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How to Stop Remote Control Interference

There’s nothing more frustrating than when a remote control works intermittently. Sometimes it functions normally, while other times, it won’t respond to any commands.

This generally happens due to interference. In other words, a device is probably blocking your controller’s signals. So if you’re wondering how to stop remote control interference, you’ve come to the right place.

Most remote controls use infrared signals to send information. If another device operates on the same wavelengths, it could cause interference. To help minimize the effects, you can use IR shields or blackout curtains.

Let’s take a look at what causes remote control interference and how you can manage it.

Infrared Waves

Infrared (IR) waves are electromagnetic radiations out of the visible range. That means that humans can see the signals with the naked eye.

The most significant natural source of this radiation is the sun. However, many other man-made devices can emit IR waves.

Years ago, we found out that we could use those emissions for a few different applications. Some of the more notable ones include:

  • Thermal imaging
  • Night vision
  • Heating posts
  • Tracking
  • Infrared cleaning

We may not know it, but many electronic devices around us use IR in one form or another. In fact, most remote controls use IR waves as the main principle behind their function.

Infrared in Remote Controls

If you inspect your remote control, you’ll notice that one end contains an LED. This is how the device will communicate with other gadgets.

The basic concept works similarly to morse code. To work, the remote will use a series of flashing IR lights to send a message.

Each one of the buttons on a remote will have a unique code. With digital gadgets, these codes are usually a group of “ones” and “zeros.”

The “one” will translate into the LED lighting up, while the “zero” corresponds to a dark interval. Using this scheme, we can transform the code into a series of blinking lights.

Your TV will pick up these lights through a receiver and turn them back into code. Once that happens, it’ll be able to take action based on your instructions.

Infrared Interference

Many of us have heard the term signal interference before. However, it can be quite tricky to wrap your head around the concept.

Most of the waves that occur in nature have the same shape. The highest point in a wave is the peak, while a trough is the lowest one. How high or low the wave travels indicates its amplitude. 

Even though these IR signals aren’t tangible, they can still interact with the world around them. Specifically, they can interfere with other waves.

When this obstruction occurs, it can result in constructive or destructive interference.

Constructive Interference

When two IR waves are in the same phase, they can create constructive interference. Their peaks will meet and join forces.

That means that both signals will amplify each other and produce a stronger wave.

Destructive Interference

Destructive interference occurs when IR waves are in opposite phases. When that happens, the peaks and troughs of the signals will collide.

In most cases, this will cause the waves to diminish. The signals can also completely cancel out each other.

How to Stop Remote Control Interference

The main culprit behind your remote control not working is destructive interference. That means that the ambient waves in your space may be obstructing the signals.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can control the IR waves around you.

Blackout Curtains

Too much sunlight can lead to destructive interference because of the IR waves that the sun emits.

To fix this issue, try using blackout curtains. They will help you control the sun’s rays entering your house.

You can also try moving your TV into an area that doesn’t receive direct sunlight.

IR Shields

In recent years, more and more people have been opting for personal electronic generators. These are mainly used to ensure your home always has power, even during blackouts.

While these gadgets can be incredibly useful, they also emit IR waves. So, they can affect how your remote performs.

The only way to minimize the effect is to move the remote away from the generator. You may want to invest in an IR shield to gain better control over the emissions.

This shield’s design allows it to block IR waves from traveling past a certain distance.

Other Remotes

Since most remotes work with IR waves, they’re bound to interact with each other. This can happen if you use more than one device at a time.

Remote controls only produce an IR signal when you click a button. So, unless you’re using two remotes at the same time, they can’t interfere with each other.

If you notice that your remotes aren’t working around each other, one of them may be faulty. It may be a good idea to call a repairman or find a replacement.

Wrapping Up

How to stop remote control interference? The answer to the question will depend on the cause of the interference. If the culprit is sunlight, then you may want to opt for blackout curtains.

Yet, electronic generators can also result in disruption. In that case, you can try an IR shield.

Finally, if your remotes are acting up around each other, you may want to find a replacement.