How Much Internet Speed Does Your Smart Home Need?

By Bradly Spicer •  Updated: 03/05/20 •  5 min read

When you have everything connected to your one network which then goes out to the internet (IoT), you may wonder if it will slow everything down. Which is a fair question, and one which I will answer. Will my Smart Home slow down my internet?

Your Smart Home Network is interconnected, everything communicates on your network, it’s like a brain for your house.

Smart Home Broadband speeds - Living the sweet life - Futurama Gif

Without taking into consideration how much brainpower is used, you can end up with a sluggish network.

Keeping your home Smart may seem daunting at first but with these tips and breakdown and this list of Smart Home Resources you will be on your way to a speedy futuristic home!

Which Smart devices use the most Bandwidth?

Before we break down into the other smaller items, it’s worth tackling the big bulky accessories and explaining why they’re so vital/heavy.

Smart Home CCTV Bandwidth
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Smart Homes tend to not use a lot of bandwidth, this is because you’re mostly sending small snippets of data to and from servers much like you would when browsing the internet or using your phone.

This means that data being sent and recieved is only done via any form of command, for example, your Smart Voice assistant like Google Home or Amazon Alexa.

Let’s break it down

If you ask Google Home to control one of your LIFX Bulbs, for example, asking Google Assistant to dim your living room lights.

It will recieve the command, convert the message into a command to send to its server (Over the internet) and then their server will send back a response to dim the light. This will be using your upload and download.

Once this is done, the device stops using any form of contact with the internet until it gets its next command, effectively making the communication between your local network and the world wide web anywhere from 200ms to 10seconds.

It’s worth noting some devices do have an idle amount of bandwidth, such as the Amazon Echo devices, this is because it scans for firmware updates, delivery reports, notifications and broadcasts.

Hopefully, with the amount of money you save from using Smart Bulbs, you’ll be able to upgrade your internet package 😉

The main exception to this rule is Doorbell Camera’s and Security Camera’s. For example, the Ring Doorbells and the Blink XT2 range of Security Camera’s have motion detection which means whenever it triggers it will use the internet.

This is no different to streaming Netflix, YouTube, Hulu etc as they’re essentially recording and uploading video footage to the web. Streaming videos consume a lot of data, whether it’s uploading or downloading.

At the very least, you would want around 5mbps download speed to effectively watch a video. You can use a speed checker like this one to find out your speeds.

How to calculate/account for your Smart Home Bandwidth?

Google Home Wifi Speeds and Bandwidth
Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

It’s not so much one device or one small cluster that can cause network speeds to slow down or high bandwidth usage, but more so the entire environment.

You will need to take into consideration your routers network speed, internet service package and how many devices connect to your hub. If you’re in the UK, you’re more likely to find a service that fits your needs with ease.

However, users in the US may find difficulty given the reputation of companies like Comcast.

Here is the general breakdown for bandwidth and Smart Homes:

5+ Mbps

  • Regular browsing
  • Music streaming
  • Ideal for 1 person

10+ Mbps

  • HD video streaming
  • Casual games / apps
  • Ideal for 1-2 people

20+ Mbps

  • Ultra HD streaming
  • Frequent gaming
  • Ideal for 2-4 people

40+ Mbps

  • Simultaneous HD streaming
  • Simultaneous gaming
  • Ideal for 4+

I always suggest going with the next package up to the one you think you fit as this will allow you to expand and when guests are round, use more than your typical bandwidth allowance.

he general rule of thumb could be estimated at adding 5Mbps for every 12 Smart Home items added to the network, if you’re adding CCTV or a Doorbell Camera, double that to 10Mbps

Can I save bandwidth without upgrading my internet package?

Yes, there’s quite a few changes you can make but these may not all be to your liking, for example, you can change the resolution on your cameras which means they won’t be as high quality and as such the recorded files are smaller when uploading and downloading.

Reducing your camera’s resolution is usually best done from 1080p to 720p in very well lit areas.

Should I worry about upload speed?

If you’re happy with slower responses from your Smart assistants and slower uploads to the cloud for your security devices, I wouldn’t worry too much about this. You may see a difference in quality if you’re connecting to your Ring Doorbell remotely to check on a delivery.

At the very least, aim to have 3Mbps upload, which most places offer as a default.

Can my router handle it?

black corded electronic device

This is purely based on a general rule of thumb. But I would wager yes. If you’re just using this to run Smart Assistants and the odd camera system, most routers from the last 5-10 years are fine to use.

If you’re using a router from the early 2000’s call your ISP and demand a new one as it’s very overdue.

Bradly Spicer

I'm a Smart Home and IT Enthusiast that loves to check out new technology and gadgets! I enjoy reading your experiences and news, so if you want to share anything or chat smart homes, definitely send me an email!