Can Christmas Tree Lights Degrade Wifi Signal?

John Lister's picture

Can Christmas tree lights degrade a WiFi signal? A British government agency suggests exactly that, but tech experts say it's unlikely to have a noticeable effect.

The claim came in a press release for a new app to check WiFi quality. Ofcom, which is roughly equivalent to the Federal Communications Commission, noted that WiFi problems "could be down to something as simple as interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave oven, baby monitor, a lamp - or even Christmas fairy lights." (Source:

The app runs some basic checks to see whether data is delayed or even lost while passing from a broadband connection via a wireless router, and then to a device and back again. While it hasn't publicly stated this is the reason, Ofcom may be offering the app to help users distinguish between slowdowns caused by their WiFi and genuine problems with the service and speed of the connection delivered by their broadband provider.

Routers On Floor Less Effective

As part of the app launch, the agency noted some common troubleshooting tips, including using Ethernet cables rather than WiFi wherever practical; restarting a router to have it switch to another frequency with less interference from other users in the neighborhood; and moving the router to a different location, preferably off the floor and in a central room.

It also noted that having a router near electrical devices can cause problems: "Halogen lamps, electrical dimmer switches, stereo or computer speakers, fairy lights, TVs and monitors and AC power cords have all been known to cause interference to broadband routers. Keep your router as far away as possible from other electrical devices as well as those which emit wireless signals such as baby monitors etc."

Christmas Lights, WiFi Warning Overstated

In theory, a Christmas tree full of lights could be a particular problem as, unlike most electrical equipment, the wiring is not heavily shielded and has only a very thin layer of plastic to insulate any radio frequency interference.

However, given how many devices are in the average home, it's extremely unlikely that a set of lights on their own could make a significant difference. Andrew Smith of Gizmodo notes that "it would take a considerable volume of lights to create enough interference to seriously degrade your WiFi network. In fact, you would have to be lighting up your tree like a small sun ." (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you find electrical devices and wiring affect your WiFi performance? Have you ever tried relocating your router to improve the reliability and speed of the signal? Do you consider the advice about Christmas tree lights to be useful?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I really doubt that Christmas tree lights could have any noticeable effect. I would be more concerned about the electrical wires that run throughout the walls.

That said, I have 3 routers strategically placed throughout my home. Together, they form a 'triangle' of WiFi coverage which provides adequate signal regardless of where I am in the home. It seems to work pretty good.

odiesdad83_3480's picture

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. . . . . .

janina.simons's picture

I learnt that the hard way :)

janina.simons's picture

I dont know enough about wi-fi, but if something faulty it can mess things up and if like me, upset a household.

I had cheap [Fosseys Australia] Christmas Lights on my artificial tree $4.99 they cost, and were there for at least 10 years without any problems.

In 1990 I decided that I needed nicer ones with shapes of 3D stars, at an exhorbitant cost of $69.99 back in 1990.

Well the lights looked extra pretty, much better then the older ones, and we enjoyed them, but we didnt enjoy the occasional irritating click, click & static, we got on the phone. [landline - pre mobile and wireless, wi-fi days]

Now back in the 90s we had service from every company, and the Telcos came out after doing test and hearing the same noises. But the noises were intermittent, and hard to track down as most techie know.

John from Telsra turned up and ran a battery of tests inside and out and was as baffled as I. After 2 hours, 3 cuppas, nice chat, he decided to rewire which would be faster than spending hours trying to find the cause ... Fortunately he started on the wall opposite the Christmas tree corner ...[my room was 25 x 25 ft] when he had done 10ft from phone jack and int the corner, he was diagnally opposite the Xmas trees and noticed that the noise happened when the Christmas lights flashed on & off, not every time, but enough to find the culprit.

After a good laugh a cuppa, we removed the lights, and put back the old lights and tested .... no clicks or static. Turned on new lights and problem back. Who would have thought that lights with an apparent problem could inter with you land line?

Needless to say my copy of work order was requested and given to the Technies could add to their noticeboard of weird and wonderful issues they fixed.

I got a refund and am still using the $4.99 original lights..... So.... Wonder how many things affect other things that we dont know about.....