You may have heard that 5 Ghz WiFi is faster than 2.4 Ghz WiFi, but many smart plugs only seem to support 2.4 Ghz WiFi. Does this mean that your smart plugs won’t be as efficient as possible? And if so, why aren’t more 5 Ghz smart plugs available to buy?
Many smart plugs support 2.4 Ghz WiFi because this has a better range than 5 Ghz WiFi, and the range of smart plugs is usually more important than the data transfer speeds. Having said that, there is some benefit to 5 Ghz smart plugs and there are some models available to buy.
(Recap) What Are Smart Plugs?
Smart plugs go into your wall socket, and then electrical devices are plugged into the smart plugs.
You can then download the manufacturer’s smart phone app (such as TP-Link’s ‘Kasa Smart’ app), and turn the smart plug on and off – thereby turning the plugged-in electrical device on and off.
This can be useful for turning the internet router off at meal time (your children may disagree though!), turning a slower cooking on when at work, and tons of other uses.
They also usually have a physical button on their top or side, just in-case the internet breaks and you want to control the smart plug physically instead:
Many early smart plugs only allow for a single device to be plugged into them (they were essentially a pass-through extension socket), but nowadays you can also purchase smart strips – an extension strip with multiple smart-controllable sockets.
2.4 Ghz vs 5 Ghz WiFi, and Why it Matters
5 Ghz WiFi was announced as part of the 802.11n wireless standard in October 2009, offering speeds up to 1,300 Mbps compared to 450-600 Mbps in 2.4 Ghz. These speeds are, of course, contingent on a few caveats:
- All devices within the network should be able to support these internet speeds (i.e. your smartphone and router should both be able to support 1,300 Mbps, otherwise they couldn’t connect at this speed).
- Your internet speed is 1,300 Mbps.
- You don’t have any solid objects between the router and your device (the range of 5 Ghz WiFi drops a lot when going through walls – as I explore in a later section).
They are some interesting caveats – of course there’ll be solid objects (such as walls) between the router and my device! Also many devices are made with cheaper components to bring the price down – not high quality components which can support 1,300 Mbps.
Equally, very few of us have internet speeds anywhere near 1,300 Mbps. Heck, I have access to the UK’s fastest internet (via a fibre to the premises connection) but I can only get a 300 Mbps package right now.
In other words, the world is unable to take advantage of any of the benefits from 5 Ghz WiFi that were announced in 2009 – even though it’s more than a decade later.
Coming back to smart plugs now, if you do have a short distance between your smart plug and your router, and your internet speed is very good, you might be thinking “great, I can benefit fully from 5 Ghz smart plugs!“. Unfortunately that’s not really the case: smart plugs only use a tiny amount of internet data.
Ultimately they only ever receive small packets of internet traffic, sometimes to get a status update – and sometimes to say ‘turn the socket on’ (or off). This means that you almost certainly don’t specifically need a 5 Ghz smart plug.
Here’s a simple guide:
- Watching 4K Netflix? 5 GHz will probably help.
- Using a smart plug? 5 GHz is overkill.
I’m joking, but that is sort of true. However, some people are of course restricted to 5 GHz Wi-Fi: some internet satellites and shared internet hubs only publish 5 GHz Wi-Fi, for example.
In this case, you will need a 5 GHz smart plug – so read on!
My Router Says it’s “5 Ghz”: Will 2.4 Ghz Smart Plugs Still Work?
From 2010 onwards, more and more internet routers started proudly advertising that they support 5 Ghz. Some even say they are “a 5 Ghz router“.
Does this therefore mean that your router can’t support a standard 2.4 Ghz smart plug?
Thankfully the answer is no. Even though your router may only say “5 Ghz” in the title, this is mainly for marketing purposes, since most devices across your home will still connect over 2.4 Ghz.
You’ll probably also see the words “Dual Band” in the router’s shop listing. This means that it supports both the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz WiFi bands – in other words, your 2.4 Ghz smart plug will work just fine.
If you’re shopping around and you don’t see the words ‘dual band’, it’s probably an older 2.4 Ghz-only router. I don’t think I’ve ever seen (or heard of) a 5 Ghz-only router, especially because a lot of the wireless standards which routers follow specify that both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands must be supported.
Is 5 Ghz Actually BAD for Smart Plugs?
I briefly said earlier that 5 Ghz doesn’t work as well when going through walls. And this is sort of true. I mean, 2.4 Ghz does do a lot better through walls (and other solid objects) than 5 Ghz – as I’ll look at in a second.
