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Communications Wireless Networking

New Houses Killing Wi-Fi 358

Barence writes "Poor Wi-Fi or mobile reception is one of the banes of modern living — and modern building techniques could be making things worse. PC Pro has photos of a new-build being covered from floorboards to rafters in a tin-foil like material. The "highly reflective" material could have unpredictable results for radio signals, potentially bouncing mobile signals away from the house or preventing Wi-Fi signals from reaching the garden. And the new householder is likely to be none the wiser."
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New Houses Killing Wi-Fi

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  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @10:35AM (#35817758)

    Its just insulation. It goes on exterior walls to help form a heat boundary. Its not even a little bit new, the observer is just a really shitty observer and never noticed it being put into every building thats been built in the last 40 or so years at least. Example, my cheap little home built in 1977 has it.

    It doesn't go on interior walls, you don't generally insulate interior walls, as the air flow through open doors in your home and the fact that your duct system intentionally moves air into those rooms would defeat the point entirely.

    Some people do choose to insulate their interior walls for sound dampening, but not with foil backed insulation, they use cheaper insulation without it or specific insulation for sound, which is what we did when remodeling our living room to prevent sound from the TV/stereo from bothering people sleeping in other rooms.

    It won't effect your Wifi signal as its on the external walls only and no one would use it on interior walls (even if they wanted to insulate) because its more expensive and just a waste of money in those locations.

    If you can't get a signal between the first floor and second floor of your home it has almost nothing to do with insulation and the fact that the antennas used on wifi routers are designed to radiate horizontally from the antenna (perpendicular to its orientation). It would be, in almost every case, a complete waste of RF energy to broadcast a signal upwards from a WAP when for most cases there will be no one above it or below it that its supposed to get too.

    Finally ... it has VERY LITTLE EFFECT on the signal. My home is completely wrapped in it, walls and attic, and we sit on a slab, yet I still have no problem picking up and connecting to any wifi access point within 2 houses of me (and we aren't talking about town homes 10 feet from each other, at least 100-150 feet between homes), though its not like I'm getting full speed out of 802.11g with it, though my workshop, which is about 75 feet from my home will consistently get 10mb out of it, and it is insulated with brand new (built 3 years ago) foil backed insulation as well.

    Does it effect the signal, sure, everything does. Does it effect it enough to care about it over the massive energy savings for heating and cooling? No, not even a little.

    The home owner is likely to be none the wiser about the size of the wiring in his home either, and wether its really designed to be used like many of us where we have several machines in one room functioning as servers/routers/firewalls for our home networks drawing way more power than the home was designed to deliver to a single outlet. As a general rule, if you don't know what that shiny material is, there are far more important things in your home that you should learn about first if your worried about how your technology is going to be effected. Wiring of the home would be top on my list. Clean power is far more of a concern than insulation. Nothing worse than wiring thats too small for the job causing your power supplies or UPSes to continually be fighting surges and spikes due to turning off and on other equipment. Older homes with shared runs using 14 gauge wire to power multiple outlets are far more damaging and problematic than the insulation, they are also considerably more dangerous in a modern world where 10 amps simply isn't enough power for some home appliances at startup (vacuum cleaner, microwave, big plasma TVs). You really want 12 gauge as a minimum, with individual runs from the breaker box to EACH outlet, 10 gauge if you can afford it is a much better choice and far safer. Considering how little it effects the cost of a new build, you'd be an idiot if you were given the option and didn't take it.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner