Safe milliwatt setting for Linksys WRT54G?
April 19, 2008 12:22 PM   Subscribe

What's a safe setting for transmit power in milliwatts for a Linksys WRT54G? It's default is 42- I'd like to bump it but not burn the router out. Max is 251.
posted by xmutex to Technology (9 answers total)
Fatherly advice filter: Leave it alone unless you have a reason to change it, are you getting poor reception? The higher you set the transmit the more heat the router produces and the lower it's lifespan. Having said that everything I read suggests keeping it <80. I leave mine at the stock however as I get amazing range anyway.
posted by parkerama at 12:26 PM on April 19, 2008

Transmit power is only as good as the laptop you are using, which needs to have enough power to transmit back.

I have mine set at 40 and have perfect reception all over my place- and the unit is placed in an outside corner with the standard omnidirectional antennae. If there were a way to place it in the middle, I could probably turn it even lower.

Are you trying to do something exotic, or just solve a connectivity problem?
posted by gjc at 2:04 PM on April 19, 2008

In the documentation and forums for DD-WRT, the commonly cited safe maximum (without cooling precautions) is 70 mW. I use that setting and have had no problems over years of continuous operation.

Our stock cheapo Dell laptops with integrated intel wireless have never had any problem reaching the base station from anywhere they could hear it.
posted by NortonDC at 3:18 PM on April 19, 2008

Going above 70 to 75 will make almost no difference in any case. I've run them as high as 120 but the signal improvement over 75 was negligible.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:22 PM on April 19, 2008

I am with gjc.... it's a bi-directional system, so asymmetrical power levels between the base and the remote are going to dictate range, based on the weakest. If you shout, I can hear you from across the room, but if I whisper back, you aren't going to hear me reliably. Same deal.

On the other issue, however, I think I disagree. 250 mW is a tiny bit of power, and while true that it will increase the power consumption of the unit, it shouldn't shorten the life expectancy substantially unless 250 mW is clearly out of spec for the output stage.

I have a hard time believing that Linksys would allow the setting of 250 mW if it weren't able to handle it continuously. Who needs a reliability headache that would accrue from millions of end users running units hot?
posted by FauxScot at 6:14 PM on April 19, 2008

The built-in firmware does not allow you to increase the output power above the ~40 mW default. At least the one that shipped with mine did not.
posted by NortonDC at 6:43 PM on April 19, 2008

There is also the issue of noise. Just like any radio, as you turn up the dial it might be getting louder, but it sure isn't getting better. Setting it to 250 is turning the thing up to max. I guarantee it's not going to work well.

250 might be a tiny bit of power, but for something meant to operate at 40, it's a lot.
posted by gjc at 6:52 PM on April 19, 2008

Don't know if this will fix the specific problem you're having, but you might get some extra mono directional range out of your receiver by using an EZ-12. And it's cheap!
posted by Orb2069 at 8:37 PM on April 19, 2008

First off, youre just going to distort the signal with the cheap radio in that linksys. More power doesnt equal better quality. What you need to do is learn what signal to noise is. You can use a utility like netstumbler to find out how good the signal is.

My linksys radio is so terrible that I underclock (or whatever the proper term is in radio) to get a much better signal. The people at the dd-wrt forums never advise going past 70 btw. At above 50 or 60 I noticed a lot of retransmissions that made things like gaming and video streaming seem much, much slower. So you may think you have a solid 54mbps connection but your router is shooting out garbage too often to be useful.

The only time you should be serious about raising the power past the default is when you absolutely need a shitty signal slightly farther than your current signal reaches. This is a pretty rare case for most people.

What you should do is spend a few dollars on a higher gain antenna on either the router or the client or move towards a directional antenna for your client machines.

I have a hard time believing that Linksys would allow the setting of 250 mW if it weren't able to handle it continuously.

People use third-party hacks to do this, not the official supported firmware.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:53 PM on April 19, 2008

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