One of the biggest challenges you face when you’re updating your home to smart devices is figuring out what to do with all of your old technology. You don’t have to update every piece of technology when you can simply update how they connect, but sometimes that connection can be a source of trouble.
Kasa smart plugs are a great solution to creating a truly smart home, but they have a reputation for having a shaky internet connection at times. You can fix this by adding Wi-Fi range extenders in your home, making sure you’re using 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, and by checking to see that the outlet you’re using has steady power.
Here’s everything you need to know about Kasa smart plugs and Wi-Fi.
A Quick Kasa Smart Plug Introduction
Kasa is a line of smart products made by an unlikely founding company. TP-Link, who you probably know from routers and other communications tech, recently broke out into the smart market by offering affordable options for a wide variety of smart devices.
Smart plugs are one of the best kept secrets of smart tech. They have a simple function, but one that also has endless potential.
A smart plug connects between the electrical socket on your wall and any device you want to plug in. A smart plug allows you to transform any device into a smart device with basic on/off functions.
That vintage floor lamp can now become a vintage floor lamp with smart, app-based controls. Smart plugs used to be a little rare, but Kasa has created everything from basic smart plugs to outdoor smart extension cords.
However, tech that’s this useful always has a few bugs that we need to contend with. It looks like Kasa devices can sometimes struggle to hold onto their Wi-Fi connection. Let’s start off this fix by looking at how Kasa smart plugs connect.
How Does the Kasa Smart Plug Connect?
The majority of smart devices need an internet connection in order to function properly. This allows them to work with the apps on your mobile device, as well as get vital Information from their company servers. Some smart devices connect by using a central hub rather than directly to the Wi-Fi itself.
Kasa smart plugs connect directly to the Wi-Fi network (i.e. your router), rather than using a hub. This can be convenient if you don’t already have a hub-based system, or you’re looking to reduce bandwidth clutter and have a variety of different connection types for your smart system.
This also means that there’s a small Wi-Fi chip as well as an antenna inside of every Kasa smart plug. These aren’t the most powerful Wi-Fi chips and definitely are anywhere near what’s in your cell phone or laptop.
This means that they’re going to occasionally struggle to hold on to a Wi-Fi connection that your other devices are picking up just fine. It’s also worth taking a look at how the software inside of Kasa smart plugs works in general.
Kasa smart plugs are, a little surprisingly, actually a small Linux computer that connects to a Wi-Fi antenna as well as an electrical adapter. This even means that you can control your Kasa smart plug by using command line scripts from the terminal or shell.
This all demonstrates that the Wi-Fi connection for your Kasa smart plug is actually a little more complicated than it might appear on the surface.
How to Tell if Your Kasa Smart Plug is Losing Wi-Fi Connection
It’s going to be a little tricky to tell whether your Kasa smart plug is losing Wi-Fi connection or not. This is because smart plug brands don’t yet offer push notifications for when their devices lose connection to a Wi-Fi network. This for a few reasons we have to consider before moving into the fixes.
The first is a simple problem that we’re dealing with. If your device can’t connect to the Wi-Fi, it can’t send a notification to any other devices to give a status update.
Now, it would be possible for the smart technology brand to poll the IP address of Wi-Fi enabled devices in order to send you uptime reports, but so far no one’s doing this. You would have to setup an externally accessible IP address for your smart plug, and then use a service like Uptime Robot as a workaround.
Of course, there is an easier approach: you can also tell if your smart plug is losing Wi-Fi connectivity if it stops accepting controls. If you can’t control whatever your smart plug is connected to you through your app, then there’s a good chance that it isn’t connected to your Wi-Fi.
We also have to consider the app you use to control your Kasa smart plug. Go into your app and check your list of devices. If the Kasa smart plug in question isn’t on the list, or it’s grayed out, it’s probably lost its Wi-Fi connection.
How to Fix Kasa Smart Plug Wi-Fi Issues
Now that we’ve mastered the basics of how Kasa smart plugs connect to the Wi-Fi and the problems with getting real time connectivity status reports, let’s fix any problems that might be interrupting a steady connection between your smart plug and the internet.
1. Check The Power
One of the first things you want to check is the power that your Kasa smart plug is receiving from the electrical outlet. If your electrical outlet has a bad power connection, it might not actually be able to let the smart plug have a very steady electric power supply.
