As we all strive to have the most powerful Wi-Fi signal we can, naturally we are going to look for ways to improve the speed of our internet. This is where the tx power adjustment comes into play in a router. Some routers, certainly not all, come with the option to adjust your tx power level, either lower or higher, in order to help you get the best Wi-Fi signal that you can. But adjusting your tx power level is not straightforward and may not even be necessary.
How Tx Power Works
The tx power level of your router is the amount of decibels per milliwatt (dBm) that your router uses to transmit its signal. The router will make use of its tx power when it is transmitting data to a connect device or simply to announce its presence on the channel it is set to. On routers that do have the option to adjust the level, you can set your tx power level lower or higher to either reduce or increase the signal strength.
How To Change Tx Power
Go to > Advanced Settings > Tx Power to make adjustments to your Tx power.
Increasing Tx Power
If you are thinking of doing a tx power adjustment, there are some pros to doing it.
- Increases the range of your router’s signal: this means that your router will be able to announce its presence at a longer distance, informing other neighboring routers that your router is on that channel. This could cause other routers to use different channels as a result, freeing up the traffic on the channel your router is using, reducing congestion and letting your signal move quicker.
- Improved speed and performance of your router if it is not turned up too high.
Just as there are advantages of increasing the tx power level, there are cons.
- Having the tx power level too high can make the client ignore the signal, because it simply does not have the same amount of transmit power as it is receiving.
- If too many people have their tx power level up too high, there would be extreme congestions on all bands as the signals are all being amplified.
- It can overheat your router by forcing it to work harder, making it burn out faster.
Decreasing Tx Power
I know it probably sounds crazy, but there are advantages to lowering the router’s tx power level.
- The client will be able to easily talk to the router when the tx power level is set lower. The client will be able to reciprocate the amount of noise it is receiving, making it easy to communicate.
- You will not congest the channels for other Wi-Fi users in the neighborhood, helping keep the channels clear, making the internet work better for everyone.
- Too low of a tx power level could mean that the router will not reach the client it would like to, if the distance is too great.
- Neighboring routers could overpower your signal, gaining the attention of the client and leaving you behind. Neighboring routers may also not know that you are on that channel and use it as well, increasing the amount of congestion on that channel.
Should you change the Tx Power Level?
In most cases, you should not be changing your router’s tx power level. The fact that most routers don’t even offer the function should make us wonder why it would be an option at all. Adjusting the tx power can improve your router’s overall performance and ability which may be necessary for some users, but at the same time can up the amount of noise that a client receives, making the traffic along the channel congested and inefficient. Unless you have few neighbors near you that could be on the same channel, upping the tx power level is only to make the signal itself hard for the client to respond to. Ideally, you should leave the tx power level to its default setting.
There is also the question of whether boosting the signal could put you at a higher risk of having your signal tapped into by others. If safety is your concern, however, the signal is encrypted so no matter the strength of the tx power, you should not have to worry about others hopping onto your signal.
Another concern with a boosted signal is whether a more powerful frequency can actually harm people physically. Those concerns have never been proven or substantiated so it is not something that you would need to worry over when it comes to a tx power adjustment. The only real concern is whether increasing it reduces your router’s efficiency, not that it could actually hurt you.
What if you changed the TX Power Level Already?
If you have already messed around with the tx power level, you might be concerned about what that could mean in terms of noise. The next step is to test your router’s signal to see how well everything is operating. You can test the signal easily by using a Wi-Fi analyzer. Installing one on your laptop will let you see how much signal your router is getting as well as the other routers nearby that could be affecting your channel’s traffic.
In the event that you do not see any other routers on your channel and you want to or have already changed the tx power level, you can adjust it slowly, watching how the signal is affected either direction. This can allow you to get the ideal signal strength. If you adjust the tx power too quickly one way or the other, you may not see where the sweet spot is and overdo it, either creating excess noise or making your signal weak.
The highest level of power you will want to use is 100mw. Anything more than that is going to be too much, not matter how many routers are on your channel. Remember that boosting it too high is going to hinder your router’s performance, so bigger is not necessarily better.
Don’t Forget about the RX
Just as the tx power is important to how well your router transmits data, the rx level is important to see how much data (in dBm) is received. The ideal level for your router’s rx is between -18 and - 25 dBm. Like the case with the tx power, boosting the rx level too high is going to increase the signal to noise ratio (SNR), causing signal distortion and as a result lack of efficiently in the router. Going to low with the rx level will result in a reduction of signal speed. If the rx level is not set correctly, the tx power level is not going to be as effective as you would like. The router may be throwing out a strong signal, but if it is not receiving data quickly, you may not even notice a change in the signal strength if you have adjusted the tx power level already.
Other Ways to Help Improve your Signal
If adjusting the tx power level is not working out to improve your router’s abilities, there are other ways that you can help boost your signal and get the internet speeds that you are really after.
- Improving the antenna: Your router’s antenna is what throws its signal out and receives communication from the client. Just like you would with a traditional radio, you can move the antenna around to find a better signal. You can also get a high gain antenna that will improve your signal, but these are also more sensitive to movement so you will need to be careful when adjusting the position of the antenna. Normally, the antennas should be perpendicular.
- Check out the age of your router: If you are operating on older router hardware, it may not be able to use the best signals that are available. Make sure you are using a wireless AC connection to make your streaming smoother.
- Is your router in the right place: There are right and wrong places to place your router throughout your home. The router should not be locked in a cupboard or hidden in a closet. If you would like it to do its job well, a router needs to be out in the open, away from obstructions. If it is located on one side of the house, the other side is not going to get as strong of a signal as the area closest to the router.
- Use the Wi-Fi Analyzer: Not only can a Wi-Fi analyzer test your signal strength as you adjust the tx power level, but it will tell you if your house is on the wrong channel. If it turns out most of the neighborhood is on one channel, try changing your setting to another channel.
- Get a range extender for the house: It does exactly what it sounds like. A range extender will help carry your router’s signal so that it is strong all throughout the house instead of in the area that the router is sitting in.
When it comes to improving your router’s functionality and capabilities, no point is too small and every little helps. By adjusting your tx power, you may see changes in your router’s performance that you didn’t notice earlier. Making your wireless signal stronger is something we all want, all the time, and hopefully tweaking the settings with your tx power will help you get the improvements you need.