Let's Talk Smart Homes


I purchased a SmartThings hub about 5 years ago but never really got into it all. Last week, I saw these switches and decided to try them with Home app and AppleTV.
SmartThings hub is cloud based and I was trying to avoid cloud processing. The lights were easy to install and work great. So with my excitement I purchased another 6 switches and while waiting for the shipping I did some research. It looks like wifi devices have some disadvantages but the cost is so cheap compared to z-wave.

So my question, is wifi protocol that bad when it comes to home automation? Will the wifi suffer with the additions of the devices? Any thought on reliability of wifi switches vs z-wave? Any recommendation?

Thank in advance for reading and comments

I believe the conventional wisdom here is to put your IOT devices on a separate subnet. This way your IOT devices, which have a reputation of being easily hacked, cannot infect your computing devices.


It is not really possible to make big swooping generalizations whether “wifi will suffer” with wifi based IoT devices. Each manufacturer implements communication protocols their own way. IoT mostly concerns small data packets so a noticable bandwidth grab from your IoT devices should not be expected.

The issue with wifi based IoT is that you have a limited number of addresses on tour local network and with lots of small IoT devices you may run out. For most this is not an immediate problem (or ever), it is something to consider and keep an eye on though.

I have not seen reports discussing reliability differences between wifi, zigbee, zwave, lora etc. I would think that reliability is largely a hardware issue - again manufacturer specific. There can be responsiveness differences. Devices that operate on a dedicated network (eg zwave or zigbee) i expect to be more resposive as message protocols do not compete with other (larger) transmissions (such as a video stream).

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Personally I prefer to stay away from Wi-fi devices and have hub based systems. This does mean I have a few (ahem) hubs floating around on my nerd shelves (which also houses my router, a HomePod, and some other fun things), but it also means there’s only 1 device per system on my network. They have their own mesh network which works well and definitely has better signal than Wi-fi (my residence unfortunately seems to be a Wi-fi black hole so far).

So far I have:

  • Philips Hue
  • IKEA TrĂĄdfri
  • Aqara
  • SwitchBot

I did have a Logitech Pop system too, but between them discontinuing the product and 3 out of my 4 buttons failing to pair after I moved, I decided to switch to Aqara buttons. (They’re also smaller!)


Eero’ s WiFi system uses HomeKit to (I believe) allow IOT HomeKit devices to contact the web, but not other devices on your network. This minimises the risk of poor security in one IOT device compromising the rest of your devices

Slightly off topic, but I’m curious about this. On every home network I’ve ever had, I’ve had a /8 available, which while technically limited is practically infinite for a home network, so I’m wondering if you’re talking about something different that I haven’t encountered.

Do you think that’s really necessary if they are running though HomeKit?

I get good wifi coverage throughout my house but I am reading alot of blogs about wifi devices consuming more power and wifi congestion. I assume if you have a couple of devices it is not an issue, but if I decide to replace all my switches should I even be looking at wifi? Truth be told it is the price of the wifi switches that is so appealing.

/8 subnet mask is a class A router providing 16,777,216 addresses. Most routers for home use are /24 i.e 256 possible addresses though .0 is not used, .1 is reserved for your router and 254 and 255 are broad cast addresses so 253 actual available. For most that is enough but with the proliferation of IoT devices, it might get cramped.

Which router(s) did you use that had a /8 mask?

Close enough :wink:

The Eero system that I have now lets me choose one; Apple’s Airports did (Extreme at least); older D-Link ones did as well. I don’t recall ever having a home wireless router that wouldn’t let me select any of the networks specified in RFC1918 for internal use, including the range of addresses, the lease subnet address, and the netmask.

Unless I am gravely mistaken, “running through HomeKit” doesn’t mean only HomeKit can access them.

WiFi based IoT runs into other problems well before address space. Each device uses bandwidth, and generates heat from CPU use in your networking equipment. Most networking equipment is fairly low powered, as a computer. You’ll also run into latency issues. Typically you’ll run into issues around 20-50 devices. A good mesh system can scale further. However, the performance simply is better with a dedicated bridge or hub to coordinate many small devices and you’ve the confidence that the hub has been tested to work with the specific devices you have, and with many more of those devices than you have.