Can your heater or air conditioner affect your Wi-Fi?

File this one under “plausible.” If you’re having Wi-Fi issues, the culprit could absolutely be your heating or cooling system. I’ll tell you, I’ve seen it myself. Turn off the central A/C and the Wi-Fi gets better. There are some potential culprits here:


RF noise
This is the explanation most people will think of first. Even though all electronic parts are tested to make sure they don’t interfere with broadcast frequencies, that testing takes place on new parts and over time it’s possible that shielding can break or components can get noisier. I would have to imagine this is a bigger issue with air conditioners, which contain more mechanical parts, than heaters. While both contain blowers, an air conditioner also has a compressor which, over time could potentially create some RF interference. Still, it’s not very likely that this is the only problem here, especially with a heater which is really not much more than a fire and a fan.

Low voltage in the home
Again, this is a possibility, but you have to wonder if it’s the right one. Older homes may not be able to take the load from an air conditioner or forced-air heater. If you see the lights dim noticeably when the system kicks on, this applies to you. Electrical problems in the home can lower the power output from your router or access point and shorten its lifespan.

Air movement and temperature changes
As boring as it sound, this is probably the real reason for Wi-Fi issues, especially if you’re having problems out toward the edges of your router’s coverage area. As hot air replaces cool air, or as cool air replaces hot air, turbulent areas are created where the two airflows meet. This can actually cause visible distortion, as anyone who has watched heat rise from a barbecue can attest. That same distortion affects radio waves as well and when you’re talking about broadcasts with such a low power level, it doesn’t take much to cause interference and errors. Because of the digital nature of Wi-Fi and LTE internet, you’re not likely to notice problems until the signal get so bad that it starts to drop out completely. This is referred to as “the shelf effect” because it’s like your service just falls off the edge.

If you are having problems with Wi-Fi while the climate control is on, you should look to make sure your system is in good repair and that your home electrical system isn’t overburdened. If everything is ok there, you’ll probably benefit from a wireless extender like the ones you can find at SolidSignal.com. They’re an easy and inexpensive solution that can boost your power just where you need it.