Should You Leave Your Router On All The Time, Or Turn Off At Night?

By SB •  Updated: 05/29/21 •  10 min read

Most people leave their router running continuously. Some choose to turn their WiFi (the Access Point on the router) off when they are not using the network. This serves the purpose of reducing radio signal emissions, preventing anyone from attempting to connect to your broadcast network name, and conserving energy.

The amount of electric power you could save by turning off your router, however, is not worth the trouble, and constantly powering off your modem-combined Access Point can affect your internet speed at an ISP level. Still, there are good reasons to turn off your home router at night — to limit internet use by children, for example — and I will go over the arguments for and against leaving your router on all the time vs turning it off when it’s not in use.

Here are some situations in which I’ve experimented with turning my router off:

Benefits and Disadvantages of Turning Off Your Router

Turn Off Your Router When on Vacation or Extended Time Away

If you are going away, should you unplug your router while on vacation? This depends on whether you have a home NAS or several internet-connected devices that you access through your router while you are remotely located.

IoT: If you have a home security system that gives you live streams of the goings-on via your home network, then obviously you would choose to leave your network running while you’re away on vacation. “Smart home” devices themselves, on the other hand, are an entirely separate security issue.

I’ve found it easier just to leave the router and Access Points left on while I’m away for extended periods. As long as my network is secured with WPA2 security, I have few worries about someone hacking into my network, plus I can access my NAS from afar.

So, for extra peace of mind, you might want to disable the WiFi part of your network while you’re away or at night, unless you have other IoT devices connected to your network.

Use the Router’s Timer for Productivity and Better Sleep

On or Off For Router Longevity?

Home Router Energy Use / Cost to Run

If you are talking about only a router and not one with an integrated WiFi Access Point, then the router might fail earlier if you turn it off every night. Turning it off once in a while, however, may be beneficial.

Routers and Temperature / Overheating

Heat is the enemy of longevity in electronics.

Routers often come with built-in WiFi Access Points, and these can fail if they overheat. The WiFi (radio frequency) transistors are a likely failure point as their cooling is often inefficient, so the parts run hot. Manufacturers of consumer devices are under pressure to keep costs low, and sometimes manufacturers cut costs on cooling for the RF transistors. If you keep your air conditioning on during the day to prevent your router from heating to over 90 F, your router might last longer.

In general, electronic devices have amazing reliability and longevity; any difference you experience between leaving the router on and turning it off at night is not likely to have an observable impact on longevity or electricity cost.

Router Effect on Internet Speed

If your router undergoes heavy daily usage, a restart of your router at the end of each day will kill all connections. This in itself will lighten the traffic load in your network and free up router bandwidth and resources.

But disconnecting the modem and WiFi router every night and turning it back on in the morning can make the Internet laggy:

Reboot Your Router Every Week or Month

Instead of turning off your router every night, reboot your router once a month, or after heavy data streaming. Unplug the router for a few minutes and then plug it back it, OR restart the router by logging into its admin panel.

Summary of Arguments for Leaving Router On All Night

Leaving Router On, But Shutting Down Technology At Night

So, do you turn off your WiFi when you go to bed at night?

I do not turn off my WiFi at night, but I do make sure the network signal is just strong enough to cover my work space, and I shut down all technology one or two hours before bedtime.

Shutting down your WiFi via your router scheduling firmware is ideal if you don’t have any wireless devices dependent on a connection to function (like a smart thermostat or other appliances).

Blue light emitted from screens can postpone or interfere with the natural production of melatonin (a chemical which helps to regulate your body and helps you fall asleep). This happens because light confuses your natural body rhythm and you are not able to fall asleep longer, which usually leads to even more mobile phone usage, amiright?

Despite many studies about WiFi affecting sleep and the human body, there is no clear evidence beyond the anecdotal variety about WiFi being bad for your sleep quality. One study shows that mobile phone exposure is bad for the quality of sleep in children, however, children who were exposed only to WiFi didn’t have problems. This further proves that we shouldn’t use phones or computers because of the screen light. (See: Environmental Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields Exposure at Home, Mobile and Cordless Phone Use, and Sleep Problems in 7-Year-Old Children.)

If you want to be on the safe side until we see more transparency in research about EMF and its effects on the human being, why not put your router outside of your bedroom and leave your technology out, too?

If you want to, this is how to schedule your router to turn off at night or when away on vacation.