• #1 NetSpot
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews

What Is a WiFi Mapper and Why It’s Useful?

In this article, we provide an introduction to WiFi mapping, and show our list of the best WiFi mapper software and apps with the NetSpot WiFi heatmap app among them.
top choice
  • NetSpot
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting
  • 4.8
  • 969 User reviews

Even though you may not yet be familiar with it, WiFi mapping has become one of the most useful activities. Why? Because wireless devices have become an integral part of our daily lives, and their optimal performance requires a strong WiFi.

By creating a WiFi heat map using a WiFi mapper app, you can quickly see all areas of signal weakness and figure out the best way to eliminate them. So, get ready because you’re about to learn a lot of useful information that you can immediately put to practice.

What Is a WiFi Mapper?

A WiFi mapper, sometimes called simply a heatmapper, is a software application that can create a WiFi heat map, which is a special WiFi coverage map that visually highlights all areas of signal weakness and dead zones.

Heat maps are used to make adjustments and improve wireless coverage

Heat maps are used to make adjustments and improve wireless coverage. It used to be that only trained networking professionals knew how to create heat maps using specialized software that would be completely inaccessible to regular home users. But times have changed, and heat map software is now more accessible than ever.

That’s great news for regular home users who are not satisfied with their WiFi and would like to improve it without calling over a technician and potentially paying hundreds of dollars for a simple fix.

How Can I Read WiFi Heat Map?

When you create heap maps with a WiFi mapper such as NetSpot, you will see a plan of your area overlaid by a colorful representation of WiFi strength. Typically, greenish and bluish colors indicate a weaker signal, while yellowish and reddish colors indicate a stronger signal.

WiFi Heat Map
WiFi Heat Map

A WiFi map may also have several blank spots on it. Such spots are commonly called dead zones, and they represent places with no or extremely weak WiFi signal. Dead zones are the nemesis of all WiFi users as they may cause connection drops when roaming from one room to another. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to eliminate them with a capable WiFi mapper and the knowledge of how to create a heat map with it.

Best WiFi Mapping Software

When selecting the best WiFi mapping software available, we’ve placed emphasis on ease of use as this article is intended primarily for regular home users who wish to improve the quality of their WiFi. But ease of use isn’t the only criteria we’ve considered. Features, price, and support are all just as important, and our choice of the best WiFi mapping software reflects this.

#1
NetSpot — is a tried and tested heatmapper with two distinct WiFi analysis modes.
#2
SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map — can automatically create custom Wi-Fi heat maps, find dead zones, and map the location of connected clients.
#3
Ekahau Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner — is an enterprise WiFi planning and wireless site survey tool with a number of attractive features.

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

NetSpot is a tried and tested WiFi heatmapper with two distinct WiFi analysis modes, and a user interface so simple that anyone can use it without reading the manual.

  • 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.

To create a WiFi heat map with NetSpot, just start the application, switch to Survey Mode and click on the “Start a new survey” option. Pick a name for your survey project and select the correct settings for it. Next, either draw a new map of the area you wish to survey or upload an existing one. NetSpot will then instruct you to walk from spot to spot on the map until you’ve covered it all. As you can see, creating a WiFi heat map with NetSpot is extremely simplyand quick.

WiFi heat map with NetSpot
WiFi heat map with NetSpot

NetSpot works on Mac and Windows and is available for free. Free 7-day activation codes of NetSpot PRO are available upon request. NetSpot PRO can capture up to 50 zones per project and up to 50 snapshots per zone. In total, NetSpot Pro is able to record 500 data points per a single heat map and visualize an unlimited number of access points.


choice #2
Available for Windows.
  • Not Enough Ratings

SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map is a capable heat mapper that is available as a fully functioning trial software that can be used for up to 30 days without any limitations. It can automatically create custom Wi-Fi heat maps, find dead zones, and map the location of connected clients.

SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map is part of a broad suite of networking applications that includes a comprehensive network bandwidth analysis and performance monitoring tool with features intended to help you monitor and analyze network bandwidth performance and traffic patterns, identify bandwidth hogs and see which applications are using the most bandwidth, and track response time, availability, and uptime of routers, switches, and other SNMP-enabled devices.

Other applications in SolarWinds’ suite include systems management software, cloud monitoring tools, and IT security products.

SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map
SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map

As such, SolarWinds Wi-Fi Heat Map is best suited for those who are heavily invested in SolarWinds’ ecosystem of enterprise-grade products. Yes, regular home users may use it as well, but they shouldn’t expect to receive the same kind of product support as the users of NetSpot, for example.


choice #3
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 Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner is an enterprise WiFi planning and wireless site survey tool with a number of attractive features. It supports 802.11n, as well as a/b/g, wireless networks, can locate all access points — even those that are hidden — can detect security settings, works on any Windows and macOS laptop and desktop computer, and is free of charge.

