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Does A Television Remote Control Use Microwaves?

Last updated on October 27th, 2022 by Steve

Television remote controls save us the stress of walking across our rooms to turn on knobs on our televisions to change channels or TV volume.

Remote controls work through wireless transmission, which is made possible by electromagnetic waves. 

Electromagnetic waves have a variety of wavelengths, with each having unique traits and uses. So does a television remote control use microwaves? 

Most television remote controls use Infrared radiation, while others use Radio waves. Remote Controls carry light-emitting diodes that give off infrared radiation from infrared detectors on the television. These waves travel at the speed of light and are invincible.

Do Television Remotes Use Microwaves?

Does a Television Remote Control Use Microwaves

Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with wavelengths longer than that infrared radiation and are primarily used in long-distance wireless communication. 

Also, microwaves are used in satellite communications, cell phone communication, GPS, Wifi, Radar, and microwave ovens.

Television remotes mostly use infrared radiation. Although some television remote controls make use of Radiofrequency technology.

Radio frequency remote controls function in the same way as infrared radiation. The only difference is that radio frequency technology uses radio waves.

Infrared radiations are low-energy radiations and send out signals which do not penetrate the walls or other solid materials. 

The signals are confined to the point where the television is placed.

And you ought to directly aim the remote control at the television for the signals to respond.

For this reason, you won’t be able to stay in your room and turn on or off your neighbor’s television.

To extend the range, you must get a radio frequency remote and adapters.

On the other hand, microwaves send off waves that penetrate solid materials and are primarily suitable for one-to-one transmission between sender and receiver.

Microwaves are great for cooking because they reflect metals, which penetrate materials and are engulfed by various foods. 

While Microwaves and Infrared radiation travel in a straight line, there are differences between the two electromagnetic waves.

Some of the differences are in the table below:

Microwaves Infrared Radiation 
The wavelength of microwaves is longer.The wavelength of the Infrared is shorter.
Microwaves have a lower frequency.Infrared waves have a higher frequency.
Microwaves can penetrate solid elements.Infrared radiation can not penetrate through solid elements.
Microwaves are detected with point contact diodes.Photon detectors are used to see infrared light. 

What Kind of Waves Does a Television Remote Use?

When it comes to television remotes, the superior technology is Infrared radiation. 

The Infrared radiation transmits signals through light from the remote control to the television emitting infrared light in the process.

The remote control is referred to as the transmitter, while the television is the receiver. The television is designed to read and respond to messages.

These signals are coded, representing a specific instruction to power on or turn off your device.

Also, specific brands have different coding languages for their devices. For example, an LG remote control will not work on a Samsung television.

Once your remote control sends these signals, your television, the receiver, decodes the signal and acts accordingly.

The LED light used by Infrared radiation remote controls to send signals produces a few restrictions. Infrared radiation needs a line of sight to transmit signals.

It would be best if you had a clear path between the remote control and the television for proper transmission.

Because Infrared radiation does not penetrate walls, it is impossible to control your television when you are not within the recommended range of 30ft.

Aside from Infrared radiation, we also have radio frequency remote controls. Radio frequency remote controls have a more excellent range of about 100ft.

This range makes them effective in garage door openers and applications like car alarms. And these waves are simple to produce.

Radio waves remote control are capable of sending signals even through walls and pieces of furniture. 

Radio waves travel extended distances, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor transmission.

Also, compared with infrared waves, radio waves travel in any direction and find application in AM and FM radio and televisions.

Is Television Remote Radiation Harmful?

Television remote controls emit infrared radiation, which is concealed, and as such, users wonder if the radiation is harmful to the body.

Remote control radiations are not harmful to the body. Infrared light is a low-power form of a wave and causes no harm when emitted.

Generally, we have ionizing and non-ionizing radiations, and each presents specific features.

Ionizing radiations hold a vast quantity of energy and give off high-frequency radiations, which cause possible harm to the body cells.

These forms of radiation are not used in television remote control because they are dangerous to the body.

Ionizing radiation is radiated by ultraviolet light and X-rays, which harm the DNA and cause cancer.

Non-ionizing radiation, on the other hand, is a low-frequency emitting wave with low energy and poses no harm to the body.

Radiations like infrared are non-ionizing radiations used in television remote controls, and they do not cause harm to the body.

Because the radiation emitted when using a remote control is negligible and can not harm the body anywhere.

However, it is essential to understand that there have been talks that constant exposure to a high level of infrared light affects the eyes.

It is generally recommended that you protect yourself from electromagnetic waves because of the dangers of exposure to them.

Also, since remote controls come with harmful battery cells, you must ensure to keep remote controls out of reach of children.

Why Are Television Remote Rays Invisible?

The rays emitted by the television remote are not in the visual spectrum. As such, we do not see the rays.

The frequency of infrared light is shallow for the human eyes to detect, even when placed directly to the eyes.

While human beings can not detect the infrared light emitted by television remote controls, some creatures, like the rattlesnake, are capable of seeing infrared radiation.

There are small infrared radiation sensors concealed close to the eyes of rattlesnakes. The detectors act the same way receivers on the television work.

The infrared radiation is partitioned into the near and far infrared. And the near-infrared is closest to the visual spectrum.

These rays interact with materials differently, and the best way to detect the remote control rays is by using a camera.

However, only some cameras can detect infrared radiation. Some cameras have filters that block infrared radiation.

It may interest you that infrared radiation passes through dust better than visible light, and astronomers use infrared radiation to see through opaque clouds. 

While electromagnetic waves are not noticeable to human eyes, avoiding constant exposure to their radiations is crucial.

Especially the ionizing radiations that cause damage to the body tissues and consequently lead to varying degrees of cancer. 

Here is how to detect infrared radiation. Although smartphones work perfectly, you can use a digital camera to detect infrared radiation.

  • First, check and confirm that your remote control is functioning.
  • Open your phone camera and turn on the video recorder.
  • Focus the remote control on the camera and press any key.
  • You will see a flash of light through the camera.
  • The flashlight is infrared radiation from your television remote control.
  • If you don’t see flashlights, check the remote control batteries and try again.

Final Thoughts 

Most remote controls use Infrared radiation to send messages to the televisions. However, some remote controls make use of radio waves technology.

Infrared radiation is unidirectional with a low range and confined to the immediate area of usage.

Also, due to the low energy of the waves, infrared radiation is usually harmless to the body.

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