Routers & Radiation | Range, Levels & Safe Distances (Examples)


More and more people are getting concerned with radiation from our many wireless technologies. The Wi-Fi router is definitely one of the worst polluters in many homes.

In this article, we will look at how you should handle the router and how to protect yourself from the radiation it emits.


Abbreviations used in this article:
EMF: Electromagnetic Fields (All types of radiation)
RF: Radio Frequencies (Radiation from wifi, cell towers, and other wireless technologies)
ELF: Extreme Low Frequencies (Radiation from power lines)
EHS: Electro-Hypersensitivity (Syndrome where you are very sensitive to EMF radiation)
V/m: Volts over meters (How we measure RF radiation)


How Much Radiation Do Wifi Routers Emit?

On the surface, a router for home use typically emit around 7 V/m and at a one-foot distance, the level is down to 1.3 V/m. Routers emit more radiation the closer you get to it and it is recommended to keep at least 10 feet distance.

That’s the very short answer.

You can get wifi routers that are much stronger than the one I tested and you can get routers with weaker signals. It’s important to emphasize that you need to do your own readings in order to know for sure.

Here are numbers for the RF radiation from routers. I did these readings in our living room where the router is placed on the wall at the far end of the room. We normally turn it off at night and we are working toward removing it completely and use wired connections instead.

RF radiation levels from a home router:

Distance Radiation
0 inches 6.7 V/m
1 inch 3.7 V/m
5 inches 2.6 V/m
1 foot 1.3 V/m

RF radiation from cell tower measured from inside my house

So, how bad are these levels of RF radiation?

Let’s compare them to the level of RF radiation building biologist aim for when they are trying to make a house clean from polluting radiation.

Building biologists are recommending no more than 0.2 V/m at daytime and 0.06 V/m at night time. This is much much more than the levels we have measured above, as you can see.

The router I used for my calculations above is a router I got from my Internet provider. I haven’t switched it out for a stronger router. These are the typical levels you will find in your home from the standard equipment your Internet service provider will give you.

If you are keeping your router close to your sofa or close to anywhere you sit or sleep you are putting yourself (and your family) at risk. You need to make sure the distance between you and the router is at least 10 feet.

And hopefully a little more than that.

The best option is typically to place the router as far away from your main living (and sleeping) areas as possible. This will also give you a weaker Wi-Fi signal but it’s totally worth it when your options are high levels of radiation vs. strong wifi signals in your home.

I have personally chosen to turn off our Wi-Fi router as often as possible. Whenever I need to go online with all wireless devices I will briefly turn on the cellular signal on my smartphone and my tablet. As soon as I’m done using their Internet connection I will switch them back to flight mode.

Be aware that the latest generations of IOS can actually keep accessing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth even when you switch it to flight mode.

These are the settings you want to use if you are aiming for a complete radio silent device:

FLight mode without EMF radiation

What Are The Long-Term Affect Of Router Radiation?

See, that’s the thing.

We really don’t know.

It’s still a pretty new technology and nobody has been exposed to RF radiation from routers and the many other devices around us for a lifetime.

Our kids will be the first generation to find out. And if you ask me, I don’t think we should use them as test objects for this experiment.

Even though routers, smartphones, tablets, and wifi signals are new technologies and this doesn’t mean that we haven’t tried to find out what the long-term effects could be. The technologies around RF radiation have been around for a long time and wireless connections on the laptop is not a new thing. But the problem is that we are using these devices closer and closer to our bodies.

Two decades ago few people would wear anything on their bodies that would emit RF radiation. Today we are keeping smartphones in our pockets which are pretty strong computers that constantly try to connect with Bluetooth and wireless devices like routers.

We also use tablets close to our bodies and our laptops have become small enough (and thin enough) to actually fit on our lap. All in all these technologies are adding up and the amount of RF radiation around us is constantly growing. And we haven’t even started to talk about 4G and 5G technologies.

The cellular network around us from cell towers is the same type of radiation wayfinding Wi-Fi routers. Every time we change to a new generation (2G > 3G > 4G > 5G) we add a LOT more cell towers in our urban environments.

One thing we know for sure, we are getting exposed to more and more RF radiation signals in our everyday lives. We connect more and more technology to the Internet and we haven’t tested the long-term effects of that. How could we?

That being said, countless off experiments have been carried out on rodents and other smaller animals. In his book “Radiation nation” (get it here), Daniel Debaun explains how scientists have tried to expose a group of rodents to radiation from Wi-Fi routers. They found that these little creatures became hyperactive and they also forgot things and started to develop tumors.

These indications are strong enough for me to conclude that this is not a piece of technology I want in my home. I definitely don’t want it anywhere near my kid.

What’s A Safe Distance To A Router?

A safe distance to a router is typically 10 feet (3 meters). At this distance, the radiation level will typically decrease to no more than 0.2 V/m. This is the safe level of RF radiation according to building biologists.

Some routers will have a stronger signal than others but you are typically at a safe distance when you add 10 feet (3 meters) distance to a router.

