We all love being on the internet, don’t we? We learn new things, get entertained, play, and connect with friends and family. However, what we don’t know is that the Wi-Fi we enjoy also has bands. So what is the difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi?
The Wi-Fi we get at home has undergone several changes over the last 20 years. There have been several changes to the current Wi-Fi 6 standards for Wi-Fi provision. However, even with the standard changes, the Wi-Fi bands have remained the same; 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
However, these days most routers and modem router combos can provide Wi-FI on the 2.4GHz band and 5GHz bands. There are still some routers that only provide internet on the 2.4GHz band. This, therefore, defines the single band, dual-band, and tri-band routers.
Dual-band routers have a 2.4GHz band and a 5GHz band for Wi-Fi provision. On the other hand, a tri-band router has one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands for internet provision.
There are several differences between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi. The following are the different specifications and differences for the 2 bands of Wi-Fi. These differences are in terms of range, interference, speed, and applicability.
What is the 2.4GHz WiFi frequency?
The 2.4GHz WiFi frequency is a radio frequency emitted by your devices such as routers, phones, or tablets, which allows the transmission of data and calls between the two devices. This frequency band is used to connect the device to a Wi-Fi network.
Each time your phone is connected to a wireless network, it automatically shifts its signal to the channel that will allow it to communicate with other devices on that network. In order for your router, phone, and tablet to communicate, they need access to this frequency band.
What Types of Devices Can Use the 2.4GHz WiFi Band?
The 2.4GHz WiFi band is a shared spectrum that’s used by everyone. That means you don’t have to worry about using this spectrum for just one device. The 2.4GHz WiFi band is a popular frequency because it’s widely available, and it can be used by many different types of devices, including:
- Cordless phones (depending on the model)
- Wi-Fi Routers
- Bluetooth Wireless Headsets
- Baby Monitors
- Cameras (depending on the model)
- Video Game Systems (Xbox One and PlayStation 4)
What is 5GHz WiFi and How Does It Work?
5GHz Wi-Fi is a short-range, home networking system that operates in the five-gigahertz radio band. The 5GHz band is considered to be more powerful and efficient than other bands, especially 2.4GHz. It, therefore, does not penetrate walls and has a short range. It has more channels as compared to the 2.4GHz band.
Moreover, the band has a higher bandwidth as compared to the 2.4GHz band. This means you can connect multiple devices to a single Wi-Fi network without any problems whatsoever—making it easier than ever to get online with your business
Main differences between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi
The 2.4GHz Wi-Fi has a longer range as compared to the 5GHz Wi-Fi signal. If you are using the internet near your router, then we recommend that you connect to the 5GHz signal. This way you will have a flawless connection.
However, if you are far from the router, then it is great to connect to the 2.4GHz signal. This is because it has a longer range. It will therefore give you a more reliable connection the further you are from the router.
Some of the best routers move you seamlessly from one band to the other to ensure that you enjoy reliable and fast Wi-Fi wherever you are in your home. These include mesh systems and other traditional routers.
While as discussed above the 5GHz Wi-Fi signal has a shorter coverage, it has the capacity to offer better Wi-Fi speed. The 5GHz band on our routers can provide even double or more Wi-Fi speed as compared to the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.
This is very important to note in that if you are in the same room as the router and you have devices that require the fastest connection, then we recommend that you connect them to the 5GHz Wi-Fi band. Such devices include streaming devices, gaming consoles, and teleconferencing devices among others.
In addition, the knowledge of the Wi-Fi speeds for your devices is very important for the positioning of your router or devices that require the fastest connections. You need to position your streaming devices or gaming consoles in the same room as your router to enjoy the 5GHz speeds.
Finally, if you are scheduling downloads at your home, it is excellent to use the 5GHz Wi-Fi when others are not using it. This will ensure that your downloads will take the shortest time.
Interference by other devices
This is one of the main differences between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi. In our homes, several devices operate the 2.4GHz signal zone. These devices produce wireless signals that can interfere with the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signal.
Some of these devices include microwave ovens, older wireless (cordless) phones, garage door openers, radios, Wireless keyboards, Bluetooth devices, and baby monitors among other devices. All these devices use the 2.4GHz frequency and thus will interfere with your internet connection when you are using the 2.4GHz band.
Number of channels
The number of channels differs between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The 2.4GHz band has a few channel options as compared to the 5GHz. Among the 2.4GHz channels, only three of them do not overlap (Channel 1, 6 & 11).
The 5GHz band on the other hand has 23 non-overlapping channels. This is quite a bigger number of channels which means that your devices can be connected to a less crowded channel for high-speed internet connection.
In addition, the 5GHz signal is accessed by fewer devices in our homes. This means that there is less crowding on the 5GHz channel.
How does Wi-Fi work
Before we understand the ability of the 5GHz band to penetrate through walls, we must know how Wi-Fi works.
Wi-Fi works by emitting radio waves which move from the router to the devices. The outcome is that you will enjoy connections at various points. In addition, the wave transmission is robust such that it will get to the other rooms without a hassle.
Wi-Fi signal moves like a cloud and will reach the various points without a hassle. Moreover, the signal manages to penetrate through the walls to other rooms and devices in them.
