Wireless Routers Die from Power Drop Outs and Excessive Heat

(Posted 7/15/2006) - Over the last four years I've purchased and installed 10 wireless routers and have experienced four equipment failures, occuring at intervals of approximately 2 years (3 units), and 3 months (1 unit).

After the latest equipment failure, I researched the internet and found that such events are commonplace for all the popular brands (in my case Dlink and LinkSys).

Even though the price of consumer/pro-sumer level wireless routers has dropped below $40, the frustration resulting when a SOHO network is disrupted due to wireless router failure makes looking for solutions worthwhile.

My research indicates that there are two failure modes which need to be addressed in all wireless router applications: Power drop outs and overheating.

A surge-suppressor alone does not protect your always on, power-hungry wireless router when there are rapid drop-out/returns in your AC Power. These off-on cycles are potentially destructive to the radio circuitry in your router. Also, sagging voltages can make the solid state power supplies often used with these 10 Watt radio devices go into unpredictable modes. My conclusion: Surges are not the only thing that can kill your wireless router!

The recent introduction of consumer priced Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) can reduce your wireless router's vulnerability to power dropouts and voltage sagging. I have installed 350VA and 500VA UPS on each computer system I support and have begun connecting adjacent router and modem devices to the UPS battery supported outlets.

The other obvious but often neglected contribution to premature failure is heat. The operating range of most wireless routers is 40 - 105 degrees farenheit. That is ambient at the device. If you put your wireless router in a cramped space with poor air-circulation and the room thermostat indicates mid-80's, it is likely you've exceeded the 105 degree levels at the router!

I've made a point of moving wireless routers onto tops of shelving, out of direct sunlight, and away from heating vents or heat-spills from other equipment. Never stack devices as this restricts natural ventilation. A small fan directed onto the device can be useful.

Happy computing!