Just today I got a new router for my home and was in the middle of installing it when I caught a glimpse of my old router staring at my face.
I tried to look away but couldn’t you know.
The old friend served me faithfully for more than 3 years in different capacities.
So you know, I couldn’t just throw it out.
At first, I thought I would just keep it in my garage but then I thought what if I could put the router to better use.
I mean there are so many people who are changing their routers everyday for a variety of different reasons.
Shifting to a new place, office, getting a new connection or just upgrading to new hardware like me.
So I went ahead and researched the different ways you can deploy your old router to.
Some I was aware of while there were other uses of old routers I was learning for the first time.
In any case, I have compiled this list of top 10 creative uses of old routers that everyone must be aware of.
1.Creating A Wireless Repeater
Is your new network not reaching places you want it to?
If this indeed is the case you can use your old router to extend the range of your wireless network by using the old router as a network repeater.
You may also use powerline Ethernet adapters for the purpose but using a second router within the network is a great idea.
Connect your old router to the wireless network of your new router using the Wi-fi signal.
Once done the old router will act as a wi-fi signal repeater enabling your network to reach deeper areas of your home or workspace thus increasing coverage.
This is probably one of the most straightforward yet effective uses of your old router that you can do to increase your wi-fi network coverage or even stream video on your favorite multimedia devices.
2.Create A Separate Network For Your IOT Devices
Connecting your IOT devices to the same network from which you connect to the internet can open security risks to your network.
Therefore, it is always advised to connect your hobby projects and IOT devices to a separate network.
This opens up a new way in which you can use your old routers to good use.
While it is true that you can connect your IOT devices to your new router too if it supports guest mode or client isolation.
But to be on the safe side or if your router doesn’t support a guest network it is always better to use an old router and its network to deploy IOT devices to.
3. Use Your Old Router To Create A Guest Wifi Network.
Talking about using your old router as a separate network, if your home sees frequent guest visits.
You can use your old router to create a guest network to provide wireless internet to your guests.
Similar deployment can also be done in an office in the reception area where guests and clients can access wireless internet freely while they wait.
This is similar to using your router as a repeater.
But this time your old router connects to an existing secure and password protected network but provides a password free or password protected access to your guests.
This will require you to install your old router in the guest mode.
This arrangement will also prevent your guests from accessing other connected devices to your main network.
You can add an extra layer of security by adjusting the firewall settings in your main router that is connected to the internet.
4. Repurpose Your old Router By Modding It
This reuse of the old routers is for the wild ones.
If you look at the old router from an electronics perspective, it is basically an embedded system that can be reprogrammed to do what you want it to.
Used access points and routers usually have a few GPIO pins, serial ports, wireless and ethernet port connectivity and sometimes even a USB host port support.
Using any of these interfaces it is possible to modify your router to serve some home automation needs.
After you are done modding the router you can use it to do a variety of different things.
You can use it to do simple tasks like making an LED blink to much more complex tasks like turn on or off a valve to water your garden, remotely switch on or off an electrical appliance via relay and what not.
Sky and your imagination or creativity is the limit here.
This is made possible because many routers already work on some variant of Linux.
This means many of these routers can be re-flashed by an open embedded Linux distribution called OpenWrt which opens up the router hardware to a sky of possibilities.
Open this post in a new tab to learn the details of how to exactly go about modding your router.
5. Use The Old Router To Create A Simple Internet Radio Streamer.
If you really decide that you are willing to go the distance to install OpenWrt on your old router, here is another interesting project you can take up.
Build your own internet radio to stream your favorite radio stations on the internet.
In addition to software, there are certain other hardwares that you are going to need like a USB soundcard to relay the audio out of your device.
While this DIY project can be a little complex especially for new electronics enthusiasts, it will be a great practical electronics project if you are up for a challenge.
Why I like doing these kinds of project is because once you do these kinds of projects eve to a certain degree of success you will find that you can do other electronics projects with relative ease.
In other words, it’s your window into becoming a full on nerd.
6. Use Your old Router To Build A Simple Network Switch
With the increase in the number of smart connected appliances finding their way into our homes you may at some point find yourselves short of ethernet ports.
Most routers for example only support a maximum of 4 or 6 ethernet ports.
Almost all smart devices like smart TVs, decoders, game consoles, smart fridges require access to your network.
