Wi-fi router settings to lower EMF exposure
I suspect the effects of wi-fi on human tissue are mild compared to some other kinds of EMF sources (see the exposure models here and here). Also, I think it's prudent to think of wi-fi/EMF risks casually because there's decent evidence of a nocebo effect from fear of EMF fields (see here, here, and here).
However, I do see well-designed studies showing low-level biological changes (see here, here, and here for examples, or EMF Portal's study directory). That makes me conclude that it's reasonable to take simple steps to reduce the amount of wi-fi exposure in your home. The most direct method is to use ethernet cables to directly connect stationary devices to the router. For other devices, there are some relatively-simple changes you can make in many routers to decrease their output:
Disabling wi-fi while sleeping
Scheduling the router to turn off wi-fi automatically
Many routers have a way to turn off wi-fi on a predetermined schedule:
- Asus: if your model supports ASUSWRT (here are the models that don't), navigate to your administration interface and click the "Wireless Settings" link under "Advanced". From there you can set up a schedule beginning with the field "Enable wireless scheduler".
- D-Link: I've only managed to find explicit instructions for the DIR-845L, but they might apply to other models.
- Linksys: it looks like support for scheduling wi-fi is spotty with Linksys. So far I'm only seeing the WRT1900AC and WRT1200AC supporting it, with official instructions here.
- NETGEAR: there are official instructions for Nighthawk models.
If you can't find a way to schedule wi-fi on the router itself, I can think of two additional ways to schedule:
- For the nerdy: many routers can run DD-WRT or Tomato instead of the software provided by the manufacturer. These should allow for wireless scheduling.
- For the practical: chuck an outlet timer at the problem. Most routers should restart without issue after power is restored.
Manually turning off wi-fi on the router
If the scheduling approach doesn't work, almost all routers will have an option to manually enable/disable wi-fi in their administrative interface. Some even have a physical button/switch to make that process easier, such as:
- TP-Link N300 TL-WR841N (Amazon / Walmart): this one's an affordable (~$25) modern option. It supports adjusting the transmission power (discussed below), but does not support automatic wi-fi scheduling.
- NETGEAR N150 WNR1000 (Amazon / Walmart): this is an older router. I don't think it supports scheduling or transmission power adjustment.
Disabling wi-fi on devices
- iOS devices: open Control Center which allows you to turn off wi-fi and Bluetooth, or turn on Airplane mode to turn off everything including cellular signals.
- Android devices: the Quick Settings menu allows you to turn off wi-fi, Bluetooth, and the cellular radio.
- Windows computers: here is a YouTube video on disabling wi-fi in Windows 10.
- Macs: this guide shows how to disable wi-fi, with a similar approach working for Bluetooth.
Decreasing the wi-fi transmission power
Decreasing power on the router
Many routers will allow you to adjust the output power. The directions in the wi-fi scheduling area should help you get to the general area of the wi-fi radio settings. Look for a setting labeled something like "transmit/transmission/Tx power", and experiment with lowering it until your wi-fi performance is negatively affected.
Decreasing power on devices
On Windows computers, these directions may let you experiment with lower transmission power settings.
I haven't found a way to do the same thing on Macs or mobile devices.
Decreasing the "pulse" interval
I've only found one router that supports this feature, and it's fairly expensive. However, it's specifically designed to reduce wi-fi exposure and should make setup easy. It's from JRS Electro Health who makes custom software that runs on the standard Asus routers they provide.
Here's a helpful overview video of its features in action:
Let me know in the comments below if you have any other suggestions!