This is true for routers we find in our private homes. Some industry equipment will be much stronger but they are typically placed away from people at a high ceiling or on a pole.

But you will need to pay attention to where people have placed routers is you are sensitive to EMF radiation. Many people don’t realize that routers emit high levels of RF radiation when you are close to them. This can often result in routers being placed at ground level where people are sitting or standing.

Radiation From Your Neighbors Routers

How wifi radiation is blocked in walls

You should also be aware of routers and access points from your neighbors.

If you are living in an apartment building you will typically have people at the other side of the wall. They might have placed a router or something else with strong EMF radiation at the other side of the wall.

This can be a big problem if your bedroom or your living room is right next to their router or their smart meter.

If you are having trouble sleeping you should try to do some readings in your bedroom with an EMF meter. They have become much more affordable during the last couple of years (around $200) as more and more people are getting concerned about RF radiation and other types of DMF radiation in their homes.

This is the EMF meter we use and recommend:

Tip
The Cornet is an instrument used professionals and amateurs alike for measuring these things. It’s actually quite affordable and easy to use. You can read more about it here (with a list of what it can test for).

When I first got into radiation and EMF’s I started to research which EMF meters professional building biologists were using. I found that many of them are using the meter I link to above and I understand why because it’s very intuitive and easy-to-use.

How To Turn Off Radiation On A Router

The only way to turn off the RF radiation on the router is to shut off the wireless signal.

You cannot separate the two.

Before you can do that you need to change from wireless connections to ethernet cables. You simply take a network cable and insert it in one of the ports that say “Lan” on the router. The other end of the cable should be inserted in your laptop or desktop computer.

If you don’t have a port on your computer to insert the ethernet cable you can get a little adaptor that lets you insert it in your USB port.
(this is how I connect my Macbook Pro)

This is what the ethernet cable looks like. I’m sure you recognize it.

After inserting an ethernet cable between the router and your computer you can now eliminate the radiation completely.

Now that you have connected your computers with the ethernet cables it’s time to shut off the wireless signal on the router. You can either do this yourself by accessing the router from your browser or you can contact your internet service provider and have them do it remotely.

But don’t trust that it is actually shut off.

Not because the internet provider is trying to trick you but simply because we have seen many times that it takes 2-3 calls before they actually shut it off. Even though they will tell you that they did.

The only way to know for sure is to measure the RF radiation around the router. You can do that with an EMF meter. You can read more about this instrument below.

You can also choose to connect to your modem directly to us which where you will have several ports for ethernet cables. Your modem will not have a wireless signal and you can just bypass the router this way. There’s no need to have a router if you are turning off the wireless signal anyway.

How To Measure Radiation From A Router

The radiation from a router is measured in either V/m or W/m2 (or mW/m2, mW/m2, etc.).

We always stick to V/m because we believe it is easier to understand. At least it feels more intuitive to us.

When we measure V/m we also get the advantage of seeing spikes in radiation. Many devices will not emit a constant level of RF radiation. Instead, they send outbursts or spikes of radiation once in a while. This is especially true for smart meters.

We use the EMF meter you can see in the photo above.

That’s an EMF meter and it can measure three different types of EMFs:

  1. RF radiation (routers etc.)
  2. Magnetic fields
  3. Electric fields 

Number 2+3 above is what we call ELF radiation. You can read a good introduction to what it is in our guide to understanding ELF radiation.

There are many different models and types of EMF meters on the market and I chose to see which of the EMF meters the building biologists and professionals use (that didn’t cost a fortune).

Tip
The Cornet is an instrument used professionals and amateurs alike for measuring these things. It’s actually quite affordable and easy to use. You can read more about it here (with a list of what it can test for).

When you want to check that the RF signal is turned off you will need to set your EMF meter to measure “RF radiation”. That’s really easy with the meter I show above because it will do so as the default setting when you turn it on. You just turn the wheel on the side of the meter and it is on. Now you can instantly see the RF radiation level on the screen.

We want NO radiation at all from the router when the wireless signal is turned off.

Note that we might have some background radiation from other sources of RF radiation. This is typically cell towers, Bluetooth signals, smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices that are connected (or trying to connect) to wifi or Bluetooth signals.

So, you will typically get SOME RF radiation around your router.

How then can we know for sure that the wireless signal is completely turned off on the router?
Easy. You just place the EMF meter directly on top of the router so it touches it. Now you will definitely see the number decrease quickly as you move it away a few inches from the surface of the router. If the signal is flat and not decreasing as you move the EMF meter away from the router you will know that the signal is dead.

How To Block Or Shield A Router Signal

Factors that influence the EMF exposure in our homes

If you cannot turn a Wi-Fi router off completely there are a couple of things you can do to block or shield the signal.

A Wi-Fi router will send the signal in all directions. It’s not directed in one specific direction so you need to block off the radiation close to the router in order for it to work.

