A Note of Caution About WiFi Smart Home Devices

Introduction

Some smart home devices make use of WiFi for their network connectivity. This can be a great way to get started with a smart home, as you can connect devices to your existing network without the need to get a smart home hub or a smart speaker with a built-in hub. But I have several concerns about using WiFi for a smart home network.

Concerns about WiFi Smart Home Devices

  • Overkill – WiFi is designed for high-power and high-bandwidth applications. It is just overkill for on/off and status monitoring needed for a smart home.
  • Reliability – WiFi is just flaky and requires seemingly never ending rebooting. When WiFi goes down, you can’t control your smart devices through the network.
  • Network Overload – I have concerns about connecting dozens of smart devices to the WiFi network and the effects on the performance of the network.
  • Antenna Strength – The antenna in the WiFi router only has so much power and the more devices that are shared, the less power from the antenna each one receives, thus decreasing the range of your WiFi network.
  • Non-Mesh Network – WiFi is a one-to-many communications network (router to devices), whereas the smart home networks are a mesh where each device can communicate with each other, making the network more robust.
Wifi router
Is it just me or are all routers flaky and require seemingly constant attention? I don’t like the idea of WiFi connected smart devices.

Flaky WiFi

I don’t know about your house, but at our house, the WiFi is constantly acting wonky. Every WiFi router I have owned needs to be rebooted or runs slow every couple of months, or even weeks, grrrrrr!!

Smart Home Hub Reliability

Whereas, I have never had my smart home network go down in three years. Maybe this is because it is low power and low bandwidth, so there is not much that can take it down. Just look at the differences in the antenna and box designs between the WiFi router and smart home hub in the photos above! The smart home device is using less power and needs a smaller antenna to drive the signal a lot further with a lot more reliability.

Conclusions

There is a big price to pay for the speed of WiFi that is just not needed for a smart home. To me, it just makes sense to set up a separate, dedicated network for smart home communications!

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