But what’s also true is that I have four Echo devices and a Ring Pro (all on 5 Ghz Wifi) which go through multiple walls – and I never have any connection issues:
My 5 Ghz Ring Doorbell Pro actually goes through an external wall (containing insulation and a layer of ‘dot and dab’ drywall) before going through an internal wall (which is solid block and two layers of dot and dab drywall) before connecting to my router, and it never has any connection problems.
So why are we sometimes advised to avoid 5 Ghz WiFi for smart products? Well, the reason is that the potential range does genuinely drop the more solid objects that it goes through. It’s not so bad with drywall, but it’ll increasingly struggle with solid concrete walls/objects.
Like many things in life, it’s not completely black and white though. If you have a 5 Ghz router and device and five walls between them, it can still work fine over 5 Ghz – but the overall signal strength will be lower than if you had used 2.4 Ghz. What this means in practise is that you may start seeing some connection issues or ‘bugs’ the further away from the router you get.
The same is therefore true of smart plugs. If you want to have a 5 Ghz-supporting smart plug at one end of your house to the router, you might see more connection disruption than if you had just used 2.4 Ghz.
Forcing a 5 Ghz Device to Use 2.4 Ghz
On that note, even if your device supports 5 Ghz (in other words, it supports both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz), you can usually force your device to use the 2.4 Ghz WiFi band. You have three options here:
- Sometimes your device will allow you to select whether to connect over 2.4 Ghz or 5 Ghz. If this is the case, just opt for the 2.4 Ghz network if you’re been having connection issues with 5 Ghz.
- Sometimes your router will publish two different wireless networks: one with the usual name, and one with “-5ghz” (or similar) on the end for 5 Ghz WiFi. Netgear’s Nighthawk routers do this. In this case, just connect to the non-5Ghz network.
- Finally, you can sometimes change things by going into your router’s admin page. Sometimes you can click on a connected device and choose for it to be over 2.4 Ghz instead, or (if this isn’t an option on your router) simply disable 5 Ghz as a wireless option completely.
eero use approach number #3, allowing you to temporarily disable 5 GHz via the Troubleshooting section of the app (just say “My device can’t connect”, and it gives the option to disable 5 GHz):
The approach will vary depending on your device and exact router model, but it’s nearly always possible to force a 5 Ghz device to use 2.4 Ghz WiFi – and hopefully improve its connection reliability in the process.
Recommended 5 Ghz Smart Plugs
So I’ve scoured the internet and right now I can only find three 5 Ghz smart plugs, all of which seem a bit flawed for one reason or another (scroll down for more info on all three):
- The Sengled Smart Plug, which requires a hub (boo!) and it’s unclear if it really does support 5 GHz or not (despite saying that it does…)
- The Leviton DW15P-1BW which does not need a hub (great) but the first gen model is discontinued.
- The Broadlink SP4D-US which does not need a hub (great) but has very mixed reviews. The “TL;DR” here is that if you have an Amazon Echo, you can use this smart plug in 5 GHz mode. But if not, you are stuck with 2.4 GHz only support.
Once I find more I will update this page, but if you find more, please contact me to let me know so I can add it here with thanks.
The Leviton DW15P-1BW smart plug was the first 5 GHz one that I found, it doesn’t require a hub and it currently has 4/5 on Amazon. Unfortunately this was recently discontinued and the 2nd generation model doesn’t support 5 Ghz WiFi! So whilst stock remains, be sure to buy the first generation model (product code DW15P-1BW) if you really want 5 Ghz support:
Any schedules you have setup live within the plug itself, meaning that they will still be adhered to even if the internet is down. Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT are all supported too.
The Sengled Smart Plug
Secondly, the Sengled Smart Plug has apparently recently been updated to offer 5 Ghz support but there’s a lot of confusion about this product.
The main Amazon listing says that it “supports 2.4G and 5G”, but later on the sales page says that it’s Zigbee based:
Support 2.4GHz and 5GHz, required an additional hub. ETL and FCC certification ensures complete protection. Note: This is not a wifi smart plug. (This product really supports 2.4g and 5g, please refer to the website description, We have changed the Manual)Sengled sales information, Amazon.com listing, April 2021.
However this is actually contradictory. Zigbee is 2.4 GHz only, and is nothing to do with WiFi. So it’s impossible for this to offer 2.4 Ghz and 5 GHz, and be Zigbee. I assume that Sengled (or Amazon) have accidentally mixed up two products on their website.
