Why don t smart bulbs work with 5GHz WiFi?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

Why don’t smart bulbs work with 5GHz WiFi?

One of the most common issues that smart-home device users face is the inability of their devices, such as smart bulbs, to work with 5GHz WiFi networks. This can be quite frustrating, especially when you have just purchased a brand-new smart bulb and eagerly want to set it up and control it through your smartphone.

The reason behind this limitation lies in the frequency bands used by both the smart bulbs and the WiFi networks. Most smart-home devices, including smart bulbs, are designed to operate using the 2.4GHz frequency band. On the other hand, WiFi networks usually operate on two frequency bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. While the 5GHz band offers faster data transfer speeds and less interference, it is not compatible with many smart-home devices.

One of the primary reasons for this incompatibility is the range of the 5GHz band. It has a shorter range compared to the 2.4GHz band, which means that the signals transmitted by smart-home devices might not reach the WiFi router or access point if they are located at a considerable distance. This could lead to unreliable connections and frequent disconnections, rendering the smart bulbs useless.

Another factor contributing to the incompatibility is the physical design of smart bulbs. These devices are typically small and compact, making it challenging to integrate dual-band WiFi capabilities into their circuitry. Including support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands would increase the cost and complexity of the devices, which might not be justifiable for manufacturers considering that the majority of users still rely on 2.4GHz networks.

Additionally, the 2.4GHz band has been widely adopted and used for years, making it a more established and widely compatible option for smart-home devices. Most manufacturers have focused on developing their devices to work seamlessly with 2.4GHz networks, as this ensures better compatibility with existing WiFi infrastructure and a larger consumer base.

In my personal experience, I have encountered this issue numerous times when setting up smart bulbs in my own home. Initially, I was puzzled as to why the bulbs couldn’t connect to my WiFi network, even though my smartphone was connected without any issues. After researching and troubleshooting, I discovered that the smart bulbs only supported the 2.4GHz band. I had to switch my phone’s WiFi connection to the 2.4GHz band temporarily in order to successfully connect and control the smart bulbs.

To summarize, smart bulbs and many other smart-home devices do not work with 5GHz WiFi networks due to the limitations of range, design constraints, and the prevalence of 2.4GHz networks in the market. Manufacturers prioritize compatibility with the 2.4GHz band to ensure widespread adoption and seamless integration with existing WiFi infrastructure. Therefore, if you encounter connectivity issues with your smart bulbs, it is crucial to check if your phone is connected to the 5GHz band and switch it to the 2.4GHz band temporarily for successful setup and control.