Although 2.4GHz may become obsolete in the future, most smart bulbs operate on the 2.4GHz frequency of your WiFi.
Most modern routers have dual-band operation and offer 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies for different functions in your smart home.
There are several reasons why smart appliances such as light bulbs operate on 2.4GHz frequencies.
3 reasons why your smart bulb needs a 2.4GHz connection are:
- Stronger signal penetration.
- Longer range.
- Greater device compatibility.
Although the 2.4GHz range may become cluttered and suffer interference due to the volume of smart appliances on the band, the 2.4 GHz bandwidth offers some advantages over the 5GHz band.
Here are three of the main reasons why your smart bulb needs a 2.4GHz connection to your WiFi.
1. Stronger Signal Penetration
The 2.4 GHz range outshines its 5GHz counterpart when it comes to WiFi coverage.
It is a commonly known fact that as frequency increases, the transmission loss increases, especially when it comes to solid objects such as concrete walls in your home.
Metal frames and siding also substantially reduce the higher frequency 5GHz signal, particularly in larger homes and multi-floor locations.
Due to the laws of physics, the 5GHz range may lose up to 25% of its signal strength due to obstructions.
Higher frequency signals encounter obstacles, such as in the 5GHz range, the strength of the signal decreases.
Thus the lower frequency 2.4GHz offers greater signal strength in your home, penetrating further between obstacles such as walls and from room to room.
2. Longer Range
Because the 2.4 operates at a lower frequency, the signals can travel further than the high frequency 5 GHz range.
Sources suggest that the standard WiFi router operating in the 2.4 GHz range typically had a range of 150 feet (46m) when used indoors and 300ft (91.44m) (outdoors.)
The older router that ran on the high-frequency 5GHz reached around a third of that distance.
Another source suggests that the real world distance on the later models is:
- 2.4 GHz real-world range is approximately 410 ft (124,9m.)
- 5 GHz real-world range is approximately 230 ft (70.1m )
There is a considerable difference in range between the two frequencies because higher frequency waves attenuate much faster than low-frequency waves.
Attenuation means loss of signal strength when referring to internet connections; one may measure them in the form of decibels or Dbs.
Editor’s pick: Can You Use 2.4GHz and 5GHz at the Same Time? 5 Facts
3. Greater Device Compatibility
Most of our wireless devices, such as smart bulbs, have been built to support the 2.4GHz band.
Particularly smart bulbs are manufactured to use this bandwidth, and the majority of our wireless appliances built before 2009 are only compatible with this particular band.
Because the 2.4GHz supports B, G, and N variations of the IEEE 802 standards, almost all devices, even older ones, are compatible with the 2.4GHz band.
Spreading your devices into two bands also means that there is less competition on the same channels.
Although the 5GHz band has less interference and can carry more data at higher speeds, this is not necessary for simple, smart appliances such as smart bulbs.
Typically they only have essential functions such as dimming, switching on and off, or changing color.
With the more substantial signal range, 2.4GHz signals carry further than 5GHz signals, especially in multi-story homes.
How a WiFi Connection Works
WiFi or Wireless Fidelity is a wireless network protocol system that uses radio frequencies to send signals between devices.
The radio frequencies let devices connect through wireless access points as well as connect to wired devices and the internet.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) set the standard frequency parameters for local area networks, personal area networks, and metropolitan networks.
These standards set which radio frequencies are available and their speeds and maximum ranges.
WiFi typically uses two radio bands:
- 2.4 gigahertz (120 mm) Ultra High Frequency (UHF)
- 5 gigahertz (60 mm) Super High Frequency (SHF) radio bands.
These radio frequencies are different from your car radio which receives frequencies in the Kilohertz and Megahertz ranges.
WiFi transmits and receives data in what is called the gigahertz range.
You may also wonder: Do smart bulbs use a lot of data?
The Difference Between 2.4 Gigahertz and 5 GHz
Hertz (Hz) is a unit of frequency that measures radio frequency transmission in cycles per second
- 1 Hertz is equal to one cycle per second.
- 1 Megahertz (MHz) equals 1 million cycles per second (or 1 million Hz).
- 1 Gigahertz (GHz) is equal to 1 billion cycles per second (or 1000 MHz).
The reason why there is more than one radio frequency is to avoid signals colliding with each other.
The primary difference between the 2.4 GHz range and the 5GHz range is that the 2.4GHz band offers 11 WiFi channels, of which only 3 are not overlapping.
On the other hand, the 5ghz range offers 45 WiFi channels, of which 24 are non-overlapping.
Overlapping channels are more prone to network interference, so obviously, the 5GHz range offers less co-channel interference.
The 2.4GHz range can be quite prone to interference from other networks and other home appliances using the same signal.
However, the 2.4 GHz range delivers a low-frequency transmission that easily penetrates solid objects such as the walls of your home.
This penetration gives the 2.4GHz range a stronger coverage and signal than the super high-frequency 5GHz range.
This lower frequency range is also more compatible with multi-devices than the higher speed 5GHz.
Connecting Your Smart Bulb to the 2.4GHz Band
Newer routers especially may automatically choose the band which suits the devices in the proximity.
To connect the device via your mobile phone requires connecting your phone to the 2.4 GHz band during the setup process.
If you find it a challenge to connect your smart bulb to your WiFi, you should try the following steps.
- Check that your smart bulb is within your WiFi range by standing near the device with your phone and making sure you have a connection.
- Check that your phone is paired to the 2.4GHz band. Your phone needs to connect to this band to pair the smart bulb. If you are unsure which network your phone is on, you may need to check your router settings.
- Go into your Ádvanced WiFi Settings, select SSID Settings, and rename your 5GHz band by adding 5GHz at the end of the name.
- Check your phone settings for Available Networks and choose the network option without the 5GHz tag on the end of its name.
- Check the UDP settings of your router to ensure it is not blocked, as your smart bulb needs this setting to connect with your router.
You might also be interested in: 4 Ways To Connect Your Smart Plug to 2.4 GHz (How-To Guide)
Using a Smart Bulb on a 5GHz Network
While smart bulbs communicate through the 2.4GHz network, most routers today offer 2.4GHz/5GHz dual bands.
If your smartphone is using a 5GHz connection, you can control your smart bulb through the app, but your bulb will receive the commands via a 2.4GHz signal.
For the reasons listed above, there are currently no 5GHz smart bulbs on the market.
As the 5GHz range gains strength and penetration, the 2.4GHz range may become a relic of the technological past.
However, until the high-speed 5GHz frequency matches the power and range of the 2.4GHz, your smart bulb will need the lower frequency range to perform its function in the smart home.