If the Leviton smart plug is unavailable for you, I’d suggest that you check back on Amazon to see if the Sengled sales page is updated for the dual-band WiFi version. I’ll also keep an eye on this because right now the sales page contradicts itself.
Our last hope: the Broadlink SP4D-US
So, the Broadlink SP4D-US is our last hope.
The product image is clear: “2.4G Dual-Band Wi-Fi 5G”
“Dual-Band Wi-Fi”, and mentions of “5G” (aka 5 GHz WiFi). This is clearly what we want, right?
Well, I have left this until last because the Amazon reviews are very mixed. Some people say that they have a 5 GHz only connection, and this worked brilliantly for them.
However other reviews are negative, saying that the Broadlink app didn’t detect the 5 GHz WiFi network at all – only nearby 2.4 GHz networks:
Smart plug does not work for 5 G. The broadlink app is very difficult to use and kept indicating that it needs is a 2.4 G linkage.Amazon review from 24_orange, 22nd June 2021
Apparently the Broadlink SP4D smart plug will work in 5 GHz mode if you have an Amazon Echo device, and you setup the smart plug via that. But if you download the Broadlink app and set it up with that, you will be restricted to 2.4 GHz.
This seems a bit silly, but it’s important to note. If you have an Echo, you should be fine to buy this smart plug.
If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!
25 thoughts on “Do Any Smart Plugs Work On 5 Ghz WiFi?”
“The Leviton DW15P-1BW is available for a very cheap price ” — like $49.99?
p.s. can’t leave a comment?!
Hi John, thanks for the comment. I’ve seen the Leviton smart plug for around $30 – which I agree isn’t cheap – but that price at least puts it on part with the Hue Smart Plug. I’ve also updated the page because Sengled are apparently going to be offering a cheaper dual band smart plug, although right now their listing on Amazon is faulty.
p.s. Comments currently get held in a queue due to some historical spam issues, but I’ll review these settings shortly 🙂
I am less concerned about data speeds than on the pain to set up. When they are only 2.4 GHz, you have to go into your router and shut down the 5 GHz, before they will connect. In my case, since I have a AT&T Gateway/router combo connected to a Google Mesh network, I disable the WiFi in the AT&T and use the Wifi on the Google Mesh Network. So for me to connect devices like this, I have to connect to my router, enable the 2.4 GHz band and then unplug my Google primary access point, since Google doesn’t provide the ability to enable/disable the whole Wifi. You can do it by device and change the settings but that is a pain. Just as easy to unplug. So each time that I add a 2.4 GHz device, I have to go through that process and then reverse it all when done. Much easier to just have 5 GHz devices that connect….
Yes very good points, this is yet another benefit to 5 GHz devices. I do wish that smart/IoT devices start ramping up 5 GHz support.
I’ve recently switched to Starlink satellite internet (SpaceX’s service) and it’s router is 5 ghz only. My tekkin smart bulbs work fine with it but not their smart plugs. So I’m guessing it’s becoming more common to not be dual band, yet there are still few smart products that support it.
Hi Kimberley, ah that’s awesome about Starlink internet – I hope that’s working well for you! Yes you’re right, many smart products overall don’t support 5 GHz WiFi. You’re lucky with your Tekkin smart bulbs – LIFX and Nanoleaf WiFi lights are still stuck at 2.4 GHz only.
Sometimes in rare occurances a smart device would just need to be setup using a 2.4Ghz signal. I got away with this with a few smart strips & wall outlets using my cellular hotspot which happened to be 2.4Ghz. Eventually I had one piwer strip & a wall outlet adapter completly stop recieving the wifi signal & couldn’t connect to them in the SmartLife app. It was etyer a fluke or it eventually cought on to the fact I was using my phone while it was connected to my 5Ghz wifi. A stable connection should be good enough. I dont see why what Ghz type has to matter so long as the device is within range of the wifi.
I wish. Nearly all seem to rely on 2.4Ghz signal which I really don’t get why since all new wifi routers provided by service providers use 5Ghz. I kinda wish there were a few bluetooth based smart plug & or smart power strip options. The bluetooth chips are at least small enough to fit inside a power strip. Would make setting them up so much easier with less steps & no more pesky wifi issues locking you out of your smart outlets. Bluetooth range can be nearly as good as Wifi depending on the type of bluetooth chip used.
