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Christmas morning should have been a time of giving and togetherness, not shattered dreams and nervous breakdowns. But sometimes joy turns to anger when your friend or loved one gets stuck trying to set up a smart-home device they received as a gift. Because these devices may require complicated setups, including smartphone apps, Wi-Fi passwords, and integration with a smart speaker, there are a lot of ways things could go wrong. Before you call someone a name you can't take back, take a breath and read our answers to the most common smart-home questions we receive.
Most current Wi-Fi routers transmit using two wireless frequencies (bear with us): 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The problem is, almost all smart-home devices can use only the 2.4 GHz one, so if your phone is connected to your network on the 5 GHz band, it won't be able to see or communicate with your brand-new smart-home device (this seems to be the most confounding issue we regularly confront). Before you plug anything in or download an app, make sure your smartphone is connected to the network your smart device will live on, and that it's 2.4 GHz. (You can find a few security cameras and other devices that may be able to connect to a 5 GHz network, but we don't recommend going in that direction due to issues with wireless range.)
If you still can't get your device to connect, your Wi-Fi signal strength may be to blame. If you have areas in your home where your phone or laptop can't connect, your new smart plug or camera won't be able to either. If you can, move your router to a central location or consider installing a mesh router, an extender, or a repeater.
Almost every smart device requires you to use an app to perform the setup process and sometimes to control it. Smart bulbs, smart plugs, cameras, garage-door controllers—they all use apps. The good news is, the apps are free to download. But not all devices work with both iOS and Android (and some devices may work with only certain smartphone models), so make sure the smart device is compatible with your smartphone before you buy.
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