Learning the difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi is necessary as you aim for better connections in your home. You will understand the differences in range and wall penetration, interference, and speed among others.
There are several differences between 2.4GHZ and 5GHz WiFi but the key ones are 2.4GHz has a longer coverage, 2.4GHz can penetrate walls better, 2.4GHz has fewer channels, 2.4GHz is more prone to interference, and 2.4GHz has less internet speed as compared to 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.
What is the Difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi?
|Property||2.4GHz WiFi||5GHz WiFi|
|Range||Has a longer range/ Coverage||Has a shorter range/ coverage|
|Wi-Fi speed||Has less internet speed||Has more internet speed|
|Interference by other devices||Easily interfered with by other devices||Not easily interfered with by other devices|
|Number of channels||Has fewer channels (3 non-overlapping channels)||Has more channels (23 non-overlapping channels)|
|Penetration of walls||Can penetrate up to 3 walls||5GHz can only penetrate one wall|
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.
2. Wi-Fi speed
While as discussed above the 5GHz Wi-Fi signal has a shorter coverage, it can 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 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.
3. 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 that interfere with 2.4GHz frequency 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.
4. 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 5GHz channel for a 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.
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.
The 2.4GHz WiFi frequency refers to the radio frequency band used by WLAN/Wi-Fi technology, specifically in the 802.11 b/g/n standards. It operates within the range of 2401 to 2484 MHz, and this bandwidth is divided into 14 channels.
Each channel is spaced 5 MHz apart, except for the last two channels, which have a spacing of 12 MHz. These channels allow WiFi devices to communicate wirelessly and provide connectivity for various applications, devices, and internet access.
However, due to its popularity and limited number of channels, the 2.4GHz band can be susceptible to interference, especially in areas with multiple WiFi networks and other wireless devices. However, these days most routers and modem router combos can provide Wi-Fi on the 2.4GHz band and 5GHz frequency bands.
What Types of Devices Can Use the 2.4GHz WiFi Band?
Various types of devices can use the 2.4GHz WiFi band to connect to wireless networks. 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)
The 2.4GHz band is compatible with older WiFi standards like 802.11b/g/n, making it widely accessible for a broad range of devices, but it may have limitations in terms of speed and congestion due to its popularity and potential interference from other wireless devices.
What is 5GHz WiFi and How Does It Work?
5GHz WiFi is a type of wireless network that operates on the 5 Gigahertz radio frequency band. It offers more channels for communication compared to the 2.4GHz band, which can lead to reduced interference and congestion.
5GHz WiFi typically provides faster speeds and better signal strength over shorter distances, making it suitable for applications where high data transfer rates are essential, especially in environments with fewer competing devices. However, its shorter range may require more access points in larger spaces to ensure consistent coverage.
5GHz band, therefore, does not penetrate walls easily and has a short range. It has more channels as compared to the 2.4GHz band.
Moreover, the bandwidth of the band surpasses that of the 2.4GHz band. This means that you can seamlessly link numerous devices to a solitary Wi-Fi network, thereby rendering internet access for your business requirements easier than ever before.
Related article: How to Prioritize Ethernet Over WiFi on a Router: Windows and macOS
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?
It is possible for 5GHz WiFi signals to pass through walls, but they are more susceptible to interference from physical obstacles than lower frequency bands like 2.4GHz. Despite having faster data transfer rates and being less prone to congestion, 5GHz signals have a shorter range and are more likely to be weakened by walls, floors, and other barriers.
In a large home or office with many walls and obstacles, 5GHz WiFi may not provide as reliable coverage compared to 2.4GHz, which has better penetration capabilities but potentially lower speeds. The choice between 5GHz and 2.4GHz depends on the specific environment and the devices’ distance from the router.
People praise the 2.4GHz band when it comes to penetration through the walls hence the question about the potential of the 5GHz band. Routers can have a single-band, dual-band, or triband, which makes the differences visible.
Yes, 5GHz Wi-Fi minimally goes through walls, but!
We have done some assessments of the differences and similarities between 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 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 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.
Between 2.4GHz and 5GHz RF bands, which one should I use?
In a nutshell
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 is 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 wall and the materials that make it up.
Is it better to connect to 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz?
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.
Does 5 GHz WiFi go 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.
Can I use both 2.4 and 5 GHz at the same time?
Dual-band routers give you the ability to use both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands simultaneously. Therefore, you get two independent and dedicated networks thus giving you more flexibility, coverage, and bandwidth.
Is 5 GHz better for gaming?
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.
What channel should I use for 2.4 GHz?
Channels 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.