I have been getting this question quite a bit lately, and I understand the reason why. Many people when they open up the Network Finder on their laptop, tablet, or cell-phone will see many networks labeled with (5G), and fear that perhaps this is extremely dangerous.
However, the 5G you hear about in the news is not the same thing as a 5 GHz WiFi network. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you why that is in just a moment. So, if the 5G you’re seeing in your Network locator isn’t the same thing as 5G for your cell-phone, then what is it, and is it dangerous?
That is exactly what we’re going to talk about in this article. We’re going to talk about the difference between 5G and 5Ghz WiFi, the difference between 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz WiFi, what they are, which is more dangerous, and much more.
Before we go on though, I just want to briefly answer the main question:
Is 5Ghz WiFi Dangerous? WiFi of any kind does emit RF, or EMF, radiation. This radiation in large quantities over long periods of time can cause harm to the body. However, 5 GHz WiFi isn’t absolutely more dangerous than 2.4 GHz WiFi, it all depends on how close to the emitting router you are and what devices you’re using.
Now that we answered that question briefly, let’s get to the real stuff.
Is 5 GHz WiFi The Same as 5G Cellular?
First, let me just be clear that 5 Ghz WiFi and 5G cellular are absolutely not the same thing; Other than the fact that they both provide wireless connectivity between devices.
I’ve talked quite a bit about what 5G is and why it’s dangerous (you can read those articles here) so I’m not going to go in-depth on that, instead, I just want to cover the crucial differences between 5Ghz WiFi and 5G cellular.
First, let’s talk about what 5G cellular is.
What is 5G?
5G actually stands for the 5th generation of cellular networks, improving on the 4G you likely have on your phone now, which came after 3G, etc. You’ve likely already heard that 5G is coming, and perhaps you’ve already seen some of the new 5G phones marketed.
Essentially 5G is a completely redesigned cellular network, that will require entirely new infrastructure but will provide vastly better speeds to your wireless devices. If you want to learn more about 5G works, you can check out this article.
Basically, 5G will become the new internet standard for your cell-phone, tablet, autonomous vehicle, etc. It also likely could be the future source of your home internet with how fast the promised speeds are.
However, unless you live in a large city in an industrialized country, you are not likely to have access anytime soon. Since the network requires all new structures and infrastructure, it is extremely expensive to implement. Therefore, only cities with dense populations will have any return on investment early in the rollout. Eventually, though, 5G is likely to be just about everywhere.
5G is the next generation of cellular networks, but it has virtually nothing to do with 5 GHz WiFi.
So, What is 5 GHz WiFi?
If you have at all a modern WiFi router, it probably has two frequency bands that it can transmit on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Many routers can push a network on both bands simultaneously.
The 2.4 band has actually been around longer, and it’s what many devices like your garage door opener operate on. Since this frequency was getting so congested, 5Ghz frequencies were introduced with the 802.11n WiFi standard in 2009.
5 GHz WiFi has the advantage of being less congested with more non-overlapping channels and is a bit faster. However, 5 GHz is pretty bad at covering large areas and is really bad at penetrating walls.
So, if you have a large home and your devices are far from the router, you’ll likely notice a better connection to the 2.4 GHz WiFi. However, if you live in an apartment, and the router is in the same room as your computer, then 5 GHz will be faster and a better choice all around.
The bottom line, 5G WiFi is not a thing, people actually mean 5 GHz WiFi, which is just a different frequency providing the same internet connectivity.
It is confusing though, as many Networks will say “5G” at the end by default. This actually just stands for 5 GHz. Look at the picture to the right. You’ll see that there is a MySpectrumWiFi 5G and 2G.
The 5G just stands for the 5 GHz band, and the 2G stands for the 2 GHz band. The only reason they have these in there is so that you can know the difference between the two networks.
This helps you to choose the right network depending on the layout of your home and how close the router you are.
Alright, now that we’ve cleared up the difference between 5GHz WiFi and 5G cellular, let’s talk about whether or not 5 GHz WiFi is dangerous.
Is 5 GHz WiFi Dangerous?
So the first thing we need to answer, and I’ll be brief, is whether “WiFi” is dangerous at all. If it is, then we can talk about whether 5 GHz WiFi is more dangerous than 2.4 GHz and why that would be.
So first of all…
Is WiFi Dangerous?
The short answer is, yes it can be, but not absolutely. I’m only going to cover the answer to this question briefly because I’ve already written close to 10 articles that answer this pretty well.
Basically, WiFi uses radio waves to transmit data, and these radio waves are a form of Electromagnetic Radiation known as Radio Frequency, or RF, radiation. Any type of EMF radiation, including RF radiation, has been shown to have harmful effects on the body, especially in large doses over long periods of time.
This is the reason that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization labeled RF radiation (just like WiFi) a “Group 2B possible carcinogen based on the increased risk for glioma, a type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.”
It’s also the reason that cell-phone manufacturers have a limit on how much radiation can be emitted from their phones and absorbed into the human body. This limit, known as the specific absorption rate, differs by country, and many consider it to be not nearly protective enough.
It’s also the reason that cell-towers have large warning signs around the property warning you to stay away.
In fact in many countries, including France, WiFi is being limited or removed from schools due to safety concerns.
Even the American Cancer Society, who does it’s best not to admit that EMF radiation causes long-term harm, and instead hedges by just saying there isn’t enough research to make a conclusion, admits on their website, that:
“…there has been concern that some forms of non-ionizing radiation might have biological effects that could result in cancer…”
-American Cancer Society
Studies have also shown connection between exposure to EMF radiation like WiFi and health issues such as:
- Interruption of cell metabolism
- DNA breakage
- Brain glucose metabolism breakage
- Increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier
Long-term exposure to WiFi has also been shown to cause issues like:
- Brain Fog
- Chest Pain
- Skin Reactions
Again, if you want to read about this more in-depth, I have a host of articles on my website covering the topic.
