Can A Wifi Router Overheat? [And How To Prevent It]

Are you concerned that your router could be overheating and possibly slowing down, dropping your internet connection,or causing hardware malfunctions?

Wi-Fi routers, like many electronic devices, can overheat resulting in damage to hardware or problems with your internet connection. Routers mainly overheat because their electronic components are placed in a very tight space with little airflow and no cooling fan.

However, unlike computers, the problem of overheating in Wi-Fi routers is not very common since they are generally low power devices with low processing power and hence don’t generate a lot of heat.

Why Do Wi-Fi Routers Overheat?

While Wi-Fi routers are built to run 24 hours a day without overheating, there are a few things that could cause your router to overheat. They include:

1. Clogged Air Vents

Wi-Fi routers rely on passive cooling to control their internal temperatures. This explains why they have vents on the sides of their enclosure. These vents are used to allow hot air from the interior to flow out of the enclosure and cool air from outside to flow inwards. This helps the internal circuitry to stay cool.

However, when these vents are blocked by objects that are placed too close to the router or by dust that may have accumulated inside the enclosure, your router loses its ability to sufficiently cool itself and hence overheats. This is why it’s never a good idea to put your router in a cabinet, closet, basket or any other space that has limited air flow.

2. Poor Router Design

Your router’s overheating problem may also be as a result of poor design work by the manufacturer. For instance, the manufacturer might fail to drill enough air vents or might install a chip that runs pretty hot in the circuitry, thus causing endless heat problems.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to check for product reviews online and see what other people are saying about a particular router before clicking the buy button.

Fortunately, E-commerce stores, such as Amazon and Walmart, have a reviews section where people who have actually bought and used their products get to share their experiences. This can be very helpful when you’re trying to weed out a good router from a bad one.

3. Having Too Many Devices Connected At The Same Time

causes of router overheating

Wi-Fi routers usually have a limit on the number of devices that can connect to them before they become overloaded. Having too many devices connected at once could put a lot of stress on the router causing the chips on their circuitry to run hotter than normal.

Also, if your router has several Wi-Fi Access Points connected it could run pretty hot because of the high output power required.

4. Hot Environment

Another reason why your Wi-Fi router may be overheating is because your room is too hot. This is especially common during hot summers when there’s not enough cool air in circulation to cool the router.

In addition, placing your router too close to another electronic device that generates heat, a TV for example, could also make it run hot since the air around it is warmer than the room temperature.

What Happens If Your Router Gets Too Hot?

It is normal for a Wi-Fi router to get slightly hot or warm to the touch. However, when it overheats the most common problems that occur are lost internet connection and hardware failure.

1. Lost Internet Connection

The first problem you are likely to face from an overheating router is that your internet speed will slow down or you’ll lose the connection completely. Switching off your router and allowing it to cool and then turning it back on can help you determine if your dropped connection is due to overheating.

If you find that your connection improves after your router cools down and drops when it heats up again, then you have your answer.  

2. Hardware Failure And Malfunctions

One of the main causes of premature hardware failure in electronic devices is overheating. The router’s internal hardware slowly  starts to degrade when the temperatures in the router’s enclosure goes past a certain thermal limit. This ultimately brings the router to its end a lot sooner.

Also keep in mind that, just like in computers, overheating can contribute to hardware malfunctions such as CPU and memory errors.

How Do I Stop My Router From Overheating?

The following are tips on how to stop your router from overheating:

1. Place Your Router In An Open Space

The first thing you should do to stop your router from overheating is to improve air circulation by placing it in an open space, such as the top of a shelf. If placing it on a shelf is not an option, you can buy wall mounts and mount it on a wall.

Tucking your router away in a closet, basket, or cabinet is not recommended. You should always maintain a distance of 4-5 inches between your router and other objects.

2. Install A Cooling Fan

Some users find that installing a cooling fan, rather than letting their routers rely completely on passive cooling, helps prevent overheating by improving air circulation. Cooling fans are cheap and quite easy to install (even cooling pads meant for laptops will work great). 

The video below shows how you can go about installing a DIY fan on your router:

3. Replace The PSU

Sometimes the problem of overheating in routers is not due to the heat generated by the chips on the router’s motherboard but a faulty or wrong PSU (power supply unit). Usually, the DC input from the Power adapter should supply your router with 12v, but if there’s an oversupply in the voltage, heat problems are likely to arise.

4. Clean The Router

If you have an old router that’s been sitting on the shelf for quite some time, it is highly likely that it has collected a lot of dust that’s now preventing air from flowing in and out freely. Cleaning your router every once in a while can help prevent overheating if it is due to clogged air vents. Some people find that using a can of compressed air helps dislodge the crud and dust that prevents sufficient airflow.

5. Avoid Connecting Too Many Devices At Once

As mentioned earlier if too many devices are connected to the router at once it can overload the router’s processor and memory chips, resulting in a lot of heat being produced. Therefore, if you have put a lot of load, especially if you have multiple access points attached, you should try disconnecting some devices and see if this fixes the problem.

Can A Router Catch Fire?

The risk of a router catching fire is very low and can be termed as non-existent. In the rare event that a component within the router burns, the motherboard could suffer a lot of damage, but the heat and smoke produced is usually very localized.

Can A Hot Wireless Router Cause Slow Internet?

causes of slow router internet speed

A hot Wi-Fi router can cause slow internet connection if the excess heat results in hardware malfunctions such as processor and memory errors. In fact, most processors, including those found in routers, are designed to slow down when they get past a certain temperature threshold.

How Hot Should A Wi-Fi Router Get?

The operating temperature of a Wi-Fi router should be between 32-104 degrees Fahrenheit (0-40 degrees celsius). Above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the router’s processor will start to throttle (slow down). It is therefore recommended to maintain your router’s temperatures at under 104 degrees Fahrenheit while under load.

Is It Okay To Leave Your Router On All The Time?

It is perfectly okay to leave your router on all the time as long as it’s in a room with adequate air circulation. Routers consume very little power and are designed to be in operation all the time. However, if you know you won’t be using yours for some time you can leave it turned off.

Conclusion: Is It Possible For A Router To Overheat?

While routers are low power devices it is not uncommon for them to overheat just like computers. Overheating can be due to several reasons such as poor design, blocked air vents, power oversupply, overloading, and high room temperatures. 

Fortunately, most of the causes of overheating can be avoided by taking the steps that have been outlined in this post.  

Eustace is a technology enthusiast and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts so that they can make better decisions.

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