Build a strong network

Understand the basics of Wi-Fi technology to get customers and systems connected.

The green industries have been in the midst of a technology evolution for the past couple of years, and the Wi-Fi network trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Companies are adding more software and hardware to their offerings and internal processes than ever before. It is extremely important that systems and sensors be able to communicate freely with each other so that data can be accessed, analyzed and visualized easily so that data-driven decisions can be made.

Often this starts with connecting devices or sensors to a Wi-Fi network in order to be able to access remote control panels or transmit valuable data. Understanding the basics of Wi-Fi will help ensure the best possible connections, which in turn will produce the best service/product for your clients.

Today’s Wi-Fi networks function using electromagnetic waves in a similar fashion to cell phones, television and radios. When a Wi-Fi transmission begins, the device that is transmitting the data turns the data into a radio signal that is sent via an antenna which forms the waves. The device that transmits the signal for devices to connect to is called the Wireless Access Point. On the receiving side, another device receives those signals, decodes the radio waves and sends them across the internet using an Ethernet or fiber optic cable.

The signal for Wi-Fi is broadcast using one of two frequencies, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. These frequencies are much higher than other consumer devices which allows for a larger transmission of data.

Understanding the differences between the two frequencies is important when setting up devices that need to connect to somebody’s home network. Currently, 2.4Ghz is being replaced by 5Ghz because of the greater speeds than are possible with 5Ghz. However, that extra speed comes with a few drawbacks. Since it is a newer technology, devices from a few years ago or devices that aren’t built with the latest technology will not be able to communicate with a 5Ghz-only Wi-Fi Access Point. Make sure you talk to your customer and find out what specific device they have so you can Google the specs and understand better what you are working with.

Devices using 2.4Ghz can carry over several hundred feet and does not mind impediments such as walls or floors. On the other hand, 5Ghz devices have a maximum distance of 200 feet. In reality, that distance is much shorter because the signal degrades passing through objects much faster. It is possible that a 2.4GHz signal will provide a faster experience than a 5Ghz signal the further you move away from the WAP.

The challenging part of setting up devices on a client network is that you don’t have control. You can set up a system perfectly and then the homeowner decides to move the WAP or change technologies and all of a sudden, nothing is working anymore. This problem can be mitigated by being educated about the technology yourself so that you can inform your clients about possible pitfalls.

Make sure your client knows that they need to inform you about network changes before they make any. Even changing the SSID (Wi-Fi name) of a network could mean your devices might not be able to connect.

There are a few steps that you can take to ensure a successful deployment. The first step is to document all of your setups. This would include the network name, what frequency is being used, location of WAPs, signal strength, potential obstacles and connection details. This information needs to be stored in a secure manner (not in an Excel file on your desktop or in the notes section on your phone) since it contains personal information about your clients and their network.

The second step is to frequently check in on the system so you can identify and correct problems quickly. This can be done manually or automated using programming or connector applications like Zapier.

The last step you can take to help ensure a successful deployment is to make a network map showing all the connected devices and all the subsequent devices they connect to before reaching the internet. That way, when there is a problem you can use that map and start at the device and trace back to find the issue.

Michael Mayberry is the chief technology officer for Level Green Landscape LLC in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, blending a passion for the outdoors with technology to create a new way for the green industry to conduct business. He can be reached at

In This Category

A computer and cell phone with spreadsheets and a calendar
Trying to institute change during a busy time period will likely lead to low adoption since your people are already focused on other issues.
Technology is necessary for green industry companies so how can you add technology to your company without taking a big hit?
Learn about the technology tools that your crew leaders need to work efficiently such as phone apps and dashboard cameras.
Learn about the technology tools that your crew leaders need to work efficiently such as phone apps and dashboard cameras.