NICE AND EASY: RF Remote Problems? Try Turning Off the Lights

This is an older tip but still really good. It goes all the way back to the early days of this blog, and it came from a customer.

Back then, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out why a customer could use his remote in RF mode in the afternoon and not at night. It took a while but we finally traced it down to the fluorescent light fixture in that room. When it was on, the RF remote didn’t work.

Is this a problem for you?

If you are finding that your remote seems flaky sometimes and you can’t explain why, try turning off the lights and see if it works better. The culprit could be aging CFLs (compact fluorescent lightbulbs) putting out a lot of interference. Because compact fluorescents last so long, the electronics in them can become a problem over time.  Not only that, but early ones from the mid-2000s weren’t very efficient by today’s standards. That’s why they’re being replaced by LED.

Every CFL has some componentry to allow the bulb to actually work and those components could be giving off RF radiation that could be interfering with your remote. CFL bulbs can also interfere with powerline adapters, Bluetooth, cordless phones (if you still have one) and even wireless signals like cellular and Wi-Fi. It’s possible you could fix a lot of the problems you’re having with just one flip of a switch.

How to fix this problem

Have you found that your home electronics work better with the lights off than with them on? If so, try replacing aging CFLs with LED lights. LED lighting has really come of age in the last few years and prices are really low now. So even if the CFL isn’t burned out, it could be time to replace it with an LED bulb, which will probably never need replacing in your lifetime. If the bulb is more than 7 years old, it may be dimmer than it started originally and that may mean you want to replace it anyway.

Just remember to obey local laws for getting rid of CFLs… some states don’t let you put them in the trash because of the mercury inside. In those states, make sure that you bring the CFL to a recycling center. If possible, don’t break the glass because the gas inside may be considered hazardous.

Modernize your home with accessories from Solid Signal

No, we don’t sell lightbulbs at Solid Signal. But, we do sell remotes and many other things to help you live your best digital life. Check out our completely refreshed web site for the home theater accessories, smart home devices, as well as satellite, antenna, and cellular equipment. If it’s something that you want, you’ll probably find it among our over 40,000 active parts. If you don’t see it at Solid Signal, call us at 888-233-7563 and we’ll look at adding it! Many of our most popular parts started as customer requests and we’re adding new listings all the time!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.