Air conditioning is a necessity for warming and cooling in the modern world.
As you sit in your comfortable and cool room, or drive your nice car to work, you probably do not think about how much the air conditioning has affected your life.
Air conditioning may provide us with a comfortable way to live, but it has other effects in the world around you.
You may have heard that air conditioning or refrigeration will mess up your wifi.
There are a couple of things going on here: environmental interference, electromagnetic interference and wireless AC technologies, all add to the inability to have your devices connect to wifi.
More on all these reasons is covered in this blog post alongside information on recommended remedies to operate your wifi at optimal performance.
How does the air conditioning unit work?
In order to understand if air conditioning affects wifi, it is important to first know how an air conditioner works.
In general terms, air flow from inside the building or home is taken in and blown out through a series of tubes that are exposed.
The air is then cooled as it’s blown over some type of heat exchange unit.
A couple of different types of air conditioning units exist, including the portable, window, ductless and central air conditioning.
The reason why these systems work so well is because they can move heat from one area to another using a process called phase-change.
What is phase change or phase conversion?
Phase-change, or the change in state of matter as it heats and cools, is important because without it cooling wouldn’t be possible.
The continual heating and cooling allows for various substances to exist in different states of matter.
When an object is heated and cooled, its state of matter changes.
A good example of this would be water.
Water exists in a liquid form when it’s at room temperature, but as temperatures rise the water becomes a gas (steam).
If you were to set water on fire at very high temperatures, it would evaporate into a gaseous state, but very quickly cool and solidify when temperatures fall as it travels to a cooler environment.
Phase change is important in cooling because it allows substances to be cooled or heated up without changing into a completely different state of matter .
What are the two main ways that phase change can occur?
- Simple phase-change – Heat can be removed when a substance passes from one solid phase to another, such as from ice to water or from water to steam.
- Latent heat – When substances undergo a phase change, energy in the form of latent heat is absorbed or released during the process. Consider what happens when you add ice cubes to a glass of water. As the ice cubes melt and combine with the water, energy is released into the environment in the form of vapor. The same thing happens when you take ice out of your freezer and add it to a cold drink.
How does latent heat contribute to cooling?
The addition or subtraction of heat from a substance in the form of latent heat allows air conditioners to cool homes and buildings.
Latent heat is removed from each substance (and environment for that matter) as it undergoes a phase change, allowing for both simple and complex cooling systems to work.
Does air conditioning affect wifi?
You’ve probably been in situations where your wifi feels unstable.
You check to see if something is wrong with your router and the connection to your ISP, you reboot both devices and after a while it works again.
What makes this happen?
Air conditioning is partly to blame!
You see, what happens is that when you have an AC running in your home, it can interfere with the signal from your router.
This interference occurs because the wifi signals get distorted and reach your devices with a different frequency.
The result is that the connection between you and your router becomes unstable, that’s why it keeps cutting off or losing signal.
Usually this happens when there are obstacles in between you and the router, like walls for example.
So when those walls have air conditioners in them, this causes the problem.
But how exactly do ACs cause this to happen?
How does air conditioning affect WiFi?
To find the answer to this question we need to know a little about how wifi works.
WiFi is a radio signal similar to FM, only that it’s digital.
It uses 2 main components: an antenna and a transmitter/receiver (or transceiver).
The Transmitter/Receiver (also known as a station or STA) in a wifi connection is what connects you to the Internet.
The antenna receives and transmits signals, both from your router or access point, and from other STAs: i.e. wifi capable devices like laptops, phones etc.
One of the most important things in maintaining a stable connection is good reception for both your STA and the access point.
There are several factors that may affect reception: walls, objects, barriers and of course air conditioning.
So, how does air conditioning affect wifi in particular?
Well, it affects them by 3 ways:
- Environmental interference
- Electrical interference
- Wireless AC
1. Environmental interference
While it’s true that objects (and people) will obstruct signals in certain places in your home or office, there is a more important source of signal disruption: temperature and weather.
The fact is that the equipment has more difficulty producing a strong signal at higher temperatures.
This means that two stations in different temperature environments will experience more signal loss (degradation) over the same distance compared to the same time period in an identical but cooler environment.
This means you’re going to be able to get further with a stronger signal in colder temperatures than you would have in colder ones.
