Did you know that over 4.5 billion people use the internet today?
There are over 400 million public WiFi hotspots in the world. That is more than the population of the United States.
We rely on our WiFi for our day to day lives, so the quality of the WiFi signal in our homes is crucial. Yet many of us still have WiFi issues.
We’ve all been there, you’re just getting to the best bit of the movie you’re streaming, and suddenly your WiFi starts acting up. What you may not realize is that there are things around your home that can interfere with your WiFi signal, but does this include LED lights?
All electrical devices, including LED lighting, emit electromagnetic radiation. However, the field generated by an LED light is not strong enough to cause interaction with WiFi or TV. On odd occasions the unshielded wires can produce a weak electromagnetic field, that might cause disruption.
So, you’re not going crazy when you turn on a light and find your WiFi connection starts acting up.
Signal Emitted by LED Bulbs
It is not a secret that certain appliances can interfere with each other. For example, microwaves operate at a frequency of 2.4 GHz, which is the same as your WiFi. What about LED lights?
LED bulbs emit an electromagnetic field that works on the frequency between 400 and 600 THz. This is a much higher frequency than almost any household appliance.
Here is the comparison table of different appliances and their frequency.
|Cordless Phones||1.9 GHz or 2.4 GHz|
|WiFi||2.4 GHz or 5 GHz|
|LED Lights||400 THz to 600 THz|
The bottom line is, LED not only emits light, but also electromagnetic radiation.
WiFi uses radio waves, but this is only part of the electromagnetic spectrum that includes infrared and microwaves.
There are occasions when the waves from WiFi and LED, or other household items can interact with each other, causing interference, mainly when they operate on the same frequency.
As you can see, with such a vast difference in frequencies for LED lights, there shouldn’t be a possibility that your LEDs interfere with WiFi signals.
However, there is a posibility for it to happen.
LED and WiFi Interaction
In most cases, the AC transformer on the lamp is the source of the interference rather than the bulb itself. The output frequencies can vary and may coincide with your WiFi frequency.
This is particularly problematic when LED bulbs have been used as a direct replacement for halogen bulbs.
Since the AC transformer has been designed to carry a large load from the halogen lamp, the change to the lighter load from an LED lamp can cause some output interference.
Although manufacturers can plan for wattage and luminosity, they can’t really do this for the adaptability of AC transformers.
This issue tends to be most noticeable when people decorate their homes for Christmas. Most people enjoy installing additional lights throughout their home to celebrate the festive season. Still, more lights mean a stronger magnetic field, so a greater chance of interference.
When two of the waves arrive at the same point, their strength or amplitude is combined, creating a bigger wave and, therefore, a stronger magnetic field.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to determine if your lights are causing problems with your browsing. All you need to do is turn on your WiFi and switch on the LED lights in one room. Use your mobile device or laptop in that room and check your browsing speed.
If you want to get technical about your investigation, you can perform an internet speed test and compare the results to a test performed in an area with the LED lights off.
If there is a noticeable reduction in speed when the LED lights are on, you’re likely to have an interference issue.
LED and Radio Interference
If you enjoy listening to your favorite tunes on the radio, you may have noticed a similar problem with LED interfering with your radio reception.
Radio interference can take many forms, but it is basically any disturbance to the signal that causes a temporary loss of reception. You may notice the sound cutting out, the sound becoming distorted, or an unwanted static noise, which can all be very frustrating.
Just like with your WiFi connection, this interference can be attributed to an electromagnetic frequency from the transformer that is causing the sound issues.
Can LED Interfere with TV?
Since television also works on a similar frequency, you may even notice that there is some interference when you’re watching your shows.
Many people don’t make the connection that particular stations blink off or freeze because the LED light is turned on in another room. People have reported television interference issues when a family member turns on an LED light upstairs, due to the LED electromagnetic field.
You may even find that only particular channels are affected when you turn on an LED light. This is because the channels operate on slightly different frequencies, and only specific channels will be affected by the frequency of the electromagnetic interference in your home.
So, it’s not a conspiracy that your favorite show stops working when your partner leaves the room; it’s just that that particular channel is susceptible to the LED interference.
Just like you can get interference when you microwave some popcorn for your movie, it is possible that turning on or switching off an LED light can cause issues.
How to Fix LED Light Interference
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent your LED lights from interfering with your WiFi and other devices around your home.
Whether you’re experiencing issues with WiFi speeds, radio interference, or television stations freezing, you need to establish that it is LED lights causing the problem.
As I’ve touched on above, there are lots of appliances and devices around the home that operate on similar frequencies, so you need to know that your lights are the culprit.
Try your devices in the room with the LED light on and then turn the light off to see if the problem is corrected.
Once you’ve determined that your main problem is your LED lights, there are some things you can do to minimize future issues.
Get a Quality LED Light Bulbs
Firstly, you need to ensure that you buy good quality LED bulbs. You need to check that any LED bulbs you purchase are FCC compliant, as these products adhere to the restrictions and recommendations in the United States.
So, while it may seem like a good idea to buy cheaper LED bulbs online, if you’re buying from an international dealer, they may not enforce these regulations, and you’ll end up with WiFi problems.
Generally, FCC certified LED bulbs would prevent WiFi connection issues, but there may be conditions in your home that will still allow for connection issues.
So, you may need to take further action, and this is where things may get a little beyond the expertise of the average DIYer.
Transformer Might Be an Issue
The next step is to replace your transformer. As said before, AC transformers are often the source of electromagnetic interference.
So it may be possible to replace your existing transformer with one that has better electromagnetic interference suppression.
This can reduce the power of the field that is created by electricity, but this is only applicable if you have low voltage LED lighting.
Reduce Length of Wiring
You can also reduce the potential size of the field that is generated by shortening your electric cables or using shielded cables. Short cables will allow less electricity to pulse through and thereby reduce the size of the field.
In contrast, shielded cables contact insulated conductors that reduce the radiation from the electricity preventing it from affecting any devices in the nearby area.
A word of caution, if you do need to swap out your AC transformer or alter your cables, you need to ensure that you are confident working with electrics. Even low voltage LED lights have the potential to give you a nasty shock, so you need to work carefully or call in professional assistance.
An experienced and certified electrician can quickly alter the cables on your lamps or change the AC transformer to ensure that your lighting remains safe for your whole family.
Many people enjoy the energy efficiency and performance of LED lights. Still, if your LEDs are causing problems with your WiFi connection, television, or radio, you may be tempted to revert back to incandescent bulbs.
Don’t worry, there is a solution, and you don’t need to compromise between energy efficiency and WiFi performance.
By choosing good quality LED bulbs, you can minimize the potential for WiFi interference, as the bulbs will have been tested to comply with FCC recommendations and regulations.
Chances are this will resolve your WiFi issues, but if you’re still having problems, you may need to dig a little deeper.
The cool thing is that once you have established that your LED lights are the source of your WiFi connection issues, the steps to correct the problem are straight forward, so you can be back to enjoying your regular internet speeds in no time at all.
Share your ideas for reducing LED interference in the comments section below.