Why Does My Wi-Fi Signal Disappear at Night Only?

By Elizabeth Smith

Sudden drops in Wi-Fi signal strength can slow your Web browsing experience to a frustrating crawl. A disappearing signal will halt or pause downloads, disrupt streaming video and make getting online nearly impossible. A Wi-Fi signal that disappears only at night is usually affected by environmental factors and the changing behavior of people in your home and surrounding households.

Neighbors' Internet Use

The strength of your Wi-Fi signal to some extent depends on the other people in your vicinity. The cables that carry in the connection to your house and your neighbors' houses can handle only so much traffic. If your neighbors have heavier Internet use at night, your signal can drop out. The same is true when you and your neighbors are using the same wireless frequency; changing to a different channel or frequency can sometimes bring the signal back.

Evening Habits

The distance of your computer from the wireless router affects the way the signal behaves; the farther you get, the lower the signal. If you move too far away, the signal can disappear. When your signal drops out at night, it may be due to your standard evening habits. Using a laptop in your bedroom before you go to sleep is a possible culprit, particularly if your bedroom is on another floor. Moving the router to a more central location in the house or investing in a Wi-Fi range extender can solve the problem.

Wireless Interference

Other wireless devices in your home can also degrade your Wi-Fi signal. Possible sources of interference include garage door openers, microwave ovens, cordless phones, wireless thermostats, baby monitors and sprinkler controls. If you use more wireless devices at night, the interference gets stronger and may cause your signal to drop out. The same goes for interference from neighboring properties, particularly in apartment blocks or crowded student accommodation.

Overloaded Access Points

When everyone in your house gets home in the evening and goes online, your router sees more use. Most routers have a bandwidth and/or device limit that restricts the number of devices that can go online at any one time. When you overload the router, it may drop one or more devices. Computers, games consoles, mobile phones and tablets all count toward the limit. If you tend to download or stream more, it can add to the load on the router. To prevent the signal from disappearing, you can add an access point or turn the Wi-Fi capabilities off on some of your devices.