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Where you place your modem in your home is important, but probably not for the reasons that you think.
You’re probably wondering if the location of your modem will impact the speed of your internet connection. That’s the biggest concern of most internet users.
Fear not, because I have some good news for you.
Where you keep your modem in your home won’t have any affect on your internet speed. With that said, the location of your modem is important for making sure it lasts as long as it should. If you don’t keep your modem in a proper location, you may find yourself replacing it sooner than you’d like.
In this post we’ll look at why the placement of your modem is important, as well as the best locations for your modem in your home.
How do your modem and router provide an internet connection?
Let’s first address the question that everyone is most worried about: Does your modem location affect your internet speed?
In order to understand if the location of your modem affects your internet speed, we need to have an understanding of how your internet devices get access to the internet. The two devices responsible for providing internet in your home are your modem and router.
What role does your modem play in your internet connection?
When it comes to the internet connection in your home, your modem basically has one job.
It’s responsible for connecting your house with the rest of the internet.
Your modem provides your home with access to the internet by establishing a connection to your internet service provider (ISP). Your ISP is the company that provides you with your internet plan (e.g. Xfinity, AT&T, Verizon, etc.).
By connecting with your ISP, your modem makes it possible for your devices to use the internet to receive email, browse websites, online shop, etc.
You can think of your modem like a key to the internet. Your modem opens the door for your devices to access the internet.
To put it simply, you need a modem if you want internet access. If you only had a router and you didn’t have a modem, your devices wouldn’t be able to reach the internet.
It’s as simple as that.
Due to the fact that your modem has such an important job, it doesn’t come with many extra features. It doesn’t assign your devices with IP addresses, provide a wireless internet signal for your devices, or coordinate the sending and receiving of data to the internet.
That’s where your router comes in.
What role does your router play in your internet connection?
If your modem connects your home to the internet, you might be wondering what your router does.
Pretty much everything else.
First and foremost, your router allows your devices to wirelessly connect to the internet. Your router uses its multiple antennas to broadcast your home’s internet connection through the air. The wireless devices in your home connect to your router through this signal, which allows them to access the internet.
Your router is able to broadcast this internet signal because it’s connected to your modem with an ethernet cable. Your modem passes the internet signal from your ISP to your router for broadcasting.
Here’s a diagram to help you visualize this:
If you have a modem and router combination device, your router won’t be connected to a modem with an ethernet cable. That’s because your modem and router will be housed in one device.
In addition to providing your devices with a wireless internet signal, your router also assigns IP addresses to your devices when they connect to your home network.
Once a device has been assigned an IP address, your router ensures that device only receives the information it requests. In other words, if you use your phone to enter a website address into your browser, your router will make sure that the requested website shows up on your phone and not on another device on your home network.
Does your modem location affect your internet speed?
Now that I’ve outlined the roles that your modem and router play in providing your home with an internet connection, we can answer if the location of your modem affects your internet speed.
As you’ll recall, your modem is connected to two things. It’s connected to your router with an ethernet cable, as well as to your Internet Service Provider.
The connection from your modem to your ISP is a wired connection as well. If you have cable internet (which most people do), your modem will be connected to your ISP through a coaxial cable.
This coaxial cable will connect to a cable jack on the wall and run outside of your home to your ISP. Here’s an example of what a cable jack looks like:
You may be asking, why is this important?
It’s important because of what these two connections have in common. They’re both wired.
The benefit of wired connections
When it comes to sending and receiving data, communication over wired connections is very fast. To take it a step further, sending data through a wire won’t usually have any impact on your internet speed.
In fact, the only time a wired connection will impact your internet speed in your home is if your modem and router are connected with an ethernet cable that’s longer than 328 feet (100 meters).
This basically means that as long as your modem and router are connected with an ethernet cable that is less than 328 feet long, it doesn’t matter where you put your modem in your home.
Remember, your modem doesn’t broadcast the WiFi signal to your devices. That’s your router’s job. All it’s responsible for is connecting your home to your ISP.
As long as your modem is connected to your router and ISP, it shouldn’t have any effect on your internet speed. It doesn’t matter where it’s located in your home.
Does your router’s placement affect your internet speed?
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for your router.
