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Thread: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

  1. #1
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    Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Holiday lights are meant to add some cheer to your day, but a British regulator has pointed out that they may have an unwanted side effect: interference with your WiFi network.

    On Tuesday, Ofcom -- an agency similar to the Federal Communications Commission -- named holiday lights as one of many electronic devices that can trip up your Internet connection. The agency has released a new app to check for interference that, alas, is only available in Britain.

    How do lights affect a WiFi network? Apparently the wiring in the lights can add to the radio frequency interference in your home, which in turn could confound the signals from your router. Lights aren't the only culprit, however — the same is true of many other devices. Microwaves, older Bluetooth devices, baby monitors and cordless phones all get a mention in a Cisco white paper from 2007 outlining common reasons for WiFi interference. Many Internet providers see complaints spike around the holidays, since networks can get congested when you're all gathered for a family meal — but lights may be a contributing factor. The Irish Times reported a similar problem last year, saying that blinking lights are particularly bad for interference.

    That doesn't mean there's any need to be less festive than you normally are. A string of lights won't crash your network. All Ofcom is letting us know is that having more things, such as lights, plugged into your outlets could contribute to some WiFi slowdown, and more ostentatious displays could certainly add to interference that's already in your home.

    If you're really curious about how your lights are affecting your network, you could conduct your own home science experiment and see how your network performs with your lights on or off. Another option is to move them as far away from your router as is practical. That way you can still watch "White Christmas" on Netflix in seasonally appropriate lighting.

    That may help solve whatever immediate, decor-related WiFi issues you may have. But you can follow similar tips to keep your network running smoothly throughout the whole year, as well. Moving electronics away from your router is also a good idea, if you find that you're dropping your connection or losing speed.

    Also, if you don't have a password on your home network, you may want to consider creating one for security and speed. Your neighbors may be hanging out on your network without your knowledge. Adding a password nips that behavior in the bud.

    Another option is to change the channel on your router. As with a radio, your router can broadcast over multiple channels, and switching this can help you avoid interference. That's particularly useful if your problem is other people's WiFi networks, as is often the case in apartments or other close-quarter living situations. Since most people stick with the defaults, chances are most people around you on are the same channel. You can change this by heading to your router's settings from any machine connected to the network, which you can find by typing your router's IP address into the part of your browser where you normally type in Web addresses.

    Most routers have similar addresses -- some variation on 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1 -- but you can find out for sure by doing a little digging on your PC or Mac.

  2. #2
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    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Another option is to change the channel on your router. As with a radio, your router can broadcast over multiple channels, and switching this can help you avoid interference. That's particularly useful if your problem is other people's WiFi networks, as is often the case in apartments or other close-quarter living situations. Since most people stick with the defaults, chances are most people around you on are the same channel. You can change this by heading to your router's settings from any machine connected to the network, which you can find by typing your router's IP address into the part of your browser where you normally type in Web addresses.
    PLEASE only choose channels 1, 6, or 11. If you pick any other address, and have signal overlap with anyone using the appropriate channels, you're causing both of you to have slower Internet. AP's on the same channel will negotiate sharing time slices with the other AP's on that channel. Move over a single channel and everything is just noise.

    Edit: thanks Melcar
    Last edited by Nadiar; December 4th, 2015 at 02:45 PM.
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  3. #3
    Mr. Angsty Spice
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    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    PLEASE only choose channels 1, 6, or 9.
    You mean 1, 6, 11.
    I've got beer to drink and You guys are wasting my time.

  4. #4
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    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Melcar View Post
    You mean 1, 6, 11.
    Oops you are correct
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  5. #5
    Mr. Angsty Spice
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    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Typos happen.
    I've got beer to drink and You guys are wasting my time.

  6. #6
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    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nadiar View Post
    PLEASE only choose channels 1, 6, or 11. If you pick any other address, and have signal overlap with anyone using the appropriate channels, you're causing both of you to have slower Internet. AP's on the same channel will negotiate sharing time slices with the other AP's on that channel. Move over a single channel and everything is just noise.

    Edit: thanks Melcar

    THIS.

    A BAZILLION TIMES, THIS.

    It's funny, I've been telling people about christmas lights since 802.11 b was fairly new and only the rich people I supported at work were looking into it for their houses. (holy crap, it's been 15 years...)

    Somehow they figured out microwaves and cordless phones but couldn't figure out why their goth pre-teen couldn't get wifi in their bedroom. (Uhh, because the only light in the room is 12 strings of outdoor grade blue and purple incandescent christmas running in the shape of a faraday cage in a 10x10 room?)

    Sadly, even manufacturers still don't really understand wireless.

    We're deploying these at work as desktop replacements.

    "My Display Port and HDMI cables keep pulling out when I yank on things so I wrapped them around that holder thing in the back."

    Obviously we're disabling the WiFi on all of them.



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  7. #7
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    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    I would ban Christmas lights. Complete waste of the power grid. I would also ban every holiday except for thanksgiving though, so what do I know.

  8. #8
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    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Quote Originally Posted by MI Redeux View Post
    I would ban Christmas lights. Complete waste of the power grid. I would also ban every holiday except for thanksgiving though, so what do I know.
    My parents need an excuse to force me to come visit.
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  9. #9

    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Honestly I never would have linked a string of lights to WiFi issues. Mainly because I'd never think of a 60hz signal abled to Intrude on 2.4 ghz. Or 50hz in some places.

    I do know AC current can cause buzz or hum on microphones and am radios.

  10. #10
    Poof make squid!
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    Re: Are your holiday lights killing your WiFi?

    Quote Originally Posted by FilanFyretracker View Post
    Honestly I never would have linked a string of lights to WiFi issues. Mainly because I'd never think of a 60hz signal abled to Intrude on 2.4 ghz. Or 50hz in some places.

    I do know AC current can cause buzz or hum on microphones and am radios.
    You're not supposed to handle strings of christmas lights with your bare hands because they contain lead.
    It's used to prevent the breakdown of PVC used for the coating on the strings.
    For copyright purposes, all of my posts are covered under the "Do What The Fuck You Want To Public License"
    http://sam.zoy.org/wtfpl/
    Noone should sue or be sued ambiguously.

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