Yes I agree entirely, I wish that most smart devices support 5 GHz WiFi. Bluetooth would be nice too – the Hue Smart Plug supports Bluetooth, but not many other plugs do.
This information was very well written, insightful and answered a lot of questions I had.
Hi Tom, thanks for that, glad it helped!
I rent my wifi tower from spectrum, that way if I have issues they can figure it out, that being said my wifi tower I had, did have the split band now it is combined and I can not chose the 2g, yet it is supposed to both be there…my 2g smart plug ins WILL NOT connect now…grrrrr, I do not have any kind of “hub” what would you suggest so I can use my smart mini plug-ins? TIA
That’s frustrating, sorry to hear it! I think that Spectrum should publish on both bands (looking at a Tom’s Hardware thread), so that’s odd. If you’re completely stuck, you could hook up a different brand dual-band router to connect on the 5GHz band and act as a Wi-Fi access point, effecting broadcasting a brand new WiFi signal.
My internet performance within my home is superior on 5G therefore I have to use 5G smart outlets. Otherwise I would be happy with 2.4G.
That’s a very good reason to go for 5 GHz smart devices, agreed.
I recently installed smart plugs throughout my home. They worked fine until a Spectrum cable technician came to fix a wiring problem in my attic. At the same time he removed my Spectrum-supplied router and installed a brand, new one. None of my smart plugs worked! I called Spectrum and I was told that the new routers are only 5 ghz (although 2.4 is inside, it can’t be activated). So my only option is to buy my own dual-band router.
The Spectrum customer support technician I spoke with on the telephone said he, himself, had to go buy his own router. I asked him, how are we average people supposed to have a smart home? He said: dual- or tri-band routers, which the average person doesn’t know about. So we average people will get on the phone and pay the cable guy to come out and supply us a dual or tri-band router and make our home ‘smart’ and then charge us $1,000 or something crazy like that.
Wow that’s pretty rubbish, sorry to hear of your experience Kimmie. Yes I totally agree that this sort of “helpful change” in routers is not good at all.
Well written article.
Luckily, my mesh system supports 2.4 and 5GHz.
Everything static has been wired up with Ethernet; my phones, tablets, laptops and consoles all support 5GHz.
I have 15 smart devices – these are the only things on 2.4GHz. I was hoping to move all these to 5GHz and switch off 2.4 – but I’ve realised they are actually ‘out of the way’ on 2.4 and therefore not affecting any of the devices I’m actively using. I’m going to leave them well alone and stop worrying about it.
A cheap Wi-Fi access point with 2.4 is probably cheaper for many people, than re-investing in 5GHz smart devices for now.
Thanks Matt, I’m glad you found the article helpful. I totally agree with your points, thanks for your comment – you’re quite right IMO.
Hello Tristan, I have a question about dual band and devices. I’ve always thought that in a dual band broadcast environment (ie both 2.4G and 5G are broadcast simultaneously), a 2.4G only device would automatically join the 2.4G network. It wouldn’t be able to join the 5G. So, if that is the case, it isn’t necessary to turn off the 5G network, is it? We can have both network broadcast like in a mesh network.
Hello Andrew, that’s a good question/point. Yes for a dual-band broadcast, a 2.4 Ghz only device would only connect to the 2.4 Ghz band – the existence of the 5 Ghz band wouldn’t cause issues here. I was mainly thinking of cases where a dual-band device (that can connect to 2.4 Ghz or 5 GHz) auto-connects to 5 Ghz, but then has a weak signal. In that case, it’s desirable – but not always easy – to force the device onto the 2.4 Ghz band instead.
The connection issues are real… as evidenced by a number of comments here. One option I have used is to change the transmit power in the router temporarily. In the wifi setup in the router, SOME routers have to ability to change this power. I set my 2.4ghz to 75% and the 5 ghz to 25%. Then setup all my 2.4 ghz Smart devices. Once they are all connected, I reset to default power levels. That trick may help some folks.
Thanks Terry, that’s a good tip – definitely worth knowing. If your router offers that, it’s definitely a good way of nudging people towards the 2.4 Ghz band.
Controlling my home from outside of the home network, please give me advice!
Hello, this is possible with the majority of smart plugs – I have a separate guide for this: Do Smart Plugs Work Away From The Home?
I would suggest checking that out, but in general, Kasa and Amazon’s smart plugs (the two most popular) work fine outside of the home – since they are linked to the central cloud account. Philips Hue also works well with out-of-home control.