Smart displays are wonderful kitchen companions: you can easily follow along with a recipe, video call someone while you meal prep, or keep yourself entertained while you clean things up. But depending on where you put your smart display or other electronics, you could be in for some trouble.

Microwave Shielding, Explained

Microwave ovens work by heating your food with short radio waves. These radio waves travel through a small channel, known as a “waveguide,” towards the food compartment. The turntable spins your food around so it can get cooked as evenly as possible, and the metal that your microwave is made of makes the radio signals bounce around the inside of the food compartment. The molecules inside your food start vibrating quickly, which is what heats your meal.

The metal chassis also acts as an electromagnetic shield. The microwave blasts out radio waves and the shielding keeps most of this inside the food compartment, but shielding degrades over time. If you’ve ever had your wireless network act up when you heat some snacks, it’s most likely because you have an older microwave and the shielding has become less effective.

RELATED: Why Does Wi-Fi Use the Same Frequency as Microwaves?

How to Test Microwave Shielding

The best way to test your microwave’s shielding is by downloading a Wi-Fi analyzer app. Here’s what you need:

  • A Windows 10 desktop or laptop, set to connect over the 2.4 GHz frequency
  • WiFi Analyzer from the Microsoft Store

Step One: Force Windows to Connect on 2.4 GHz

Forcing your device to connect to Wi-Fi over 2.4 GHz is important for the test since that’s the frequency on which microwave ovens also operate. Most modern devices and networks automatically switch between 2.4Ghz and the faster 5Ghz frequency. Microwaves don’t cause interference with the 5 GHz spectrum, so we need to get rid of that option if we’re going to test the shielding.

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To force your Windows device to use the 2.4 GHz frequency, start by clicking the Windows logo in the lower left. Type “device” and then select “Device Manager.”

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