Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Table Comparing Wireless Protocols for IoT Devices

Glow Labs has compiled this table to help their team select the best wireless communication protocol for the products they make. 

About Glow Labs: "We make products for the connected home. This includes home automation systems, devices for those systems, standalone products for today’s smart homes, and so much more. Our user-friendly interfaces and easy setup procedures are designed so the average consumer can easily control the products we make for you."

Our Thoughts:

There are a ton of options for getting your IoT device connected wirelessly, and there is no clear winner for every case. We put together a few simple guidelines, please reach out to us for more detailed advice.


Frequency plays a huge role in determining characteristics of a wireless protocol. Most IoT wireless protocols operate on unlicensed spectrum bands. This means that they don’t have to pay the FCC or similar governing body to broadcast on that band, but the risk of interference from other networks is high. In general, higher frequencies will have a higher data rate, lower range, higher power draw, and lower wall penetration. 2.4GHz is the only frequency that is unlicensed globally which is why it’s the de facto frequency for most IoT protocols.


If your device is going to be installed in a home or building, looking for a lower frequency can help with wall penetration. If your device is going to be installed city-wide or state-wide, you want to find a device with WAN in the “Intended Use” column.


If your device is battery operated, you’re going to want to select a low-power protocol. Generally, higher frequencies draw more power. Some protocols can get around this with sleep modes (BLE) and altered MCUs to fit your use case, but frequency does play a role in power draw.


As a frame of reference, most MP3 files stream at 256 kbps. Depending on your application, meeting the minimum data rate requirements is very important. Frequency once again plays a role here, higher frequency generally allows for a higher data rate.


Mesh networks are cheaper to install because they don’t require a powerful and centrally placed hub. Star networks only require a basic hub, but latency can be high and you need quite a few devices for them to be reliable.

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