I'm a wifi expert – are these common household gadgets slowing down your network?

Many common household devices can actually slow your wifi network, a broadband expert tells Yahoo News.

Could common gadgets be ruining your wifi connection? (Getty Images)
Could common gadgets be ruining your wifi connection? (Getty Images)

Reliable and speedy internet access has never been so important as the workforce continues to spend vast number of 'office hours' in their own homes.

And a stable wifi is critical to ensuring people can be just as productive in their living rooms.

So if you're suffering from a patchy or slow service, it could be down to interference from gadgets that use the same frequency as your wifi.

"From baby monitors and walkie talkies, to cordless phones, wireless headsets and microwaves, many common household devices are capable of weakening your wifi signal," says Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie.

"That's because these devices all operate on the same 2.4Ghz frequency band used by most broadband routers. This means when they're on, they can sometimes drown out the wifi signal between your router and online devices.

"For a router to establish a broadband connection, it uses a channel – or frequency – to work on the wifi network. While some older routers only offer access to the 2.4GHz frequency, more modern 'dual-band' models also offer the option to connect to 5GHz, giving users the choice of more channels."

Should you switch to 5GHz? It can help to stop interference, but there are other potential issues, Tofts says.

Read more: How to use your phone as a wifi hotspot

Alex Tofts of Broadband Genie (Broadband Genie)
Alex Tofts of Broadband Genie. (Broadband Genie)

"Generally, 5GHz provides better performance and is faster at transferring data between a router and device. Also, many smart devices only work on 2.4GHz, so there shouldn't be the risk of a bandwidth traffic jam.

"The downside of switching up to 5GHz is that it has a shorter range and can't penetrate thick walls in the same way as 2.4GHz, so you may have to invest in a wifi booster or a mesh network if you have a large house. You may even be able to get a wifi booster for free if you report persistent signal issues to your provider."

Why can microwaves be a problem?

It's to do with the frequency of the electronic waves inside the average microwave.

Tofts says: "When you're using a microwave, it gives off quite intense electromagnetic waves that operate on the same 2.4GHz frequency band used by many routers. As a result, you may notice a slight drop in wifi signal when the microwave is working, especially if the router is close by.

Read more: Many older people unable to use the internet safely or successfully – Age UK

"The best thing you can do is to move laptops away from the kitchen. Switching your router to a 5Ghz connection, if possible, will also help avoid interference.

Why can fairy lights be a problem?

Christmas is still a while away, but as people start to put up their trees, fairy lights can cause issues with wifi.

Tofts says: "This is because many fairy lights also emit an electromagnetic field, which although small, can affect your wifi signal, particularly as your tree and router will often be in the same room.

"Consider where you put your tree up and try to keep any electrical decorations clear of the area around the router if you want to avoid the Grinch stealing your internet connection."

Can your neighbour's wifi cause issues?

If you're in a built-up area and your neighbours use the same broadband provider, you may find that your connections clash.

"If you live in a semi-detached or terraced house and your neighbours get their broadband from the same provider, there is a greater chance that your connections could clash," Toft says. "This will affect the bandwidth of the network and thus your speeds.

"Connecting to a 5GHz frequency means fewer overlapping channels and less chance for interference. If you do have an older router that isn't dual-band, keep it centralised within your home and avoid having it near a shared wall."

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