It is understandable to be skeptical when told the weather can affect your wi-fi signals.
Scrambled Wi-fi signals can be a sign of more than one underlying thing.
When it is bad outside, there will be some problems with the signals. This is especially true with satellite reception.
2. Electrical interference
The problem is also that AC systems contain the potential for electrical interference, which can cause data loss.
This interference may occur due to power surges and disturbances.
Because AC is used for cooling, the circuits are located indoors, and contain a thermoelectric device that cools your home by utilizing greenhouse gas refrigerant and ambient heat.
A thermoelectric device is a p-n junction semiconductor that converts thermal energy into electrical energy (reverse possible).
This means your air conditioner uses electricity to move molecules from one side of the device to the other.
And in order to do this, it must release heat into the environment around it.
Which means your air conditioner will emit an electromagnetic field (EMF) as a by-product of the process.
When this field interacts with the data field being transmitted by your wifi, it can cause interference with your signal.
The more screens you have in your home/office, the more chances there are for electromagnetic interference.
Of course this isn’t a problem if you keep it in an isolated room with no wifi devices within proximity.
3. Wireless AC
Although this may be a recent technology, it is widely used in homes and offices today.
Air conditioning systems operated using wifi still carry the same risks of weakening your wifi signal compared to conventional air conditioning systems.
With this in mind, we will briefly discuss Wireless AC and how it can affect your home or office’s wifi.
Air conditioning systems used with the newer Wireless AC standard, have a few different frequencies that they can operate at (depending on model and brand).
These include 2.4Ghz, 5 Ghz and 60 Ghz bands (currently in use for WI-FI).
If you’re using a dual band router, it’s quite possible that your router is operating on two different frequencies depending on which device you are using to connect to the internet.
So, if you are operating on a 2.4Ghz frequency band, and the AC is also using that frequency, then the signal strength between the two will be weakened due to interference.
Many people who choose to use wifi AC systems do not know how to troubleshoot or resolve issues with their wifi router.
Solutions to WiFi affected by air conditioning
You may be wondering what steps you can take to improve the strength of your wifi connection if an AC system is affecting it.
This is the part where I tell you what to do if an AC system in your home or office is affecting your wifi’s performance.
You’ll need to first identify what type of air conditioner system you have and then perform some basic troubleshooting steps, specifically designed to protect both the AC unit and router from high temperatures.
1. Identify the system type
If you’re having signal problems, one of your first steps should be to identify what type of system you have in order to determine how it operates.
Some AC systems may not be designed for wifi use and therefore could potentially interfere with your router’s ability to broadcast a strong signal.
The first thing that you should do is consult your manufacturer to see if this system will work with your wifi router.
If the AC unit can operate on a higher temperature (like a wireless AC device), then you may not have any problems at all and are in the clear.
But, if it does not operate on these higher temperatures, then there are some steps you can take to “tweak” your system.
2. Ensure router is far from large appliances
If you determine that the AC system is NOT wireless, then it may be interfering with your wifi’s signal.
The first and most important thing to do at this point would be to move your router as far away from any appliances (such as a washing machine, dryer or even an oven) in order for it to broadcast its strongest signal.
If the system is wireless, you may want to move your device even farther away in order for it to be able to function in its optimal range.
3. Move router away from the compressor
If you’ve already moved your router away from large appliances, but are still receiving poor reception on certain devices, then you may want to move the device a bit farther away from the area surrounding the compressor.
This will allow for more space between the two, allowing the router to broadcast its strongest possible signal without interference from the AC unit.
4. Connect your devices using an ethernet cable
To further ensure that your wifi router can broadcast a strong signal throughout your house or office, consider connecting all of your devices using an Ethernet cable.
Ethernet cables will help boost your connection and provide a wired connection to all of your devices no matter where they are located.
Enjoy uninterrupted internet connection!
Hope this helps, I know it’s not as exciting as video games or other tech gadgets, but it is one of the most important parts in any home/office network system.
You might not use all of it, and you probably won’t ever need to set up each of those components separately, but knowing how they work will definitely help you out when something goes wrong, or if you find yourself troubleshooting your network.
Also, you might want to check out our post on Do Ceiling Fans Affect WiFi?