At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer that ceiling fans would affect your WiFi signal.
After all, the spinning blades would reduce the available radio spectrum and you’d have to get more signal strength to make up for it.
But, as it turns out, this isn’t the case.
Ceiling fans don’t affect wireless networks. When the electric motor is turned on, it generates electromagnetic fields, but these weak fields in the radio spectrum.
Even the old style ceiling fans with metal blades won’t block your network.
So, if you have a fan in your room, it won’t hurt but it also won’t help.
To help you understand why, we’ll do a quick review of what it means for wifi and other electronic devices to operate.
We’ll talk about how they communicate and at what frequencies they operate.
Finally, we will look at the effect that various physical objects have on those frequencies.
Do ceiling fans affect Wi-Fi?
Ceiling fans are a common household object.
This makes them prime candidates for testing to see if they have any effect on wireless network signals.
A common problem in houses is that the wireless router has a hard time reaching all areas of the home or office.
If this is happening to you, it’s totally possible to think that your ceiling fan is blocking wireless signals.
However, ceiling fans are not the culprits in interfering with a network.
When it comes to a wireless network strength, there are some important factors you need to consider.
- The type of router you use
- Its location in the house or office
- The number of connected devices and their distance from the router
- The internal security used by the network
In some cases, interference can prevent signals from reaching every corner of a building.
However, this is not due to ceiling fans per se.
Fans operate on a motor that generates an electromagnetic field.
This means the motor is surrounded by a magnetic field that increases and decreases based on how it runs.
Because of this, when you turn on the ceiling fan at home, you need to be aware of how its electricity is distributed.
One important thing to know about your WiFi network is whether it uses xDSL, coaxial cable, optic fiber, or radio as its main means of transmitting data.
This is because at the very bottom of these transmission signals are electromagnetic waves.
In most cases, an xDSL network will transmit radio frequencies to a wired system that uses them to broadcast Wi-Fi signals for wireless devices.
This means that the first and last leg of a xDSL network will use radio waves for transmission.
On the other hand, coaxial cable networks tend to be unidirectional while optic fiber networks are entirely contained in one line.
As you can see, there is no direct connection between fans and your internet connection.
The motor on the ceiling fan is merely generating a magnetic field with frequencies of 0.45 MHz through 30 MHz, which are merely weak compared to 2.4GHz that routers use.
Understanding how WiFi works
How wifi works is a simple concept really, but understanding the principles behind it can be challenging.
Once you understand the logic behind how everything works together, you’ll appreciate how reliable and fast today’s wireless networks are.
Here’s an overview of the components that make up your wireless network and how they interact.
What is WiFi?
WiFi, which stands for “wireless fidelity,” was developed to provide high-speed wireless internet access to devices like laptop computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
It uses radio waves to send data at up to 11 megabits per second from one computer device to another over distances of up to 300 feet.
The basic components of a WiFi network are:
- A wireless access point (WAP) is the hub of your WiFi network and provides access to the Internet for WiFi enabled devices. The WAP transmits data between the wireless network and any connected computers, printers or other WiFi devices. A wireless router is a WAP that also includes routing features so the network can be extended over an Ethernet connection to connect computers that are connected by cable. A WAP or router is often referred to as a network access point (NAP) .
- The wireless transceiver, which is in each WiFi device, helps transmit and receive data from your computer or wireless printer. It is also referred to as a radio frequency (RF) module or radio transceiver . The transceiver in your WiFi enabled computer will have one of these brand names on it:
- The network interface card (NIC) in the computer delivers data between network resources and the device. The NIC is included with your computer when you buy it.
- The wireless adapter in a WiFi enabled printer or scanner picks up the WiFi signal from the WAP, then sends an image or document to a connected computer. If you have a mobile laptop computer or handheld device with WiFi capability, it also includes a wireless adapter.
- Wireless range extenders, also called range extenders or repeaters, pick up the signal from your WAP and repeat (or extend) it. They can let you connect to the Internet when a WiFi enabled device can’t reach a WAP directly due to physical barriers like walls or floor coverings.
How WiFi works
It’s all about the airwaves.
Your WiFi devices communicate using radio waves that are transmitted and received over the air in your home or office.
