How to set up smart home devices with 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi (2022)

How to set up smart home devices with 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi (2022)

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That you are welcoming a new robot vacuum cleaner to your home, setting up smart lighting, or adding one of the latest smart speakers, you may be having trouble connecting your smart home devices to your Wi-Fi network. There are several reasons why possible, but the most common is that many smart home devices can only connect to the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band.

Simply put, most routers have a single network name or SSID (Service Set Identifier), which your devices connect to. The router decides the frequency band – choosing between 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz – depending on the device and the signal strength, the so-called band direction. The 2.4 GHz band has better range and penetration through obstacles like walls, but the 5 GHz band is faster.

The problem? If you use your phone to configure the smart home device through its respective app, you may find that the device wants to join the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band, but your phone is on the 5 GHz band. This disconnection can lead to a frustrating loop where your new device freezes at the connection stage before finally reporting that it cannot join your network. Fortunately, there are three main ways to fix this problem.

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Divide the bands

Eero Mesh Wi-Fi System

Photography: Eero

Many routers and mesh systems allow you to configure separate SSIDs for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks through an app or web interface. You’ll need to check out the settings menu to figure out how.

By dividing the bands, your 2.4 GHz network and your 5 GHz network can have separate names and passwords. This makes your home network slightly more complex, but it lets you decide which band to join. For devices that run on 2.4GHz and 5GHz, like your phone and laptop, you’ll want to join the two and let your device choose (it should default to the fastest available strong signal). It’s a good idea to add the name of the 5 GHz band, so you know which is which. (For example, name them “mynetwork” and “mynetwork_5GHz”.)

Smart home devices that have this connectivity issue during setup can connect just fine after you finish splitting, so you can go back to a single SSID once your new device is connected successfully (just make sure that the 2.4 GHz band network has the name and password you intend to use as your primary network).

go the distance

An easier method is to move far enough away from your router (be sure to unplug the nearest mesh node); this could force your phone to connect to the 2.4 GHz band. Since this band has a better range, your smartphone will eventually pass 5GHz with enough distance. That may mean hauling your robot vacuum around the yard, which isn’t ideal.

Create a guest network

You may prefer not to have two separate networks or find that your mesh router does not support band splitting. For example, Google’s Nest WiFi doesn’t allow you to split bands. You can often get around this problem by creating a guest network, which only works on the 2.4 GHz band. (By default, most guest networks operate on this band.)

Guest networks are designed to allow visitors to your home to connect to your Wi-Fi network without giving them access to the same network as all of your devices. Both networks have internet access, but only devices on the same network can communicate directly with each other, which can be handy for sharing files or printing. Visitors on guest networks cannot infect any of your devices with malware (not that they would on purpose, but they can be infected unintentionally).

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