Ceiling vs desktop vs wall mount access point

You may have arrived at this page hoping to find the answer to the question “ceiling vs. desktop vs. wall mount access point”.

Truth is there isn’t a straight answer, it really depends on your situation and how you are able to deploy the access point in your home or office. But, If you are still interested to find the answer, in this short article I will try to cover off some of the benefits and differences between a ceiling mount and wall mount access point.

The first question to ask

Can you mount an access point? Will your building owner or landlord allow you to make changes? Before you choose which access point is right for you, you must see what authorisation you have to mount devices on walls or ceiling, and whether you have permission to drill through walls.

Suspended ceilings are great for ceiling mounted access points, and easy to cable. While wall mount access points are easy to mount, and can be accessed for maintenance easily. Once you know which type of access point you are able to deploy, you will then need to think about what type of WiFi coverage you want. I would strongly advise that you also carry out a site survey before choosing an access point.

A site survey will able to identify signal strength, existing RF presence, and locate dead spots, etc.

Light bulbs and light

Putting aside the different types of access point features such as WiFi standard, PoE, and number of ports among other things, an access point’s WiFi signal is like the light beamed from a light bulb (apart from the fact it can penetrate walls). A wall mount lamp and a ceiling lamp will give off a different light pattern that illuminates different parts of the room. While the light covers the majority of the room, some areas wont be as bright as others. For this reason, you can purchase lights designed for walls and ceiling, based on how you would like to light the room.

The same applies to access point WiFi. A ceiling mount access point will have a different beam pattern to a wall mount, or even a desktop access point. Many access points now include a beam pattern schematic, which you can use to calculate the coverage from the access point. The best access point mounting in this scenario will be the one that ‘provides light to all of the people you want to be lit up’. i.e. Provide WiFi coverage to all the devices in that room.

Best practices and considerations

  • See what type of access point you can deploy in your home or office.
  • Consider how you will get power and data to the access point.
  • Look at the WiFi beam pattern of the access points and compare them.
  • How far is the reach you need the WiFi to cover in that room and beyond?
  • If you choose a ceiling mounted access point, be sure you can reach it for maintenance.
  • Avoid mounting the access point in a cage, metal housing or near metal such as shutters.
  • Avoid mounting an access point flush to a wall, as it may reduce the signal output.
  • A desktop access point may not be suitable if you are worried about theft.

Conclusion

While this article doesn’t give a clear winner, it shows that it can be difficult for network administrators to provide a good wireless service for the end users. It most cases this can be due to poor installation of access points as described above. So choosing the right access point is more about making sure you have the right coverage, the ability to mount it in a location that has no interference, and how easy it is to install within the permitted areas of your home or workplace

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