RF emissions in smart home and health impact

Since my vera has been leaving me in peace for some time now my interest has turned to some research on the health impact of smart homes related to the increased RF emissions.
My setup has a variety of devices and a quick search online can lead to discovering that a lot of our devices are running in the 2.4GHz spectrum because… it is unregulated. Microwaves run at 2.45GHz for a reason… and it is because it is very effective at exciting water molecules. Without trying to paraphrase articles I have read, the conclusion I have come to has been that both 900MHz and 2.4GHz are most harmful to health and likely everything in between as well. My physics background also tells me that lower frequency propagate to longer ranges at the same power and that higher frequency can carry higher bandwidth. 2.4GHz unfortunately is a completely saturated spectrum with so many devices and protocols screaming on top of each other causing poor signal quality/interference.

I went around my house with a 2.4GHz spectrum analyzer and an EMF meter and these are my findings (note the units):

Highest emission devices at minimum distance:
Cordless DECT phones: If not on, they emit 2-5mW/m2, when on, the phone switches to 100W/m2. The base station of the phone hovers around 60W/m2 all the time. This is incredible.
Wifi Smart plugs: I have a number of these based and they are horrible reaching over 200mW/m2 almost as high as my UBNT unifi APs.
The Sonosnet system is also horrible emitting a very large spectrum with high power at 200mW/m2 when not playing and going up to 1W/m2 when playing. I am now trying to disable sonosnet so it can just use my wifi network.
I have a number of other wifi devices running on 2.4GHz like the filters and vacuum robots and none goes higher than 20mW/m2
I have all of my amazon echo devices run on 5GHz and their signal range is short.
Zigbee devices have very low and narrow spectrum pulse. They are generally relatively low energy and low range. and I found them to never emit more than 4mW/m2. (the aeotec HEM is constantly transmitting) and generally within noise of the emission from the 60Hz AC power.
Zwave devices carry lower energy due to lower frequency and power but have a higher signal range/power ratio. I found none exceeding 10mW/m2 either. They actually pulse going from 0-20mW
This is the advantage of mesh: using low power over short distances reducing interference with one another and with anyone else (i.e,. neighbors)
The lowest point in the house is at 200uW/m2 and the normal far away from any device baseline is 1 to 2mW/m2

Conclusion for your smart home: avoid wifi whenever you can especially at 2.4GHz. It is overkill for bandwidth, noise and power consumption which as I am finding out also contributes or cause autism in children, cancer, Alzheimer, etc… Another good reason to get rid of nest, ecobee, Google home, MyQ, Skybell, Ring and replace them with zwave/zigbee whenever we can and at least get 5GHz for devices requiring higher bandwidth than what zwave and zigbee can offer.


Quick update after a little more testing:
zwave is definitely the lowest emission recording still <5mW/m2 on any device
zigbee comes next with mostly 0 and spiking to 20mW/m2 for the keen vents and 50mW/m2 for the centralite outlets (no wonder they are such good repeaters)
amongst the wifi devices, sonos is by far the worst. Never going below 250mW/m2 and spiking up to 1W/m2 while playing even after I switched sonosnet off and am using my own wifi so as to reduce the number of emitting locations. (The wired speakers no longer emit anything) and the spectrum is no longer all red across a very wide band. You better never be within 1m of a sonos speaker for very long. It is a radiation treatment.
The wifi smart plugs have a lot of variations from model to model (I have at least 4 different ones) all are pretty bad from 50mW/m2 to 200mW/m2 steady. I am replacing these with zwave ones for sure.
The wifi AP are “only” emitting 200-300mW/m2.

Interesting read, I didn’t realise that Sonos were so bad, have you specifically tested Sonos one speakers ?

I have sonos 1, sonos one, sonos 3 and 2nd gen sonos 5… all report the same power. 4x higher than anything else I have in the house. I have since disabled sonosnet (it’s wasn’t exactly obvious how to do it) and have connected all of them either through wire or wifi. All of a sudden my 2.4Ghz wifi spectrum gets drastically more room. To some extent it makes sense because they are not technically wifi certified.

My unifi controller still shows their signal strength to be extremely high on wifi… higher than any non sonos devices even closer to the APs. Could be a source of interference even for other wifi devices. I am trying to figure out a way to reduce their transmission power.

Not sure how accurate emf detector apps on the iPhone are but they report low to medium emf from Sonos one except when I get the iPhone right up close to the front of the speaker which I assume is the speakers strong magnet playing interference. I will however be changing my bedroom Sonos one to wired now;-)
I am not sure signal connection strength is a good indication of emf as I have a back yard battery/solar powered camera reporting best signal connection strength and as it is battery and has not been changed from (100%) full for 2yrs I would think it’s wifi power usage to be conservative at best.

My observation is pretty consistent though between my 3 instruments. I use a dedicated 2.4Ghz spectrum scanner, an RF meter

and the wifi signal strength looking at the dBm value reported by wifi.
The magnet does not disturb RF power unless… it is oscillating (playing). I measured mine at idle and compared also with the same speaker with its wifi off and playing through wire… the measurement goes to 0!

I think we have like a 30k wifi mapper at work, I will try and borrow it and report back.
Look like the work unit is too complex, may have to purchase the unit that you posted

A link to a peer reviewed scientific study concluding this would be interesting:

’ contributes or cause autism in children, cancer, Alzheimer, etc… ’


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I know it is pretty controversial and I am not trying to stir a debate on the health impact here. I can just say that there are plenty of reports out there showing this and most are very credible though some are somewhat dubious. I just want to err on the cautious side of things because the reports of the contrary I have read are all far beyond dubious. I parallel this to the Boeing 737Max crashes… It isn’t because there has been thousands of flights with no issues that it doesn’t have a problem. Governments only needed two crashes to ground it and Boeing fought the decision and is still fighting it. For this type of things, there are thousands of cases reported and though it takes a long time to reveal itself and a lot of people will likely be unaffected does not mean that there is no risk or problems and it is very obvious that all the counter studies are funded with a bias and are only leading to the conlusion that there is not enough data. There is no study that shows that it is safe and what level is safe.

