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.
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:
To start with WiFi heatmap creation you'll need:
Open NetSpot, switch to Survey mode and click "Start a new survey". Name your survey project, zone and choose its area type. With this setting you can regulate the precision radius of each measurement. Select the correct setting for your area to limit the number of samples you need to take, and increase the accuracy of your results.
If you have a map of your space (which is recommended, even if not required), click the “Load from file” button. If there is no map, you can sketch it with NetSpot — use "Draw it" button or start with the "Sample map".
Once ready to start 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. Repeat your paths throughout the space to cover the area.
Green circles can overlap a little at the edges. In case the overlapping is too big or the circles don't overlap at all, click Undo and repeat the measurements with a better positioning.
NetSpot heatmapper will show a trail similar to this one:
Whenever you need to stop the mapping process, click the "Stop scan" button. You'll be able to pick up from where you left off later. Your heatmap looks like this when ready:
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 network, it is not a concern as you can switch them off whenever needed.
Before saving the WiFi heatmap, look at all available visualizations to analyze the parameters of your WiFi network. NetSpot Home offers three main visualizations and NetSpot PRO and Enterprise have 16 visualizations for users with profound knowledge of WiFi networking.
To save your WiFi heatmap, select Survey and then Save from the top menu bar. Keep in mind that the free version of NetSpot doesn’t give you the ability to print or export surveys. To unlock all export options, you need to purchase either NetSpot PRO or Enterprise.
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. More useful information on selecting a WiFi channel can be found here.
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.
A WiFi heatmap is a perfect way to visually assess your wireless network coverage. It is detailed with a color spectrum that clearly indicates strong and weak areas of your WiFi.
NetSpot creates beautiful detailed heatmaps helping you analyze and improve your WiFi network.
Things you'll need to start working on your WiFi heatmap:
First, install and open NetSpot app, switch to Survey mode and choose the "Start a new survey" option. Give your project a name and select its type. Choosing the right type of your area helps you limit the number of samples you need to take, and increase the accuracy of the results.
If you already have a plan for your area, use the "Load from file" option. Alternatively, you can sketch a new plan right in NetSpot — use the "Draw it" button or start with the "Sample map".
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. No worries, if you need to pause the process, NetSpot allows you to do that easily.
When the heatmap is finished, it'll be super easy to read — red is the strongest signal, while blue is the weakest.
WiFi heatmaps are very visual and help you better understand the quality of your current wireless coverage and get ideas how to improve it. Some things you might do, when you see the weaker spots in your WiFi, are: you can move one of the access points; you can switch channel your network is currently on (an app like NetSpot can help you choose the most suitable channel); add new Access Points; use a WiFi repeater or an extender.