Broadband Hardware Smart Home

What’s the limit on the number of devices I can connect to my Wi-Fi?

macbook and ipad on desk
Too many devices? Your Wi-Fi might be overwhelmed (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

In a modern household it can seem like everything has a Wi-Fi connection. But is the number of Wi-Fi enabled devices an issue, and is there a limit? In this article we’ll not only answer these questions but also show you how to kick off unwanted devices.

Is there a limit to Wi-Fi connections?

Network devices, such as routers, will have a maximum number of devices that can be connected to them. However, with many in the hundreds, this is rarely communicated. Some devices, though, have much smaller limits.

As a couple of examples, the Google Nest Wi-Fi has a 200 device limit, whereas some of the recent Netgear Orbi models have a limit of only 40 connections. Be wary of manufacturers using words such as “support” and “concurrent” when referring to this maximum number, as they may try and confuse the number of devices that can be actively connected at any one time to the number that the router can simply know about, connected or otherwise.

How do I know what my router’s limit is?

From experience, this can be difficult, unless the manufacturer is good enough to provide this in its specifications. ISPs can be particularly reluctant to divulge this information about their routers.

If the limit is not easy to come by, reach out to the manufacturer of your router, whether it’s ISP supplied or not, as the limit is with the hardware and not the provider. This site may be able to help you find the manual for your router.

How can you tell if you’ve hit the limit?

A new device will try and connect to the Wi-Fi and will fail somehow, whereas existing devices are working fine. If your router has an administration site or connected app (many non-ISP routers will) then this may show the number of devices connected to your Wi-Fi – this may reveal if you’ve hit your device limit.

What can I do to fix this?

Other than buying a different router, with more available connections, your best bet is to reduce the number of devices that you’re trying to connect to Wi-Fi.

Time needed: 5 minutes.

How can I reduce the number of Wi-Fi connections to my router?

  1. Switch to Bluetooth devices

    Some devices will use Bluetooth for connection, rather than Wi-Fi. This normally requires some kind of central “hub”, which itself will then use Wi-Fi. Depending on how many products you’re replacing, this may still be a practical solution.
    For example, Philips Hue bulbs use this, so no matter how many bulbs you have in the house, it will only consume the one Wi-Fi connection.

    The smart home service you use can play a part in this too. Apple HomeKit operates using the same technique – HomeKit devices use Bluetooth to communication to either an Apple TV or to a HomeHub.

  2. Switch to alternative connections

    If a device has an Ethernet port then make use of this instead of Wi-Fi, where practical. If it’s not easy to have a wired connection from that device’s location, consider the use of a HomePlug, which connects you to the internet via your home’s mains power. You can then combine this with a simple switch to allow lots of devices to all connect in the same way. I use this technique for a number of devices behind my living room TV – Ethernet connects to TV, the Humax Freeview box and Blu-Ray player, all via a switch and through to a HomePlug.

  3. Combine Wi-Fi connections

    Travel routers will create their own Wi-Fi connection – you can use one of these and connect a number of your devices to this. In turn, the router will, via a single Wi-Fi connection, then connect to your home router. It’s also possible to use some Wi-Fi extenders in a “bridge” mode to do the same thing.

  4. Remove devices

    This seems excessive, but consider all of those devices that are on Wi-Fi – do you need them? Do they need to be powered on and connected all the time? For example, I have a Roku Streaming Stick which was on all the time, but I moved the power connection to the TV, meaning that it only comes on when the TV does.

About the author

David Artiss

Currently working for a technology company based in San Francisco, David has worked in IT for nearly 30 years. He is a keen gamer and happily admits to being a gadget nerd too.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advert

Advert

Advert