What is the Difference Between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth?

Regarding setting up our smart home technologies so we can enjoy the pleasures of home automation, we should understand – at least a little –  the two major wireless technologies that we’ll likely be using.

Wireless connections in a Smart Home

Regarding our wireless connections, we are referring specifically to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. We should use them because they were designed to coexist peacefully in any network. As we all know, technical entities tend to step on each other’s toes, especially when a radio signal is involved. But this is not the case with these two technologies.

Specific areas in which Wi-Fi and Bluetooth differ

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth make a good team for the most part. While there is some overlap, each has its area of expertise.

The most significant distinctions between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are:


Bluetooth requires less power. This means that its signal will not travel as far and can only reach about 30 feet. Like any signal, its range depends mainly on the antenna used. It is possible to use a higher-powered setup for your Bluetooth, enabling it to reach a few hundred yards.

The short signal range of Bluetooth is limited by the fact they are battery-powered. Since they were designed for using batteries, there’s a very favorable tradeoff between their short range and their long battery life.


A Wi-Fi connection can transfer data at rates that reach several hundreds of megabits per second (Mbps). Conversely, the fastest Bluetooth technology only has a data transfer rate of around 3 Mbps.

The disparity in data speed between these two technologies immediately sorts their expected tasks within a smart home. Your Wi-Fi will take care of all high-speed transfers of the most extensive files, while Bluetooth can handle things that function well at lower data speed connections – like voice and audio signals.


Bluetooth was initially designed to replace cables and eliminate that ghastly tangle of cables around every consumer’s computer desk. When you consider that everyone has a PC, mouse, keyboard, monitor, printer, scanner, and several other devices, this means lots of cables.

This is precisely what the first Bluetooth devices did – it freed our hands from the annoying telephone cable. And then we began seeing them installed in cars so drivers could focus more on driving. From these original applications, the ideas for them exploded throughout our societal landscape.

Wi-Fi was created to establish computer networks without the hassle of installing miles of wires. This allowed consumers and businesses to set up these networks quickly and their associated devices anywhere they desired.

What Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Replaces

Another way to distinguish Wi-Fi and Bluetooth from one another is by considering what each has replaced. This is what truly determines the value of their respective applications:

Wi-Fi replaces the Ethernet. Wi-Fi has become a wireless version of the Ethernet communication protocol. It was created to replace networking cables that were previously installed through ceilings and walls to connect computer networks.

These vast networks connected computers that existed not only in different rooms but also on different floors and buildings.

Bluetooth replaces cables. As mentioned earlier, Bluetooth wireless technology only travels short distances because of its limited power supply. While it was also intended to replace cables, it replaces cables that connect the devices of just one computer instead of connecting several computers as Wi-Fi does.

Bluetooth replaces IrDA. Bluetooth technology also replaced previous wireless technology.  — that technology is known as Infrared Data Association (IrDA) wireless technology. Many people are unaware that this technology is found on many laptops, printers, and even PDAs.

One big reason for using IrDA is that IR signals are pretty secure and are not affected by radio frequency interference. However, the biggest headache with using IrDA was that it needs line of sight proximity to be used on any device.

Your TV remote also uses this technology, so you have to point it directly at your TV for it to work correctly. While it works fine for your TV, it’s a hassle for many other applications. Since Bluetooth employs radio waves instead of light waves, it doesn’t need line-of-sight access.

The Compatibility of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

As you can see, these two technologies work very well in tandem. Both of them can offer wireless access to LANs in their own unique way – which includes Internet access. And Bluetooth can even provide access to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), also called the phone system and various mobile telephone networks.

Bluetooth quickly provides many hands-free options to each user, while Wi-Fi works alongside connecting countless users in a network. Finding a more efficient team as you set up and design your smart home would be hard.