What is Zigbee what advantages does it offer

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Category: Entwicklung

6 Min. Read time

There are various wireless communication protocols in the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), but ZigBee stands out due to its specific advantages and possible applications. In this article, you will find out what ZigBee is, for which application areas it is used and what advantages make it play a significant role in the IoT sector.

Zigbee Produkte und Einsatzmöglichkeiten
Zigbee Produkte und Einsatzmöglichkeiten
Zigbee Produkte und Einsatzmöglichkeiten
Zigbee Produkte und Einsatzmöglichkeiten

What is Zigbee: a definition

ZigBee is a radio standard or wireless communication protocol based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and enables communication between networked devices. The radio standard was developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (formerly ZigBee Alliance) and operates in the license-free 2.4 GHz band.

ZigBee is characterized by its high robustness, scalability and security and plays an important role in the IoT sector, especially in applications that require low data rates and low energy consumption. With its ability to create cost-effective and energy-efficient networks, ZigBee has helped to promote the spread of IoT solutions in many industries.

 

The ZigBee network architecture

There are three types of device roles in a ZigBee network:

  1. Coordinator: The coordinator, or bridge, is the central device in the ZigBee network. It initialises the network, manages security and stores information about the network structure. There is only one coordinator in each ZigBee network.
  2. Router: Routers are important for forwarding data packets within the network and thus enable the network to be extended over long distances. They can also act as intermediate devices for other ZigBee devices.
  3. End device: End devices are the simplest devices in the ZigBee network. They only communicate with a single router or coordinator and do not forward data for other devices.

How does ZigBee work?

How ZigBee works depends on the structure of the communication, as ZigBee devices can be connected to each other via different network schemes. The star topology and the mesh scheme are particularly important.

ZigBee star scheme

Based on the star shape, all networked devices communicate with each other via a single node, the coordinator, in the star scheme. The coordinator starts the ZigBee network and selects a free radio channel. It communicates this channel to the routers and end devices that join the network. Each participant receives a unique address that is used for communication within the network. The routers expand the network by adding further devices and forwarding data. End devices connect to the next router or coordinator to send and receive their data.

Mesh network scheme

A major advantage of ZigBee is the support of mesh networks. In a mesh scheme, the devices not only communicate directly with the coordinator, but signals are passed on as required. In concrete terms, this means that every networked device that is continuously supplied with power is used as a router for communication. This significantly improves the range and reliability of the network, as data can take alternative routes if a device fails or a signal is blocked.

Data transmission using the ZigBee protocol

ZigBee uses its own radio protocol for communication. The ZigBee protocol consists of several layers. The Medium Access Control (MAC) layer of the standard provides access to the radio medium, while the ZigBee network layer is responsible for route finding and data forwarding. The application layer defines specific profiles and clusters that standardise communication between different device types.

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Areas of application for ZigBee

ZigBee is used in many areas, especially in smart homes, building automation, industrial IoT and healthcare. Typical areas of application include:

ZigBee Smart Home

A typical example of the use of ZigBee is in the smart home. Here, a ZigBee gateway enables the centralised control and monitoring of lighting, heating, security systems and household appliances. By using ZigBee, these devices can communicate with each other and ensure seamless, energy-efficient automation of the home.

Building automation

ZigBee not only plays a role in residential buildings, but also in buildings used for other purposes such as offices or public facilities. ZigBee-enabled sensors and control systems can be used to efficiently monitor and control heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems. The sensors continuously measure parameters such as temperature, air quality, humidity and CO2 concentration, enabling optimised and energy-efficient control. ZigBee is also used for building security as a reliable solution for access control systems. The wireless standard allows electronic door locks, access points and surveillance cameras to be networked and centrally controlled. Employees can use access cards or mobile apps to open doors, while the system monitors and logs all access attempts in real time.

Industrial automation

In industry, ZigBee is often used to monitor and control machines and production facilities. Sensors equipped with ZigBee can transmit data about the condition of machines in real time, leading to improved efficiency and more predictive maintenance.

Healthcare

In the healthcare sector, ZigBee-enabled devices are used to monitor patients, for example. These devices can wirelessly transmit vital data such as heart rate and blood oxygen levels to a centralised system, ensuring continuous monitoring and a rapid response by medical staff in an emergency.

 

How to benefit from ZigBee: advantages at a glance

ZigBee has established itself as the wireless standard for many major manufacturers, particularly in the smart home, and for good reason. The communication protocol offers many advantages and is characterised above all by its flexibility and compatibility. Other benefits include

Ideal energy efficiency

One of the biggest advantages of ZigBee is its energy efficiency. Devices that communicate with ZigBee have very low power consumption, making them ideal for battery-powered applications. This means that sensors and other devices can be operated for years without changing batteries.

Long range through mesh networks

ZigBee supports mesh networks, which means that any device on the network can act as a repeater. This significantly improves the ZigBee range and reliability of the network, as signals can be routed over multiple paths to avoid obstacles and prevent outages.

High security

ZigBee offers a strong security architecture with 128-bit encryption, making it a secure choice for wireless communication. This makes the communication protocol particularly suitable for applications where data integrity and data protection are of high importance.

Simple scalability

With ZigBee, networks can be easily expanded by simply adding new devices. This makes it easy to expand existing systems or integrate new applications without having to change the entire infrastructure.

Disadvantages of ZigBee

Despite its many advantages, ZigBee also has some disadvantages that need to be taken into account.

Dependence on the bridge

The need for the bridge or coordinator can be a disadvantage if it fails. As the bridge is the centrepiece of the ZigBee network and forwards all control commands to the other devices in the network, control is not possible without it. If it fails, the network is therefore not functional.

Low data rate

ZigBee offers a relatively low data rate compared to other wireless communication protocols such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This makes it less suitable for applications that require a high bandwidth, such as video transmissions.

Interference

As ZigBee operates in the 2.4 GHz band, it can be susceptible to interference from other devices operating in the same frequency range, such as Wi-Fi networks or microwaves. This can affect the performance and reliability of the network.

Conclusion: ZigBee is an IoT key player

ZigBee is a powerful, energy-efficient and secure wireless communication protocol that plays a central role in the Internet of Things. With applications in the smart home, industrial automation and healthcare, ZigBee offers numerous advantages that make it a favoured choice for many IoT solutions. We would be happy to advise you on the possible applications of ZigBee for IoT projects!

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