Yes, it's a nice Gothic black, but why else does my router need to avoid sunlight?
March 18, 2012 8:31 PM   Subscribe

Why does my router need to be placed out of direct sunlight?

So today I bought the beautiful new ASUS RT-N56U router I'd been lusting after for some time, got it hooked up and running in about 10 minutes, and have been very pleased with its performance thus far. But as I was setting it up, I read through the included "Quick Start Guide" and saw this line, which worried me.

"Keep the device away from metal obstructions and away from direct sunlight."

I get the metal obstructions part, I think—it probably interferes with the signal, especially the 5 GHz band. But I'm worried about the direct sunlight part—right now, my router lives where the old one did, up on a corner of my mantel that gets some indirect (pretty much never direct) sunlight. The old router (a 10-year-old white Netgear WGR614) appears to have yellowed a bit on the side facing the window, though structurally, it's fine. (We replaced it due to its poor performance, but it was always pretty poor—I received it as a gift six years ago because its previous owner finally got fed up, just like I did today.)

Anyway, long story short, I'm wondering if anyone can shed some, er, light on why it might be bad for my new ASUS router to get direct sunlight. Is it made of a plastic (like ABS or PEX) that can degrade in the sun? Or is it more likely an optimal operating temperature range kind of thing, since it's made of black plastic that could overheat? Or could it be an interference thing, too?
posted by limeonaire to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Best answer: It's not an interference thing, in general sunlight isn't really capable of interfering with electronics. It's most likely a temperature issue; computer components are sensitive to heat.
posted by axiom at 8:36 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: to avoid overheating
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 8:57 PM on March 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best answer: They don't want you to bake the dang thing. High heat will cause many electronics to fry/overheat and stop working. We had a router that got fried by too much heat coming off of the computer we kept it on, an oversight we won't make again. The smaller the space the components take up, and the less venting the innards have, the more likely it is to overheat. Our giant CPU tower had a fan and still ran hot but never fried itself. The router on top baked in about two months of continuous use.
posted by juniperesque at 8:57 PM on March 18, 2012

Best answer: Routers are computers without fans — roughly on par with an Intel 386, give or take — and they get hot when they run. Hot enough that sunlight could cause overheating and crashing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:01 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's definitely an issue of temperature. Electronics like cooler temperatures. Unlike your PC, your ASUS router doesn't have a fan. Your router relies on convection for cooling. The internal electronics heat the air inside the router's case, the air rises through the vents on top of the router, drawing in cooler air from the vents at the bottom.

This is not necessarily the case for all little electronic devices without fans. For example, the AppleTV has no air vents. It relies on conduction for cooling. The internal components are connected to a heat sink, which is coupled via a thermal pad to the base of the device. Heat is conducted away by the surface on which the AppleTV sits.
posted by RichardP at 9:06 PM on March 18, 2012

Best answer: It is black and will get too hot.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:43 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In addition: if you have a cat, it may want to sleep on your router, making it heat up. If your router is in direct sunlight, this makes it even more attractive to your cat.

You may already be aware of this phenomenon.

In short, as everyone said above: you don't want a hot router. (If you have a cat, you may need a decoy router.)
posted by maudlin at 9:46 PM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Awesome. That's what I thought, but I worried, so I figured I'd ask. Best answers for everyone!
posted by limeonaire at 10:48 AM on March 19, 2012

Response by poster: And wow, I love that decoy router for cats—paid for in cat pictures! That's amazing. I wonder if there's anything else you can pay for in cat pictures...
posted by limeonaire at 10:53 AM on March 19, 2012

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