As I mentioned earlier, your router wirelessly connects to your internet devices. As a result, if your devices are far away from your router, they’ll have a weaker internet signal.
A weaker internet signal will lead to slower internet speeds. This is why it’s important to place your router as close to your internet devices as possible.
Where you should place your router is another topic entirely. For now, I wanted to provide you with the basics to make it clear that your router placement can have a much bigger impact on your internet speed than the placement of your modem.
Does modem placement matter?
If the location of your modem doesn’t affect your internet speed, does it matter where you put it?
You might be surprised to hear that the answer is yes.
There are other reasons to care about where you place your modem. For example, if you’re not careful about your modem’s placement, it won’t last as long as it should.
Why modem placement is important
The location of your modem in your house is important for several reasons. The first (and most important) reason is that your modem can overheat if it’s not placed in the proper location.
The other reason why modem placement is important is for organizational purposes. You’ll most likely want your modem near the internet connection that goes to your internet service provider. Placing your modem near the internet jack in your home will make it much easier to set up your internet connection.
Lets’ take a closer look at each of these topics.
It can help prevent your modem from overheating
If you buy the right modem and take good care of it, it can last you up to ten years or more. With that said, if you don’t take care of your modem, you may have to replace it much sooner.
Nobody wants to deal with that.
So what exactly am I talking about here?
I’m talking about dust and heat. You need to avoid dust and heat as much as possible if you want your modem to last.
If your modem is in a location where it accumulates a lot of dust, it’ll run hotter than it should. When electronic devices get hot, they have a tendency to overheat. If your modem overheats, its electronic components inside the device can fail.
We all know what that means. If your modem’s internal components fail, you’ll need to replace your modem.
Your modem can also overheat if it’s placed too close to a heat source like the heaters in your home. You don’t want to place your router and modem on top of each other either. Doing so will cause both devices to run hotter than they should.
So where should a modem be placed to help prevent it from overheating?
The key here is to keep your modem standing upright and in a well ventilated area. Ideally, you’ll want to keep it on an elevated surface like a table or shelf. This will keep it away from dust on the ground and make sure it’s getting proper airflow to cool it.
Any elevated surface will do. For reference, here’s my modem on a chair in my living room.
If you live in a climate controlled house, you shouldn’t have any issues. Just make sure your modem is off the ground and you’ll be all set.
It makes it easier to set up your home internet
Another factor you should consider when deciding where to keep your modem is its distance from the connection to your ISP.
As I mentioned earlier, your modem needs to connect to both your router and the internet connection that comes from outside your house.
The farther your modem is from the internet connection, the more complicated it’ll be to set up your internet.
Why is that?
If your modem has to connect to the internet jack that comes from your ISP, the shorter the cable the better. The farther your modem is from this jack, the longer the cable connecting them has to be.
You don’t want to have a long cable snaking throughout your house to connect your modem to your ISP. Not only is it a tripping hazard, but it also makes your house look messy and unorganized.
Some houses have multiple jacks that connect your home to your ISP, which makes things a little easier. You can just connect your modem to the closest jack to minimize the length of the cable connecting the two.
The bottom line is, it’s much easier to keep your modem in a place that’s close to the internet jack that goes outside your house.
Especially since your modem placement won’t affect your internet speed, it’s worth finding a spot close to your internet jack.
Modem placement recommendations
By now you should have a pretty good idea where to locate your modem in your home.
Ideally, there’s a place in your home that allows you to:
- Keep your modem close to the internet jack that connects your home to your internet service provider
- Place your modem on an elevated surface near the internet jack so you can keep it off the ground
- Put your modem in a room that’s either climate controlled or gets steady, natural airflow
If you’re able to keep your modem in a space that meets the above criteria, you’re in good shape.
If you’re not able to meet the above criteria, the one factor that’s the least impactful is the distance from the internet jack. You’ll have a longer cable connecting your modem to your ISP, but it won’t affect how long your modem lasts.
Regardless of where you keep your modem, try to keep it in an open area that’s off the ground. These are the two factors that can result in your modem failing before it should, so they’re the most important.
If you have any questions about this information, or you’d like to share where you keep your modem in your home, please leave a comment below.
If you found this information helpful, here are some additional posts I’ve written on similar topics: