Wi-Fi Site Surveys, Analysis, Troubleshooting runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.12+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10/11) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax wireless network adapter.
Use WiFi Heatmap for network improvements
There is no need to guess where you may need a better WiFi coverage, with NetSpot WiFi heatmapper tool you'll see exactly where you need to improve it.
Visual analysis makes things so much easier! Your WiFi coverage is displayed in heat waves so you can see exactly where the hot, cold and "good enough" spots are.
Map your Wi-Fi coverage
Let's say you installed a small wireless network at home or at your office, but are not sure if the access points perform their best and cover the area properly. In order to see whether you need to work on your coverage you may go the difficult way of making endless readings off the WiFi strength meter, but there is no way you would want to do it as there is no easy way to access and analyze that data.
A WiFi heat map on the other hand is not just a collection of signal strength readouts, it is a detailed heat map laid out in colors that immediately show you the spots with stronger and weaker WiFi signal strength.
Once you see areas of weaker WiFi signal strength visualized on a map, it becomes easy to figure out what’s interfering with the signal. The most common sources of WiFi interference include physical obstacles like walls and furniture, electrical appliances, and other WiFi networks.
Thanks to modern WiFi heatmapper tools, anyone can create a detailed WiFi heat map without any special knowledge or expensive equipment.
NetSpot is a comprehensive heatmapper tool for laying out the perfectly explicit WiFi heatmap. But before we explain how you can use it, let’s take a look at the best practices for creating WiFi heatmap.
Best Practices for Creating WiFi Heatmaps
WiFi heatmappers like NetSpot make it possible for anyone to create a WiFi heat map that accurately shows where the network has strong coverage and where it has weak coverage. To obtain the best results possible, we recommend you adhere to the following best practices for creating WiFi heatmaps:
- Measure all bands: Many modern WiFi routers are able to simultaneously broadcast 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz signals. In certain areas, it may be difficult to achieve satisfactory coverage on the 2.4 GHz band because of its high utilization and the resulting issues with signal interference. That’s why it’s a good idea to measure all bands and combine their coverage before making any changes to the network.
- Use an accurate floor map: Always use the most accurate floor map you have at your disposal when creating WiFi heatmaps. You don’t want to spend time walking from one room to the next, trying to obtain WiFi signal strength data, only to end up with a WiFi heatmap that doesn’t reflect reality.
- Know when to measure: Your measurements should reflect real-life conditions as closely as possible. If you want to, for example, cover a large office with a strong WiFi signal, it makes little sense to measure after work, when everyone’s at home and there’s far less radio frequency interference. Instead, measure during regular work hours so that you can see what the worst-case situation looks like.
- Mark all AP locations: It may seem trivial, but experience tells us that people often forget to mark the exact locations of all access points when creating a WiFi heatmap, only to later struggle when interpreting the results. This is especially important when measuring the coverage of a mesh network, which may consist of dozens or even hundreds of wireless mesh nodes talking to one another.
- Create multiple WiFi heatmaps: Since the best WiFi heatmapper tools like NetSpot can create a comprehensive WiFi heatmap in just a couple of minutes, depending on the size of the surveyed area, you may want to create separate heat maps for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz or 6 GHz bands. This will give you a clearer picture of the coverage and performance of each band. Additionally, you should create multiple WiFi heatmaps so that you have plenty of information upon which to base your decisions. At the very least, create one WiFi heatmap before deploying a new access point or changing the configuration/location and one after.
Let NetSpot build a Wi-Fi heatmap for you
Understanding the coverage and performance of your WiFi network is essential for ensuring a reliable and efficient connection throughout your space. NetSpot, with its intuitive heatmap generation, turns this complex task into a simple and insightful process.
To start creating WiFi heatmaps with NetSpot, you’ll need:
- Any MacBook or Windows laptop;
- NetSpot Home, PRO or Enterprise;
- A plan of your home/office (optional).
Start a New Survey
Open NetSpot and navigate to the Survey tab. Click on “Create New…” to start a new project. Name your project and add a description for convenience.
Load or Create a Map of Your Space
Choose the type of map you’ll be using. You can either upload a file or draw a new plan directly in NetSpot.
If you’re drawing a new plan, you can set up the area for your canvas in either feet or meters. But if you do have a map of your space, click the “Load from file” button. If there is no map, you can sketch it with NetSpot — just click the “Draw it” button.
Calibrate the Map and Set Precision
Calibrate the map by entering the length of a line that corresponds to some real-life stretch in your surveyed space or a square you know the area of. Choose meters or feet to correctly reflect the units you are going to use throughout your project.
Set the precision of your data point (the spots on the plan you’ll be taking measurements at). The larger and more open your surveyed space is, the less frequent sampling stops you need to take.
Start the Heat Mapping Process
Once ready to start the heat mapping process, carry your laptop to any spot on the empty map and mark your approximate location (a small dot will appear). Starting from a corner move in a zigzag path through the measured space. After walking several feet, mark your new location on the map.
As you move from one point to another, continue marking your locations and taking measurements. Make sure to overlap the blue circles that represent your data points slightly for comprehensive coverage.