To satisfy the needs of enterprise users, Ekahau Wi-Fi site Survey and Planner comes with the industry's fastest 3D prediction engine with multi-floor and multi-building planning capabilities. It can also create summarized reports of the bill of materials, coverage and performance maps, capacity information, and the entire network layout with a single click of a button.

Ekahau Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner
Ekahau Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner

Being an enterprise-first product, Ekahau Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner may be a bit too much for regular users, which is why we’ve picked NetSpot as our number one choice instead. NetSpot has many of the same capabilities as Ekahau Wi-Fi Site Survey and Planner, but it presents them in a much more approachable fashion.

Best WiFi Heat Map iPhone Apps

To perform WiFi mapping, you don’t even need a laptop. These days, there are several great WiFi heat map iPhone apps that let you collect accurate information about wireless networks with nothing but your trusted iOS devices.

When selecting a WiFi heatmap iOS app, you should pay attention not only to its price and user interface but also to its features and accuracy. The best WiFi mapping iPhone software supports third-party spectrum analyzers to satisfy the needs of demanding professionals while remaining usable even without them.

To save you time, we’ve analyzed most currently available WiFi heat map apps for iOS, and here are our top 3 picks.


choice #1
Available completely free for iPhone and iPad. Needs iOS version 11.0 or later. Requires the WiPry 2500x device for most of the features.

NetSpot is a professional-grade WiFi heat map app for iOS (it’s also available as an Android WiFi heat map app).

You can use it to scan your and surrounding wireless networks, all while observing the changes in data charts in real-time.

What separates NetSpot from other similar applications is its support for the WiPry 2500x by Oscium, a dual-band spectrum analyzer capable of visualizing all spectral activity on both 2.4 & 5 GHz bands.

NetSpot
NetSpot

The only downside is the fact that the WiPry 2500x costs several hundred dollars. Luckily, NetSpot itself is free, and not all of its features require the WiPry 2500x to be connected.


choice #2
Requires iOS 12.2 or later. Compatible with iPhone, Mac and iPod touch.
  • Not Enough Ratings

Wi-Fi SweetSpots Map was created to help iPhone users discover the best place for their wireless router. It lets you quickly and easily overlay WiFi strength signal information on a map, allowing you to see at a glance where your signal is the strongest and weakest.

Wi-Fi SweetSpots Map
Wi-Fi SweetSpots Map

Unfortunately, the resulting WiFi heat map is a basic two-color gradient of a fairly low resolution, so it’s not really suitable for complex troubleshooting and advanced users.


choice #3
Requires iOS 14.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod touch.
  • Not Enough Ratings

Even though Ekahau Analyzer can’t really create a WiFi heat map, it still deserves a place on this list because it greatly simplifies WiFi troubleshooting by automating several common tests, including signal strength, SNR, channel quality, and connectivity tests.

Ekahau Analyzer
Ekahau Analyzer

The biggest problem, and the main reason why it has received so many negative reviews, is the fact that it’s intended only for commercial use, and regular home users have no option to create an account or register.

How To Create a Wireless Network Map with NetSpot

Creating a map of your wireless network is an effective way of evaluating your network's performance and troubleshooting weak spots. So, a good wireless network mapper can come in handy and will allow you to visualize your WiFi coverage, your signal strength, noise and interference across your entire network area.

NetSpot is a Wi-Fi mapper app for Mac and Windows (also available for Android and iOS). It allows you to take a complete site survey of your network and view the following WiFi heatmap visualizations:

  • Signal-to-noise ratio: this wireless network map highlights your signal level as compared to your noise level (for macOS only).
Signal-to-noise ratio
  • Signal level: this map highlights your signal level
NetSpot signal level
  • Signal-to-interference ratio: this map highlights co-channel interference from other radio transmitters
Signal-to-interference ratio

The PRO and Enterprise versions of NetSpot offer additional visualizations, and active scanning and troubleshooting features. It provides 2 additional noise level and quantity of access points visualizations, 3 Active Scanning visualizations and 6 additional Troubleshooting visualizations:

