How To

You can switch your Wi-Fi router without modifying every IoT device

The biggest reason I hear for people putting up with crappy Wi-Fi, usually from their internet service provider, is that if they got something new they would need to set everything up again. Being in IT I attempt to not stare at them when they state this with *that* face, but it’s something I’ve explained enough the past couple of years that it bears writing down.

You’re not tied to your crappy Wi-Fi

I’ll tell you my situation. I’ve got a relatively good Wi-Fi included with my ISP, but unfortunately due to where they came in the wall with the fiber jack, I can’t get it placed where it needs to be (center of coverage) and it ended up next to a plaster wall and a large piece of furniture that made an otherwise good Wi-Fi relatively useless unless you were in the same room.

I, long ago, needed a router that did more (could also function as a NAS, better range, etc.) Point of fact switching is easy. Usually.

You may not want to switch because you have an infinite amount of smart bulbs, devices, etc that would take hours to reconfigure and you think you’re going to have to do this. Nope. Generally not the case.

Almost all connected Wi-Fi devices work by looking for an SSID. That’s your network name. On your new router just make sure the SSID and password is the exact same as on the old router, turn the Wi-Fi on your old router off, power up your new Wi-Fi. You should see most devices come online and be happy with just that.

Having switched Wi-Fi routers quite a bit, I have noted some smart bulbs don’t get the memo and will not function without turning power off and on again.

You will need to be able to login to your ISP’s router and turn off the Wi-Fi there for this to work, but generally that’s not a problem.

You can do it… tell your significant other some guy on the internet said it’s easy.

The SSID rules most devices

Unless you’re dealing with something that has asked to lock to a mac address and detect changes, changing the SSID is going to work. I have a Wi-Fi AP at my work named Surveillance where I configure Wi-Fi cameras that are placed at a different location, on a hill, out in the middle of nowhere.

Before you order something

Make sure that you can disable your ISP’s Wi-Fo, and failing being able to disable it make sure you can at least change the name from MYNETWORK to MYNETDOESNTWORK or similar… you’ll need to remove it broadcasting the Wi-Fi you live on.

What should you buy?

Beats me. Figure out what your situation is, realize that in general most Wi-Fi is pretty good if you can place it dead center of everything and that maybe your problems could be solved by moving furniture and placing the Wi-Fi closer to where it’s actually needed.

I currently have two routers I’ve ever really liked, one is discontinued and woefully outdated and I can’t recommend any more, and the other is absurd overkill that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone who isn’t actively trying to see if they can max out the air bandwidth while hiding it in a basement.

Get what you like, avoid repeaters and extenders as they just push the problem further usually, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Most ISPs I’ve seen you just turn the Wi-Fi off on the 2.4ghz and 5ghz channels and can turn it on if your experiment fails.

Have fun. Try not to buy anything first.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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