This can be the case in older homes that might have worn out wiring, an overload on the branch circuit that your smart plug is plugged into, or damage to the outlet itself. In some cases this can cause the Kasa smart plug, or the plugged-in device, to start overheating. You can safely test this one of two ways:
- The first thing to check would be to unplug your Kasa smart plug, and try plugging it in on a different circuit branch in your home. You can identify circuit branches by looking at the labels on your breaker box or by switching common rooms like moving the plug from the kitchen to the bathroom.
- You can also try to plug in another device into that same outlet. Try to pick something that’s going to have a visible change if the power flickers in and out. A device that keeps time, a fan that would stop running if it lost power, or any other device that would let you know if the power has been temporarily cut to that outlet.
If you identify a problem with the power outlet itself, the best thing you can do is to call an electrician. We’re all about DIY in the world of smart devices, but we’re handling serious power when you start to play around with the electrical mains in your home.
2. Check Your Wi-Fi Band Settings (2.4GHz)
The next thing we’re going to want to take a look at is the settings of your Wi-Fi router. The Kasa smart plug, like a lot of smart devices, needs to run on a particular Wi-Fi frequency in order to function.
Your Kasa smart plug is going to need to have a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection in order to function. If you have a 5 GHz-only Wi-Fi network, your smart plugs will not be able to stay connected. This is because Kasa smart plugs are only designed to work on 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.
You have a few options for fixing this problem. The easiest would be to buy a dual-band router that has both 5 GHz, for faster devices, and 2.4 GHz for everything else.
Another easy fix would be to buy a Wi-Fi range extender that accepts 5 GHz Wi-Fi, but has its own signal at 2.4 GHz. This effectively acts as a bridge that can connect an exclusive 5 GHz Wi-Fi network with the smart devices that need 2.4 GHz connections.
Finally, some routers (such as Eero) allow you to temporarily disable the 5 GHz band, so that you can connect 2.4 GHz-only devices:
3. Your Router Might Have a Connection Limit
There’s a less common problem with your Wi-Fi router that could be preventing your Kasa smart plug from establishing a strong connection.
Every Wi-Fi router comes with a connection limit. This is a hard cap on the amount of devices that can connect to a Wi-Fi router at a single time. If you go over this number, devices will have to compete for the few remaining connection slots which will mean that some devices routinely get kicked off your Wi-Fi network.
Check the owner’s manual of your Wi-Fi router to find out what your connection limit is. If you’ve reached your connection limit, consider buying a more robust router or switching some of your smart devices to connect to a hub rather than to the router directly.
For example, Philips Hue lights connect to a ZigBee hub (the Hue Bridge) – meaning that none of your smart bulbs need to connect to your router:
Alternatively, some people set up a dedicated Wi-Fi network just for their smart devices. This has multiple benefits, but in this case, it will allow you to circumvent any connection limits – allowing your Kasa smart plug to connect again in peace.
4. Check Your Wi-Fi Signal Strength
Another internet problem that has both to do with your router and your internet service provider is the strength of your Wi-Fi network and internet connection.
If you’ve got some smart plugs, odds are you’ve got a bunch of other Wi-Fi enabled and smart devices. This means that there’s going to be a lot of demand on your Wi-Fi network as well as your internet plan in general.
If you’re reaching the top of what your Wi-Fi network can handle, you’re going to start to experience connection problems. You will notice this in your Kasa smart plug dropping connection, but also in other ways such as streaming videos starting to buffer more frequently or video games losing connection.
The only fix of this particular problem is to get more bandwidth and more connection strength. You can achieve this by buying a new router, updating your internet service to something with a little more muscle, or kicking some devices off of your Wi-Fi.
5. Reinstall Your Smart App and Reset Devices
One thing that we’re going to have to consider is that some of your connection problems might be coming from the smart plug itself or the app you’re using to control it.
You can reset a Kasa smart plug by holding down the power button for at least 5 seconds. You’ll notice the LED light starts to rapidly flash, and then the restart process will be complete. You’ll then have to go through the pairing and connecting process again, by setting up the device again within the app:
You should also uninstall and reinstall the Kasa app (which is used to control your Kasa smart plug), as this could also be the source of the problem.