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Best WiFi Heatmap Tools

It’s not easy to set up a WiFi network that covers a large area with a strong signal. Fortunately, you can instantly know which steps you need to take to optimize virtually every WiFi network just by creating a WiFi heatmap using a WiFi heatmap software tool.
top choice
  • NetSpot
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews
Due to interference caused by other WiFi networks and the presence of large obstacles such as walls and furniture, many WiFi networks are plagued by frequent connection drops, mediocre speeds, and the presence of signal dead zones.

What Is a WiFi Heatmap?

A WiFi heatmap is a map of wireless signal coverage and strength. Typically, a WiFi heatmap shows a real map of a room, floor, or even a city overlaid by a graphical representation of a wireless signal.

Professional network administrators and regular home users alike use WiFi heatmaps to find dead zones and make adjustments to achieve the desired coverage. Without a heatmap, wireless network optimization involves a lot of guesswork, which is why most people who are not aware of the existence of WiFi heatmap software never manage to achieve the WiFi coverage they would like to have.

WiFi heatmap software fully automates the process of mapping WiFi coverage on a map, allowing anyone to create a WiFi heatmap in a matter of minutes just by walking from one place to the next until the entire area is mapped.

How Do WiFi Heatmaps Work?

We’ve explained that a WiFi heatmap is a map of a wireless signal, but how does WiFi heat mapping software create it? While there are many different WiFi heatmappers to choose from, the process is usually fairly similar.

A user equipped with a laptop or smartphone with a WiFi heat map software application enters the premises and either loads up an existing map of the area or creates one from scratch. He or she then begins the heat mapping processing, carrying the laptop or smartphone from one location to the next, recording where WiFi is working well and where the signal is too weak for web pages to load quickly.

After analyzing the gathered data, the WiFi heat map software application creates a map overlaid with traffic light-style color spectrum, showing areas of the greatest signal strength as well as the greatest signal weakness. The color green usually indicates a good signal strength, while the color red indicates poor signal strength.

WiFi Heatmap

Besides WiFi strength heatmaps, most WiFi heatmappers can also create other visualizations and capture all kinds of information, ranging from signal-to-noise ratio to noise level to frequency band coverage.

WiFi heatmapping is actually a straightforward process

You might now be thinking, “WiFi heatmapping sounds like a lot of work. Is it really worth the effort?” Well, WiFi heatmapping is actually a straightforward process that you can easily accomplish with just a few clicks using one of the best WiFi heatmap software tools described below. Whether it’s worth the effort depends on how important fast and reliable WiFi is to you.

If you have a home or office WiFi network, you probably depend on it every day so optimizing it for best performance and eliminating signal weak spots is definitely worth the little effort it takes to run a modern free WiFi heat mapping software application.

What Is the Purpose of Creating a WiFi Heatmap?

The purpose of creating a WiFi heatmap is to obtain accurate information about the quality of coverage of a WiFi network. As you may know, WiFi coverage is affected by many different factors, including:

  • Your WiFi router: There are many different WiFi routers, and the quality of coverage they provide varies greatly. You can’t reasonably expect a budget WiFi router to cover a large home or office building with a strong WiFi signal no matter how well you position or configure it. A WiFi heatmapping tool can help you understand the limitations of your WiFi router and decide if you should get a new one. Modern WiFi routers have plenty of useful features intended to improve your online experience, so upgrading once in a few years is typically always a good decision.
  • Other WiFi networks: Being stuck in traffic on your way to work is no fun, especially if you’re in a hurry and need to get there as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, something similar can happen to you when surfing the web, downloading files from the internet, or video chatting with friends because digital traffic jams can occur when too many WiFi networks in the same area broadcast on the same frequency and channel. Using a WiFi heatmapping software application, you can visualize frequency band coverage and configure your router accordingly.
  • Physical obstacles: Your WiFi signal doesn’t like physical obstacles, especially those that are dense and thick, such as walls or large furniture. Materials like metal can also have a significant impact on your wireless signal, which is why you should never install a WiFi router near metal appliances. In extreme cases, physical obstacles can create dead zones, which can be clearly seen on a WiFi heatmap. Unfortunately, not all physical obstacles can be easily removed. You can, however, always improve your WiFi signal by installing a WiFi extender or additional router.
  • RF interference: Radio frequency interference, also called electromagnetic interference, refers to the disturbances in the WiFi frequency spectrum (usually 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) caused by RF-emitting devices. Such devices include cordless phones, mobile phones, microwave ovens, medical scanner, baby monitors, wireless security cameras, and, of course, WiFi routers themselves. RF interference can manifest itself on a WiFi heat map as an area of signal weakness, and it typically correlates with the presence of some electronic device.
  • Router configuration: Your WiFi router has many different settings that you can change to improve the quality of its signal. The main setting you should pay attention to is your WiFi channel. In the 2.4 GHz band, there are 11 channels (at least in North America), with channels 1, 6, and 11 being the only non-overlapping channels. You should also pay attention to your router security settings, because the last thing you want is to let other people use your internet connection without your approval. Most WiFi heat map software solutions can gather information about the configuration of your router, as well as other routers in the area.

