We live in an age where tech plays a massively important role in our everyday lives, nowadays technology is so commonplace in the home that it’s often overlooked, and as a general rule, there are two things that most households have come to rely on heavily… microwave ovens and Wi-Fi internet connection.
But why don’t these two wonders of the technological world get along? Well, it all comes down to electromagnetic radiation.
Most household electrical appliances and gadgets emit an electromagnetic current. Electric blankets and toasters to hair straighteners and beyond, all have the potential to interfere with your Wi-Fi signal – but none quite so spectacularly as a microwave.
Household appliances and electromagnetic radiation
Many of the devices that rely on a mobile signal for connectivity typically operate using the 2.4 GHz radio band; this applies to common 802.11b and 802.11g wireless devices such as standard Wi-Fi routers, cordless phones, baby monitors and Bluetooth as well as video based products such as CCTV, satellite TV, and some car alarm systems that use internal movement sensors.
Microwave ovens also primarily use this radio band when in operation only to a much greater extent; this is why the interference may seem greater when using your microwave.
As technology evolves, more and more devices and appliances are becoming mobile (Siemens recently introduced a range of Wi-Fi enabled appliances connected via an app), adding to the potential traffic. Microwaves will however always operate by emitting a very high power signal in the 2.4 GHz radio band, making them one of the biggest culprits for Wi-Fi interference.
As we mentioned the word “radiation”, some readers may be concerned about the impact it can have within the home, but never fear! There should be nothing to worry about at all. The type of radiation emitted by these devices is what’s known as non-ionising radiation, which means that it doesn’t carry enough energy to make changes to atoms and molecules. Rather than producing charged ions when passing through matter, the electromagnetic energy produced by low range frequency products is only enough to excite atoms rather than change them. Microwaves use this excitation to heat water molecules in food for example.
Examples of ionised radiation would be UV rays (low levels of which can be found in sunbeds), X-rays and gamma rays; these change the state of atoms and molecules, and ordinarily aren’t present in the home.
How to stop microwaves affecting your Wi-Fi
If you’re struggling to cope with the level of interference from your microwave oven, there are a few things that you can do to help overcome this.
Most microwaves that are produced today are very well insulated against radiation emittance. The first thing to consider when you encounter a problem would be the age of your microwave oven. If you have an older model of microwave, it’s unlikely that it provides a sufficient amount of shielding against radiation for your wireless router to cope with. Even though your microwave may work as well as the day you bought it, they do lose their efficiency over time and because of this an upgrade to a newer, more protective model may be the best option for you.
If buying a new microwave isn’t something you need to do, the next thing to consider would be the type of router that you use. As previously mentioned, the router for your Wi-Fi is likely to be tuned to the same band that a microwave emits. Some older routers can only work at 2.5 GHz, however more modern routers can allow you to upgrade to 5 GHz (802.11n), meaning that the router will surpass the radiation levels of the microwave, thus allowing you to effectively use your Wi-Fi enabled device without issue.