As each holiday season approaches, it’s not uncommon to read warnings about Chistmas lights slowing WiFi down. Some people believe that these decorations have a major impact on wireless Internet speeds, but is this really true? Depending on various factors, interference from Christmas lights may or may not actually affect your connection.
How it Works
Wireless Internet equipment communicates with your computer and other devices via radio waves. Many electronics and machines produce interference that can reduce data transfer speeds. Holiday light sets do this to a limited degree, so they have the potential to affect wireless communications.
If lights are near your router, they will have a bigger impact on Internet access. A greater number of lights will generate more interference as well. The level of disruption also varies depending on the lighting technology and whether or not the bulbs blink.
Incandescent Christmas light sets often feature a blinking system that generates considerable amounts of interference. Some stores still sell these old-fashioned lights. Such products consume more electricity and don’t last as long as the more modern units, but they cost significantly less to purchase.
The latest lights use LEDs rather than incandescent bulbs. Some models have flashing technology that produces little or no radio interference. The blink controller is fully electronic, and the bulbs have solid-state components. This ensures that no noise is generated as they remain lit or turn on and off.
However, it’s not always as simple as choosing LED instead of incandescent. Certain LED models feature tiny flash controllers inside of every separate bulb. These units continually emit substantial amounts of interference when they independently cycle each light.
Regardless of whether you use LED or incandescent bulbs, this typically happens at the same time. The radio interference is released during the brief period when a bulb hasn’t completely turned on or off. If bulbs blink rapidly, this adds up to a considerable amount of time.
Effect on Internet
Despite these concerns, tests have shown that there usually isn’t a huge problem with Chistmas lights slowing WiFi down. A large set of LED units may reduce upload and download speeds by around 5 percent. If it normally takes 20 minutes to download a large file, the total time might increase to 21 minutes.
If you have a comparatively slow connection or several people share it, the difference could be a little more obvious. Nonetheless, everyday variations in network speeds are frequently greater. Transfer rates are often affected by the number of people using the same Internet service provider.
You can easily perform your own tests with one of the many Internet speed test websites. Check the current rate with and without your lights turned on. If you want to see the impact of all radio interference, try checking your speed with a wired connection.
Basically, Christmas lights aren’t likely to have any significant effect on your wireless Internet access. For the best results, keep them away from your router, avoid incandescent units and don’t surf the Web near rapidly blinking lights.