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Have a Better and Safer WIFI Router

A friend of ours home burnt last week. They lost a pet but no other lives were lost. The home is a total loss inside. The fire marshal believes the cause was an overheating WIFI router, although from the pictures it's hard to tell if it's a router, modem, Ethernet switch or all three. What a mess.

Routers are mini computers with a CPU just like any other. However for a computer, routers don't do much work, so none that I know of have factory cooling fans or the like. All are cooled by convection, the natural air flow that is caused because warm air rises.

Routers are usually out of sight - out of mind. Where is yours? It's probably in a closet somewhere hidden from view with all the messy wires and such, ugly and unattractive. Think for a minute what would happen if your router caught fire. Visualize if you can how advanced a fire would get before someone would notice. If the router is under a stairwell, could people get trapped upstairs?

The obvious thought here is to relocate your WIFI equipment to a safer location, an open shelf in the laundry room comes to mind. Another idea is to place it near the rest of your computer equipment and out in the open. If it starts smoking, someone will see.

There is something else you can do to lower your router's normal temperature and it is easy and inexpensive. Install a cooling fan. There are 120 mm cooling fans on the market made just for this purpose and they cost less than $15. They have built in standoffs so all you have to do is set the fan where your router is now, set the router on top of the fan, plug in the fan's USB power plug into the USB slot on your router, and your done. No tools. No complicated wiring. No screws.

To find a fan, search "120 mm USB router cooling fan" on your favorite electronics site like eBay, Amazon, Newegg, or TigerDirect. I bought one from a USA supplier to avoid the two week shipping from China. It cost a little more but I was impatient.

Customization may be necessary. We have a lot of pets so air filtration for cooling fans is a serious consideration. The air flow we are dealing with here is very low so a pleated filter with the area of the fan itself seems more than sufficient. For a 120 mm fan, that's about 133 square centimeters or a square hole about 12 cm x 12 cm. I used two holes each 6 cm x 12 cm.

The router cardboard box was a perfect container. I cut holes for the fan and the two 6 x 12 intakes. Hot glued the fan into place making sure the air flow was out. Then cut pleated a/c filter material to fit the two intake holes and hot glued the material into place. Plugged in the fan's USB cable and placed the router on top of it all. Done. Ahh, don't ask me how difficult it's going to be to replace the two pleated filters down the road. This is a first draft after all.

Current published articles on router cooling say that if you are into heavy on line gaming, a router cooling fan will minimize router problems like slowing down, having to reboot, and at the worst failing from heat. One author reported burning up routers every six months before installing a fan. Another wrote that after a fan installation, weekly router reboots were a thing of the past.

I hope this article helps you make your home safer and gets you better performance from your WIFI system.

Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA.



 


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