And if they don’t have wireless networking they may require physical access to your network via ethernet ports.
If you happen to find yourself in such a situation you can use your old router to act as a network switch to add in an extra number of ports.
A network switch can be understood as analogous to a mains power bar. It increases the number of available ethernet port by connecting itself to the main router.
Your old router will have at least 4 ethernet ports that means you can have instant access to your network for 4 more of your devices.
Just make sure you disable wireless networking in your old or secondary router so as to avoid networking conflicts.
7. Use Your Old Router And Turn It into A Wireless Bridge
Many times you will find that your router is exclusively wireless.
That means all the smart appliances that we discussed above left with no place to plug into.
Or maybe you use a 4G internet provider.
Whatever the case maybe if you ever need to connect ethernet devices to your home network and you find yourself not having extra ethernet ports a wireless bridge is the answer.
An inexpensive router or your old router in light of the current post can act as an excellent wireless bridge.
This deployment is similar to a repeater only that this time the old router or the wireless bridge offers ethernet.
So connect the old router to your existing Wi-Fi network and connect the devices that require an ethernet port to your old router and you are done.
8. Use Your Old Router To Build A Smart Home Hub
In one of my previous points I mentioned how a router is basically an embedded system that you can modify for your own will.
Most routers come with an interface mechanism that you can hack into with some basic knowledge of electronics and repurpose your old router for alternate use.
Some routers feature a USB port via which flashing of OpenWRT or DD-WRT easy.
Certain other routers may inherently feature a serial port via which you can again repurpose your old router to work as a home automation server.
So what is going to happen is your router will be running a server that you can access via your browser on your PC or smartphone.
Check this post out on an instructable that goes in depth as to how you can go about and build a smart home setup with an Arduino,an old router and some RF-controlled switches.
I know what you might be thinking.
Why go this seemingly complex route to automate when you can easily accomplish the same task via alternate automation methods.
Once again the task here is to not only to make good use of your old router but also to make your feet wet in geeky stuff by making your feet wet.
Just think of the rush of accomplishment you will feel when you create something out of your old junk.
Plus you will be surprised how much you will then learn about how electronics work.
9. Use Your Old Router And Convert It Into A NAS Drive.
Just prior to this a couple of weeks back I made a post on selecting the best hard drives for your NAS.
Today i am going to show you how you can use your old router to provide all your devices onto your network access to a hard drive attached to it.
That is what basically a NAS is.
A hard drive connected to your network, the content of which can be accessed by every device on your network.
However, note that this can be done only with routers that have the capacity to run custom firmwares like the DD-WRT and have a USB port to which you can connect your Hard Drive to.
Once you have completed the entire setup, all the connected devices on the network will be able to access the files on the hard drive from anywhere in the house.
10. Use Your Old Router As A Web Server
If you can manipulate your router’s functionality by using custom firmwares like OpenWRT to create a NAS host or a smart home hub, why not host a basic webpage on it if need be.
Yes we are not talking about heavy functional websites.
But basic family websites to share some information to the family or a small community should be very doable.
You may even try and host a blog on this server if the custom router firmware allows for execution of lamp stack.
Which means you can potentially look to install wordpress on your server.
You can then use this as a staging area where you can potentially test different themes, plugins and APIs before you upload it over to your live sites.
A very good project for webmasters.
11. Making A VPN Router
You can also set up your router to be configured with VPN software if it supports custom firmwares.
In other words, if you are subscribed to a VPN account like the Nord VPN or ExpressVPN it can be setup on your old router.
This is very interesting because once you are setup, subsequently every device that you then connect to this network will be protected via VPN.
You will not need any different app or individual client apps when connecting through this network.
A good idea can be to use your old router for protected browsing and use your new one for normal day to day browsing.
12. Make Some Money With Your old Router
I know we have talked a lot about so many technical stuff you can do to reuse and repurpose your old router.
But I can definitely understand if you don’t wish to do all of that.
While I most definitely urge you to push the creative side in you if you can but if you can’t for some reason you can always sell your old hardware on sites like ebay and even amazon for old and refurbished products section.
Getting some cash for your old stuff and hardware is definitely a great way to make room and in the process raise money for the new gadgets.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Can you suggest some more uses for old routers?
If yes, don’t forget to mention that down in the comments section.
If the use is beneficial I might just include it in the list above.
Take great care of yourselves and I will see you in the next one.