What is the maximum range that Wi-Fi can covers
The coverage of the Wi-Fi strongly depends on the router you use and the technology it utilizes. 802.11ac Wi-Fi standards are suitable for covering short ranges. However, each router also comes with specific coverage that it can conveniently work on. The limits are determined by factors such as the obstacles, number of connected devices, and the router’s functionality.
Related article: How to Prioritize Ethernet Over WiFi on a Router: Windows and macOS
What are the obstacles that interfere with Wi-Fi
Many interferences will interfere with your Wi-Fi connection. For example, such interferences affect the 2.4GHz band but have an extreme effect on the 5GHz band. Below are some excellent examples.
Some of the obstructions in the house, such as the walls and materials used for the construction of various things, tend to block the Wi-Fi connection. For example, thick walls will make the connection of the 5GHz band not get through the various parts. Likewise, if the room has glass or materials that reflect the signal, the speeds will lower drastically.
Interference of the frequency range makes the connectivity cover a small area. They also disturb the signal making its quality unreliable and covering a smaller range. Some of these interferences, such as electronics and reflective surfaces, have a more substantial effect. Electronic waves from electronic devices will also make the connection not dependable.
There are construction materials that have a significant effect on the 5GHz band. Some good examples are bricks, metals, and other specific types of insulation. Their significant effect is that they make the signal quality lower, and the connection speeds are not dependable.
Construction materials are complete obstruction and very good at making the connection not very dependable. Implementing various measures to boost the connection will also experience the same challenge.
Does 5GHz Wi-Fi Go Through Walls
Many people tend to wonder about the purpose of having the 2.4 GHz band and the 5GHz band. Each one of them has a role to play when it comes to connection. People praise the 2.4GHz band when it comes to penetration through the walls hence the question about the potential of the 5GHz band.
Our answer today will address the various aspects of the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands. We will assess the differences and their qualities before getting the answer to the question. Routers can have a single band, dual-band, or triband, which makes the differences visible.
Yes, 5GHz Wi-Fi go through walls, but!
We have done some assessments of the differences and similarities of 5GHz Wi-Fi and 2.4GHz WiFi. From our findings, you will notice that the 5GHz Wi-Fi can go through walls, but the signal quality will be lower. Penetrating on two walls is impossible for the connection.
Combining the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and the 5GHz Wi-Fi will boost signals through walls as the 2.4GHz manages through obstacles. However, devices that are far will experience low speeds and, at times, an unreliable connection.
5GHz Wi-Fi experiences a tough resistance from walls and even the floor, which lowers the quality of the production. If the connection penetrates the walls, the quality of the signal will depend on the kind of wall it went through.
Why does Wi-Fi bounce back from walls
Several reasons make the Wi-Fi signal bounce back from walls. One of the reasons is the nature of the signal or the connection. Material that makes the wall is also essential as it determines how the connection will have coverage.
Weaker walls will allow for penetration, more robust and reflective walls will bounce the signal back. And this is the main difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi on wall penetration.
Between 2.4GHz and 5GHz RF bands, which one should I use?
In a nut shell
There are several major differences between the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz WiFi signal. The choice of the band will be determined by the purpose and range that you require for your connection.
If your home has more obstacles or you want a connection for a long-range, then consider using the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signal. However, you are likely to get faced with interference from other home devices and also can experience overcrowding. Overcrowding can lead to dropped connections.
If you want a faster connection that is used by fewer devices, we recommend that you use the 5GHz Wi-Fi signal. You will experience less interference and fewer dropped signals because of overcrowding. However, note that you can only use the signal for a shorter range.
The 5GHz Wi-Fi can go through walls, but the impact beyond the wallflowers. It gets weakened to the extent that it may not cross a second wall. The connection’s performance will also strongly depend on the type of the wall and the materials that make it up.
2.4GHz vs 5GHz RF bands FAQs
The 2.4 GHz band gives you a longer range, can pass through walls, and is used by most devices. However, it is subject to interference from other electromagnetic devices and has a slower speed as compared to the 5GHz band. The 5GHz band has higher speeds and is less prone to interference but has a shorter range. Moreover, the 5GHz frequency does not easily penetrate through walls.
Compared to the 2.4GHz frequency band, the 5GHz does not easily penetrate thick walls or other solid objects. Thus your internet range is shorter when using the 5GHz band.
Dual-band routers give you the ability to use both 2.4Ghz and 5GHz bands simultaneously. Therefore, you get two independent and dedicated networks thus giving you more flexibility, coverage, and bandwidth.
Due to better internet speeds and reduced interference, you should use 5GHz for gaming. This however will be dependent on the location of the router and the location of the gaming console and if the gaming console is compatible with 5GHz WiFi.
Channel 1, 6 & 11 should be used for 2.4GHz WiFi since they do not overlap with other channels. The 2.4GHz band has fewer channels thus reducing flexibility. Moreover, you can’t use 40MHz or bigger channel width for the 2.4GHz band.
There are 1,000,000,000 hertz in a gigahertz. This means that 1Hz is a GHz divided by 1,000,000,000 (one Billion).