You might have noticed that 2 or more networks might show up with the same name when you want to connect your PC or smartphone to your home or office router. However, there’s a slight difference between the names, as one might have 2.4GHz mentioned in it. Whereas the other one or 2 networks come up with the notion of 5GHz.
What are these 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and what do they mean? These are the most used Wi-Fi frequency bands among domestic and official use. Now, what devices should be on 2.4GHz and 5GHz? Such confusion is common if you don’t know these frequency bands, their pros and cons, applications, etc.
This guide will help you understand what devices should use 2.4GHz and 5GHz according to speed, coverage, and other attributes of these frequency bands. Let’s get started.
2.4GHz or 5GHz: What’s the Deal?
Dual-band and tri-band routers offer 2 different band frequencies, as you already know. They are 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and these frequencies are in widespread use. Is it better to connect to 5GHz or 2.4GHz? Older computers, smartphones, tablets, etc., can’t work with 5GHz frequencies and must connect to a 2.4GHz one.
However, all the latest network-enabled devices can connect to 2.4GHz and 5GHz. For example, if you use devices launched before 2010, those devices should be on 2.4GHz. Necessarily, those Wi-Fi devices should be on 802.11b technology.
Otherwise, all devices released after 2010 are more likely to support 802.11a or 5GHz frequency bands. Now, how do these Wi-Fi bands differ from each other? Let’s reveal the prime differences between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands:
The main difference between the concerned bands is the 2.4GHz vs 5GHz speed. With a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, you can expect slower transmission speeds. The transmission speed might range from 450 to 600 Mbps with an active 2.4GHz band or connection. Whereas you can achieve a faster connection by using a 5GHz Wi-Fi band.
Reportedly, the transmission speed can reach up to 1300 Mbps with a 5GHz connection. So, consider a 5GHz connection if you prefer a faster one without lag. A 5GHz connection is best for your smart home devices and intercom system.
Is it better to connect to 5GHz or 2.4GHz? Well, the answer depends on another attribute and that’s coverage. Undoubtedly, the 5GHz band will provide faster transmission rates and minimise delays. However, 2.4GHz bands are proven to be more reliable regarding coverage.
2.4GHz Wi-Fi bands offer long-range coverage for wireless networks. Additionally, 2.4GHz wireless signals can penetrate solid objects and obstacles due to their lower frequencies. On the other hand, 5GHz bands offer a lower coverage area compared to 2.4GHz ones.
These 5GHz signals can penetrate solid objects as easily as 2.4GHz bands do. Therefore, 5GHz Wi-Fi bands are more suitable for short-range connections. Additionally, the devices should be unobstructed for faster speeds.
Data Rates and Interference
As you already know, the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band offers lower data rates. In addition, this Wi-Fi frequency band lets you choose from 11 different available channels. In comparison, 5GHz bands offer higher data transmission rates.
On top of that, it permits you to select from 45 versatile Wi-Fi channels. Hence, you will face less interference with connecting to the 5GHz Wi-Fi band. However, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi bands offer higher interference.
Can 2.4GHz devices connect to 5GHz? Here comes the compatibility question when choosing a particular Wi-Fi band for your smart home devices. By default, all 5GHz-capable devices can automatically connect to 2.4GHz bands. However, the vice-versa is not possible.
2.4GHz-enabled devices can only connect to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi bands. They can’t connect to a 5GHz wireless frequency band. Since almost every device supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi bands, you will get more chances to connect to wireless networks. However, all the modern network equipment supports 5GHz Wi-Fi bands.
Which Wi-Fi Band Should You Choose for Your Devices?
You might have purchased a dual-band or tri-band router. So, you have both options to make an internet connection to your devices. Which device should be on 2.4GHz or 5GHz? Now, the answer relies on a handful of factors. Let’s check out whether 2.4GHzor 5GHz should be the right choice for your home devices:
Area of Your Residence
Here, the coverage of the selected Wi-Fi band plays an important role. For example, larger apartments or homes require improved coverage areas compared to smaller homes. Since you are looking for a greater coverage area, you must select the 2.4GHz band.
A 5GHz band won’t be suitable for larger homes. However, you can invest in Wi-Fi network extenders if you don’t want to compromise speed to deal with the required coverage. So, you can opt for 2.4GHz bands for your devices if you don’t mind being a little slow on the internet.
Otherwise, you can use the 5GHz band by deploying Wi-Fi network extenders.
Device & its Whereabouts
When to use 2.4GHz and 5GHz? This depends on the type of device you want to connect to your router. The 2.4GHz Wi-Fi frequency band utilises longer waves and can travel longer ranges. Thus, you can connect router-distant devices to the 2.4GHz band.
Whereas you should connect the router-nearest devices to the 5GHz band. However, the type of the device also has an impact on choosing the right Wi-Fi band. For instance, you should connect gaming consoles, smart TVs, and other resource-consuming devices for streaming to a 5GHz Wi-Fi network.
Congestion and Interference
Most devices connect to the 2.4GHz band, so it becomes more congested. For example, the following devices can immediately connect to the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band:
- Older routers
- Bluetooth devices
- Older computers and smartphones
- Garage door openers
- Baby monitors and so on
So, the 2.4GHz band will be more congested and slower if you keep connecting more devices to this frequency band. In this case, you must opt for the 5GHz band to connect your devices. Thus, your internet connectivity will remain optimised. In addition, your devices can access more channels through the 5GHz band. So, you can manifest better performance.
Can you use 2.4GHz and 5GHz at the same time? Yes, you can with simultaneously dual-band routers. So, you must opt for such routers to keep your internet connection more stable and flexible for all your home or office devices. In other words, use a 5GHz Wi-Fi band when you can connect your devices to it.
On the other hand, utilise a 2.4GHz band for devices further from the router, or the 5GHz band doesn’t cover your device area. However, you should distribute both channels so that every network device can function optimally. Moreover, split your devices between 5GH and 2.4GHz according to the mentioned factors. Additionally, secure your networks with WPA-2 protocols.