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Microwave Ovens Cause WiFi Confusion for UK Consumers

Wednesday, Jun 30th, 2021 (12:24 pm) - Score 4,312

A new Censuswide survey of 2,014 UK adults that have broadband, which was commissioned by ISP Zen Internet, has found that 75% of people are unaware that using Microwave Ovens could be “causing havoc” for their home WiFi signal and 8% wrongly believe “hitting their router” will improve connectivity.

A typical Microwave Oven (2.45GHz) uses the same sort of band as WiFi, albeit designed for a completely different task and power levels. Such ovens will cook (i.e. HEAT) food by using lots of power (800 Watts+) and focusing their microwaves at ultra-short-range (a few centimetres).

The ovens themselves are of course shielded for safety, but a small bit of their energy (radiation) will escape during use, which is partly why they tell you not to touch the oven when it’s running. But the energy that does escape can be just enough to briefly create interference for WiFi connectivity on devices in close proximity (roughly a couple of metres), although you can often mitigate this by switching to the 5GHz band instead.

However, clearly many of those responding to Zen’s survey are not aware of this, which is why they’re warning consumers to be careful about router placement. The survey then goes on to identify some other “common misconceptions” among consumers.

Summary of Survey Results

— 72% believe that turning their router off and on again will fix their connectivity issues, with nearly half (49%) doing so

— 40% believe turning off video on conference calls improves connectivity, with one in eight (13%) doing so.

— More than one in five (23%) think broadband providers deliberately confuse them with jargon.

— 42% of those polled don’t think the centre of the home is the best place to put their router for connectivity, when Zen say it is.

— 29% don’t realise that storing the router in a cupboard out of the way will affect their internet connection.

— 19% think the router is a fire hazard.

— 12% believe that WiFi can cause harmful radiation (nope).

— 72% believe the broadband industry has too much jargon in it, with nearly a third (30%) calling it confusing and nearly a quarter (23%) believing providers do it on purpose to confuse people.

In fairness, while switching a router off and on again won’t stop a Microwave Oven from causing connectivity issues on your WiFi, it can sometimes solve other small network problems that may crop (Zen does recognise this later on). As such, there are cases where the odd reboot may help, although it’s generally advisable to just leave the router to do its thing and if you do reboot it then only do so very rarely (on some DSL lines rebooting too often may negatively impact your broadband speed).

Likewise, Zen seems to suggest that turning off video on conference calls won’t improve connectivity, but on very slower broadband lines it may improve wider connectivity by adding some extra speed back into your local network that was previously being used (especially on upstream). But this really depends more on how you define an improvement in connectivity and the capability of your existing connection.

The survey also indicates that the centre of your home is the best place to put a router, but in reality this may vary depending upon the layout of each property and what its walls are made of. In addition, anybody connecting via a copper line (ADSL, FTTC) will need their router to be as close to the Mastersocket as possible in order to get the best broadband speeds from their ISP (i.e. WiFi isn’t the only factor in network speed and stability).

The existence of WiFi extenders / repeaters and Powerline adapters should also mean that problems with WiFi related router placement are generally easier to overcome than problems with your broadband line.

NOTE: Check out our Top WiFi Boosting Tips article for some useful guidance.
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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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34 Responses
  1. Avatar photo COVID cause 5G says:

    > 12% believe that WiFi can cause harmful radiation

    Well this is just depressing. No wonder Boris is in power.

    1. Avatar photo JP says:

      Oops bell emoji didn’t work.

    2. Avatar photo Microphobe says:

      Omg. Does that mean your WiFi cooks you slowly? 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Avatar photo Michael V says:

    Some points in the Summary of Survey Results are hilarious.
    I used to work for Sky & people used to call saying their hubs are not performing properly.
    Turns out they were switching their WiFi hubs off at night.

    A WiFi hub is perfectly same. Won’t kill U, won’t burst into flames!

