Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are the most commonly deployed technology in smart grid environments owing to their advantages including low cost and successful adoption in various harsh smart grid environments. However, providing the quality of service (QoS) requirements of smart grid applications with WSNs is difficult because of the power constraints of sensor nodes and unreliable wireless links. In order to meet the QoS requirements of smart grid applications usingWSNs, in this paper, we first propose a QoS-aware omnidirectional antenna-based medium access control (QODA-MAC). Then, in order to investigate the impact of using sectored antennas on meeting QoS requirements, we also propose another QoS-aware four-sectored antenna-based MAC protocol (QFSA-MAC). The aim of the proposed approaches is to increase channel utilization with efficient service differentiation considering traffic flows with different requirements as well as providing reliable and fast delivery of data. We measure the performance of QODA-MAC and QFSA-MAC by making extensive simulations and compare them with each other. The results show that QFSA-MAC outperforms the QODA-MAC protocol and satisfies QoS requirements of smart grid applications by achieving significant improvement in terms of latency, energy consumption and data delivery. Copyright (C) 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.