It’s that time of year. Again. Already. If you’re expecting Santa to be stuffing your stockings with a smorgasbord of smart goodies, you’d better watch out that your home WiFi is up to the task.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a Q&A for the burning questions you’ll probably need answers to in order to avoid festive buffering blues.

Ofcom stats show UK home smart device ownership increasing
Ofcom statistics show smart devices are increasingly popular in UK homes this Christmas

Smart home WiFi Q&A

Do smart home devices slow down WiFi?

Yes, they can definitely slow things down.

To what extent will depend on a number of factors. These include your broadband connection speed, the amount of WiFi interference in your environment, how many devices you’re using simultaneously and what they’re doing.


How many smart devices can a home router support?

On average, a standard router provided by your ISP as part of your broadband package will likely only support around 5-10 devices connected at any one time, before you start noticing a loss of performance.

You can, of course, buy an upgraded router. However, the number of connected devices it will support will also be determined by the other factors covered in the answer above.


How many Mbps do I need for a smart home?

Again, it depends.

Some smart tech will use more of your internet bandwidth than others. Thermostats and lightbulbs may only need to access the network to receive commands from your phone or control panel. As a result there’s not a lot of continuous data transfer going on. Cameras, on the other hand, are a vastly different story. Doorbell cameras and other smart cameras that upload photo or video files are going to eat up a large chunk of bandwidth. For example Nest Cam can use as much as 4 Mbps to upload 1080p HD video.

As a rule of thumb it makes sense to get the fastest broadband speed you can afford. The faster the connection into your home, the better chance you have of your smart devices working without issue. Stands to reason. (Bear in mind though, that a fast connection into your home doesn’t necessarily give you the same via WiFi.)

This article from Compare the Market gives some useful guidelines on bandwidth usage for different devices and activities.


Can I use smart devices if my internet or WiFi connection goes down?

Some of them, yes. Though they won’t be as smart without it.

You would still need an internet connection to perform some functions. Though smart home devices like smart locks, smart thermostats, and smart smoke alarms will still work perfectly fine as a dumbed-down version when the internet connection is lost.

This article provides more information and examples.


Are smart home WiFi devices secure?

There have been numerous examples of smart devices ‘spying’ on users. This has been literally the case with some baby monitors, and famously with Amazon and Google smart assistants. But equally worrying is the potential for unauthorised sharing of data that these devices collect.

It’s often the case, particularly with cheaper smart tech. The more attractive the price, the more devices are sold and the more data collected. You may not be paying much up front, but could be unwittingly paying a far higher price in terms of privacy breaches.

The problem has been recognised by the UK government as earlier this year it proposed new laws covering ‘internet of things’ security. This is likely some way off from becoming reality, however.

In the meantime skepticism is possibly your best defence. Beware of cheap connected tech. Do your research online before buying. And check privacy and data sharing terms and policies.


Can WiFi connected devices monitor my online activity?

See above!

It may be best to assume they can unless you have direct (legally binding) assurances from the manufacturer stating otherwise.

Bear in mind there are steps you can take to avoid smart device enabled snooping. For example, if you’re thinking of installing smart cameras, choose ones that store video footage locally rather than uploading to the cloud. There’s even low tech hacks that are pretty effective – such as sticking tape over the web cam lens on your laptop.


Which WiFi system is best for smart home use?

The system that best broadcasts your maximum available broadband speed wirelessly to wherever in your home you’re planning to use your smart devices.

For some, the standard router from your ISP may be good enough. For others, you may get away with the addition of a WiFi booster or two, or possibly a whole home mesh type system.

The most reliable system is a hard-wired network with wireless access points. If your home is large, has thick walls, or any number of other WiFi interference issues it could be your only reliable option.


Can I future proof my home WiFi for new smart home devices?

It’s clear from developments over the last few years that smart home tech and the internet of things is only going to grow. And the statistics support this. It’s probably therefore safe to assume things will continue to evolve in the coming years.

That being the case, it makes sense to ensure your internet connectivity can keep up.

This can be achieved, to a degree, through upgrading your WiFi equipment. New, more advanced routers, boosters and mesh devices will likely become available as the technology improves.

In addition, you might want to opt for a more significant longer-term investment. A wired home network with data points in every room would make sense for many. Once you have reliable network infrastructure in place, swapping out old tech and replacing with new becomes a lot more straightforward.

Super fast wireless for your connected home

If you’re in the Bristol and Bath area and looking for WiFi improvements to support your smart home, we can help.

Contact us today for more information and a quote for your ideal WiFi solution.