The task of choosing which baby monitor to select can be a daunting one for dads. In this episode of Gear Daddy, Daddy Troy clears up the confusion and explains the science and technology behind baby monitors. What does Megahertz and Gigahertz mean? What
Welcome back to Gear Daddy, I'm your host Daddy Troy. This whole week of Dad Labs, we've been talking about baby monitors. Today in particular, we're going to talk about issues that affect privacy ad interference. It’s time to put your geek head on, because we're going to talk about bandwidth behemoths and modulation mix ups. When I tune the radio station on my car, this case to 107.1, that 107.1 means something. Its 107.1 megahertz, it stands for the frequency of that particular radio station broadcast at. It’s reserved by the FCC for radio stations. And in this town in particular, it’s reserved for just one radio station. Most baby monitors use technology that is similar to FM radio stations, its called frequency modulation, FM. But the biggest difference is that baby monitors, they don’t have their own set of reserved frequencies. Instead they have to share a set of frequencies with other devices. These frequency bands are called ISM, Industrial, Scientific, and Medical. ISM bands. And they're pretty crowded with other devices such as cordless phones, wireless routers, and even microwave ovens. So any of these might interfere with a baby monitor depending on the frequency of both the monitor as well as the device being used. So before you go out to purchase a baby monitor, check around your home and see what frequencies your wireless devices are using. Cordless phones use frequencies 900 megahertz, 2.4 gigahertz, and 5.8 gigahertz. Wireless routers use the 2.4 gigahertz band. And microwave ovens also use the 2.4 gigahertz band. Baby monitors most commonly come in the following frequencies, 49 megahertz, 900 megahertz, 2.4 gigahertz, and 5.8 gigahertz. So of all this talk of megahertz and gigahertz has you little confused, don’t worry about it, just go to the user manual or to the device itself and look at the numbers. This one right here has a 5.8 gigahertz, and this one right here has a 900 mhz. the two don’t match, so they're less likely to interfere. A lot of wireless devices can transmit over 100 of feet, this means sometimes the interference on your baby monitor is coming from the neighbors next door. And this can be especially problematic if they have a baby and they're using a baby monitor that has the same frequency as your baby monitor. The way you get around this, there's a lot of baby monitors that have this little A-B switch on them that allows you to switch between two channels. If privacy is super important to you, realize that a lot of baby monitor manufacturers will put private or privacy on their box. And all that really means is that they have multiple channels that allows you to switch among them and have more privacy in your conversations with your baby. So far I've been talking about analog monitors, but if you're really concerned with interference and/or privacy, its best to go with a digital monitor. Now you're going to pay for this added feature, but it might be worth it to you. Digital monitors are less susceptible to interference, and they make it easier for the engineer to who designed it to decode the information so that they can be truly private. Now there's one type of baby monitor I haven't talked about yet. That’s the one that uses the 1.9 gigahertz range or the electromagnetic spectrum. It’s a band that’s been recently opened up by the FCC, so it’s not very crowded yet. Not a whole lot of devices have been designed to occupy it, so you don’t get a whole lot of interference. And more importantly, it’s also designed specifically for voice communication. So you don’t get a whole lot of other applications such as the microwave oven interfering with your baby monitor. Devices that use this frequency like this Philips model often are labeled with the acronym DECT, which stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications. Don’t be confused if you see DECT 6.0, the device still uses 1.9 gigahertz. Even though it says 1.9 gigahertz, this actually means between 1.92 gigahertz and 1.93 gigahertz which gives the monitor a lot of frequencies to choose from in this range. A DECT monitor determines if a certain frequency within this range is being use. And if it is, it automatically switches to a totally new frequency, again, within that range. While the same time encoding all of your information for privacy. There are a lot of things that I didn’t go into today that can affect interference in a baby monitor, such as the type of antenna, diffraction due to wavelength, absorption, re-emission of certain materials in your home, the list goes on and on. If all these seemed a little complicated or you just want some friendly advice, go to DadLabs.com. There's a thriving community of dads there, most of them have already bought baby monitors. They can give you some advice about which ones works for them and which ones didn’t. Well thanks for tuning in, we’ll see you next time in Gear Daddy, and all week long at DadLabs.com.