Smart & Connected Life Smart Home RF Interference With Wireless Home Automation Devices Tips to minimize RF interference at home by Ron Fritz Writer Ron Fritz is former Lifewire writer and a computer technology writer with over 15 years of experience with information technology and home automation products. our editorial process Ron Fritz Updated on April 23, 2020 Smart Home Your Best Year Ever: College Tech Tips Amazon Appliances & Lighting Google Tweet Share Email As the number of wireless devices in use in the home increases, wireless home automation grows increasingly susceptible to radio frequency interference. The popularity of wireless technologies—such as INSTEON, Z-Wave, ZigBee, and other protocols—has revolutionized the home-automation industry. Toss Wi-Fi and Bluetooth into the mix and you have a house full of radio frequencies. Wireless products such as telephones, intercoms, computers, security systems, and speakers can all lead to less-than-optimum performance in your wireless home automation system. Testing for RF Interference Lizzie Roberts/IkonImages/GettyImages An easy way to determine if your wireless home automation system experiences RF interference is by moving devices close together. If operation improves when the devices are side by side, then you are probably experiencing RF interference when they are in their usual locations. INSTEON and Z-Wave products operate at 915 MHz signal frequencies. Because these speeds are far removed from the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequencies, they are unlikely to interfere with one another. However, INSTEON and Z-Wave equipment potentially interferes with each other. Most ZigBee products typically run at 2.4 GHz. ZigBee home automation systems transmit at low power levels, making the risk of them interfering with Wi-Fi negligible. However, Wi-Fi networks can generate RF interference for ZigBee devices. Tighten the Mesh When you use wireless automation technology, using more devices improves system performance. Because wireless home automation works in a mesh network, adding more devices creates additional pathways for the signals to travel from source to destination. Additional pathways increase system reliability. Signal Strength Is Important RF signals degrade quickly as they travel through the air. The stronger the home automation signal, the easier it is for the receiving device to distinguish it from electrical noise. Using products with a strong output increases system reliability by allowing the signal to travel farther before it degrades. Additionally, keeping fully charged batteries in battery-operated devices increases the strength of the transmitted signal. When the batteries start to wear down, system performance suffers. Consider a New Location Moving a wireless home automation device to a new location can substantially affect performance. RF is known for having hot and cold spots. Sometimes moving a device across the room or even a few feet away can create a dramatic improvement in device performance. To manage the risk of interference between ZigBee and Wi-Fi devices, it's best to keep all ZigBee devices away from wireless routers and other sources of radio interference, such as microwave ovens.