How to Set Up Smart Home Devices with 2.4-GHz Wi-Fi (2022) | Jobs Reply

Whether you are welcoming a new robot vacuum into your home, setting up smart lighting, or adding one of the latest smart speakers, you may struggle to connect your smart home devices to your Wi-Fi network. There are several possible reasons, 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 is what your devices connect to. The router decides on the frequency band – choosing between 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz – based on the device and signal strength, called steering band. 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 set up the smart home device through its respective app, the device may try 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 hangs on the connection stage before finally reporting that it can’t join your network. Thankfully, there are three main ways to solve this problem.

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Split the Bands

Eero Mesh Wi-Fi System

Photo: Eero

Many routers and mesh systems allow you to set up separate SSIDs for 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz networks via an app or web interface—you’ll need to consult the settings menu to find out how.

By splitting the bands, your 2.4-GHz network and your 5-GHz network can have separate names and passwords. This makes your home network a bit more complicated, but allows you to decide which band to join. For devices that operate on 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz, like your phone and laptop, you’ll want to join both and let your device choose (it should default to the strongest signal fastest available). It’s a good idea to append the name of the 5-GHz band, so you know which one. (For example, name them “mynetwork” and “mynetwork_5GHz.”)

Smart home devices that have this connectivity problem during setup can connect fine after you complete the split, so you can switch back to one SSID after your new device has successfully connected (just be sure is the name and password of the 2.4-GHz band network you plan to use as your primary network).

Go the Distance

A simpler method is to move far enough from your router (make sure to unplug the nearest mesh node); this may force your phone to connect to the 2.4-GHz band. Since this band has a better range, your smartphone will eventually change from 5 GHz with a lot of distance. This may mean carrying your robot vacuum out into the backyard, which is not 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 Nest WiFi doesn’t allow you to split bands. You can often get around this issue by creating a guest network, which only works on the 2.4-GHz band. (By default, most guest networks run on this band.)

Guest networks are designed to enable visitors to your home to connect to your Wi-Fi network without giving them access to the same network as all your devices. Both networks have access to the internet, but only devices on the same network can talk directly to 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 do this on purpose, but they could be infected unknowingly).

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