What can you do about bright lights on your electronics?

Am I the only one whose home office looks like NASA Mission Control? During the pandemic, a lot of folks stepped up and added a lot of gear to make their home office a lot more like their “office office.” USB hubs, microphones, cameras, multiple monitors, and on and on invaded our homes. A lot of that stuff is still in my home, and I bet it’s in yours too. After all, working from home is now part of our permanent lives. That’s not such a bad thing, honestly.

It’s not a problem during the day…

But let me tell you, when I walk over to that room at 2 o’clock in the morning, it looks like someone’s about to launch a nuclear missile. Lights are flashing, every device has some sort of indicator on it, and there’s this sort of blue backlit glow from the things I’ve tried to hide. It’s easy enough to ignore if you don’t go near it, but it’s a little offputting. Since that room has a window, it’s also a huge advertisement to anyone who would want to know where the high-dollar electronics are.

And so, I try to figure out a way to minimize the light show. Here are the best things I’ve come up with.

Unplug it, or switch off the power strip

There’s a lot of stuff you can just plain unplug. If you have switched power strips, you can switch them off. While this doesn’t really apply to your router or other network hardware, you probably won’t miss a lot of the other stuff when it’s turned off. PCs start up pretty fast these days, monitors start instantly with no warmup, and most other stuff doesn’t need to be left plugged in. Unless you’re actively charging something or using something, turn it off. You’ll save money on power and the lights will stop being a problem.

Cover up the lights

There are some things that have indicator lights for no darn reason. My monitor has a light to tell me it’s on. Um, I can tell that it’s on because, well, I can see stuff on the screen. There are a whole bunch of things like that, things that just have lights on them for show. In that case, I tend to recommend just covering them up. You can use black electrical tape, or black nail polish if you want things to look a bit more professional.

For things where you just want the lights to be dimmer but not invisible, there are a couple of options. The best, if you happen to want to take the effort, is to go to a place that tints windows. Ask for a scrap piece of dark tinting material. Sometimes a place will just give it to you, if it’s something they weren’t going to use anyway. I was lucky enough to get the tail end of a roll of the stuff, for which I paid the shop owner $5 cash.

You can also get something like 3M 616 Lithographer’s tape, which is a very dark red tape originally used in the printing industry. It’s a bit more expensive but the dark red is perfect for dimming down bright blue lights.

For routers and access points…

If your router looks like a holiday spectacular with all the flashing lights, dig into its settings. Many routers and access points have ways to turn off all the lights, leaving you with a mercifully dark experience. You can turn the lights back on if you really need to check connection status, which happens rarely but it does happen.

Remember… it’s your stuff

Unless you’re talking about a rented cable modem or something, remember that this is your stuff. You have the right to modify it as you see fit. Be careful and you won’t disturb the function of the stuff. The only thing that will happen is that you’ll be able to sleep a little better.

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.