If you’re building a smart home with IoT tech at the center, you’ll need to properly secure your network. A new router with better support for IoT devices might be a worthwhile investment, especially if your current router is outdated or insecure.
To give you the best possible chance of building a secure IoT network, here are five of the best IoT routers you can buy today.
What Is an IoT Router and How Is It Different?
A normal Wi-Fi router is fairly simplistic – it’ll connect your devices to your local network and to the Internet, but it won’t do much more. It’ll come with Wi-Fi support, ethernet connections, and a USB port or two if you’re lucky.
For the Internet of Things, this is woefully inadequate. An IoT router will come with the extra building blocks you need to build a network with IoT devices in mind.
Many IoT routers come with support for IoT protocols (different than typical 802.11 Wi-Fi) like ZigBee, Thread, or Bluetooth. They’ll also include extra features, like built-in antivirus support and voice control.
They’ll offer much greater range and flexibility, letting you build next-gen networks that incorporate typical Wi-Fi devices like smartphones and laptops with new types of tech, like smart cameras or doorbells.
1. eero Home WiFi System
The eero Home WiFi System uses a mesh WiFi network with multiple devices for Wi-Fi coverage rather than a typical network with one central router handling all of the data.
With eero, you can customize your network with as many “eero” stations or smaller beacons as you like. The Home Wi-Fi System comes with one “eero” and two “beacons.” This wide coverage means every IoT device in your home will have a strong connection. It’s also an easy process to add extra “beacons” to widen your network.
Along with Bluetooth connectivity and Wi-Fi 802.11 support up to ac, eero also supports the Thread protocol for IoT devices. This low-powered WiFi alternative makes it easy for all kinds of smart devices to connect to your network automatically.
With an additional eero Plus subscription for $99/year, you can also add ad blocking and web filtering, as well as Malwarebyte protection.
2. TP-Link Deco M9 Plus
Another mesh network system, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus is designed with IoT in mind.
Two mesh stations are included. Mesh networking offers better coverage (up to 4,500 sq. feet), but like the eero, you can add additional stations if you need to.
The Deco M9 Plus supports a wider selection of IoT network standards. It comes with support for Zigbee HA 1.2 as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity up to 802.11ac.
You can also link it to Alexa, and it includes IFTTT support, meaning you can trigger certain actions when a device connects. You could set a smart lighting system to turn on when your smartphone reconnects to your Wi-Fi, for instance.
3. Google WiFi Mesh Router
Google WiFi is a three-pack mesh system, produced by Google, with a similar range to the Deco M9 Plus. It’s one of the best mesh systems available, thanks to its reasonable price tag and a strong set of features.
Setting up the Google WiFi system is easy: just use the Google WiFi app to set things up. The process is simple and quick, and you should be up and running in a few minutes.
It comes with dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, as well as Bluetooth LE for your IoT devices to connect to. It’s important to note, however, that Bluetooth LE isn’t actually enabled yet, but this is a feature Google intends to support in the future.
Like the Deco M9 Plus, Google WiFi also comes with IFTTT support for automatic action triggers.
4. Netgear Nighthawk AC1900
If you’re not interested in a mesh setup, the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 offers tri-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with four antennas. It’s a security-focused router, as it offers Bitdefender-powered Netgear Armor antivirus protection for your entire network.
It’ll run regular scans on all your devices, including your IoT smart devices. The downside is that Netgear Armor costs an extra $69.99/year.
Extra subscriptions aside, you can also perform network commands with your choice of virtual assistants, from Google Assistant to Amazon Alexa.
5. Netgear Orbi
The Netgear Orbi comes as a two-device mesh network, with additional “satellite” units available to expand the Wi-Fi signal. It’s expensive compared to the other mesh options listed here, but for the money, you gain impressive performance.
It has tri-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and parental controls, as well as smart assistant support. Like the R700P, that means the Orbi supports Alexa and Google.
You can also add Netgear Armor support to the Orbi, and there’s a dedicated app to help you control and configure your network.
Better Wi-Fi, Better IoT for Your Home
Choosing Wi-Fi routers with additional support for IoT devices, whether it’s IoT network standards like Zigbee or better security measures like Netgear Armor, prepares your network for a home filled with smart tech.
With an IoT-ready network, you can then start to think about other IoT hardware you’ll need.