Smart homes are becoming a normal way of life, not a luxury for the wealthy.
With more smart devices, appliances and electronics, it is becoming easier for the average homeowner to enjoy the benefits of a smart home.
But, creating a smart home does need some research and planning. Too many WiFi smart home devices, depending on their type and requirements, could potentially slow down your network.
Before you turn your house into a smart home, you need to make sure that your internet and WiFi can handle the extra devices that will be relying on your router and connections.
One of the first things that you need to research before you jump into adding a bunch of smart devices to your home, is the amount of data that your internet plan allows you to use.
While most smart devices don’t use much data, there are other devices that slow down WiFi. If your internet plan has limited data, you may find yourself using more data than your plan allows for, and paying big overage charges.
This is true for apps that tie your smartphone into your home devices. Many use lots of data to communicate between your cell phone and your smart devices (think thermostats, doorbells, cameras and irrigation timers).
Make sure that you have ample data available on your cell phone plan, especially if you enjoy watching your pets romp at home, while you’re away.
When it comes to the basics of WiFi, most home networks, and routers can handle a bunch of devices.
So, depending on what you connect to your home’s WiFi network, you may not even notice a change in performance.
It is important that you do your research and understands the way each device depends on your home’s WiFi network since certain smart devices can slow WiFi.
Can Too Many Smart Devices Slow Down WiFi?
Do too many devices plugged into a network cause slowdowns? To be fair, the short answer to this question is yes, smart devices can slow down your WiFi and overall network.
But, this is more a question of specifics and depends on the devices that you intend on connecting to your home’s WiFi network.
In general, items like your smart light switches, smart plugs, and most smart appliances don’t stress your WiFi speed, unless you’re running a bunch of them at the same time.
And when we say “a bunch”, we’re talking 20 or more devices, running at the exact same time.
Most WiFi networks in homes are capable of connecting as many as 200 devices without impacting the speed of the WiFi.
Must basic smart devices such as light switches, smart plugs and even basic hubs like your Amazon Echo Dot, don’t use much WiFi bandwidth. And, you have to remember that devices that are just sitting there, not working, won’t impact your WiFi speed.
When you start using a bunch of your smart devices, all at the same time, you will start noticing slower WiFi speeds.
Sending video over your WiFi network uses a large amount of bandwidth. If you have many smart devices sending video, then you will strain your WiFi.
If you have many cameras, video doorbells, one of those crazy refrigerators that you can see inside from your phone, you may start to notice impacts on your WiFi speed.
Combine this with other devices in your homes like computers, tablets, televisions, and smartphones that are all capable of streaming video, and your potential for slower WiFi speeds increases.
Can You Have Too Many Devices Connected to WiFi?
It’s hard to imagine a situation where you would have too many devices connected to WiFi.
If your home is huge and only has one WiFi router connecting a sophisticated home security and entertainment system, making every light, plug and appliance a smart device, then you might have too many devices connected to WiFi.
In reality, for most of us in average-sized homes, having too many devices connected to WiFi is not a problem.
Most WiFi routers are capable of connecting more than 200 devices, so a normal router, in an average-sized home is going to be enough to run all the home automation devices that we want.
We’ve mentioned before that since most smart devices aren’t running all the time (take smart plugs and lights, even your smart hub) the demand on your WiFi isn’t reflective of the number of devices, but rather which devices are being used at one time.
Now, you may notice that some of your devices aren’t as receptive to WiFi as others located around your home.
This may have less to do with the demand on your WiFi and more to do with router location. Your router is most effective when it is located in a central location within your home.
If your router is in the basement, smart devices in upstairs rooms may struggle to connect with WiFi or be slow.
To improve this connection problem, move the router, use a WiFi extender to split the gap, or add a second router in your home.
Another issue that you can experience with WiFi connectivity issues is the age of your router. Older routers may not be able to manage higher speed internet, and may not be able to distribute connections to your devices.
Before scrapping your plans for home automation, consider an upgrade of your router.
Most internet providers can offer suggestions or provide rental routers that are more capable of working with their internet service and will improve the performance of all the devices in your home.
Which Device Uses the Most Bandwidth?
In general, most of your smart home devices use very little of your internet or WiFi bandwidth.
Things like your smart plugs and smart lights might use 50 MB per month, while your smart hub, might use around 300 MB per month, even if you stream music or a favorite radio station.
Even your thermostat or smart irrigation timers won’t use a ton of bandwidth, despite their advanced technologies.
The devices that are going to impact your bandwidth the most, as we’ve mentioned before, are those that stream video across the network.
Keep in mind that these devices aren’t using enough bandwidth or data at one time, to slow down your network.
Basic internet plans might not be able to serve your video doorbell, all your in-home cameras, all your televisions, smartphones, tablets and gaming systems, without an impact to speed.
Video devices will always use the most bandwidth, but in general, they aren’t using this bandwidth all the time. So you may not even notice any impact on download speeds.
But, if you want to improve speeds and reduce the demands on your bandwidth, then reduce the resolution on your cameras and video doorbells.
This will help limit the amount of bandwidth these devices need.
If you have done your research, and you are familiar with your internet service and home network capabilities, you should have no problems connecting all your smart home devices.
If you find that your current system has performance limitations when you are running some devices, consider some simple upgrades. A new or more powerful router, WiFi extenders, or adding a bit of bandwidth to your internet plan could solve your speed issues.
With today’s internet and networking options, you should never have to sacrifice home automation for network performance.