Anyway my focus here is, just in case this would have an impact… I have the measurements to show that zwave is better than zigbee and far better than wifi 5GHz which in turns is better than 2.4GHz. On top of which sonos are far worse.

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Heat is also very good at exciting water molecules. You might want to check the equivalent energy output of your furnace, and your hot water heater!

Microwaves really aren’t that great at penetrating skin to damage DNA at a distance, especially at milliwatt power scales, thanks to the inverse square law and how the water in your cells also does a pretty good job of absorbing that frequency and converting it to small amounts of heat. There’s likely minimal penetration beyond the superficial layers of the epidermis.

These sorts of devices don’t have the amount of energy required to cause the ionizing damage that could impact DNA to any appreciable degree. Your daily dose from the cosmic microwave background radiation and our neighborhood star likely far more to your daily accumulation of DNA damage.

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As I said, I am not trying to debate the topic here. The argument you are advancing is the exact same counter arguments the entire industry funded research are advancing. The physical data shows indeed no ionization. A friend of mine who worked at T-mobile gave me the same speech. I said used to because he quit after having doubts about what he was saying himself from looking at the number of cases showing an irrefutable yet not understood correlation and not feeling ethical about it. Yet a number of medical studies show significant differences in health degradation, cancer rate and chronic disease rate due to these low level radiations. The mechanism is not clear but the correlation is there. The same type of arguments were made for years for asbestos, lead, mercury, tobacco… Eventually after years, enough data was collected to build a mechanism. Direct molecular ionization may not be the mechanism. There are many other theories out there. Science/Medicine is still learning every day and there is definitely no more proof that the low level of radiation is safe than there is proof of the contrary. In the meantime I am erring on the safe side seeing the sheer number of cancers and autism propagating around me to people of all ages down to 3 year old children. The US legislation is definitely consistently leaning towards favoring big businesses rather than protecting its people health compared to any other country in the western world. There is also plenty of scammers out there trying to make money exploiting the fear. I am not trying to convince you of anything, I just want to minimize exposure as much as I can.

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Thank you for the information. I find it valuable to make an informed decision for me and my family.
Now I know to avoid Baby Powder, Roundup, and Sonos :slight_smile:

Question: Does Sonos disconnect from Wi-Fi automatically when a wired connection is made?

Thanks again for your post.

I’m trying to give a reasoned response, not flame you, but a response is necessary.

First, you can;t make a claim like " contributes or cause autism in children, cancer, Alzheimer, etc" and not expect a response. That will scare people, and it’s a HUGE claim to make. You started a debate, please don;t try to shut down responses. You claim to have a “physics background”, and anyone with any scientific training will understand the importance of citing sources. If you are unable to do so, then your claims are simply unsubstantiated rumours. Scaring people with these is not a nice thing to do.

Second, your measurements of W/m2 mean nothing unless you quote the distance from the transmitting element, ie “x W/m2 at 1m”. If you had your measuring device shoved up against the antenna, then all those readings are pretty small simply because of the inverse square law.

Personally I doubt the cancer and Alzheimer’s claim. 2.4GHz excites water molecules, which basically means “warms up the water in the device or being affected”. I haven’t done the math but here’s a simple thought: if your phone emits 60W/m2 at the antenna, then it can’t dump more than 60W into your head if it’s in contact with that antenna, and that assumes all the energy is focussed at said head. In reality it’s as evenly dispersed as the antenna designers could make it so it works as well as possible (it won’t be perfect), so only a small fraction of that 60W enters your head. If that heats up your head enough to notice, then I assume you’d remove your head from that position. Not sure why you’d ram your head up to the base station antenna anyway, but that’s beside the point.

Here is a link to a WHO metastudy: https://www.who.int/peh-emf/meetings/archive/en/keynote3ng.pdf and they quote 20W/m2 as the safe exposure level at the person’s skin for 2GHz to 300GHz sources. Please stand in the middle of the room with your DECT base station in it and measure the exposure. If it’s more than 20W/m2 you have a cause for concern, though nobody ahs actually measured any actual harm from levels exceeding these. The 20W/m2 is simply a “well, this is way below anything tested, so,it’s safer than any safety testing yet done, let’s use that”.

Happy to entertain discussion of any errors of fact or based on scientific evidence in my statements above. Rumours, however, are worth exactly what you paid for them. Probably less.


Interesting info, and agree that it is generally safer to err on the side of caution but we do also need to be cautious about apparent correlation which is why evidence based study is critical. For example, the age of Miss America correlates very closely with murders due to steam, hot vapours and hot objects. (http://tylervigen.com/view_correlation?id=2948). There are probably any number of reasons why some people may suggest that the Miss America contest should be shut down, but preventing people from being murdered by steam is probably not one of them. :wink:

The other thing to be aware of is you seem to be measuring things at minimum distance when radiation drops really quickly based on distance from the item generating the radiation - a good thing as we’d otherwise probably die instantly as soon as we walked outside into sunlight.


No it doesn’t, you have to get into the app and manually disable wifi from the advanced options. It is not quite hidden but takes some looking around to get to it.

Phillip and ceefin are absolutely right. If you really are trying to exercise an abundance of caution, there are many risks you are taking every day that are far more dangerous, such as walking out of your house in daylight. If you are going to take such an abundance of caution in this case, then at least apply your caution rationally.