ZigBee Technology: Advantages and Disadvantages

Zigbee Technology: Advantages and Disadvantages

Zigbee is a wireless mesh network standard based on the IEEE 802.15.4 specification for several wireless communication protocols used for personal area networks. First introduced in 1998 and standardized in 2003, as well as revised further in 2006 and maintained by the Zigbee Alliance, use-case applications center on small and low-power communication devices or other portable consumer electronic devices with digital radio capabilities.

Pros: Advantages of Zigbee Technology

The general application of Zigbee centers on implementing wireless mesh networks needed for smart systems deployment. Specific applications include home and building automation based on the Internet of Things or IoT, as well as identification and security systems.

Fundamentally, it serves as another wireless communication standard and a collection of protocols for interconnecting smart devices, sensors, embedded systems, and other technologies such as real-time analytics, object tracking and locating, and machine learning.

Below are the benefits of this technology:

• Internet of Things: Provides an alternative to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies, as well as Z-Wave for building personal area networks needed for home and building automation, as well as other smart systems

• Low-Powered Devices: Another advantage of Zigbee is that it is suitable for low-powered devices that do not require a lot of bandwidth such as battery-operated small smart devices, sensors, and object tags, among others

• Compatibility: Devices from different manufacturers are compatible with one another, and there is also backward-compatibility with legacy Zigbee products, thus enabling them to connect and communicate with one another

• Mesh Network: Unlike Bluetooth, which operates primarily as a point-to-point communication, the technology operates as a mesh network similar to Z-Wave, thus making it suitable for setting up smart homes and buildings

• Expandable Range: Note that mesh networking has an expandable transmission range and better stability unlike Bluetooth or a single-router Wi-Fi setup because individual nodes fundamentally act as wireless routers or repeaters

• Thousands of Nodes: The technology also supports up to 65000 nodes on a single network to expand further the transmission range across a large floor area, building with multiple floor levels, or homes with several physical division

Cons: Disadvantages of Zigbee Technology

Some of the use cases of Zigbee technology include home and building automation, wireless sensor networks, embedded sensing, industrial control systems, security detection systems, and medical data collection, among others.

The standard can be found on a range of products to include mobile communication devices, computers, smart locks and their identification systems, home appliances, lighting fixtures, virtual assistants, and temperature or climate control systems, among others.

Below are the drawbacks of this technology:

• Channel Noise: Susceptibility to network interferences due to channel noise and overcrowding is one of the disadvantages of Zigbee because it uses the same 2.4 GHz band used by the Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz band, Bluetooth, microwave ovens, cordless phones, and other consumer-grade wireless radio devices

• Low Transmission Rate: It is inherently not suitable for transferring or streaming large amounts of data similar to Z-Wave and unlike Bluetooth and Wi-Fi because it is a low-bit-rate technology designed primarily for low-data-rate transmissions

• Security Issues: The major security risks of Zigbee include theft of sensitive data from a node, theft of a node, unauthorized access to and control of a node, and loss of network service due to intentional interferences

• Compatibility: Another drawback is that it competes with dominant wireless communication technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, thus limiting the choices of users and rendering it incompatible with mainstream consumer electronic devices such as laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones

• Cost of Implementation: The following factors can make Zigbee implementation expensive: size and range of the network, availability of compatible devices and products, and level of complexity of a particular use case

• Z-Wave as an Alternative: The Z-Wave wireless communication standard provides an alternative to Zigbee because of its longer range, better reliability, and considerably better stability because it uses the 908 MHz frequency band

FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES

  • Deese, A. S. and Daum, J. 2018. “Application of ZigBee-Based Internet of Things Technology to Demand Response in Smart Grids.” IFAC-PapersOnLine. 51(28): 43-48. DOI: 1016/j.ifacol.2018.11.675
  • Ding, F. and Song, A. 2016. “Development and Coverage Evaluation of ZigBee-Based Wireless Network Applications.” Journal of Sensors. 2016: 1-9. 1155/2016/2943974
  • Mihajlov, B. and Bogdanoski, M. 2011. “Overview and Analysis of the Performances of ZigBee-Based Wireless Sensor Networks.” International Journal of Computer Applications. 29(12): 28-35. DOI: 5120/3704-5138
  • NXP B.V. 2017. Maximizing Security in Zigbee Networks. NXP B.V. Available via PDF