Remote Controls: Do They Work Through Glass?

Do you ever find yourself quickly shuttling between rooms, TV remote firmly in hand? You’re so close to changing the channel, just a few snappy clicks away, when all of a sudden the buttons don’t seem to work. You look up in frustration, only to realise you’re within arm’s length of a window. What’s the deal? Is it really true that your remote doesn’t work through glass? In this article, we investigate the truth behind remote controls and glass.

1. What is a Remote Control?

A remote control is an electronic device that is used to control many of today’s home appliances, particularly media devices and appliances that use infrared (IR) signals. It can operate items such as your television, satellite box, air-conditioner and even your fireplace.

How It Works:

Remote controls use electromagnetic radiation to transmit signals from the remote to the device it needs to control. To do this, the remote control sends out waves of IR energy at specific frequencies. These infrared waves are then detected by the receiver on the device that needs to be controlled. The receiver translates the frequency into a positive or negative electrical charge, which is used to tell the device to turn on or off.

Types of Remotes:

  • Universal remotes: Universal remotes can be programmed to control multiple brands of devices. They can work with multiple devices and save you the hassle of having to use multiple remote controls.
  • Manufacturer’s remotes: Most manufacturers provide a remote with their product. These remotes are designed to work with their specific brand’s products, and they can be programmed with codes if they are compatible with other brands.
  • Smart remotes: Smart remotes are smart phone apps that provide the same functions as a traditional remote control. They connect to your smart devices via Bluetooth or WiFi, and typically use buttons to control the device.

Ultimately, a remote control provides convenience and ease of use when controlling your home devices. Whether you use a universal, manufacturer’s or a smart remote, they all offer a great way to have complete control over your entertainment or appliances.

2. How Do Remote Controls Work?

Modern remote controls use infrared lights. These lights are invisible to the human eye but can be detected by the infrared receiver located on the device it is controlling. For example, if you point your remote towards your television and hit the ‘on’ button, the infrared receiver on the television picks up this signal, interprets it, and sends a signal to the electronic components inside the television so it knows what to do.

This signal is transferred using infrared technology. Infrared (or IR) light is a type of light that has been used in many different applications. You can find it used in medical assessment instruments, communication systems, and even security systems. IR light is typically transmitted as an invisible beam, which is why it is so often used for remote controls.

A remote control is essentially a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter contains a tiny computer chip that encodes the data being sent by the remote. This data is then encoded into a series of pulses of infrared light that the receiver can interpret. This is why it is important to make sure that the remote and the receiver are aligned correctly when in use.

Most modern remote controls can also use radio frequency. This type of technology transfers the data via a low-frequency radio wave. This is why you often hear a beeping sound when using a remote. The radio frequency of a remote is often very precise, so it is not affected by objects such as walls or other obstacles.


  • Alkaline batteries are typically used in remote controls. These batteries are powerful and have a long battery life.
  • Lithium-ion batteries are often used in more advanced remotes. These batteries are lighter, require less energy to operate, and can last up to two years.
  • Nickel-metal hydride batteries are also used in remotes. These batteries are more environmentally friendly and can be recharged.

Technology is constantly evolving and remote controls are no exception. As technology advances, so too does the ability of remote controls to control more devices from further distances. This means that many people can now control their home entertainment systems from the comfort of their own living room.

do Remote Controls Work Through Glass

3. Can Remote Controls Work Through Glass?

Remote controls are a significant asset in many people’s entertainment centers, making it possible for people to enjoy an umbrella of services from the convenience of their living room. But their usefulness decreases significantly when there’s a glass panel blocking them from the source components.

The answer is yes and no, depending on the circumstances — as with so many of life’s questions! First things first, let’s look at the two types of signals used by typical remotes.

  • Infrared (IR) signal: This is the most common form and is emitted via a beam we cannot see.
  • Radio frequency (RF) signal: This is an alternate method used by certain hi-tech remotes and is great for controlling multiple devices from a single source.

IR signals will not work through thick, double-paned glass, because the infrared light will simply be blocked. However, RF signals may have a fighting chance as the majority of window glass isn’t thick; instead the RF waves may make it through the glass and be detected on the other side.

Which remotes should you use in a glass-filled environment? Look for those with RF capabilities, such as the Logitech Harmony, which uses advanced remote technology to control multiple devices from one source.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend large sums of money on dedicated RF remotes, you can buy dedicated transceivers or repeaters — devices that sit between the remote and the intended receiver — that send out a signal which passes through glass surfaces.

4. Is There Anything That Can Affect Remote Control Performance?

Yes, there are a couple of factors that may impede the performance of a remote control. Start by ensuring that you’re using high-quality batteries. If the batteries are low in power, then the remote control won’t be able to operate as normal. Other factors to consider are:

  • Distance: The remote control’s range is limited, so the further away you are, the weaker the signal will be.
  • Interference: Other radio signals, such as wireless internet and devices like cordless phones, may interfere with the remote control’s signal.
  • Damaged receiver or transmitter: The antenna might be bent or dislodged, which could lead to a weaker signal.

For best practices, try to limit the distance between the remote control and the device you are controlling. Also, make sure that there are no wireless or radio devices within range that could interfere with the signal. Lastly, check the antenna of the remote and receiver to see if anything looks damaged.

Keep your remote control in optimal condition, and you should have no issues when you use it. It helps to keep spare batteries on hand, as you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of a project with a dead remote.

do Remote Controls Work Through Glass

5. How Do You Maximize the Performance of Your Remote Control?

Are you looking to make the most out of your remote control? Here are a few tips to help your remote control perform at its best.

  • Make sure to keep your remote clean. Periodically clean the batteries and connections with a slightly damp cloth. Doing this will help maintain the connection between the remote and the device.
  • Replace your batteries regularly. When it comes to maximizing your remote’s performance, having fresh batteries is essential.
  • Keep your remote away from interference. Electronic devices such as wireless computers, TVs, and other electronics send out signals that can interfere with your remote. Keep them a minimum of 6 feet away from one another and place them in different rooms when possible.

If you are still experiencing issues with your remote, consider replacing it. You can find remotes that specifically maintain a strong connection and are designed to work with a variety of devices.

Contact the manufacturer if you would like further information on the right remote for you. With the right care and preventive measure, you can guarantee that your remote will perform at its absolute best.

Also read: Control Your iPhone with Your PC Remotely


Overall, remote controls are helpful device that can be used in many situations. Whether it works through glass or not will depend on the particular model and type of glass. Thankfully, technology is being developed to allow for more success in transmitting signals through glass, making remote control more flexible and useful.

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