Understanding RSSI Values and Wireless Signal Strength

This article will help you understand your RSSI reading and wifi interference and what you can do to improve wifi strength.

What is RSSI?
If you've received a message from your Ring App indicating that your wifi 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 affected by all 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 wifi 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 Wifi Signal Strength

There are three main factors that can weaken your wifi quality:

  1. Physical obstructions / Router is blocked in a closet or behind furniture
  2. Competing wifi networks
  3. Other electronic devices.

wifinoise_couch.gif      wifinoise_closet.gif

                   Router behind sofa                                    Router in closet                            

Note: Ring devices are intended to be used with your home wifi network, not a mobile device hotspot. Using a hotspot instead of a home wifi network may cause repeatedly failed set up attempts or your Ring device to continually disconnect from wifi.   

Physical Obstructions

Certain materials can reduce the range of wifi signals or even block them.

Here are some examples of things that can interfere with your Ring device’s signal strength:

    • Heavy-duty walls and floors made of materials like concrete, brick, or metal.
    • Household objects such as fish tanks, bookcases and mirrors.
    • Windows made of Low-E glass also cause interference.

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 experience.

Competing wifi networks

If you live in a densely crowded area such as a big city or apartment building, there can be dozens of wifi networks around you which can cause interference and lower the quality of your network. 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 and baby monitors that aren't connected to your wifi network. The biggest source of electronic interference though, are those appliances that use the same wifi 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 wifi signal strength

Ring Doorbells and Security Cameras

  • The devices may disconnect from wifi and have trouble reconnecting.
  • Video quality may be reduced or distorted.
  • Audio quality may be reduced or distorted.
  • Notifications from the Ring device may be delayed.
  • The Ring device may miss Motion Events completely.
  • Live View may have trouble connecting.

Ring Chime Pro

  • If your Chime Pro has a poor wifi connection, devices connected to its network may see the symptoms above, even if their connections to Chime Pro are strong.
  • The Chime Pro may have disconnected from wifi and is having trouble reconnecting.

Wifi troubleshooting tips

Here are some quick tips that may help you get a stronger wifi 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 (check your router’s documentation if you are unsure how to do this).
  • 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.
    • If you can not do either of these things, try lifting the router up a foot or two and making sure it is in an open space.
  • Unplug other electronics that may be interfering with your connection.
  • Install a wifi range extender.
  • If you're getting interference from walls and floors:
    • If your wifi router has an adjustable antenna, try pointing it in various directions.
    • Try tracing the path that your wifi 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, or lifting it higher a foot or two.
    • Add a wifi extender such as the Chime Pro to your network. Extenders rebroadcast your wifi signal from a new location.
  • Some larger homes with thick walls and floors may benefit from using a wired access point via ethernet.
  • Try using a “Powerline Extender” to bring a wired access point near your Ring device. A Powerline Extenders are devices that plug into your regular electrical outlets and transmit data along your electrical cables.
  • If you're getting interference from competing wifi 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 Wifi" tool on the device health page of the Ring App to test your wifi 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 wifi.
    • Try moving other electronic devices. Even a few feet can make a big difference, especially if the router is behind a sofa or in a closet.
    • Most Ring devices are designed to function with a 2.4GHz wifi 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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