Top 5 Best WiFi Heatmap Software Tools

Great WiFi heatmap software tools are actually not that easy to find. To help you out, we have selected 5 best heatmap tools currently available so you can get most from your WiFi network as soon as possible.

#1
NetSpot — is the only heatmap software tool designed to satisfy the needs of professional and home users alike.
#2
Ekahau HeatMapper — is no-frills WiFi heatmap software with support for 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi networks and a simple user interface.
#3
Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps — you can turn your personal computer or laptop into an advanced wireless network analysis tool to get a detailed overview of the wireless landscape around you.
#4
VisiWave Site Survey — intended for large-scale and local WiFi surveys alike
#5
AirMagnet Survey PRO — supports all WiFi network standards and surprises with its large number of supported features.

Best WiFi Heatmap Software Tools

choice #1
Available for MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews
  • 500K
  • Users

Available for macOS and Windows, NetSpot is the only heatmap software tool designed to satisfy the needs of professional and home users alike. NetSpot runs on any laptop or computer with macOS 10.10+ or Windows 7/8/10.

To create a WiFi heatmap using NetSpot, all you need to do is enter the Survey Mode and follow the simple instructions. NetSpot will ask you to upload a map of the area you would like to survey, but you can also create one using the built-in mapping tool.

  • Discover mode

    Reflects the rate of data transfer from user to the Internet.
  • Survey mode

    Available on any MacBook with macOS and PC laptop on Windows.

Then just walk from one place to the next to collect wireless site survey data and wait for NetSpot to automatically build a WiFi heatmap for you. The heatmap will tell you exactly where your wireless signal is the strongest and where it could be improved.

WiFi heatmap

Besides its wireless heatmap capabilities, NetSpot is also a great WiFi analyzer. Switch to the Discover Mode and let NetSpot collect detailed information about nearby wireless networks, including those that do not broadcast their SSID, showing you what kind of security settings the networks use, which channel they broadcast on, and how strong their signal is, among other things.

NetSpot’s Discover mode

Despite having so many useful features, NetSpot never lets its users wonder which button they should click on to accomplish what they want to do. Because of its ease of use, professional features, attractive price, and stellar customer support, NetSpot has established itself as a leading heatmapper and WiFi analyzer, earning the top spot on this list.

choice #2
Available for Windows 8 / 7 / Vista / XP (64 and 32bit) laptop or tablet with: 1GB RAM, 2GB hard disk space, 1GHz processor, Wi-Fi (WLAN) adapter (internal or external).
  • Not Enough Ratings

Ekahau HeatMapper is no-frills WiFi heatmap software with support for 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi networks and a simple user interface. This heatmapping tool can automatically discover all nearby access points and detect their security settings to help you better understand how you should optimize your own wireless network for maximum performance.

Ekahau HeatMapper
Ekahau HeatMapper

Ekahau HeatMapper can be downloaded for free, and it works on any Windows laptop or desktop computer with a WiFi adapter and at least 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of memory. Compared to NetSpot, Ekahau HeatMapper has a lot fewer features even though the two heatmappers are equally easy to use.

choice #3
Available for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 with Microsoft.Net 4.5 Installed.
  • Not Enough Ratings

With Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps you can turn your personal computer or laptop into an advanced wireless network analysis tool to get a detailed overview of the wireless landscape around you. Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps can analyze both the 2.4 and 5 GHz RF spectrum and generate detailed heatmaps and reports in a variety of common file formats.

Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps
Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps

The heatmaps generated by this WiFi heatmap software tool can be based both on online maps as well as on user-imported maps. Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps makes it possible to edit the generated maps, which is something that professionals across many different industries can appreciate. You can try Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps for free by downloading the trial version for the official website of the software.

choice #4
Available for Windows.
  • Not Enough Ratings

Intended for large-scale and local WiFi surveys alike, VisiWave Site Survey provides three effective methods for capturing data. You can either capture data one point at a time, continuously walk through the survey area, or use GPS positioning for outdoor surveys. Several customizable templates can be used to easily create custom WiFi signal strength and coverage reports, and the gathered data can also be viewed in Google Earth.