    All media heavy devices like TVs, phones. Tablets, should be on 5GHz band.
    Things like WiFi radios & non media heavy devices put on the 2GHz band.

    Point being, balance out all your devices across both bands so one isn’t full of all devices especially with 27 like I have.

    A decent WiFi extender with 5GHz band support is worth investing in.

    Put the hub in a central place in the house, hallway?

    All this is common sense really.

    Those who think WiFi is harmful, must be terrified of switching on a light bulb!!!!

    1. Avatar photo Spurple says:

      I am curious. I don’t see the connection between having a concern about RF from wifi and being concerned about light output from a bulb. They’re in totally different locations on the electromagnetic spectrum spectrum.

      Goes without saying that I don’t have a phobia for wifi.

    2. Avatar photo Michael V says:


      Some people think the 5Ghz band is a really high band & like to think it’s harmful.
      Light bulb is much higher closer to the ironing band range.

      Yes you are right, on completely different areas of the spectrum.

      It was a joke.
      [A joke made on a documentary on 5G from an engineer.]

    3. Avatar photo smithy says:

      “All media heavy devices like TVs, phones. Tablets, should be on 5GHz band.
      Things like WiFi radios & non media heavy devices put on the 2GHz band.”

      I’ve seen this sort of thing mentioned a lot and still don’t quite understand. Why would you not just put everything on 5ghz if supported? sure you might not need the extra bandwidth but it would be better than placing them on the more congested 2.4ghz band.

    4. Avatar photo Ian says:

      I work for a major ISP in tech and have heard quite a few people say split the devices between 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz and I disagree completely. Everything in my house is either hardwired or on 5Ghz bar the printer which connects to 2.4Ghz but is only switched on maybe two times a month.

      Where I live there isn’t much in the way of congestion on 2.4 but when you live in a block of flats it is often pretty much unusable.

    5. Avatar photo Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry says:

      It’s possible for older devices to force your network into using a compatibility mode so as to speak with them, at least for the time they are receiving and transmitting (if you think about it, as they can only cope with slower or less complex modulation, the network as a whole loses bandwidth proportional to the time they’re active – they may also preclude the use of merged channels). Thus it may be better for them to be on the 2.4Ghz network, which has “less to lose” to start with. If they are only occasionally active, it may not have much impact, but that could depend on how your router deals with them.

      Microwave and other interference notwithstanding, 2.4Gz tends to have less attenuation and so goes further than 5Ghz, which may also make it more reliable for such devices.

  3. Avatar photo chris says:

    > 9% think the router is a fire hazard.

    all those china-made-crap are fire-hazard.

    > 72% believe that turning their router off and on again will fix their connectivity issues

    this is the 99% of the typical suggestion from the Vodafone C/Support
    when you call to compaint that the (wired) connection is like crap and drops all the time, then they ask you to “play” with the master socket

    >8% wrongly believe “hitting their router” will improve connectivity.

    sometimes work: Once I hit so hard a router with a wrecking bar, the darn thing stopped, the next one – the replacement worked better : problem solved.

  4. Avatar photo Meadmodj says:

    — 72% believe the broadband industry has too much jargon in it, with nearly a third (30%) calling it confusing and nearly a quarter (23%) believing providers do it on purpose to confuse people.

    Surprised its not worse

    1. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      I agree. “superfast” or “BT Fibre broadband”, neither of which are even true.

    2. Avatar photo AT says:

      Is that not BTs fault? FTTC/VDSL/SUPERFAST?

  5. Avatar photo Chris Sayers says:

    Poorly maintained microwave ovens do cause problems, brand spanking micro ovens don’t usually cause problems, I used to fix them, I was issued a Apollo Microwave Monitor X1, these were calibrated yearly, very rarely did I find one that emitted microwaves provided the door seal area was kept clean.

    There are lots of contributety factors that add up to causing poor signal.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Not true, we have a brand new one, and it disrupts the WiFi for connected devices on the 2.4GHz band. I’ve actually done some testing of this for fun (maybe I should publish that at some point, if there’s interest?) and it’s fairly common, but usually only an issue within a few short feet.

