Do I need to buy new RF outlets?
November 1, 2019 1:17 PM   Subscribe

I have two sets of lamps in my apartment hooked up to two different wireless radio frequency remote control outlets, controlled by two separate remotes. They've worked great for 4 years. A couple weeks ago, both of the remotes stopped activating their outlet unless they were ~3 feet away. I changed the remote batteries and it didn't help. What gives?
posted by quiet coyote to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like there's a new source of RFI interfering with their operation until you're close enough to overcome it.

If those are really operating at 433.92 mHz like the amazon page says, that's within the 70cm amateur radio band.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:40 PM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hmmm- I don't have anything new that would be doing that, but maybe it could be someone else in my building? Could it have anything to do with the recent local broadcast TV frequency change?

Assuming it's RFI, is there another way I can remotely operate my outlet?
posted by quiet coyote at 2:27 PM on November 1, 2019

I use Z-Wave/Zigbee dimmers and Remotes, all connected to locally-hosted Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi (it doesn’t know the internet exists, the internet doesn’t know it exists). Maybe more work than you really want to get into, but super powerful.
posted by Alterscape at 2:50 PM on November 1, 2019

Yeah, I’d suggest either Zwave controlled receptacles or WiFi-controlled plugin power outlets/strips. Presuming your WiFi conditions are good. Putting that stuff on it’s own separate WiFi network that isnt normally connected to the outside world seems like a sensible precaution, as suggested. Just separate the WiFi channels so you don’t step on your own signals.

Search for “smart plug” on Amazon and either buy major brands or read the reviews as there’s a lot of crap out there.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:05 PM on November 1, 2019

I had a similar problem a while back and I got a little more life out of the system by fine tuning the frequency. I guess it can drift over time.

I think I did it on the receptacles not the transmitter, but it's been a long time and I don't remember. I think it must have been on the receptacle, because there was only one of the set that was having problems.

There was a little pot inside with a slot for a screwdriver head, and I just adjusted it until it was reliably switching. It didn't last super long time until it drifted off again though.

Don't electrocute yourself if you try this. If you're not comfortable or confident with electricity don't do this.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:58 AM on November 2, 2019

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