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Wi-Fi Design: What is the correct number of APs for your deployment?

July 20, 2021

Article by Sam Clements

This one is easy. The answer, contrary to popular belief, is not "It Depends." The answer is very straightforward, easy to understand, and very sane:

The correct number of APs for your design is the minimum number of APs required to meet your stated design criteria.

Access Point Installation image

This means that to have the most optimal (least waste) design, you need to know what you're designing for. Your design criteria can include all sorts of things such as:

Device type (Handheld Scanners, iPhones, laptops, etc.), areas of perceived particular concern (CEOs office, conference rooms, executive admins desk, restrooms, the IT teams office, and other people likely to yell when they can't see the AP). As well as areas of actual concern (manufacturing lines, dense areas of users, people with critical business dependent needs, restrooms, etc.), as well as anything else that will make you want to add/delete APs later date.

Gathering that data upfront is not being pedantic; it's so that we can design your Wi-Fi and *SAVE* you money in the process! It's a balance between doing a proper Wi-Fi design and the cost of the assets in the ceiling, cabling, switch, and licensing fees, etc.

Defining precisely what you want upfront allows you to *SAVE* money in the long run. If you wish to have "extra coverage over at that office/area/restroom," don't add it after the fact.

Remember, there is such a thing as too much RF.

Getting *all* of the requirements upfront is a time/resource/materials savings and RF hygiene exercise. Our goal should be to optimally deploy as few IT assets to accomplish your stated IT goals (or design requirements).
That "one extra AP" that you added after the fact might have been the money you needed to pay for your proper design in the first place.
In fact, the cost of doing a design is regularly less than the cost of extra investment you spent "because all that proper design nonsense is for the birds."

So remember, the back and forth of gathering the who/what/when/where of a network's design is not about how many APs you need to put in to make a network work; it's about how many you can take out and still make everyone happy.

Don't waste APs. Don't waste switch ports. Don't waste labor. Don't waste your reputation. Design it right, do it optimally, and document document document.


Article by Sam Clements

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