Have you ever noticed a drop in your Wi-Fi signal when you start up your microwave? You’re not crazy – this is a very real phenomenon.
Wi-Fi and microwaves operate on similar frequencies, which can result in drop-outs and interferences.
In this article, we’ll examine this in a little more detail. We’ll uncover why Wi-Fi uses the same frequency as the microwave you use to heat up your lunch, and we’ll explain why your Wi-Fi signal isn’t cooking you from the inside out.
Why does Wi-Fi use the same frequency as microwaves?
The answer to this question takes us all the way back to 1947 when the International Telecommunication Union established something called Industrial, Scientific, and Medical bands – or ISM bands for short. The goal was to designate a spectrum of frequencies that certain industries could use, so their technologies didn’t interfere with radio and other communications.
And so, the 2.4 GHz band was chosen as an unlicensed spectrum, meaning inventors and innovators had free range to explore it’s potential.
The 2.4 GHz band was recognised as having many advantageous properties for microwave oven technology:
- It requires very little power to broadcast
- It’s easy to contain
- It can heat food quickly and with very little energy consumption
These benefits lowered the overall running costs of the humble microwave, fast making it a kitchen essential for the contemporary household.
As we mentioned above, the 2.4 GHz band was initially dedicated to the industrial, scientific, and medical fields. But this didn’t stop technologies such as the cordless phone, walkie-talkies, and recently, Wi-Fi from utilising the low-energy, low-cost frequency.
Your microwave oven can impact your Wi-Fi signal
Although ISM bands were set aside to prevent interferences – not to mention the algorithms within Wi-Fi-enabled devices designed to tolerate potential interference – drop-outs and slow-downs are still a reality. A standard microwave is powerful enough to disturb the signal on nearby Wi-Fi-connected devices, and here’s how.
You know the mesh-like screen on the glass windows on your microwave door? That’s there to prevent radio waves from leaking. The thing is, the seal isn’t perfect, and microwaves can leach out into your home, disrupting other signals using the same frequency.
While your microwave can impact your Wi-Fi signal, your Wi-Fi signal won’t impact your microwave. Your microwave is only trying to heat food, so any disturbances won’t have enough of an effect on its performance for you to notice.
Is my Wi-Fi microwaving me?
No. You’re not slowly being cooked by your home or office Wi-Fi!
Wi-Fi and microwaves do use a similar radio frequency, but there are two critical differences – power and focus.
Wi-Fi vs. microwaves: power
Microwave ovens use substantially more power than Wi-Fi routers. If a standard microwave generates 1,000 watts of power, a Wi-Fi router generates about 100 milliwatts – that’s just 0.1 watts. You’d have to boost the power output of your router 10,000 times for it to have any chance at all of cooking something.
Wi-Fi vs. microwaves: focus
Microwaves direct their signal to a single, focused point, roughly toward the centre of the oven. Wi-Fi routers, in contrast, send their signals out omnidirectionally, in every direction surrounding the router as far as it can.
My microwave is affecting my Wi-Fi – what do I do?
If your microwave is causing your Wi-Fi to play up, you’ve got a couple of options:
- Move your microwave or router. If your microwave is positioned near your router or, for example, near your desk, moving it may help. The further away your microwave is from your Wi-Fi-connected device, the less likely it will impact your Internet connection.
- Invest in a dual-band router and use the 5GHz band. Many new routers are dual-band, offering both 2.4 GHz and 5GHz frequencies. If you connect to the 5GHz network, you shouldn’t experience any interference from your microwave.
- Purchase a new microwave. If your microwave is particularly old, the shield may be in such bad shape that the radio waves can no longer be effectively contained.
Need help with your Wi-Fi?
Is your Wi-Fi playing up? Are you struggling to secure a reliable signal in your home or office? Is your internet unbearably slow? We can help. The team at Computer Cures have an incredibly high success rate resolving frustrating Wi-Fi issues. Contact us today on 1300 553 166 or fill out the form on this page, and we’ll be in touch too.