frustrated young man holding internet router

Have you been having issues with your Wi-Fi? If so, your router is likely the culprit.

In some cases, there are simple solutions, like adjusting the settings, that can solve these issues. Other times, it is best to upgrade to a new router. It’s important to try some troubleshooting first to determine if you actually need to replace your router,  so you can avoid an unnecessary purchase.

With a new generation of routers that support 5G wireless services to the home or business, you may want to hold off as long as you can to get the faster wireless connections that will be introduced over the next two years across the United States. 5G will enable a wide range of new services, often at a lower price than current wired networks.

With our router buying and power-saving tips, you can lower your router power usage, and decide when or if you want to move to 5G.

Demands on a Wi-Fi Router

Many of us use Wi-Fi with our phones, smart thermostats, security cameras, smoke detectors, coffee makers, and even vacuum cleaners.

In many households, there are numerous devices that connect to the Wi-Fi router. This means that we expect more from our routers than ever before and in areas of the home that haven’t needed a strong Wi-Fi signal previously. Some older routers may not be designed for connecting to so many devices and therefore need to be upgraded.

Interference From Other Wi-Fi Signals

There are more Wi-Fi signals around than ever before, especially if you live in a multifamily building.

In some cases, different Wi-Fi signals can interfere with one other. This might result in the Wi-Fi working well in some areas of the home and not in others — and these issues don’t necessarily correlate with proximity to the router itself. Changing the router settings to use a less congested channel can resolve the issue.

Distance From the Router

If you do not have a decent Wi-Fi signal in certain areas of the home, moving the router to a more centralized location can solve the issue. This will boost the strength of the Wi-Fi signal throughout the home and strengthen the signal.

Another option is to purchase a Wi-Fi repeater to boost the signal. The downside to this approach is that the repeater will also use energy, so it can be a less efficient option. But it still may be more efficient than replacing the router.

Slow Internet Service

If your Wi-Fi is slow throughout your home, the router itself may be the cause.

To determine this, use an ethernet cable to plug a computer directly into the router (or modem/router combo unit) and go to a website that tests your internet speed. Your internet service provider (ISP) may have a speed test tool on their site with specific instructions.

If the speed is still slow, then it is probably caused by slow internet service and not the router. Contact your ISP for help.

Reconfigure Your Router

If your router has external antennas, moving them to a new position may help.

If you have determined that your router is the culprit, it can be helpful to reconfigure it. Unfortunately, routers can be difficult to configure if you don’t have strong IT skills.

When router problems continue, you can hold down the reset button on the router with a paperclip for 30 seconds and then reconfigure it. It is also possible that the modem is causing issues and needs to be replaced.

When You Replace Your Router

If all these suggestions do not help, then it might be time to replace your router. Consider moving from wired ISPs to wireless, as we noted 5G services are already available in a few neighborhoods and cities around the country.

Routers have a variety of features that can be difficult to understand. It is a good idea to find one that has an easy-to-use management app, yet even those simple settings can tax the understanding of many people.

Some features, for example, the ability to set up a guest network to separate your connection from visitors. if you have a lot of one-time guests, get a router that supports a guest network with a different name and password than the network you use. That guest network can be switched on and off to reduce power use, as well.

Keep your network connection performing well and you’ll be tuned into how to reduce your unnecessary power consumption.

This post was originally published on July 3, 2019.

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.