It seems like all Wi-Fi smart plugs operate on 2.4 GHz. Are you looking for alternatives to clear up bandwidth, or perhaps in a situation where 2.4 GHz isn’t an option? To be honest, there are not a whole lot of options if you want to stick with a Wi-Fi smart plug and use 5 GHz, but there is at least one.
What smart plugs are compatible with 5 GHz? There are two options available on the market today; the Leviton DW15P-1BW Smart Plug and the Sengled G2 Smart Plug. Both of these smart plugs have dual band wireless transceivers, so they can operate on 5 GHz as well as the typical 2.4 GHz.
Wow, two options! Did you think you were going crazy when all you could find were 2.4 GHz options? Well, now you know you aren’t going crazy.
The Leviton has been around for a couple years and is a proven smart plug. Here is a link to it on Amazon, just click on the image.
New in August 2020, there are now two options on the market for 5 GHz Smart Plugs with the introduction of the Sengled G2 Smart Plug. The Sengled smart plug is fairly new, but so far has great reviews.
I checked the Sengled website for more information, but the product isn’t even listed (as of March 2021). I have to be somewhat skeptical when the manufacturer doesn’t even list a product on their website. Here is a link to it on Amazon, just click on the image.
There is technically a third option, the Globe Electric Collection Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Due to the lack of specifications, I can’t recommend it for 5 GHz. The description says “System Requirements: Connect with Wi-Fi router at 2.4 GHz; Runs on 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz after connection.”
That is all the detail they give. Also, there is no mention of if it is UL listed and safe to use. That said, the Amazon reviews are favorable. You can see the smart plug on Amazon here.
Believe it or not, there are reasons that manufacturers stick to using 2.4 GHz frequency. Keep reading to find out why. I’ll also look at alternatives to using Wi-Fi smart plugs, just in case this one available 5 Ghz option doesn’t fit your needs.
Why Are Smart Plugs All On 2.4 GHz? (2.4 GHz Verses 5 GHz)
There is one primary reason that smart plugs, and most wi-fi enabled smart devices for that matter, operate on the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency band.
That reason is range.
A 2.4 GHz can travel further than a 5 GHz signal, and smart plug manufacturers want to provide a device that works at the maximum range possible. 2.4 GHz is also better at going through solid objects, like walls.
This allows the user the option to plug in the smart plug anywhere in the house, and have the best chance for the smart plug to connect to the Wi-Fi correctly, as would be expected.
Even for smaller houses (1,000 – 1,500 Sq. Ft.) there is a noticeable difference in Wi-Fi signal strength depending on the location in the house.
On the flip side, the reason for wanting to use 5 GHz Wi-Fi is for the speed.
Smart devices are not usually used for high bandwidth applications, so manufacturers typically opt for range over speed.
A smart plug uses very little data. In a typical month, a smart plug may use around 150 MBs of data. And that’s in the high range.
Think about how much data just a single movie requires (around 3-4 GBs, depending on quality and length), and it hails in comparison. Its like a drop in the bucket.
This really isn’t a largely talked about topic yet, but I suspect it will become a larger and larger issue as more homes start using more smart devices.
2.4 GHz is more susceptible to interference than 5 GHz.
Interference occurs when there becomes to many devices operating on the same frequency, and the same channel within the frequency band.
If interference starts to occur, you may notice that the speed of your internet connection has slowed down in a snail like pace. Whereas your 5 GHz speed will be fast, your 2.4 GHz speed may be very slow.
Here’s a video the describes the strengths and weaknesses of each of the wireless bands.
Optimizing Your Wi-Fi for Smart Plugs
Wi-Fi Router Location
The location of the router in your house has a huge impact on your Wi-Fi signal strength.
Signal strength is important because it directly impacts the data performance. A weak signal will take longer to transmit data, if even at all.
So here are four things to consider when choosing a location for your router.