For now, let’s just say that yes, close proximity to WiFi for long periods of time can be dangerous.
So, now the next question is…
Is 5 GHz WiFi More Dangerous Than 2.4 GHz?
Alright, now it’s time to get to the real question of whether or not 5 GHz WiFi is dangerous, or more dangerous, then 2.4 GHz.
The answer really comes down to distance. You see, there is something called the inverse square law of physics that applies to radiation. Essentially this law states that as we double our distance from a source of radiation, we quarter our exposure to it. This means that gaining any sort of distance from a source of RF or EMF radiation like a router will give us exponential protection from it.
So, although 5 GHz WiFi has faster speeds, it is actually much worse at traveling distances or penetrating walls than 2.4 GHz.
So, I did some testing of my own and here is what I found, using my Trifield TF2.
What I had to do is disable my 5G network on the router, you can do this pretty easily in the router settings, just google it. Once that was disabled I was able to measure the radiation from the 2.4 GHz WiFi.
When I was within a few feet of the router, it completely pegged the EMF meter, meaning it was maxing it out. As I moved away, I was surprised by how little the RF radiation levels fell off. In fact, even moving into another room with one wall in between I was still able to read fairly high radiation levels.
This does make some sense since I should be able to connect to the network just about anywhere in my house, but the levels were a bit higher then I expected given the distance and objects that were in the way.
Next, I disabled the 2.4 GHz network and just enabled the 5 GHz network and did the same testing.
The results were surprising.
When I was close to the router measuring the 5GHz network, the results were the same, it was maxing out the RF readings on my EMF meter.
However, as I moved away the amount of RF radiation I was reading fell off much faster then it did with the 2.4 GHz network. It seemed like every foot I moved away the radiation was falling off fairly significantly.
When I moved into another room and had a wall in between, the readings were far lower then they were with the 5 GHz network.
So, based off that limited testing, and my understanding of WiFi and RF radiation, here are my assumptions:
If you and the device your using are very close to the router emitting a 5 GHz network, then it may be exposing you to more radiation.
However, I would say that generally, you’ll be exposed to a greater amount of RF radiation from your 2.4 GHz network simply because it much more capable of traveling far distances and penetrating walls.
Now that we’ve talked about whether 5 GHz WiFi is dangerous or not, let’s talk about how we can protect ourselves from WiFi in general.
How To Protect Against WiFi Radiation (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz)
I’m going to quickly cover the absolute best ways to reduce your exposure to WiFi radiation in this step by step guide. Whether you’re connected to a 5 GHz or a 2.4 GHz network, these steps will dramatically reduce your exposure risk.
1. Hardwire Internet When Possible
It isn’t always the most convenient, but if it’s possible to hardwire the internet in your home, you’ll be exposed to virtually no radiation compared to using WiFi.
Essentially what you do is just run ethernet cables between your devices and the router to connect directly, and then simply turn off WiFi on your router.
Unfortunately, for many, this isn’t really a great option, especially since it’s not just computers we’re connecting, but also our phones, tablets, streaming boxes, etc.
If you are interested in hardwiring some of the devices in your home though, I wrote up a great guide you can check out.
2. Get A WiFi Router Guard
I have been talking about WiFi router guards more and more lately it seems like, and honestly, it’s for good reason. I truly think it is one of the best EMF protection products on the market.
Essentially it is a small faraday cage, just large enough to fit your WiFi router. The metal mesh blocks about 90% of the RF radiation emitted from your router, and only results in a range reduction of around 10%. It doesn’t seem to reduce your speed at all.
Basically you’re getting all the goodness your WiFi router normally provides, with only a fraction of the risk. If your curious how this works, this video should be helpful:
3. Turn Off WiFi
Another simple way to reduce your exposure to WiFi radiation is to turn it off when you’re not using it.
Believe it or not, your body is even more vulnerable to the damage RF and EMF radiation cause while your sleeping. It’s a great idea to simply turn off your WiFi router at night when you’re not using it.
A simple way to do this automatically is to simply buy a mechanical outlet timer like this one on Amazon.
You just plug your router into the timer and plug the timer into the wall. Then, set the time period when you don’t want power to the device. For example, I have mine set to turn off our WiFi at 11 PM and back on at 6 AM.
If you want a more in-depth guide with other options to automatically turn off your WiFI, you can check that out here.
4. Get A Low EMF Router
Honestly, I don’t talk about this product nearly enough. Partly that is because it’s sold overseas, and is a bit more costly to get shipped to the states where I live.
However, a company called JRS (stands for Jan-Rutger Schrader, the Dr. who invented it) makes a router that has been programmed to essentially emit far less radiation.
They are able to accomplish this by a set of proprietary software installed on the router. The software alters how often the router pules its frequency, as well as reduces the pulse strength and transmit power.
Essentially it’s like the software version of a WiFi router guard that has been pre-programmed into the router. It results in a reduction of up to 90%.
Alright, now that we’ve covered ways to protect yourself from WiFi radiation, let’s cover a few related questions.
Is 5 GHz Safer Than 2.4 GHz WiFi?
Like I talked about above, 5 GHz is actually safer for most households due to the fact that it is less capable of reaching far distances or penetrating walls.
If you are using WiFi very close to your router, then it is possible that the 5 GHz network could be more dangerous, but this won’t often be the case.
The WiFi that your router pushes will essentially be the same regardless of which frequency it comes on, so what matters most is how much radiation is reaching the device you’re currently using.