CR4® - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®


The Engineer's Notebook Blog

The Engineer's Notebook

The Engineer's Notebook is a shared blog for entries that don't fit into a specific CR4 blog. Topics may range from grammar to physics and could be research or or an individual's thoughts - like you'd jot down in a well-used notebook.

Previous in Blog: Where is 3D Printing Headed?   Next in Blog: Rethinking Information Overload
Close
Close
Close
6 comments

Holiday Lights are an Unlikely Source of Wi-Fi Interference

Posted December 23, 2015 10:30 AM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: holiday lights string lights wi-fi

On the eve of Christmas Eve, all the bloggers have writer's block, the mods are asleep, and the readers are seeking any distraction at all. Are you ready for an extra fluffy blog entry this week?

This is the first holiday I've seen a plentiful amount of light laser projectors installed on people's lawns. And it's the first year I've considered been pressured into putting up exterior lights to celebrate the season. To me, it never made sense to waste electricity by hanging lights, or to spend a day or two untangling light strings and decorating outdoors and then do the task in reverse in January. It's a labor too often wasted by early winter weather, our current Indian summer notwithstanding. Hang a wreath and we're done at my house.

Yet these projectors install via a stake in the front lawn and speckle an exterior wall in red and green lasers. They're more energy efficient than most string lights and infinitely easier to install. One projector is advertised to be able to cover 3296 sq. ft. from a distance of 40 ft., though they're unable to outline or accent architecture or objects. Coupled with an increasing popularity that seems like everyone next year will have one, I did not bother to purchase or install a holiday laser light projector. For at least another year, my residence's exterior will be dim.

It's just one example of progressing consumer technology in holiday lights. Until the 1880s, it was custom to attach candles to Xmas trees with wax or pins, or suspended in lanterns. It was actually quite expensive to do this, and clearly a fire hazard. Inventor Edward H. Johnson is credited as the first to decorate his holiday tree with electric lights, just three years after his business partner Thomas Edison had invented them. Incandescents were the staple holiday light until LED light strings began appearing in the late 1990s. They've improved considerably since then, and are now the market standard. Many enthusiasts *coughcough* even program LED strings to music to create choreographed displays.

But are they crippling your Wi-Fi? Over the past month there were reports that holiday lights were doing just that. According to CNN, the U.K.'s Office of Communications claimed that about 20% of poor Wi-Fi performance is caused by electronics and lights. Painting in broad strokes, it's easy to see why some might think moving the lights or turning them off will yield better Wi-Fi speeds. But as people use more LED lights with an external controller, the less likely LEDs are to cause interference. Even those LEDs directly attached to chips are unlikely to create an issue. Older style incandescent bulbs are also unlikely to cause a disturbance. Instead, issues arise when unshielded light strings are too close to the router. This blogger interviewed telecommunications manufacturer Belkin, who noted that you would have to wrap your devices in unshielded holiday lights before noticing a detriment.

So I guess that explains why I was able to talk my way out of putting lights up outside, but the inside of my home is just a few shades duller than the sun.

Happy Holidays CR4.

-HUSH

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5817
Good Answers: 589
#1

Re: Holiday Lights are an Unlikely Source of Wi-Fi Interference

12/23/2015 3:03 PM

I pretty much suspected Christmas lights affecting Wifi was BS when I first saw the TV report. They are always trying to find something to stir people up.

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - Born, raised halfway 'round .....

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Speedway.....
Posts: 1043
Good Answers: 23
#4
In reply to #1

Re: Holiday Lights are an Unlikely Source of Wi-Fi Interference

12/24/2015 11:48 AM

In controlling lights, be they incandescent or LEDs, power are being interrupted to cause the flickering or blinking actions. As this occurs, unwanted RF noise and/ or harmonics are always generated specially if the switching actions are randomly done... Such random RF noise generated surely may eventually affect and cancel nearby WiFi signals! Just my thoughts on the matter...

__________________
vsar
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5817
Good Answers: 589
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Holiday Lights are an Unlikely Source of Wi-Fi Interference

12/24/2015 2:24 PM

Perhaps my neighborhood is not representative of the average. All the lights around here are on continuously. I suppose if you have a neighbor who goes crazy with lights blinking with music or some such, he might be pushing switching noise up into the GigaHertz region...

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - Hobbies - Fishing - New Member Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Hobbies - RC Aircraft - New Member Engineering Fields - Aerospace Engineering - New Member

Join Date: May 2009
Location: On the road, USA
Posts: 2167
Good Answers: 68
#2

Re: Holiday Lights are an Unlikely Source of Wi-Fi Interference

12/24/2015 2:07 AM

You may have saved yourself a few extra bucks not running out and buy a laser light projector(s). If the aircraft pilots and the FAA has their way, the laser light projectors maybe band for exterior use next year. I haven't bought one yet but I was checking out a neighbor's projector and could how and why pilots are complaining about being lit up.

__________________
Confucius once said, “ Ability will never catch up with the demand for it".
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - Hobbies - Fishing - New Member Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Hobbies - RC Aircraft - New Member Engineering Fields - Aerospace Engineering - New Member

Join Date: May 2009
Location: On the road, USA
Posts: 2167
Good Answers: 68
#6
In reply to #2

Re: Holiday Lights are an Unlikely Source of Wi-Fi Interference

12/24/2015 9:42 PM

This is a follow up to what I was talking about with pilots complaining about being lit up by laser projectors

__________________
Confucius once said, “ Ability will never catch up with the demand for it".
Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 112
Good Answers: 2
#3

Re: Holiday Lights are an Unlikely Source of Wi-Fi Interference

12/24/2015 4:09 AM

Just heard on the radio news that the christmas lights in America consume more electricity than some of the developing countries use in a year!

__________________
Tony Aston
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 6 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

dj95401 (2); Rixter (2); Tony Aston (1); vsar (1)

Previous in Blog: Where is 3D Printing Headed?   Next in Blog: Rethinking Information Overload

Advertisement