Why shouldn't I put my modem and router in the garage?
December 5, 2020 7:59 AM   Subscribe

We just bought a house and I'm planning out the network infrastructure and I think the best place for the modem and router is in the un-insulated garage. Is that a bad idea?

It makes the most sense based on where I need wired internet and where the internet comes in. We only have one car and it's a Prius so I'm not super worried about car exhaust. I am planning on turning part of the garage into a wood shop but part of that plan involves dust collection and I was planning on making a box for the hardware maybe with a furnace filter to keep dust out . It does get bellow freezing here for most of the winter and it will get north of 100°F for a couple of weeks in the summer. Am I setting myself up for failure?
posted by Uncle to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You are setting yourself up for failure. Networking gear, particularly consumer networking gear, was not meant for those conditions.
posted by Alterscape at 8:22 AM on December 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

If your profile location is accurate and the space is not climate controlled I think it is a bad idea.

A modem/router should be in a well-ventilated spot, centrally located to where it should be used. The WiFi can be easily extended, so why does it have to be in the garage?

I used to be in ISP tech support. Our installers would balk at such an installation because they would likely have to go back and relocate the install later.

Where is the "drop" located? Meaning where does the service come into the house? Or is this a new installation of service?

I suggest you have your router as centrally located in your home as possible and use mesh extenders to extend the service to other locations including the garage. If the house isn't already set up with Ethernet jacks, have the house -- or parts of it -- wired for connections.
posted by terrapin at 8:24 AM on December 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Anecdote: I've had a router in my unheated Alberta garage for a few years (as a wifi range extender). I do medium amounts of woodworking with zero dust collection, and there have been no issues.
Sometimes I knock the dust off with a broom.

I know on paper it looks bad... but it works.
posted by Acari at 8:35 AM on December 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

So, for reference, a Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 router [link to owner's manual] lists an operating temperature range of +32 to +104 F, and maximum relative humidity of 90%. I would not do this.

(I would, however, put them just inside the door from the garage. That way if nothing else there's 1 fewer wall for you wifi signal to go through.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:52 AM on December 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've had a raspberry pi running my sprinklers and garage door for three years in an unheated detached garage in Denver, Colorado.

It works fine, you might invest in a small wall cabinet to keep the dust down, either new electrical box or an old cabinet from an architectural salvage place. Have a nice power strip, or even better, a UPS, for conditioning the power. Keep the wires well organized, no undue stress or kinks, and it should work great for years.
posted by nickggully at 8:57 AM on December 5, 2020

It seems to me that it will either work or not work. If it works, great. If it does not work, move it.
posted by AugustWest at 9:20 AM on December 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

One failure mode of this is where your gear is sitting at a low temperature and you then bring it straight into your heated house: it will get condensation in places water shouldn't be. Then if you turn it on before it's fully dry, it may short out and die.
posted by quacks like a duck at 9:33 AM on December 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

The low temperature is probably fine, but the high temps will likely cause consumer equipment to fail, act up, or drastically reduce its life. The modem I have gets hot at normal temperatures. You could probably get away with a Ubiquiti access point in the unconditioned garage though, some are even designed for outdoor use.
posted by flimflam at 10:36 AM on December 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Have done this for years - no issues.

Cable modem + router + small UPS with a Cat6 run to a centrally located access point for a mesh wifi system also w/ small UPS.

Small UPSs (amazon basic -looks like a power strip) allow us to keep wifi during occasional power outages...

Keeping things at the service drop (our garage) makes it exceptionally easy if service is needed - (no more discussions about what is happening inside the house...or letting someone tromp around looking for issues that don't exist)
posted by NoDef at 11:17 AM on December 5, 2020

What have you got to lose? One $50 wifi router, worst case.

Go for it and let us know how it turns out. I'm guessing it will be fine. Hot temperatures are more of a risk than cold and as long as you don't have actual water dripping on it.
posted by JackFlash at 11:39 AM on December 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you're using your ISP's equipment, check to see if they specify a preference.
posted by rhizome at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2020

You are likely have have issues with the heat in summer. But that said, it's all about what you can afford to fry. If replacing the router once would be worth it to you, give it a shot!
posted by soy_renfield at 12:09 PM on December 9, 2020

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