There is nothing mysterious about how these radio waves were created–it’s what your cell phone uses.
The same radio waves are used in FM radios, baby monitors and home cordless phones.
How does your WiFi network work?
When you turn on your WAP or wireless router, it broadcasts a wireless signal using radio waves that can travel through walls and other obstructions to every connected device.
Devices like laptops, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and WiFi printers connect to your network using radio waves, just like cell phones. When you send an email or click on a web page, the signal is sent to your wireless device over the airwaves.
This data exchange happens invisibly–you don’t even notice that it’s happening!
To connect with each other, your WiFi devices connect with each other through a connection point using radio waves.
When you have multiple WAPs set up in your home or office (recommended), you still only need one connection point to send and receive data over the airwaves to all of the connected devices on the network.
To create an extended network the WAPs communicate with each other to share the connection points.
Your WiFi network includes a DHCP server, which automatically assigns IP addresses to all of your connected devices.
If you have multiple WAPs, they will communicate with each other and assign the closest one as an access point.
This means that if you move from one WAP to another, your device will pick up a different IP address and you don’t have to reconnect.
Your network traffic is transmitted between your WiFi enabled devices and the internet in small data packets.
The encrypted data is broken into individual pieces called packets (similar to how an email fits into packets as it travels from one server to another).
These packets also contain instructions as to how they should be reassembled.
This allows the packets to travel a different route and even cross over into neighboring WiFi networks in your area, which then gets reassembled at their destination (your email or web page).
What materials can block a wifi signal?
It is possible to block a wifi signal by using some types of materials, it all depends on the frequency of your network’s router.
The most common frequencies for wifi signals are: 11g (2.4GHz), 11n (2.4-2.5 GHz) and 11ac (5Ghz).
The higher the number, the better the speed.
The most common router frequencies are 2.4 GHz and 5GHz.
When a wifi signal is blocked, it means that you will not be able to connect to the internet.
Let’s explore what types of materials can block or decrease your wifi signal.
What materials can block wifi signals?
1: Non-metallic building materials
The most common non-metallic materials are wooden or plastic.
If you have a wall made of wood, it does not mean that your wifi signal will be blocked.
All these different types of non-metallics reflect the wireless signal in different ways and if they are near the wifi router, they can reflect it in different ways and redirect the signal elsewhere.
Some of these materials affect 2.4 GHz wireless signals more than 5GHz wireless signals.
Some examples of non-metallic building materials are: wood, glass (windows), bricks, concrete, etc…
This is why if you’re having problems with your wifi signal, it is always good to take a look at the materials of the house where you have installed your wireless network.
2: Metallic building materials
Some types of metal are very conductive and they can block a wireless signal from reaching certain areas.
Metal buildings or metallic structures can be made out of copper, aluminum or any other material which is conductive.
It is possible for a radio like walkie-talkie to block your wifi signal.
The only way for you to fix this is by keeping the walkie talkie farther away from your wireless router or switching off the radio.
How can you improve your signal?
To make sure that your wifi signal will not be blocked, you must make sure that there are no materials placed near the wireless router.
You should also place your router in a high position to prevent any obstacles between it and the devices which use the internet.
If you think that your wifi signal is being blocked, you can first try to move the router and see if it will improve.
If this does not work, you should consider upgrading your router as well as moving all the devices which use wireless internet (such as laptops).
It might also be a good idea for you to place the router in another location or next to the device which uses it.
Another thing you can do is to replace any materials near the router with non-metallic materials like glass or plastic.
You should also contact your ISP as they might be able to help you locate the source of interference in your area and this should fix most issues related to blocked wifi signals.
Fans are less known to affect Wi-Fi.
It is possible for another material to block your wireless internet.
It all depends on the size of the material which blocks it and whether its type is disruptive or not.
You should always try to keep any of the discussed materials away from the device which uses wifi signals (router) as this can affect its performance.
Another thing you can do to make sure that your wifi signal is not being blocked is to change the position of your router and make sure it does not overlap with any other wireless network.
It might also be a good idea to check if there are any electronic devices in the house (such as radios) which could be transmitting radio waves and blocking your wifi signal.
Most importantly, you should always try to reduce the distance between your wireless router and the device which uses it to improve the strength of the signal.