Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’re at least a little bit familiar with WiFi – a type of wireless local area network (WLAN) that allows you to connect to the Internet without an Ethernet cable or any other physical tether to the modem.

You probably already use this technology for your computer or phone, but might be thinking of stepping up the game and seeing what other gadgets in your home are WiFi capable. The good news is that there are plenty of options to upgrade your home to be WiFi enabled. The bad news is that it is not always worth it.
The Advantages of WiFi

Enabling WiFi for as many devices as you can eliminates visual clutter in your home. With fewer cords running to and from your modem, you won’t have to figure out clever ways to hide them, tack them or make them look like part of the décor. 

The added convenience of a WiFi-enabled home is also an advantage: you don’t have to worry about finding a spot within a certain radius of your modem for all of your gadgets and technology because WiFi can transmit a fair distance away. With no cables to tie you to a certain area, you can set up a WiFi-enabled gaming system in your bedroom while still keeping your modem in the parlor.

With convenience comes mobility, a feature that can aid in seamlessly moving your tech from one room to another. Therefore, if you’re looking to move your home office from your bedroom closet to your child’s room after they move out, you don’t have to reconfigure your wiring or setup – just move the whole computer and you’re done. If you have WiFi-enabled security cameras, for example, and find that one of them is wasted in its present location, you can easily move it to where it's needed without having to disconnect and reconnect it to your system.

Cost is also a factor when considering WiFi. Although the initial investment in wireless routers is slightly more costly than just a modem and a few cables, the more WiFi-enabled items you add to your home, the less the gap in the cost-savings analysis. What you would pay for cables can quickly equal or surpass the cost of a low-end wireless router, especially if the cables are long or you have to drill holes and run them to all rooms of your house.

The Disadvantages of WiFi

WiFi is great, but it’s not without its drawbacks – and one of the biggest drawbacks for wireless networking is its speed: You might be set up to receive 100 Mbps (Megabytes per second) on your wired network, but you’ll only get about 1.54 Mbps via a wireless connection.

WiFi uses electromagnetic waves to send and receive information and those waves lose strength over distance (a process called attenuation). Although it’s a natural fact of using WiFi, interference from other electronic devices (such as baby monitors, microwaves and even television remotes) also contributes to the loss of a stable signal.

Interference (from other electronic devices or neighboring WiFi routers) can also decrease speeds, lead to faulty operations of devices and just generally drag your wireless network down. Changing the channel your router operates on can help, but you still might see a reduction in speeds compared to using a wired setup: why?

It’s simple: those electromagnetic signals have to travel and they often travel through walls, windows, doors, appliances and bookcases. Although this doesn't account for as much speed loss as attenuation, any loss of speed is still a concern for WiFi enthusiasts.

Aside from speed and performance issues, security is another major concern for WiFi gadgets. Although information sent via the network is encrypted, common encryption methods (WPS, WPA, WPA2, WPA2/PSK) all have their flaws and someone very dedicated to getting your information can exploit these flaws. Anyone with enough technological know-how can even see what you see over your wireless video baby monitor, so the risks may or may not be worth it, depending on your technology, ability to secure your WiFi network and personal level of comfort with the odds.

Should Your Home Be WiFi Enabled?

Going wireless has a good mix of advantages and disadvantages, but unless you're willing to part with possibly thousands of dollars, it’s not likely that you will get rid of all your wires, Even if you can, you might not want to due to the possible loss of speed, performance and security.

Still, if you’re a tech lover and want a project that demands your time and attention, turning your home into a wireless haven might just be an interesting project for you. You’ll learn how to create wireless bridges and repeaters (which are necessary to boost the signal of a wireless router over a wider area); you’ll learn to detect and remedy interference and you’ll find new and exciting ways to beef up your overall security.