5 GHz Smart Plugs: Should You Buy One?

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Smart plugs are a mainstay in most smart homes. They offer a cheap, easy way to control your dumb devices and integrate them into your smart home ecosystem. Most smart plugs run on 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, but some brands have now started offering 5 GHz-compatible smart plugs.

In this article, you’ll discover what a 5 GHz smart plug is and whether you should buy one or stick with 2.4 GHz smart plugs. We’ll cover the advantages of each, what 5 GHz smart plugs you can buy, and what smart home ecosystems they are compatible with.

What Is a 5 GHz Smart Plug?

A TP-Link smart plug, which is compatible with dual-band 5 GHz routers even though it runs on 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi

Most smart plugs connect to your Wi-Fi network. When people talk about 5 GHz smart plugs, they really mean smart plugs that run on the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band instead of the 2.4 GHz band used by most smart home devices.

As we’ll discuss below, though, that’s not always what manufacturers mean when they talk about 5 GHz smart plugs.

Do All Smart Plugs Work With 5 GHz Routers?

Wi-Fi smart plugs generally only work with 2.4 GHz Wi-FI networks. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use them with a 5 GHz router, though.

Most modern Wi-Fi routers create both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. If your router says “dual-band” or shows both 2.4 and 5 GHz on its label (see the image below), then you can use it with either 2.4 GHz devices (like most smart plugs) or 5 GHz devices. You just need to connect the devices to the right network.

A Netgear dual-band router, highlighting where the label shows the two Wi-Fi bands.

Usually, the 5 GHz network will have a suffix like “5GHz” or “5G”. The 2.4 GHz network may either have no suffix or something like “2.4GHz” or “2.4G”. Your smart plug will probably only see the 2.4 GHz network.

Are There Any 5 GHz Smart Plugs?

Most plugs labeled as “5 GHz-compatible” don’t actually run on your 5 GHz network. Instead, they usually mean that they are compatible with dual-band routers. And yes, that’s true of literally any smart plug—it’s just marketing hype.

The Leviton DW15P is the only smart plug I’ve found that runs on your 5 GHz Wi-Fi band. It’s also compatible with 2.4 GHz, which makes it an especially versatile option. Unfortunately, it’s often sold out on Amazon and other online retailers.

The Pros and Cons of 5 Ghz Smart Plugs

5 GHz networks are faster than 2.4 GHz networks, but smart plugs don’t require a lot of bandwidth for their operation. That extra speed only really matters if you plan to run a lot of devices on the same network. If that’s your plan, you’re also going to need a powerful dual-band router like the TP-Link AX6600.

2.4 GHz networks work at much longer distances than 5 GHz, roughly 150 feet instead of 50 feet. That makes 2.4 GHz the only practical option for smart plugs in large homes (unless you want a mesh Wi-Fi system). By keeping your plugs on your 2.4 GHz network, you also leave more of the faster 5 GHz network available for streaming and gaming.

Does Alexa Work With 5 GHz Smart Plugs?

All the major smart home systems can connect to 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks and 5 GHz connected devices like smart plugs. That includes Amazon Alexa as well as Google Assistant, IFTTT, and SmartThings.

In general, your smart home ecosystem and smart hub (like the 4th-gen Amazon Echo) should be able to handle either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. However, they may only be able to connect to a single one of those networks at a time, which is another good reason to buy all 2.4 GHz-compatible smart home tech.

If all your smart gadgets are on 2.4 GHz, you can easily run routines across multiple devices and even multiple ecosystems. That simplicity is important, and you can always upgrade your router or move devices between networks later if you have any problems.

What’s Next?

In short, you probably don’t need a 5-GHz smart plug. There are a lot more options for 2.4 GHz smart plugs, and any dual-band router can handle both types of devices. Stick with a cheap, dependable plug like the Kasa Smart Mini or an outdoor-ready plug like the Ring Outdoor Plug, either of which will be just as good as any 5-GHz smart plug.

If you want some cool ideas for what to do with your new plugs, check out my list of 40+ smart plug ideas. I’ve included cool for saving energy and adding convenience to your life, two of the biggest goals here at Smart Geek Home. If you want to get that going on a budget, most of the ideas pair nicely with my low-cost Alexa setup suggestions.

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