How to Stop Electrical Interference: 4 Main ways

Electrical interference is a major concern today, with devices now more interconnected than ever before. It can cause issues such as flickering lights, distorted sound, or even take down entire networks. Thankfully, there are several steps that you can take to minimize the effects of electrical interference. Read on to find out more.


Table of Contents

What is Electrical Interference?

Electrical interference is defined as any unwanted electrical signal that disrupts an electronic device or electrical system such as television reception, telecommunication signals, or computer networks. But what does that mean and what are the possible sources of such interference?

Electrical Interference Meaning

Electrical interference means instances where unwanted electromagnetic energy, whether radiated or conducted, ends up interfering with the normal operation of an electronic device or system. As such, electrical interference is often referred to as noise.

Common sources of electrical interference noise include electromagnetic fields from power lines, electrical motors, as well as radio signals from cell phones and Wi-Fi networks. In essence, any nearby source of magnetic and electric waves can end up disrupting vital components within an electronic device.

Types of Electrical Interference

Electrical interference can reach a device in the form of radio waves or conductive signals. It’s also usually either intentional or unintentional. Intentional interference results from signal transmission systems such as two-way radio communication, cellular telephones and Wi-Fi networks.

On the other hand, unintentional types of electrical interference are usually caused by unintentional transmission of electromagnetic waves, such as power lines and motors. Natural sources of interference, such as solar flares or lightning, are also unintentional sources.

What Causes Electrical Interference?

When the energy of a signal is too high, it can interfere with the expected signals. This is true of both radio waves and electrical power lines. The incoming signal or wave produces an “interference” voltage, in the receiver or victim.

The interference voltage, if of sufficient magnitude, will disturb the normal operation of the receiving system. This is also known as electromagnetic interference or EMI in short.

The noise from electrical interference can result in a wide range of issues, from disrupted signal reception such as distorted sound to the loss of entire networks. To prevent that from happening, engineers must devise ways to minimize the interference.

How an electrical interference suppressor or shield works
How an electrical interference suppressor or shield works

How to Stop Electrical Interference

The effects of electrical interference can be minimized with the help of a number of techniques. Most often, these electrical noise reduction techniques include proper shielding, filtering, grounding, and cable isolation techniques. Read more about them next.

1. Electrical Interference Shielding

This means using a physical barrier (usually made of conductive material), to reduce or block unwanted electrical signals. Commonly used materials for electrical interference shielding include: metals such as aluminum and copper or steel, conductive foams and fabrics, conductive coatings and paints, and even conductive elastomers.

  • For electrical noise shielding that requires or will work best when you block the electric field of the wave, use a material with high conductivity.
  • To reduce the magnetic component of the radiation, use a material with high magnetic permeability such as carbon loaded rubber or ferrite.
  • It’s also good practice to reduce the number of holes in your shield that could serve as entry and exit points for the radiation and use conductive sealing gaskets as needed.
  • If weight or cost is an issue, a plastic shield with conductive coating may be used.

2. Electrical Noise Filter Circuit

This involves adding electrical filters to the power or signal system with the aim of removing unwanted signals, dissipating them, and preventing them from entering the system. Commonly used electrical noise filter techniques include inductors, capacitors and ferrite beads.

  • An electrical noise filter can be placed on the device that requires protection, or outside but close to it.
  • If filtering analog signals, it’s usually necessary to amplify them before the filtering stage.
  • The electrical noise filter circuit must be tuned to block out the frequencies associated with the interference, while still allowing through desired signals.
  • Ensure the right type of filter for your circuit, or it may not provide the required effectiveness.
  • Filtering is also often used together with other methods of attenuating interference, such as shielding and grounding.

3. Grounding Noise Reduction

In order to prevent electric fields from causing interference, it’s crucial to ensure that all electric circuits are properly grounded. Grounding noise reduction works by providing a path for the flow of electric current away from sensitive components back into the earth or other conductive materials.

  • Grounding noise reduction works best if the conductive path is of very low impedance.
  • To reduce inductance, therefore, keep leads as straight and short as possible.
  • Consider separating analog and digital grounds to further reduce the potential for interference.
  • Use grounding to suppress the electrical noise of signal cables whenever necessary.
  • When a shielded cable forms part of the signal’s return path, consider grounding it on either ends. If not, you’ll only need a single ground.

4. Proper Routing of Cables

Proper routing of cables is one of the ways of reducing electrical interference from external sources. It ensures that signal and power lines are not routed close to each other, for example, thus reducing the potential for interference.

  • To reduce the risk of external interference, it’s best to route cables away from sources of noise such as radio transmitters or other electrical equipment.
  • If you must route wires in close proximity to sources of interference, ensure they’re properly shielded.
  • For signal cables, you may consider using twisted-pair cables for better electrical noise suppression.


Electrical interference can be very disruptive and costly when it reaches electronic devices. However, with proper engineering techniques such as shielding, filtering, grounding and cable isolation, this interference can be minimized or eliminated. We hope this guide has been helpful in providing an understanding of the causes and solutions to electrical interference.

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