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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Microwave Oven Interfering / Killing WiFi

We had been having a lot of trouble with our home WiFi.    Finally found the cause.  My microwave.

Computers would drop connection, then often refuse to see the network until they were rebooted.   It was getting very frustrating and I was losing my reputation around the house of being in command of technology.

Our new TV, an LG 55LW5700 WiFi would hang and refuse to reconnect to streaming WiFi video.  I happened to discover that turning it off, back on, and then going to the settings menu and even though it said it was connected, entering the connection menu would reset it and make it work again

I upgraded my router to the best one I could find on the market.  I geeky open source one.
BUFFALO AirStation High Power N300 Gigabit Wireless Router & AP - WZR-HP-G300NH

Still nothing but problems.   Finally when working from home from the kitchen one day I used the microwave to defrost something and my laptop dropped connection.  VPN and all.   I finally connected the dots.  After a little experimenting I found the correlation was 100%.  Microwave running, WiFi slowed to a crawl and devices dropped off the network if the microwave ran for several minutes.  Clients often got into a state that they required a reset and manual reconnect to get working again.  The longer the microwave runs, the more devices just can't hang on any longer.  Surprising it took me so long to figure out, but with computers all over the house, far from the microwave and lots of people in the house it wasn't obvious.  It also turned out that our 2.4G cordless phone was getting static at the same time.  I never put 2 and 2 together.  Duh.

Obviously microwaves operate at the same 2.4GHz as cordless phones and WiFi, and you can find people saying they interfere but I've had microwaves for years and never had this problem.   If this was normal there would be a customer uproar.  I've heard that people who call manufacturers with this issue are told it's normal.   What I was experiencing wasn't normal.  Putting your laptop on top the microwave and losing a bar of signal is normal. This particular microwave has a serious microwave leakage problem.

Several forums said that changing the channel of the router would help.  Theoretically Channel 1 has the lowest frequency, and farthest from the offending microwave frequency.   Maybe, just maybe, it helped a tiny bit, but not really.  I tried every channel after that.  No help.  I changed every setting on the router I thought might help and nothing could stand up in the face of this interference.

This started when our old trusty 15 year old microwave stopped heating food.   I bought a Panasonic oven which lasted less than 2 years before billowing smoke and catching fire.  Then I bought the GE.  If you read microwave reviews, you can see that manufacturers don't build them the way they used to.   In a misguided effort to make more money, they have lowered the build quality to keep them under $200.  Their lifespan has been reduced from 15-20 years typical of appliances to 2-3 years typical of consumer electronics.  They figure you will want to buy a new one every couple years for $200 instead of once every 15 years for $500.  There seems to be no way to buy a good one, short of buying a commercial oven, which are hard to come by and have limited features.  So it's no surprise that something like this could slip out of the factory.

My microwave came from Target.  I don't know if all microwaves of this type are as bad, or if I just got a bad one.    However it seems to me that most of the GE and Panasonic ovens are really the same oven rebranded.   Sharp seem to be the same thing too.  The controls are exactly the same.  

This is the evil beast.  Still on sale.  Don't buy one.

GE Stainless Steel Profile 2.2 Cu. Ft. Microwave
GE Stainless Steel Profile 2.2 Cu. Ft. Microwave.Opens in a new window
Target's photo of the WiFi killing microwave.

Mug shot of the killer

This looks the same as Best buy has Model: JES2251SJ 

The microwave was pretty new, barely a year old and I didn't want to replace it yet.  We began to schedule when we ran the microwave versus using WiFi.  In a household of five with more than one computer a piece,  PS3s, Wiis, Xboxes, Tablets, 3DS this became intolerable.  Finally I cracked under the pressure and shelled out for a new microwave.  I didn't want to buy a new one and have the same problem, so I ruled out all Panasonic and GE microwaves.   Since I wanted a 1100W+ microwave with 2.0 cubic foot capacity the choices got pretty slim.

I finally bought this one, because it looked like it was actually a different oven than the one I had.

LG LCRT2010ST 2.0 Cu Ft Counter Top Microwave Oven With True Cook Plus and EZ Clean Oven, Stainless Steel - Optional Trim Kit Available

When I got the new oven, we ran tests.   Heated water in the old one and the new one both and used WiFi. HOoraY!  The new LG one doesn't cause the slightest problem.   The old GE one is a cold blooded WiFi killer. Money well spent.  Problem solved, very definitive.  We will see how this one holds up over time, because it probably isn't built any better than the GE.

Don't waste your money on a new router or signal booster.  The RF power this thing leaked was so high that it interfered with from across the house to a laptop right next to the router.  Wow.  Buy a new microwave and be done with it.   Searching reviews after writing this, you can see others complain about this microwave killing wifi.

Now what to do with a perfectly functional microwave that kills WiFi?  Craig's list?  I couldn't live with myself without disclosing it to a buyer.   My friend wants me to convert it into a police radar trap jammer, but that would be dangerous and illegal.  :-)


  1. Wish I'd seen this article before I bought this microwave. You are right - it completely kills the wireless in my house when it runs.

  2. My mother's GE microwave kills wifi as well!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I finally know why This and my Panasonic microwave kills and interfere Internet: INVERTER TECHNOLOGY!!! Avoid all Inverter Microwaves and my next microwave I hope to get will NOT be an inverter microwave.

  5. I have a similar microwave that kills Wi-Fi, but mine is an Panasonic Inverter microwave, wish I have seen this article before buying any inverter microwave. Might make a article of why my microwave kills internet aswell

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