You can place it up against the wall directly unto a metal plate in order to protect the room next door. You will still get some radiation through the wall unless you choose a really big metal plate.

You can also turn down the signal by placing the router inside what we call a Farraday cage. It’s basically a bag or a box where the radiation cannot get through easily. There are many options here and you can see some of the products we recommend here for shielding a router.

Whenever you place your router inside one of these bags or boxes you will typically lower the radiation significantly. But you should also be aware of the Wi-Fi signal itself will decrease along with the radiation.

You cannot have a Wi-Fi router with a strong Internet signal without having a lot of RF radiation. The radiation level goes hand-in-hand with the reach of the router.

How Come Wifi Routers Are Legal If They Are So Bad?

That’s a really good question.

And I’m glad you asked 😉

When we look at the regulations around Wi-Fi routers and RF radiation we find that the limits set by the FCC are actually more than 20 years old. This is crazy when you think about it because 20 years ago we were not exposed to the same amount of radiation from these devices as we are today.

That this is only in the United States. Things look a little different when we are looking at countries in Asia and Europe.

A long list of countries has actually placed a ban on Wi-Fi routers around schools and institutions for kids. We are talking about countries such as Austria, India, Switzerland, Greece, Chile, New Zealand, and more are being added to the list these days.

This happened a couple of years after the world health organization (WHO) categorized RF radiation as “category 2B”.

This is the same category as the toxic stuff inside asbestos and roundup. 

They have placed it in this category because they consider Wi-Fi radiation as a possible carcinogenic. These were their exact words. The problem is that it typically takes around 20 years between something is proven to be carcinogenic and an actual ban is established.

This is exactly how it went with other dangerous products such as asbestos and leaded gasoline. Today nobody in their right mind would put up asbestos in their house or fill their tank with leaded gasoline.

The reality is that it takes a really long time to build up the amount of evidence it takes to change these laws. And at the are the side of the table we have what is believed to be one of the strongest lobbyist groups from the telecom industry.

The telecommunication industry is many times bigger than the pharmacy industry so you probably understand why it’s pretty hard to change these things quickly. Even though the evidence has been stacking up for quite some time now.

Can I Place A Router In My Bedroom?

It a very bad idea to place a router in your bedroom. Unless you turn it off at night. Your body needs to rest completely at night and RF radiation can interfere with your sleep patterns.

It’s recommended by building biologists to create a completely radiation-free safe haven in your bedroom. We want that room to be as radio-silent as possible.

Some people do have the router on in their bedroom and it’s a very uninformed choice. Routers emit much higher levels of RF radiation than our smartphones, tablets, and laptops. As you might remember from my previous articles, we are not supposed to keep smartphones and tablets close to our skin.

It actually says so in the fine print when you read the manual for your tablets and smartphones carefully.

The same goes for Wi-Fi routers.

You should always keep the distance between the Wi-Fi router and your bed so placing it in the bedroom is a very bad idea. Unless you have a huge bedroom. But even so, I would definitely recommend turning off the signal at night where our bodies need to rest and regenerate as well as possible.

If you have trouble sleeping you should try these tips:

  1. Turn off the wifi signal at night
  2. Switch your smartphone to flight mode
  3. Check the bedroom for other wireless signals from printers, DECT phones, alarm clocks, baby alarms(!), etc.

If you haven’t tried this you should feel an immediate change in your sleeping patterns. Especially if you are sensitive to electromagnetic fields.

Some People Are Extra Sensitive To Wifi Router Signals

People who are hypersensitive by nature typically react more to EMF radiation as well. My wife is very sensitive to smells, tactile sensations, sounds, etc. and this is exactly what we mean here. These people are often reacting much more to EMF radiation than the rest of us.
(Here you can see our list of the most common symptoms of electro-hypersensitivity).

My wife belongs to this category. After I started to learn about EMF radiation there were a lot of things that started to make sense for her. 

She has often told me that she felt like her head was buzzing when she was using the cell phone next to her ear. She also told me that she could literally feel her skin vibrate around our induction cooktop. As it turns out, the induction cooktop is probably the worst EMF polluter in our homes.

You can read more about which appliances in our homes that emit high levels of EMF radiation. You will probably be surprised by many of the things on that list. So did we!

What Else Emit EMF Radiation In Our Homes?

There is a long list of electronic devices and things in our homes that emit radiation.

We have made an extensive list of 45 things in our homes that emit EMF radiation you should pay attention to. Some of these things emit very strong RF signals (such as our wifi routers) and others emit ELF radiation.

ELF radiation is a little different than the radiation we get from wifi routers but our cells and bodies react in a similar way to the pollution.

 

Sources:
http://www.parentsforsafetechnology.org/sleep–the-science.html
https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr208_E.pdf

George Willington

I'm George Willington. I've researched EMF radiation in order to create a safe home for my family. My background is Information Science (University of Aarhus, Denmark) and I've worked with Wifi and router communication for many years. I believe I have a good understanding of the technical side of the various types of EMF. I hope you can learn something from my tips and guides.

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