Ac Did Not Shut Off When Pan Over Flowed What Is The Best Network For Wireless Sensors?

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What Is The Best Network For Wireless Sensors?

This question has been asked frequently by clients and seen on forums. Unfortunately, there is no single answer. Each network has its own specific strengths and weaknesses. So it depends on the best application.

There are many network technologies that can be used for wireless sensors, but the most popular ones are – Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Bluetooth. These networks have in common that each wireless sensor can accommodate and manage; Each is designed for short-range wireless communication; And each operates in the open 2.4GHz radio frequency (RF) range. Beyond these similarities there are significant differences. Understanding the key differences between network technologies makes the choice much easier.

There are three factors that can be used as a rule-of-thumb to quickly determine the best network for a given sensor application. They are network bandwidth, power consumption and radio transmission range. Bandwidth is the maximum throughput of data in a network measured in bits per second. When it comes to data flow, more and faster is usually better. Power consumption refers to the amount of energy required to operate and transmit sensor electronics over a given network. Range is the effective distance of a radio signal.

The relationship between these three technology components is important to understanding their differences. Interestingly, as network bandwidth increases, so does energy consumption. The same is applicable for category. As the range of the radio increases, so does the power requirement. It is therefore important to understand the sensor application requirements such as how many sensors, how far apart they are and how much data the network is expected to manage.


Like all products, each network was designed to solve a specific problem. The main purpose of Wi-Fi was to provide a high-speed wireless replacement for the Ethernet cables used to connect PCs to local area networks (LANs). Wi-Fi has a bandwidth of 11 megabits per second while occupying five (5) channels in the 2.4 GHz band. This makes it suitable for PCs and smart devices that transmit large data files such as videos, games, music, pictures, etc. The effective range of a Wi-Fi device is about 32 meters indoors and 70 outdoors.

The downside of Wi-Fi is that it takes a lot of power to transmit 11 megabits over five channels. A laptop, tablet or smart phone can last only two hours if not plugged into an AC outlet. In relative terms, Wi-Fi is a power hog.


On the other hand, ZigBee was specifically designed for battery-powered wireless sensors. Energy conservation is an important component of ZigBee with features to manage energy designed into the platform. Battery powered sensors may need to run for months or even years without needing to recharge or replace the battery. ZigBee accomplished this in several ways. First, sensor data packets are typically 250 bytes or less. This is a fraction of the music files, games and videos viewed over a Wi-Fi network. Second, ZigBee devices can be put to sleep when not in use. This is called duty cycling. For example, if a temperature sensor takes a measurement once a minute, the sensor will take a reading and transmit the result in typically less than 100 milliseconds. The device is then cycled to conserve power for the remaining 900 milliseconds.

ZigBee is a battery-powered wireless sensor concept where the number of nodes on the network is limited (typically less than 50) and the network data traffic is fairly low. Network performance decreases dramatically as network traffic and the number of network devices increase. Because ZigBee transmission rate is 250 kbits or 1/44th of Wi-Fi network and uses only one channel. The transmission range is similar to Wi-Fi with an outdoor range of approximately 100 meters.


Bluetooth is a platform developed by Ericsson in 1994 as Personal Area Network (PAN) for secure wireless communication between personal devices. Given that Ericson manufactures cell phones, they require a high-speed wireless medium to connect wireless headsets to cell phones. They had two conflicting considerations, the headset was battery powered and required relatively high bandwidth.

Bluetooth solves this dilemma by making two adjustments. First, they set the bandwidth at three megabits per second. This rate is significantly lower than Wi-Fi but is fully capable of handling audio communication between individual devices. However, three megabits can still drain the battery fairly quickly. So the second change they made was to reduce the radio transmission range to 10 meters. Transmitting a signal 10 meters requires significantly less energy than the 70 meters seen in other networks.

Bluetooth has emerged as the preferred technology for wireless communication between personal electronic devices such as Nintendo’s Wii, PlayStation 3, wireless mouse, keyboard and printer. The advantage of Bluetooth is relatively high bandwidth and low power consumption. The downside of Bluetooth in a wireless sensor network is that only seven nodes can be connected simultaneously and they must be relatively close.

So which one is the best?

After this brief explanation it seems that ZigBee will be used in most wireless sensor applications as it was designed specifically for that purpose. This is often true. However, there are many applications where Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is a better choice. If the network consists of PCs, smart phones, tablets and sensors that require high bandwidth, Wi-Fi is generally the best network. ZigBee is generally a good choice if the network is composed of wireless, battery-powered sensors. If the network connects seven or fewer personal devices, such as a headset to a cell phone, a controller for the Wii, or a wireless keyboard to your PC, use Bluetooth. As with any rule there are many exceptions, but this is a good place to start.

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