  • Quantity of access points: this map highlights the number of access points (or routers) detected at each measurement point
Quantity of access points
  • Noise level: this wireless network map highlights your noise levels (for macOS only)
Noise level
  • Download speed: this Wi-Fi map highlights Internet download speeds recorded during an active scan;
  • Upload speed: this map highlights Internet upload speeds recorded during an active scan;
  • Wireless transmit rate: this map highlights the Internet wireless transmit rate recorded during an active scan;
  • Troubleshooting issues with SNR: this Wi-Fi map makes it easier to identify and troubleshoot weak areas of signal-to-noise ratio coverage (for macOS only)
Troubleshooting issues with SNR
  • Troubleshooting low signal level: this map makes it easier to identify and troubleshoot areas of weak signal level;
  • Troubleshooting high noise level: this map makes it easier to identify and troubleshoot areas of high noise level (for macOS only);
  • Troubleshooting overlapping channels (SIR): this Wi-Fi map makes it easier to identify and troubleshoot areas of high co-channel interference.
Troubleshooting overlapping channels
  • Troubleshooting low download rate: this map makes it easier to identify and troubleshoot areas of low download speeds
  • Troubleshooting low upload rate: this map makes it easier to identify and troubleshoot areas of low upload speeds.

How to Use a WLAN Mapper

It is easy to get started using NetSpot as a WLAN mapper. Simply download, install and launch the application. If you have not used NetSpot before, please read "How Do I Start My Survey?" before starting your survey.

The NetSpot survey process involves uploading a map of your network area (or drawing a map of the area using NetSpot's tools).

NetSpot's map drawing tools

Then you carry your MacBook to various spots in your network area and take a data sample at each spot. Once you are done with your WLAN map, you can view the visualizations and start troubleshooting any issues. You can make adjustments to your wireless network map and then take a new survey to determine the results of your efforts and get better WiFi coverage.

NetSpot Wi-Fi signal booster empowers you to

  • Boost wireless network signal
  • Troubleshoot poor wifi signal
  • Increase wifi signal
  • Act as wifi signal strength tester
  • Boost laptop wifi signal
  • Make wifi signal stronger

Conclusion

WiFi mapping can help you significantly improve the performance of all wireless devices. As long as you equip yourself with the best WiFi heatmap software, then you should be able to create a WiFi heat map in a matter of minutes and without any special knowledge, making the activity well worth the little effort required.

SO, WE RECOMMEND
NetSpot
Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting 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
  • Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting

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

FAQs

How do I get a WiFi heat map?

Here’s what you need to do to get a WiFi heat map:

  1. Install a WiFi mapper app on your laptop or mobile device.
  2. Use the app to collect WiFi signal data.
  3. Let the app turn the collected data into a WiFi heat map.

How do I get a stronger WiFi signal on my iPhone?

There are many things that you can do to get a stronger WiFi signal on your WiFi, including:

  • Not using a protective case (especially a metal one).
  • Updating to the latest version of iOS.
  • Optimizing the placement and settings of your WiFi router.
  • Eliminate sources of signal interference.
  • Get closer to your WiFi router.

How do I map my WiFi in my house?

To map out your home WiFi network, you need to collect WiFi signal data using a WiFi mapper app, which will then turn this data into a WiFi heat map for you.

What is the best WiFi mapper app for iPhone?

The best WiFi mapper app for iPhone should be easy to use, capture accurate signal data, and provide plenty of useful features at an affordable price. NetSpot for iPhone meets all these criteria, making it the best WiFi mapper app for iPhone currently available.

Why do I need to map out my WiFi coverage?

Mapping out your wireless coverage will help you evaluate the network's performance and see the weaker spots in the coverage. A good WiFi analyzer will help you visualize the signal strength, noise and interference throughout the surveyed area.

What WiFi heatmap visualizations does NetSpot offer?

NetSpot for macOS offers signal-to-noise ratio, noise level, signal level, quantity of access points, and signal-to-interference ratio visualizations. NetSpot for Windows offers signal level, quantity of access points, and signal-to-interference ratio visualizations.

Also NetSpot offers other active scanning and troubleshooting features. There are 3 additional Active Scanning visualizations and 6 additional Troubleshooting visualizations.

How to Use a WLAN Mapper?

NetSpot is an excellent WLAN mapper that allows you to upload a map of your network area (or draw it if needed with NetSpot's handy tools). As you are carrying your laptop around your area you are filling up your map with precise measurements. As a result, you are getting a visual heatmap of your network for efficient analysis and troubleshooting.

What platforms does NetSpot work on?

NetSpot is available for macOS, Windows, and Android. The iOS version is coming shortly.

Have more questions?
Submit a request or write a couple words.

Read next in All about Wi-Fi

If you want to get more information about Wi-Fi, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi routers, the best apps for wireless networking, WiFi signal, etc.
Get NetSpot for Free
Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting 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.