.