Microwaves bringing down Wireless signal

Posted on 2012-04-13
Last Modified: 2012-04-30
We have 10 microwaves on at various times during the day. When they are on they wipe out the Data wireless signal in the building. Any suggestion on how we can reduce this disruption besides moving them?
Question by:ITimaging
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Expert Comment

ID: 37844402
Try changing channels.  Channel 1, 6, or 11.  (This would only be very minor changes in frequency, and might not work).

Are we talking about standard food-cooking microwaves or manufacturing equipment?

Expert Comment

ID: 37844444
You could also try a higher-power brand of wireless access points.  We are using Engenius wireless access points, which have considerably more power than your standard Linksys and similar brands.  Engenius advertises that with one of their access points, you get 2x range, and if you use their access points and their wireless cards for your PCs/Laptops, you can get up to 4x range.  This also equates to significant performance improvements within the range you are already using.

You can also try access points with directional antennas, which Engenius also makes.  

We get about a 1/2 mile range @ 36 Mbps to link 2 buildings together over wireless using a pair of access points with directional antennas.
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 37844530
Switch to 5 GHz WiFi.
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Expert Comment

ID: 37844580
Agreed about the 5Ghz suggestions if possible.  

Otherwise, check to see if your microwaves are older or newer models.  The newer/more expensive models have better shielding.  Use SSIDer to see if you can isolate is only particular microwaves are causing the problems.  You may only have 1 or 2 which are leaking sufficiently to cause a problem.

Are the microwaves all in the same area?  You might try to add shielding to the microwaves.  Maybe use wire mesh wallpaper or paint designed to block radio waves.
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 37844643
Wrap the microwave ovens in foil.

Expert Comment

ID: 37844686
If any of the microwaves are ancient relics before the 70's or have bad seals or damage to the mesh in the front window, then more microwave radiation than what could be considered safe would be leaking, and would also interfere with wireless signals.  Try using one microwave at a time to see if it is specific microwaves.  The microwaves themselves should not be giving off more than 5 mW/cm2 @ 5 cm from the microwave, and much less interference should be present at farther distances.  If your access points are in very close proximity, move them.

If any microwaves are on the same electrical circuit as the access points, use a different circuit or noise filtering.
LVL 44

Accepted Solution

Darr247 earned 500 total points
ID: 37844831
They could all have acceptable leakage levels individually, but when there are 2 or more running simultaneously create enough interference to disrupt the WiFi.

I would check them all from the same distance using a tool like the Wi-Spy 2.4x. Those are relatively inexpensive spectrum analyzers made especially for this type of narrow-band detection (full-band spectrum analyzers start at $4000 and go up from there). I own one of those with just the regular Chanalyzer software rather than Chanalyzer Pro, and it works just as advertised for identifying interference. If any are leaking higher levels than the others, either repair or replace them.

You might also look at shielding them using metal screen enclosures with front openings for access.

Depending on what type of equipment you have connecting, it may not be possible to switch everything to 5.8GHz as others have already suggested.

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