The key to a connected home is the connected part. A smart device without the wireless communication features is just a regular old device! Some smart devices communicate through Bluetooth, but the vast majority connect through Wi-Fi. Therefore, the Wi-Fi router is one of the most important components of a smart home!
Sometimes your internet service provider offers to have you rent a router. This is usually a bad deal. You can often save money by buying your own router. Read on to find the right router for your home.
There are several different classifications of router speeds, denoted as 802.11 followed by a letter. The Wi-Fi speed ranks go like this: a -> b -> g -> n -> ac, with “a” being the slowest, and “ac” being the fastest.
If you're in the market for a new router, beware 802.11a, 802.11b, or 802.11g routers. These routers are several years out of date, and unless you're getting them for rock bottom dollar, they are not worth the money.
802.11n routers tout speeds up to 300 megabits per second, and 802.11ac routers can reach speeds around 1300+ megabits per second. Now keep in mind, the maximum speed you will get depends on the internet service you pay for. Most modern homes do not have access to speeds faster than 300 megabits, so you would likely be okay with purchasing an 802.11n router. However, if you want to be future-proof, purchasing an 802.11ac router should have you set for the next several years.
Dual Band vs. Single Band
Many routers offer dual band functionality, such as 2.4 ghz signals and 5 ghz signals. Single band routers only offer 2.4 ghz signals. If you have a lot of devices or really need the extra speed, go for the dual band router. If your router use will be modest, you can save some money and stick with the single band.
Extenders and Mesh Networks
If you have a large home, you may need to purchase Wi-Fi extenders. These devices can boost the signal and reach further rooms in the house. I recommend setting up your new router first to see if extenders are necessary.
If money is no object, you could purchase routers with mesh networking technology. These routers automatically work together to create a powerful Wi-Fi network. The technology is mostly used in commercial buildings, but is now becoming more accessible for the consumer. That being said, mesh routers can be very expensive!
With these tips in mind, go shop around!