Understanding RSSI Values and Wireless Signal Strength

Question: I seem to have a problem with the strength of my Wi-Fi signal. Is there anything I can do about that? 

Answer: Yes! This article will help you understand your RSSI reading and Wi-Fi interference and what you can do to improve Wi-Fi strength.

What is RSSI?

 

If you've received a message from your Ring App indicating that your Wi-Fi has a poor RSSI signal, you may find yourself wondering what "RSSI" is and how you go about improving it. 

RSSI stands for Received Signal Strength Indicator. The problem with understanding RSSI strength is the fact that RSSI is not a "real" number. Rather it is a relative number that measures how strong a signal is when it's received by a device and it's heavily influenced by many factors. To better understand what RSSI is, consider the following: 

To be clearly understood, the average voice must produce approximately 60 decibels of sound. All things being equal, that 60 decibels should be enough to let a friend speaking at volume to get their message across. Unfortunately, things aren't always equal. Suppose you're at a rock concert and your friend is three feet away from you on the other side of a column while other people are shouting along with the band. In such a case, the 60 decibels being produced by ordinary voice isn't going to be enough to get a message across. 

How do you handle this? By manipulating your environment to get a clearer signal. A few things that can be done in this case include: 

  • Your friend raising their voice.
  • Moving your body so the column is no longer between you and your friend.
  • Your friend moving their mouth closer to your ear. 
  • Covering your other ear to cut down on the noise. 

Getting a wireless signal from the transmitter to the receiver can be like trying to talk to a friend at a rock concert. A variety of environmental factors may keep you from getting to clarity. The RSSI measurement is all of the factors that are hurting your signal at the receiving point. While RSSI is measured on a scale of 0 to -99, there won't ever just be one cause that is the culprit for a low RSSI rating. You'll have to be a bit of a detective, tracing the Wi-Fi paths in your house and experimenting with possible sources of interference. This will also help you when placing a Ring Chime Pro or other extenders. 

Causes of Poor Wi-Fi Signal Strength

 

There are three main factors that can weaken your Wi-Fi signal:
 
  • Walls and floors: Heavy-duty walls and floors made of materials like concrete, brick, or metal can reduce the range of Wi-Fi signals (or even block them), and can make connections unreliable. While other materials like wood and glass don't have as much effect, the more walls and floors between your router and your Ring products, the more interference you're likely to see.
  • Competing Wi-Fi networks: If you live in a densely crowded area such as a big city or apartment building, there can be dozens of Wi-Fi networks around you which can cause interference. If you open the wireless options on your mobile device or computer and see a long list of networks, you may be experiencing this type of interference.
  • Other electronics: This is a difficult kind of interference to detect, as it can come from almost anything—even from appliances such as microwave ovens that aren't connected to your Wi-Fi network. The biggest source of electronic interference though, are those appliances that use the same Wi-Fi network as your Ring device to perform their basic functions. These include cellular phones, iPads, other smart home devices, TVs, and video game consoles.
Symptoms of poor Wi-Fi signal strength

 

  • Ring Doorbells and Security Cameras
    • Wi-Fi disconnections
    • Poor quality or discolored video
    • Poor audio quality
    • Delayed Motion or Ring Alerts
    • Live View connection problems
  • Ring Chime Pro
    • If your Chime Pro has a poor Wi-Fi connection, devices connected to its network may see the symptoms above, even if their connections to Chime Pro are strong.
Wi-Fi troubleshooting tips

 

Here are some quick tips that may help you get a stronger Wi-Fi signal for your Ring device:

  • Most routers are automatically set to switch channels to the least crowded. If your router doesn't have this enabled, log in and turn it on.
  • If you can, move your wireless router closer to your Ring devices.
  • Otherwise, if possible, try and move your Ring device closer to your router.
  • Unplug other electronics that may be interfering with your connection.
  • Install a Wi-Fi range extender or second access point.
  • Call your ISP to request faster internet service.
  • If you're getting interference from walls and floor:
    • If your Wi-Fi router has an adjustable antenna, try pointing it in various directions.
    • Try tracing the path that your Wi-Fi signal takes from your router to your Ring device. If there are any items made of metal (such as a TV) or filled with water (such as an aquarium), move them out of the way.
    • If you can move your Ring device to a new location, do so. Even a few feet can make a big difference.
    • Some larger homes with thick walls and floors may benefit from adding a powerline Wi-Fi access point.
    • Add a Wi-Fi extender such as the Chime Pro to your network. Extenders rebroadcast your Wi-Fi signal from a new location.

 

  • If you're getting interference from competing Wi-Fi networks:
    • Many modern routers have utilities that allow them to scan for the least crowded channel to broadcast on. Check your router's documentation to find out how to enable this feature on your router.
    • If you've tried channel switching and are still getting slow Internet speeds, try setting the channel manually and use the "Test Your Wi-Fi" tool on the device health page of the Ring App to test your Wi-Fi speed and find the fastest one.
    • Consider upgrading to a new router, especially if yours is more than a few years old.
  • If you're getting interference from other electronics:
    • Try turning off or unplugging some of your electronics.
    • Some electronic devices such as PCs, TVs, and video game consoles can be wired directly into your router using Ethernet. Attaching these devices to a wired connection will free up bandwidth on the Wi-Fi.
    • Try moving other electronic devices. Even a few feet can make a big difference.
    • Most Ring devices are designed to function with a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signal for the best range. Other devices can operate using a 5GHz signal. Try switching any devices that can manage it over to the 5GHz signal.
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