Christmas lights affecting WiFi?

There have been a few stories lately about Christmas decorations affecting broadband, or more specifically interfering with WiFi.

Sunday, 13th December 2015, 7:55 am
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

Well, it happens to be true. The truth however goes much deeper than simple fairy lights playing havoc with your WiFi, because any electrical device can cause interference. It’s just that at this time of year when the lights come out we can more obviously point fingers at the culprit.

I will stress this, because it is important. Any electrical device can create interference. All electrical devices have the capacity to general electromagnetic waves. Some more than others. Positioning your WiFi router next to your Christmas tree, or a giant fridge freezer, is not going to help when you want to watch a rerun of the Doctor Who Christmas special. Placement of your hub or WiFi hotspot has always been important. Make sure it is away from other electrical devices if you can. Do not hide it behind your nice shiny widescreen TV, or lock it away in a cupboard.

A good position is somewhere in sight, preferably high up and in the middle of your house. If your hub is by the back door, you can expect to get poor WiFi in the bedroom upstairs at the front of the house. It might be brilliant down the end of the garden though (like mine which is a bonus is the summer). Trial and error is a good rule to live by. If it doesn’t work in one place, try another. The same goes for those decorations too!

While electrical devices can actively interfere with reception, you also need to think about the structure of your house. Rolled steel joists, thick or reinforced walls can block the signal from your WiFi router.

For WiFi to work in those hard to reach places, you may want to think about installing one or more WiFi repeaters around your house. There are various types which either replicate the WiFi signal, or create their own. The most reliable are the ones which have an ethernet connection to your hub, although that does require cabling around your house.

Whatever you decide to do, just remember this. Don’t feel sad when you pack your Christmas decorations away, because you’ll be able to surf the internet like normal again.