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2.1 ZigBee Network Characteristics

Several standards currently exist for wireless networks, including Bluetooth, WiFi, and WiMax. ZigBee is a new standard for wireless sensor and control networks. It has the following characteristics:

  • Low battery consumption. A ZigBee end device should operate for months or even years without needing its battery replaced.
  • Low cost.
  • Low data rate. The maximum data rate for a ZigBee device is 250Kbps.
  • Easy to implement.
  • Supports up to 65,000 nodes connected in a network.
  • ZigBee can automatically establish its network.
  • ZigBee uses small packets compared with WiFi and Bluetooth.

Table 2.1 shows a comparison of ZigBee characteristics with those of WiFi and Bluetooth.

Table 2.1. ZigBee, Bluetooth, and WiFi Characteristics

WiFi IEEE 802.11

Bluetooth IEEE 802.15.1

ZigBee IEEE 802.15.4

Application

Wireless LAN

Cable replacement

Control and monitor

Frequency bands

2.4GHz

2.4GHz

2.4GHz, 868MHz, 915MHz

Battery life (days)

0.1–5

1–7

100–7,000

Nodes per network

30

7

65,000

Bandwidth

2–100Mbps

1Mbps

20–250Kbps

Range (meters)

1–100

1–10

1–75 and more

Topology

Tree

Tree

Star, tree, cluster tree, and mesh

Standby current

20 * 10–3 amps

200 * 10–6 amps

3 * 10–6 amps

Memory

100KB

100KB

32–60KB

Table 2.1 shows that Bluetooth, while similar in functionality to ZigBee, does not offer the range of topologies, and its standby current is nearly 70 times more than ZigBee. Of the three wireless networks under comparison, ZigBee is the only one that offers mesh topology. In addition, a ZigBee end device can be in sleep mode and still keep its association with its network. ZigBee is considered a more sophisticated network when compared to either Bluetooth or WiFi.

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