NetSpot heatmapper will show a trail similar to this one:
Analyze the Results
When you’ve covered the desired area, click “Heatmaps” in the top-right corner. Here, you can choose from different visualization types to analyze your WiFi signal strength and other parameters.
Check out the helpful tips and hints on how to run a survey for the most precise results. When you are all done with the mapping, you can click on any Access Point on the map to display the signal heat map for that Access Point. Red is the strongest signal, while blue is the weakest.
The panel on the left side will display all Access Points your laptop could detect. Even if there are APs from neighboring networks, it is not a concern as you can switch them off whenever needed.
Save Your Heat Map
To conclude your project, click the Export report button in the top-right corner to save your WiFi heatmap. Please note, the free version of NetSpot does not allow you to do surveys. NetSpot PRO or Enterprise are required to unlock this feature.
Implementing the Wi-Fi Heatmap knowledge
Now that you have a WiFi heatmap of your home or office you can take every benefit out of it. Studying the heat map thoroughly helps you see the weaknesses of your WiFi coverage and gives an idea where to start to fix the issue. So what you can possibly do:
Move the Access Point: The first thing to try, and the easiest, is moving the access point around. For example, when the signal is weak off the particular side of the AP, examine the structure of the building in that direction. Is there a concrete wall or a large metal cabinet or a fridge that is blocking the signal from access point? Something like this can be fixed by simply moving the access point further along to the other corner. Also moving the AP up from the floor and positioning antennas vertically (in case of moveable antennas) can change the situation to the better.
Switch Channels: When according to the WiFi heatmap you are getting a decent coverage, but the transmission speed and the connectivity in general fail, let NetSpot check the statistics on your Access Point and the Access Points that are leaking into the measured space. If you discover that your AP uses channel 6 just like some other APs leaking into your space, try switching to a less crowded channel 12. Learn more about how to select the best WiFi channel.
Add in Access Points: If your space is wired for Ethernet, you can always add another Access Point at any cable termination spot to strengthen the signal.
Add in a Repeater: Most of the time WiFi routers and APs can be set up as WiFi repeaters. Repeating a WiFi signal can efficiently boost the range of an existing wireless network.
Predictive WiFi Heatmaps
Predictive WiFi heatmaps are a type of WiFi site survey that allows you to forecast the signal strength and coverage of a wireless network in a specific environment without physically visiting the location. This can be especially useful for planning and designing a new wireless network or for making changes to an existing one.
Anyone who is responsible for planning, designing, or maintaining a wireless network can benefit from creating predictive WiFi heatmaps. This includes network administrators, IT professionals, and even home users.
NetSpot makes it easy to create predictive WiFi heatmaps with its built-in planning mode:
To get started, simply open NetSpot and switch to Planning mode.
Then, initiate a new project and either upload a pre-existing map of your intended coverage area or create a new one using NetSpot’s built-in tools.
Calibrate the uploaded or created map by marking a known distance on the layout, then add important architectural elements like walls, windows, and doors to the map.
Next, strategically position virtual access points onto your calibrated map to emulate real-world hardware placement.
Once you have positioned your access points, click on the Heatmaps button to run a simulation of your planned WiFi network. Carefully analyze the results to determine if any adjustments to the access points are needed.
In conclusion, using a WiFi heatmap is an essential tool for improving the coverage and performance of your wireless network.
With the help of NetSpot, creating and analyzing a WiFi heatmap is easy and straightforward. By following best practices and utilizing NetSpot's features, you can identify areas of weak signal strength, optimize access point placement, and make informed decisions about how to improve your WiFi network. Don't let poor WiFi coverage slow you down — use NetSpot to create a WiFi heatmap and start improving your network today.
WiFi Heatmapper — FAQs
A WiFi heat map is a visual representation of the signal strength and coverage of a wireless network in a specific area. It uses a color-coded system to indicate the strength of the signal.
A WiFi heat map is a valuable tool for assessing the performance of a wireless network and identifying areas where coverage may be poor or non-existent. By using a tool like NetSpot to create a WiFi heat map, you can gain insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your network and make informed decisions about how to improve it.
To build a WiFi heatmap, follow these steps:
- Install and open NetSpot app on any MacBook or Windows laptop.
- Switch to Survey mode and click on "Create New..." to start a new project.
- Name your project and choose the type of map you'll be using.
- Calibrate the map by entering the length of a line that corresponds to some real-life stretch in your surveyed space or a square you know the area of. Set the precision of your data point.
- Find a good starting point, like a corner, mark it on the plan, and start taking samples while moving in a zigzag pattern. Remember to mark your every new point on the plan and proceed until you have covered the area.
- When the heatmap is finished, analyze the results by clicking "Heatmaps" in the top-right corner.
A WiFi heatmap is a highly useful tool for assessing and improving the performance of a wireless network, allowing you to:
- Identify areas of weak or no coverage. By seeing where the signal is weak or non-existent, you can determine where you may need to add access points or adjust the placement of existing ones.
- Optimize access point placement. By seeing how the signal strength varies throughout your space, you can determine the best locations for access points to ensure maximum coverage and minimal interference.
- Choose the best channel. By seeing which channels are being used by nearby networks, you can choose the channel with the least interference for your own network.
- Improve network performance. By identifying and addressing areas of poor performance, you can improve the overall speed and reliability of your network.