    2. Avatar photo Chris Sayers says:

      @Mark Jackson, Holy moly…, that means if I understand correctly, microwave leakage is acceptably higher than WIFI is able to contend with, if that’s correct in my assumption. I’d appreciate you expanding on this subject.

    3. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      It doesn’t take much EM interference to screw up low powered wireless networks, you can do it in all sorts of ways. The signals are very weak.

    4. Avatar photo Tony says:

      I had a job once in some small flats where the customers router would drop every few hours, it bounced around a few times testing fine when anyone visited until I got it.
      It was as clean as a whistle until suddenly it dropped. I only figured it out 30 seconds later we heard a ‘PING’, and it all came back on again.

      Turned out his neighbour was a new Mum, and every time she used the microwave, it knocked out hers, and her neighbour who’s router was on the other side of the wall.

  6. Avatar photo Neil says:

    If you need your router close to the phone socket then it may not be the best position for Wi-Fi. Why don’t ISPs provide a VDSL modem which can be right next to the socket and send the signal to the router using an ethernet connection.

    1. Avatar photo MicroPhobe says:

      You could do that, but it needs two boxes and routing a cable and for all installations since you want a standard for support purposes.

      As the article suggests – get an access point to put into the centre of the property and consider turning off the wifo at the (badly placed) router to save wifi congestion.

    2. Avatar photo MicroPhobe says:

      …use powerline adaptors to run the access point.

      BTW. You can’t use just 5ghz band … there is loads more space in that band, but many devices are 2.4ghz only so get crammed into the narrow space available there.

  7. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    Of the 8% thinking “hitting their router” will improve connectivity, if they’re on Three’s 4g they’re not wrong.

    I recommend a large sledge hammer. It Works much better, fixes the problem instantly!

    1. Avatar photo TrueFibre says:

      Lol Absolutely brilliant

  8. Avatar photo Phil says:

    Hey, been a while since we’ve had a Zen advert, sorry, I mean a survey.

  9. Avatar photo Rob says:

    The only item that sets my Narda off is my plasma ball.

  10. Avatar photo Marty says:

    “And 8% wrongly believe “hitting their router” will improve connectivity”

    Maybe Jesus our lord and saviour exists at the bottom of a milk carton to stop it from going off.

    With the way things are some people will believe anything.

  11. Avatar photo MicroPhobe says:

    Wrap your router in aluminum foil to stop interference.

  12. Avatar photo Anthony Goodman says:

    “72% believe that turning their router off and on again will fix their connectivity issues, with nearly half (49%) doing so”.

    This does work. I have had multiple routers and for some reason every now and again, once every month to two months it will just stop and being unable to be connected to at all by itself. If you turn it off and on it comes back to life. I have never been sure why that is. Does anyone have an answer to this?

  13. Avatar photo Mark says:

    Nimbys in my area don’t want mobile masts, they say harmful radiation, but they get over the poor coverage with WiFi or a network provided femtocell! Defies logic.

  14. Avatar photo wirelesspacman says:

    “And 8% wrongly believe “hitting their router” will improve connectivity”

    I remember when I was at Uni on my Elec Eng course we had a detailed explanation as to why hitting things definitely could help resolve issues! All to do with resonant frequencies and loose connections. 🙂

    1. Avatar photo Greg says:

      I Hit things in my Datacentre all the time.

      Certainly helps fix my state of mind…

  15. Avatar photo james smith says:

    the 8% that think hitting a router is a good idea probably condone hitting badly behaved children

  16. Avatar photo Carl Farrington says:

    If you want to “see” this for yourself, just buy a “TV/Video sender” which is an analog 2.4ghz video transmitter meant for bringing tv sources (satellite, cable, playstation) into another room of the house.
    Watch what happens when someone turns the microwave on! That’s how noisy the microwave is.

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