The Greenest Routers Of 2008

by Justin Thomas •

Networking routers are on their way to becoming standard household appliances. They are typically turned on 24 hours a day, so it’s good to see that they are becoming much greener of late. Small changes in the efficiency of appliances can lead big savings, when millions of units are being sold. For example, Linksys estimates that the improved energy efficiency of their routers will save 14-17 megawatts of electricity per year (based on Linksys shipping approximately 11 million routers).

Currently, D-Link has the edge on reducing energy use. Their latest routers feature a technology they call “Green Ethernet“. This allows the routers to automatically detect connectivity status and cable length, and then adjusts power accordingly. Also included is a scheduling feature that allows users to set when the Wi-Fi radio signals are turned on and off to further reduce energy consumption. If optimized, this means that the router’s energy consumption is reduced by up to 32% for the DIR-655 router and up to 41% for the DIR-855 router.

Other routers with Green Ethernet are D-Link’s Xtreme N Dual Band Gigabit Router (DIR-825) and the Xtreme N Gaming Router (DGL-4500).

The D-Link routers also comply with RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directives. The RoHS directive limits the use of specific hazardous materials during the manufacture of electrical and electronic goods, while WEEE applies standards for proper disposal and recycling of products.

Not to outdone by D-Link, last month Linksys announced they will be minimizing packaging and introducing new power adapters that cut power consumption almost in half. For example, a router that used 4.6 watts will now use as little as 2.6 watts of power.

Linksys will be eliminating the outer sleeve of their router packaging, and all the internal packaging and documentation will be made with 80% recycled content, and printed with vegetable or soy inks. Plastic bag will be eliminate where possible. Overall, it’s a 40% reduction in waste materials compared to the previously offered packaging.

The eco-friendlier packaging will be available this month throughout retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City and Wal-Mart and online retailers on the Wireless-N Routers (namely WRT310N, WRT160N, WRT610N, WRT110, WRT54GS).

NetGear has also made its routers greener with some Energy Star certification as well as RoHS and WEE compliance. However, their features are currently not as impressive as those of D-Link and Linksys.

Comments 5

  1. Tom Harrison

    This all seems a bit abstract to me. I recently purchased Apple’s (poorly-named) Time Machine, which has a fine wireless router, print server, as well as a hard drive for storage to replace my existing Linksys wireless router + Windows PC server.

    The Apple router, according to my Kill-a-watt meter, draws a mere 12 Watts (18 when the hard drive is active, but it idles within a minute).

    The existing Linksys, draws 14 Watts (and has no hard disk). And of course the 24×7 PC is a pig, drawing 90 Watts.

    Anything we can do to reduce the draw by devices plugged in and active all the time is a good thing. But let’s quantify the benefit.

    While I will reduce my overall consumption by almost 100 Watt-hours per hour, I still measure some 300 Watts of additional “standby” power being drawn in my otherwise efficient household. Doubtless this is from the many “vampire” transformers powering all those little gizmos around my house (phones, clocks, TV, and others).

    So a green router is wonderful … and I’ll bet Apple’s selections in this arena are pretty solid, the real measure is simple: how much power does it actually use in real life.

    Tom Harrison

  2. Eric

    I’m all for improved technology and if you have a router on all the time (like a business), then this makes sense. But for most home users I think it would be better and more cost efficient (the routers listed above aren’t cheap… I just looked!) to just put the router and modem on a power strip and turn it on just when you need it — improve security too, not a chance anyone can hack into your computers if the thing isn’t even on! Call it 1 billion bit encryption.

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  4. Bill S.

    John B, that’s a fantastic idea. Why not have it as a setting in the control page, like D-Link allows for the status lights on its security / webcams? Maybe they can do this in a new firmware update with the existing routers, and only automatically turn on the lights when a connection is broken or some other connection issue, so that it’s easy to see. Someone should email them on this (though I have my doubts they’d listen…!).

  5. John B

    Well, I won’t be happy until they make some gear without large really bright blinking LEDs in them!

    Most customers do not need LEDs and many ‘geeks’ know what is going on when the router is down. Give me a button to turn on a few dim LEDs to check port status and I’m more than happy (no LEDs would be just fine as well. don’t mind a small power LED if its acting in place of a resistor…)

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