1. Router Height
You may picture the radio waves your router emits to be something like ripples on a pond. However, the radio waves don’t just transmit horizontally, they travel vertically as well.
It is more accurate to picture it as a bubble, instead of just a two-dimensional ripple. So, if the router is placed directly on the floor, half of the radio frequency has to bounce off the floor, which reduces its strength.
If you have a one-story house, try placing the router on a desk, or a shelf, or something that elevates it to be mid-level in your house.
If you have a two-story house, you will want to place your router close to the ceiling of the first floor, or close to the floor on the second story. This will help provide more consistent coverage throughout each floor.
I have mine placed close to the floor on the second story, but not directly on the floor. If I did that, I think Roomba would cause more of a problem.
2. Centralized Location
Let’s go back to that ripple and bubble metaphor. When you drop something in water, the ripples grow weaker and weaker the further our they travel.
The ripples are losing energy as the travel outward. The same thing happens with the RF bubble your Wi-Fi router is sending out.
Therefore, it is best to place your router in as central a location as you can. This will provide the most consistent coverage throughout your house, and the best chance for connected devices to have a strong signal.
3. Walls, Floors, and other obstacles
RF signals, including those used by your router, travel best in open air with no obstacles.
Of course, this isn’t completely possible in a house with a bunch of walls, but it is something to consider.
Also, this tip is secondary to choosing a centralized location.
The last part of this tip is to avoid metal obstacles. Metal eats up RF signals, so try to position your router with plenty of distance between any metal objects.
Don’t forget to consider those metal objects you can’t see, like pipes in the wall, air ducts, HVAC units, and metal safes.
Also make sure you don’t place your router on a metal object, when your following tip 1.
4. Device Interference
I’ve already mentioned interference from having too many devices connected to your Wi-Fi network, but there are also other types of interference to consider.
2.4 GHz is a very common frequency for household devices. (That’s probably why you want 5 GHz in the first place.) Household items like wireless phones, Bluetooth, baby monitors, and even some microwaves are all common devices that can use 2.4 GHz
Speaking of microwaves, they create a ton of electronic noise when in use. You could be killing your Wi-Fi signal if it’s anywhere close to a microwave.
Also, consider other electronics in your house that may be creating electronic noise, such as a TV.
Try to move your router at least 6 feet away from these noisy devices.
Wi-Fi Smart Plug Alternatives
Maybe you are sick of dealing with Wi-Fi and just want to go a different route? Here is the route I would go.
ZigBee and Z-Wave are the two main Wi-Fi alternatives. They create a network similar to Wi-Fi, but using a different radio frequency.
Devices that use ZigBee or Z-Wave create what is known as a mesh network. That means that each device can talk to each other, which means each device expands the network range.
In order to communicate with these devices, a smart home hub is required.
Smart hubs sometimes have the option to connect directly to a router via a Ethernet cable, or by using a Wi-Fi connection.
Typically, the smart hub is connected using Wi-Fi.
That means that all your smart devices connect to the hub, and the hub is only a single device on your Wi-Fi network.
This results in less interference on your network, which means better overall speed.
The main point to get out of this is that if you plan on using a large number of devices, say more than 20, consider using ZigBee or Z-wave. It will save you a lot of headache and money in the future when you realize your 2.4 GHZ network can’t handle all those Wi-Fi devices you are trying to run on it.
Does Alexa Work With 5GHz?
Echo devices, the place where Alexa lives, are equipped with dual band Wi-Fi radios. That means they can operate on either 5 GHz or 2.4 Ghz frequencies. The Echo device can be configured to use 5 GHz by using the Alexa App on your smart phone.
What Devices Should Be On 2.4 GHz and 5GHz?
The 2.4 GHz band is good for low bandwidth devices, like smart plugs or smart bulbs. 5 GHz is good for high bandwidth devices, such as game systems and video streaming devices. 2.4 GHz has better range, but is slower than 5 GHz.