The evaluation of the current electric power grid with novel communication facilities is one of the most challenging and exciting issues of the 21st century. The modern grid technology is called the smart grid in the sense that it utilizes digital communication technologies to monitor and control the grid environments, which ultimately require novel communication techniques to be adapted to the system. Wireless sensor networks (WSN) have. recently been considered as a cost-effective technology for the realization of reliable remote monitoring systems for smart grid. However, problems such as noise, interference and fading in smart grid environments, make reliable and energy-efficient multi-hop routing a difficult task for WSNs in smart grid. Our main goal is to describe advantages and applications of WSNs for smart grid and motivate the research community to further investigate this promising research area. In this study we have investigated and experimented some of the well-known on-demand, table-driven and QoS-aware routing protocols, in terms of packet delivery ratio, end-to-end delay, and energy consumption to show the advantages and disadvantages of each routing protocol type in different smart grid spectrum environments. The environmental characteristics which are based on real-world field tests are injected into ns-2 Network Simulator and the performance of four different multi-hop routing protocols is investigated. Also, we have shown that traditional multi-hop routing protocols cannot deliver adequate performance on smart grid environments. Hence, based on our simulation results, we present some guidelines on how to design routing protocols specifically for smart grid environments. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.