December 5, 2007 11:33 AM   Subscribe

What are my options with regard to eco-friendly wireless routers?

My home wireless network is based around a D-Link DSL-G604T. I feel uncomfortable with the fact that I use it no more than 2-3 hours per day, but it sits there blinking away, sucking up electricity permanently. Are there any suitable firmware upgrades that can reduce its power consumption, or are there any alternative routers that are designed to be more efficient?
posted by roofus to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could unplug it when its not in use?
posted by duckstab at 11:37 AM on December 5, 2007

Yeah those things you can just yank out of the wall. Maybe use a timer?
posted by puddpunk at 11:44 AM on December 5, 2007

Put it on a cheepo wall timer...ikea sells them for a couple bucks.
posted by iamabot at 11:46 AM on December 5, 2007

I suppose you could have the router plugged into a power strip that turns all the outlets on or off depending on if the computer is on: link
posted by sharkfu at 11:47 AM on December 5, 2007

It's nice that you want to save electricity, but put it in perspective. According to the manufacturer, the maximum power consumption of that unit is 10 watts (it probably uses less than that most of the time).

At $0.15 per KWH, it costs you less than 3.5 cents per day to run it full time. There is a good chance the timer you would use to regulate it would use about the same amount of power.

Switching off your air conditioner for 15 minutes a day would have a bigger impact than turning off your router all day.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 11:56 AM on December 5, 2007

Your router is using an infinitesimal amount of electricity. The electricity that it is using is using is almost certainly not primarily consumed by those blinking lights.

The desire to be eco-friendly is commendable, but there have got to be about a million different ways to make a bigger difference. Also, even if there were a more eco-friendly router out there, consider the total impact of buying a completely new router. Odds are it's greater than the impact of using your current router until it is no longer functional.
posted by christonabike at 12:02 PM on December 5, 2007

Out of curiosity, I went looking for the power consumption of my Linksys router. Looking at this page, it's apparently around 3 watts.

Suppose you're turning the thing off for 20 hours a day on average. That's 60 watt-hours per day, so about 22 kWH per year. Suppose you're paying 10 cents/kWH. That's $2.20 of savings there. Wal-Mart sells basic timers for about $4, so it'll take you about 2 years of savings to pay off that timer.

Looking at this page, carbon emissions cost about $10/ton. So, you'd save about, say, 400lb of carbon dioxide. Which I suppose sounds like a lot, but I venture that the methane you fart out on an annual basis will be much, much more than that.
posted by chengjih at 12:09 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Small solar panel maybe? throw an old car battery in series and you can probably run it for nothing. Of course you'll spend an order of magnitude more money on the solar panel than you'll save on the electricity but if green's what you're after...
posted by Skorgu at 12:21 PM on December 5, 2007

Adjust your thermostat by one degree, and you'll surely save a significantly larger amount of energy.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:49 PM on December 5, 2007

I will Nth the advice that your good intentions may be a little misplaced here.

But if you want to buy a new gadget, look into a kill-a-watt. That'll help you diagnose the worst offenders in your household and get the most bang for your buck.

Also, hold off on replacing your wifi router for a while. Aside from the fact that replacing a perfectly good piece of equipment is wasteful, there have been recent improvements in wifi chips that draw only a few milliwatts. In a year or two, these chips will probably have trickled through all the product lines, and you'll be able to get a wifi router that you can leave on all day with really minimal power use.
posted by adamrice at 12:59 PM on December 5, 2007

Some modern routers have a very high spec , enough to offload some (non-interactive) tasks to, such as file downloading. I brought a router to do just this recently. You would probably need one with USB connections, or an attached cheap network file server, like the NSLU2, to make this practical.

Low power computing is on its way though, there are devices coming on the market now, (such as Aleutian E1 & the Koolu that run at about 8W without a display -- thats less than a 10th of what a current Mac laptop uses.
posted by tallus at 3:00 PM on December 5, 2007

In the winter, running a wireless router or computer is basically free. Every watt used by an electronic device is a watt that your heating system doesn't have to provide. Depending on how your house is heated (e.g. natural gas) and the price differential between that and electricity in your area, leaving the router on may even save you money.

Even in the summer, though, I still wouldn't bother replacing it. For what you'd spend on a new router, you can easily run the one you have for many years.
posted by kindall at 3:45 PM on December 5, 2007

Living with your guilt over this tiny amount of electricity, and not buying any more elaborately-transformed mostly-plastic gadgets which need shipping across the globe is your greenest option.

(I also suspect leaving the thing alone may extend its life a little, which is a win, environmentally speaking)
posted by pompomtom at 5:09 PM on December 5, 2007

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