Resolved: ESP32 no Wifi WLED

I am super new to this but wanted to learn an LED desk light project before I add lights to my living room. I’ve watched quite a few videos that instruct how to flash the ESP32, enter the wifi settings in WLED, adjust the LED settings in WLED, then claim it can be plugged in anywhere and you can access it through the local network. My problem is that it will not connect to wifi unless it is connected to the laptop USB so I cannot discover the lights using the WLED app. I have attempted to power via micro-usb using multiple power bricks and it will never connect. I specifically bought 3 different 5v 3.1A power bricks, but no dice. I’ve tried powering from the Vin and GND with those cables and still no issue. I bought a 5v 10a power supply and no dice. I bought a variable power supply but just realized it is only max 2A, but I tried 7.5v, 9v, and 12v and no dice. I had a much larger variable voltage and current power supply delivered last night and I will try tonight and probably fry something.

This is what I bought from Amazon (ESP32 ESP-32S WiFi Development Board NodeMCU ESP-WROOM-32 Microcontroller 2.4GHz Dual-Core WiFi Bluetooth Processor Integrated Chip CP2102).

I was able to set up the boards so that their access point “WLED-AP” is visible when plugged in to another source. I am able to connect to that from my phone, but I’ve noticed that it is a very unstable connection and drops all the time, also it seems that the animations are glitchy and not smooth when powered by anything other than the cable to the laptop.

Some other forums claim that there is a voltage drop before the wifi chip because of a diode and you need to put more voltage on the Vin. This is where I’m lost because I did. So for now, I have a 0-30V and 0-10A adjustable power supply that I’m probably gonna let the smoke out of something with tonight. Any thoughts?

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Was it this item?
ESP-32S WiFi Development Board NodeMCU

That device (and similar ones) will not draw anything like the current you are planning to use. They typically require between 100mA and 200mA. That fact that you can power it from a USB port demonstrates that it needs less than 500mA because that’s all a standard USB port can supply (and a laptop could even be somewhat less). So any of those 5V 3.1A power bricks should have worked. Power is almost certainly not the problem.

Using a higher voltage input won’t achieve anything because the voltage will be regulated on board, and it will only make the regulator run hotter.

The only reason there should be any problem connecting when powered separately from the laptop USB would be the location, so I presume you are testing the connection with the ESP located near the router. The simplest way to see what is happening is to use the administrative tool built into the router to list the connections. Once you are logged into the router admin utility (the process depends on what model router you have) there will be an option such as Network Map / Wireless clients. The ESP should appear there when it is powered up. You should test this using both the Laptop USB and one of the USB bricks. If there is any doubt about the connection you can run a sketch that reports the MAC address of the ESP, and then check that against the details appearing in the router admin utility. (If you are using multiple devices it can be useful to label each one with their address).

This is the simplest way to ensure that the device is running, the sketch is working and the network credentials are correct.


Hey Jeff thanks for that info. I was looking at this problem from a voltage/current issue due to bad info I read on other ESP32 forums…and I completely neglected to try a simpler solution…basic troubleshooting lol. Turns out that when I started thinking about the router…the problem is the ESP32 board is too far away from it (too many corners I guess). I didn’t even think about it because it’s an apartment and my phone/laptop/alexa all connect via wifi in the back room…but the boards unfortunately won’t. When I plug them in closer, lo and behold…they connect. Well now to return a bunch of power supplies to Amazon and get a wifi range extender.


Thanks for confirming that you got it sorted out.

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Hi Eric,

Glad to see you got this sorted and a huge thanks to Jeff for helping you get there. Hopefully the range extender will give you what you need.