Ask the Wi-Fi Guru: June Edition

Monday Jun 15th 2009 by Aaron Weiss
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This month we answer questions related to bridging with open source firmware, such as DD-WRT and Tomato, as well as questions about boosting throughput for older routers and clients.

Last month, we celebrated the arrival of spring with a warning about how leaves can affect your wireless signal. With summer temperatures rising, Mother Nature isn’t done with us yet. Can heat and humidity affect your wireless network? Many anecdotal reports suggest increased problems with wireless links in hot and humid conditions. To be fair, it’s easy to sympathize with your router­­­—after all, who does like working in that kind of weather? But is there anything to these claims?

In very humid conditions, there theoretically could be enough moisture in the air to absorb some of the wireless signal. But RF experts tend to doubt the effect would be very strong unless your router is literally inside a cloud. Generally speaking, the longer your wireless link, the more likely it may be affected by humidity.

But perhaps a more common problem in summertime conditions is simply overtaxing the router. Consumer-grade routers don’t have cooling fans, but they do heat up. (Especially if you use a firmware like DD-WRT and crank up the output power.) Their innards are made up of relatively cheap circuits and connections. Hot and humid conditions could cause all sorts of wonky behavior with a router, from overheating the processor to moisture affecting internal contacts. A cool and dry router is a happy router.

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