A lot of smarthome devices are connected via Wi-Fi, which is great if you only have a handful of them installed. But if you plan to cover every room in your home with smart home equipment, be careful with Wi-Fi.
There is nothing wrong with Wi-Fi based smarthome devices, but the more you install in your home the more congested your Wi-Fi network can get. If you just start and still slowly build up your smarthome, you have nothing to worry about yet. But if you ever plan to add smarts to each switch, socket, bulb and any other device in your house, you might want to use something other than Wi-Fi, and here's why.
Wi-Fi Has Its Limits
Wi-Fi looks like a magic technique with endless possibilities, but it is not invincible. It has limitations you should consider.
A Wi-Fi router can theoretically support up to 255 connected client devices. But even if it is possible to connect 255 devices to your router, it is not even very practical. Not only would all of these devices compete for bandwidth on your single internet connection, but all your Wi-Fi devices would interfere with each other so nothing would get a good wireless connection.
Granted, you "I'll probably never get to the point where you have so many devices connected to your home network. But if you convert each switch, socket, and bulb into a Wi-Fi enabled smart version, you can finally get a lot of close to the 255's, depending on how big your house is, and it's not even counting on your phones, laptops, streaming boxes and much more.
Wi-Fi 6 can fix the congestion problem when the hardware supporting it This new standard will appear later in 2019, but you will still manage the limitation of the device quantity. The fewer units you have the better.
Stick to Z-Wave or ZigBee for lamps, switches and sockets
It's okay to stick to Wi-Fi for smarthome devices like thermostat, video doorbell, voice assistants and more (plus you have no choice there, as most of these devices only is Wi-Fi.) But if you are going to plaster your entire house with smart light bulbs for each light fixture, it is best to use another wireless protocol, such as Z-Wave or ZigBee.
RELATED: What are "ZigBee" and "Z-Wave" Smarthome Products?
To begin with, these protocols do not affect Wi-Fi, which will reduce the entire overload. Because the Z-Wave and ZigBee devices require a hub to which they all connect, the number of devices on your network decreases significantly. So even if you install 20 Z-Wave light switches in your house, they all connect to your single smart home hub. Your Wi-Fi router sees it as just one device in your network.
For example, you can buy 20 of these Kasa light switches from TP-Link, each connected to Wi-Fi individually and viewed as 20 separate units on the network. Or you can buy a Lutron Caseta kit that comes with a hub and a switch, and then 19 additional buttons. These do not use Z-Wave, but rather a proprietary radio frequency. But even though you have installed 20, your network only sees them as a device, because the hub is the only one that connects to your router.
If you only have a few units, don't sweat it
While I still recommend using Z-Wave or ZigBee for small things like switches and sockets, It's not that much if you just sit on your house with just a handful of smarthome devices, maybe a switch here and there, or some smart lights in your bedroom.
In addition, for the average consumer who may not know much about the smarthome, it is much easier to configure Wi-Fi based devices anyway. But as you become more experienced and expand your smarthome, you will discover that hub-based devices are the way to go to many smaller things, and many companies make it easy to set up hubs and connect devices to them.