According to data from Statista, the average number of connected home devices in countries like UK or US reaches 10 smart devices, which will grow rapidly in the years to come with the explosion of the Internet of Things.
At the head of the most used devices In Europe, security camera systems are found with 13.1%, followed closely by lights and lighting, small appliances and smart plugs.
With this scenario, it makes sense for you to ask yourself how many devices can I connect to my home broadband router and what can happen if I have too many at the same time.
The most obvious answer is that it depends on what type of router or access point you have in your house, as some can handle more than others, to which it must be added that luckily not all of them consume the same bandwidth.
How many devices does my router support?
In theory, a home router or access point can support up to 254 devices connected simultaneously. This is due to the limit of IP addresses that can be assigned to devices, from 192.168.1.0 to 192.168.1.255.
These are example addresses, since each router can send a different one, but the principle is the same with all models and all brands. However, not all addresses 0-255 are available.
The router needs these to start operating, and it is usually configured to distribute a more limited range of IP addresses, reserving some of them for devices that require a fixed IP address (it will have the same address every time. restart the computer).
If we take as an example a typical router of an operator such as Movistar or Vodafone, we see that it offers 189 addresses by default. But things get complicated if they add support for the new IPv6 standard, although most national standards are based on IPv4.
So what is the actual number of devices I will be able to connect to the router?
Considering the theory, we have to say that in practice you will find that most routers can handle a lot less connections. Again, you can look at the manufacturer’s router datasheet, but it can range from just 10 (something unusual) to 150 devices.
Mesh Wi-Fi systems, also known as Mesh Wi-Fi (see our ranking of the best), they still have the same theoretical device limit because they are all operating on the same network with the same range of IP addresses.
But where a single router can handle 32 devices, three routers (nodes) in a mesh system can handle 32 each, making a total of almost 100 different devices.
In this way, it seems unlikely that smart homes in the near future will encounter any support issues due to exceeding the maximum number of connected devices.
And if you have more than 100 devices that require an internet connection, there are home routers to handle them. Linksys says its mesh system wifi 6 Velop can manage 50 devices per node, while Amazon Eero claims to support 128 per node.
It is important to understand that the type of Wi-Fi deployed by the router will influence how they can all work together. Newer generations of Wi-Fi, such as Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6, are designed to handle a larger number of active devices at the same time.
Many routers can prioritize certain devices to ensure a fast connection. Video streaming services and network gaming are two prime examples, as you won’t be happy if your Netflix video stops or your game lags.
On the other hand, the traffic demand associated with downloading a file or loading a web page as a result of browsing is not such a critical service.
How many devices can I connect to the wired router?
Most routers operate on three different networks: devices connected via an Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi devices on the 2.4 GHz band, and others connected to the other 5 GHz band.
There may be specific limits for each of them, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that your router only supports four wired devices because there are only four ports.
It is still possible to connect an Ethernet hub to one of these, giving you at least four additional ports per hub. This is a cheap and easy way to connect more wired devices when the physical ports are depleted.
In theory, you can connect up to 250 wired devices to a single router, as these are the IP addresses that it can handle.
Does performance degrade with more connected devices?
Yes, without a doubt. And that’s why most manufacturers (including Eero) recommend a maximum of 30 devices per router.
The performance hit shouldn’t be as noticeable as if you have a large number of active devices connected. Active is the operational word: devices connected but not sending or receiving data have no effect on performance.
It is not possible to say what performance will be affected with multiple connected devices, as it depends on the router or mesh system you have, the connected devices and the service they are using.
Additionally, the design and location of the router in your home can have a greater or lesser effect on the Wi-Fi speeds you can handle. Check out our advice on how to extend wifi signal and improve its speed.
Generally, the speed of the home Wi-Fi network is faster than the speed of the Internet. These terms are often used interchangeably, but this is incorrect. Try to use the test speedtest.net and it will tell you how fast your bandwidth is.
However, this number will not match the connection speed between your phone and the router, which could be up to 10 times faster. Read this article how can you check your wifi speed.
As a final conclusion, you should know that any router is capable of handling the number of devices that a typical home typically has. If you have more than usual, you will probably still be fine. You won’t have a problem until the slowdowns hit.
Depending on the interface of my router, I had up to 65 devices connected and anecdotally, I had no problem loading web pages or viewing video services in Diffusion simultaneously.
Most of these devices are not active at the same time. At most, there are probably 10-15 that need to share Wi-Fi (and broadband) simultaneously, including security cameras, a Fire TV Stick, a Smart TV set-top box, and, due to home school, two laptops and a tablet.
Either way, it will be your broadband connection that can generate the bottleneck if you have many active devices, but your router or access point is unlikely to be to blame.