How does metal affect a wireless signal?

Written by jules halliday Google
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How does metal affect a wireless signal?
Metal can affect the performance of wireless signals. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Wireless signals transfer information over a distance without the need for connecting cables. Without obstructions, theoretically, Wi-Fi signals can reach 300 to 500 feet according to Google but even with that range, wireless signals can sometimes be less than optimal. Interference from metal objects can affect the quality of the signal causing the connection to become slow or to fail.

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Radio waves

Wi-Fi devices transmit and receive data by pulsing a current to a copper wire inside their antennas. One end is grounded and the other is unconnected. These pulses and their transmission are called radio waves which are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They carry information and travel at the speed of light. They can travel through a vacuum, the air and some solids but not metal according to Channel 4 Science and Technology.

Barriers

Metal acts as a barrier to wireless signals as it absorbs the radio waves. According to the University of Montevallo, a passive source of wireless interference is any substance that restricts or degrades a wireless signal that attempts to pass through it. Generally, the denser a substance, the greater their potential for wireless interference. Metal is very high in density so will block or interfere with the wireless signal transmission.

Radio Frequency

Many household objects contain metal but also operate using radio frequencies that can affect the wireless signal. According to Solano Wireless, wireless radio frequesncy signals require a clear and unobstructed transmission path. Wireless devices operate on the 2.4GHz and/ or 5.7/5.8GHz radio frequencies and many household products containing metal also share these frequencies reducing the signal further. Some of these include microwave ovens, cordless phones and electronic doors.

Solutions

Remove as many metal objects from the area as possible and allow at least 6 inches between any wall with metal insulation and the device. Ideally, metal objects should not have a line of sight with the wireless device. If you need to cover a large area with a wireless signal and it is impossible to avoid nearby metal objects, you can purchase a wireless repeater or range extender from computer or hardware shops. These devices are simple to install and work by repeating the wireless signal thus extending its potential range.

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