Acceptable Wi-Fi Signal Strengths

What is an acceptable Wi-Fi signal strength for X application?

What signal strength should I try to achieve in my wireless deployment?

Requirements and Variables

Desired signal strength for optimum performance varies based on many factors, such as background noise in the environment, the amount of clients on the network, what the desired data rates are, and what applications will be used.

For example, a VoIP or VoWiFi system may require much better coverage than a barcode scanner system in a warehouse.

"RF is Weird"

Wi-Fi is generally measured with dBm, with is not an absolutely value, being logarithmic instead. 

A 3 dB gain means twice the signal strength, while a 3 dB loss halves the signal strength. Keep this in mind when setting signal strength requirements.

Note: The numbers in this chart are suggestions only.
The desired signal strengths will vary, based on the requirements for the network.

Signal Strength   Required for
-30 dBm Max achievable signal strength. The client can only be a few feet from the AP to achieve this. Not typical or desirable in the real world. N/A
-65 dBm Minimum signal strength for applications that require very reliable, timely packet delivery. VoIP/VoWiFi, streaming video, smappee
-70 dBm Minimum signal strength for reliable packet delivery. Email
-80 dBm Minimum signal strength for basic connectivity. Packet delivery may be unreliable. N/A
-90 dBm Approaching or drowning in the noise floor. Any functionality is highly unlikely. N/A
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