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How to Set Up Smart Devices on a 2.4 GHz Connection
Here's a handy workaround for smart home devices that require a 2.4 GHz connection
We talk about smart home devices quite a bit, but there's an issue that I ran into and I know a lot of you have run into it as well. And that's trying to set up a smart home device that specifies that it needs a 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) connection.
But this device just isn't connecting and it won't seem to work. Well, I figured out a workaround that you can use for that: If you're using a Wi-Fi system that chooses automatically, you just need to get far enough away from the router to flip over to that 2.4 GHz connection.
Read on to find out how I got my Wi-Fi to stick with the right frequency and learn more about the difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi.
2.4 GHz isn’t always the standard Wi-Fi setup
So, sometimes the solution is as simple as flipping a switch on your router so that it's transmitting in 2.4 GHz, and that's the connection you're using.
But that's only available on some routers. Either older routers or kind of higher-end routers that have an actual physical switch, or they're highly customizable with software that lets you make those changes easily in the background.
A lot of newer mesh systems and supposedly user-friendly systems (Google Nest Wi-Fi, Amazon eero), don't let you make that choice. They try to make things easy by taking away certain choices like whether you want to connect via 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz. They just make that decision automatically based on the location of the device you're using—they will always default to 5 GHz if they can, and there's a reason for that.
But you'll need a workaround if you have a device that requires 2.4 GHz and you can only seem to get a 5 GHz connection.
The difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
First, you have to understand what the two types of connections are. With 5 GHz, it’s a faster, more powerful connection, but the distance on it is a little bit limited.
And 2.4 GHz is kind of the opposite. It's a little less robust, but it can cover a greater distance and work better through walls.
How to get the right Wi-Fi frequency
And how do you make your device connect to the 2.4 GHz? Well, pretty easily, actually.
So, whatever the device is—in this case it's a light bulb—I just need to get to the edge of my Wi-Fi coverage. And when I get to the edge of that coverage, it's going to automatically flip over to that 2.4 GHz connection because that's the only one that’s available at that distance.
So in this case, like I said, I'm going to illustrate with a smart light bulb. It's a cheaper off-brand one (read: not the Philips Hue brand). So it doesn't use a hub. It connects directly to your Wi-Fi, which is great in some ways, but it has to be set up on that 2.4 GHz band.
So I just plug it in out at the edge of the Wi-Fi coverage. And then I go through the setup process and once that's done, once it's confirmed and I've gone through that whole thing, it's on the Wi-Fi network. Then I can go move it back wherever I want in the house.
As a matter of fact, you only need that 2.4 GHz connection during setup because once it's on the network, it's on the network. So I was able to take 10 of these different light bulbs and set them all up kind of out in my driveway. And then I took them back into my studio and they were ready to go.
You’ll have to get creative for some devices
Now light bulbs are one thing. Other devices might be a little bit trickier.
If it's a device that's not so portable, like a smart outlet or smart light switches, you can't just take it out to the driveway. But just remember the principle that we're talking about here of a 2.4 GHz connection being on the edge of your router's coverage.
So if I'm using a mesh Wi-Fi system, maybe I temporarily unplug the closest router so that the device has to connect with one a little further away. Or maybe I move the router itself as far as possible from the device during the setup process. Or, hey, if you've got a router that lets you do it, just flip that switch.
Now this is just one trick I've learned for how to solve this problem. I know there are others. So if you have any other tips and tricks to suggest, or if you have any questions about your situation, tell us and let's help each other out with that.