Do Christmas Lights Really Slow Down Your Wi-Fi?

Anecdotally, it’s often claimed that, once the fairy lights go up, the Wi-Fi slows down.

Unless you’ve experienced the phenomenon of Christmas lights slowing down Wi-Fi first-hand, this can sound like hokum. Nevertheless, we’re afraid to tell you that it’s true: fairy lights really can interfere with the strength of your Wi-Fi signal.

But fairy lights are by no means the worst offender. Wi-Fi signals are sensitive things, and the introduction of new objects and people can significantly disrupt them.

In this article, we’re going to tell you why fairy lights can interfere with your Wi-Fi signal, and give you some simple tips for how to boost your connection.

 

Can Christmas Lights Slow Down Wi-Fi 

 

Wi-Fi: A Sensitive Signal

Christmas lights and Wi-Fi routers – how can such different things affect each other? On the one hand we have Wi-Fi (the invisible, magic stuff that allows you to connect to the internet wirelessly) on the other we have Christmas lights (colourful flashing lights draped on a tree).

Although routers and Christmas lights appear to be very different, they are in fact emitting the exact same stuff: electromagnetic waves.

Your router uses electromagnetic radiation to send signals to your internet-ready devices. But anything with a current flowing through it – such as the colourful mass of wires and bulbs hanging on your tree – also generates an electromagnetic field. And an electromagnetic field can cause interference to any waves trying to pass through it.

This means that, if your sofa’s next to your tree, and you attempt to get online while sitting on it, there’s a real chance you’ll experience a slower connection than usual.

Due to the time of year, you may have just noticed the interference from your tree lights. But other household appliances can have an even worse effect on your connection.

Here are some of the worst offenders – as well as some tips for how to deal with them.

  • Pipes with Liquid in Them: Water absorbs electromagnetic radiation, so anything which holds water – radiators, washing machines, tumble dryers, water pipes, etc. – will suck up your signal. Best to place your router as far away as possible.
  • Cordless Telephones: Cordless phones generate electromagnetic radiation in the same frequency as Wi-Fi, and so can impact your signal. Don’t keep your router next to your cordless phone.
  • Television Sets: Another significant electromagnetic field generator, though one which does not create many issues unless you place your router behind it.
  • Speakers: A speaker contains an electromagnet placed in front of a permanent magnet, so keep them away from your router.
  • People: People are fantastic at absorbing Wi-Fi signals, so consider sending the kids out if you’re having streaming issues.
  • Large Metal Objects: Metal objects are great at absorbing electromagnetic waves, so appliances such as your fridge, radiators, toaster, kettle and oven can all affect your signal.
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth sends signals at the 2.4 GHz frequency – the same frequency as Wi-Fi. If you’re having interference issues, turn Bluetooth off or move closer to your router.
  • Fluorescent Lights: Another 2.4 GHz frequency emitter. If you’ve decorated using fluorescent Christmas lights, it may be worth turning them off next time you want to stream a show.
  • Other Stuff: Concrete, brick, marble, plaster – the list goes on. In order to get the best signal, ensure that there are as few barriers as possible between your router and your device.

 

Can Electromagnetic Waves Hurt Me?

You may not have thought much about the sea of electromagnetic waves that surrounds each of us. And if you’re particularly observant, you may have noticed that we said microwaves emit electromagnetic waves at the same frequency as Wi-Fi. So, why aren’t we cooking? And can these waves hurt us?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, electromagnetic waves have the potential to hurt you. No, Wi-Fi and the other types of electromagnetic radiation we encounter every day are perfectly safe.

First, let’s look at microwave ovens. Although microwaves and Wi-Fi emit waves at the same frequency, the intensity of a Wi-Fi signal is around 100,000 times lower than a microwave. Microwaves emit highly targeted radiation and operate at high voltages over short distances. Whereas your Wi-Fi router operates at a low voltage, broadcasts in all directions and is used over a relatively long distance. This is why you’re not going to cook.

As well as very intense low frequency waves, the other dangerous type of electromagnetic radiation is what’s called ionising radiation. This can break molecules – including those which constitute your own body – into smaller fragments (called ions). Ionising radiation is always of a very high frequency, which is why ultraviolet radiation, X rays and gamma rays are dangerous. Wi-Fi and other low frequency electromagnetic waves do not have the energy required to break down molecules, and so do not pose any threat.

The Elecromagnetic Wave Spectrum

Don’t believe us? It’s worth noting that the World Health Organisation has looked extensively into the health risks of Wi-Fi and other low frequency electromagnetic radiation. Here’s what they have to say about it:

“In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionising radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields.”

See – you’re perfectly safe. Still, you may want to move your sofa away from your tree.

Elite Group is a leading provider of unified communications, cloud and IT services. We provide cost-effective, straight-forward business broadband for businesses looking for unrivalled connectivity.