When planning to use a Wi-Fi connected IP security device such as a camera, door lock, or alarm transmitter it’s critical that technicians test the signal strength of the Wi-Fi network at the exact spot where the security device is going to be installed.

As dictated by the FCC, Wi-Fi access points/routers are limited to a maximum signal strength of 1 watt. Most common access points in use today typically provide less than the maximum power, with some vendors providing high power Wi-Fi adapters that deliver the full 1 watt signal. As distance increases from the access point to the location of the connected device the signal strength will decrease or attenuate. Most Wi-Fi devices will operate in the range of -60 to -80 dBm, which is a power measurement of less than 1 watt.

With the widespread usage of smartphones and tablets, it is now an easy process to quickly test for Wi-Fi signal strength. For example, if using an Android smartphone, the free Wi-Fi Analyzer app can be downloaded onto the phone. A technician can then just click the app icon, hold the phone at the proposed location of the device to be installed, and the signal strengths and Wi-Fi channels being used will be quickly displayed.

Each Wi-Fi access point will have a name or SSID which will typically be displayed on the top of each of the different colored wave forms on the analyzer. Most manufacturers will recommend that the minimum Wi-Fi strength for proper functioning is in the range of -60 to -70 dBm. This value is graphed on the analyzer screen for easy verification.

There are additional tools, like Wi-Fi Explorer and inSSIDer, for measuring Wi-Fi signal strength on Macs and PCs.

Using these kind of apps technicians can accurately test the strength of Wi-Fi signals, helping to ensure that an installed Wi-Fi device will provide proper communications to the customer’s LAN.

ADI offers a number of training opportunities throughout the year that provide tips for easier installations. Click here to check out the upcoming training events taking place at your local ADI branch.