VisiWave Site Survey
VisiWave Site Survey

VisiWave Site Survey supports most wireless adapters, and it doesn’t require any special hardware components to function. VisiWave has been maintaining and upgrading this comprehensive software product for over 13 years, so you can count on their support even in the future.

choice #5
Available for Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7 and MAC OS X v10.5 or higher.
  • Not Enough Ratings

AirMagnet Survey PRO can automatically create easy-to-read heatmaps for signal/noise, WLAN throughput, PHY data rates, retry rates, and packet losses. This heatmapper supports all WiFi network standards and surprises with its large number of supported features. Unfortunately, AirMagnet Survey PRO has a slightly outdated user interface, which can be unintuitive at times.

AirMagnet Survey PRO
AirMagnet Survey PRO

If you frequently need to create WiFi heatmaps, you will most likely get over the clunky user interface relatively soon. But if you’ve never created a WiFi heatmap before and don’t know if you will ever need to create one again, a more user-friendly WiFi heatmapper, such as NetSpot, is a better choice for you.

How to Choose the Right Tool for Creating WiFi Heatmaps?

With so many excellent WiFi heatmap software tools to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? By considering the following criteria:

  • Features: Different heatmappers support different visualizations, so make sure to select one that is able to tell you everything you need to know about your WiFi network.
  • Compatibility: It goes without saying that you need to select a WiFi heatmapping tool that’s compatible with your operating system. Fortunately, NetSpot and many other leading heatmappers support both Windows and macOS.
  • Ease of use: You should always select a WiFi heat mapping software application that’s intuitive and designed to make the heatmapping process as simple as possible because there’s no reason to waste your time on applications with poor usability.
  • Price: When it comes to price, WiFi heatmappers can cost as little as zero dollars or as much as several thousand. We recommend you stay within your budget and focus on heatmappers that offer a free trial version.
  • Customer support: Never purchase WiFi heatmapping software from a company that doesn’t stand behind its customers and doesn’t offer multiple customer support channels.

How to Create a WiFi Heatmap with NetSpot?

Creating a WiFi heatmap with NetSpot is simple, and you don’t need any technical knowledge whatsoever because NetSpot makes the entire process extremely simple:

  1. Launch NetSpot.
  2. Switch to the Survey mode using the slider in the toolbar.
Start a new survey
  1. Click the "Start a new survey" button and give your WiFi heatmap a name.
NetSpot — New survey
  1. Choose Zone Area Type so that NetSpot can configure appropriate default sampling settings for the first zone you create.
  2. Either provide an existing map of the area you want to survey or create one using the map creator included with NetSpot. Click Continue when you’re ready to begin the heat mapping process.
  3. Move from one area to the next until the entire map is covered with overlapping green circles, which is when you can click the “Stop scan” button.
NetSpot Stop Scan
  1. Analyze the heatmap. You can switch to other visualizations using the drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen.
SO, WE RECOMMEND
NetSpot
WiFi analyzer app runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.10+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network adapter.
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews
  • #1
  • WiFi analyze app

  • 500K
  • Users
  • 6
  • Years
  • Cross-platform
  • Mac/Windows

FAQ

What Is a WiFi Heatmap?

A WiFi heatmap is a visual color-coded map that shows the wireless signal coverage and strength. Thanks to this colored representation one can easily spot weak wireless areas and try fixing the problem.

What are the Top 5 Best WiFi Heatmap Software Tools?

We have selected 5 best heatmapping solutions for you. Here are their brief descriptions:

  1. NetSpot — the only heatmap software that is loved by home WiFi owners as much as it is loved and respected by WiFi professionals for its advanced features and efficient surveys.
  2. Ekahau HeatMapper — a no-frills WiFi heatmap app supporting 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi networks and offering an easy interface.
  3. Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps — another friendly software for your personal computer or laptop for an advanced wireless network analysis.
  4. VisiWave Site Survey — supports local WiFi surveys just as it does a large-scale network analysis.
  5. AirMagnet Survey PRO — this WiFi heatmapping tool has a lot of features and supports all wireless network standards.

How to create a WiFi heatmap using NetSpot?

After opening NetSpot, go to its Survey Mode and follow the simple instructions. You'll need to either upload a map of a surveyed area or create one directly in NetSpot. Once you have the map in front of you, start walking from spot to spot while NetSpot is building a heatmap. With the resulting visual heatmap, you'll be able to see which areas have the strongest signal, and where the coverage needs to be enhanced.

How to collect information about nearby wireless networks?

Use NetSpot to gather information about the surrounding networks. In the app's Discover Mode you can see what kind of security settings the discovered networks use, what channels they broadcast on, their signal strength, and more. You can get information about the networks that don't broadcast their SSID as well.

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