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ZigBee vs Wi-Fi, Which is Better?

Connectivity is something that every smart home owner is used to and has to use. When you think of build a complete connected smart home system, there is one thing you have to consider firstly – How well does each of connected device in your home you want it to be communicated with one another? At the beginning of smart home era, Wi-Fi is a total smart home solution that has been the dominant wireless communication protocol. But right now, more and more contenders like ZigBee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth emerge which makes Wi-Fi as wireless connectivity protocols pioneer in smart home field challenged. There is a truth that as yet no a unified smart home language standard for home automation devices.

At SONOFF, the wireless protocol is involved in Wi-Fi and ZigBee. BASICZBR3, as the first ZigBee-based DIY smart switch, opened up the smart home product lineup with ZigBee communication language. Today, this article will focus purely on Wi-Fi and ZigBee and outline what Wi-Fi and ZigBee are, and how they are different and how they work, to help you shine a light on which one is preferable for you.

What’s Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi is an abbreviation of Wireless Fidelity. Wi-Fi is a technology of wireless network protocol widely used for local area networking and operates on the 2.4GHz/5GHz communication standard. Based on IEEE802.11 b/g/n standard that is defined by the Institute of Electrical andElectronics Engineers (IEEE) as a particular specification for WLAN. https://standards.ieee.org/standard/802_11-2016.html Wi-Fi controlled smart devices can be seamlessly communicated with each other via connecting to the internet using WLAN network or a wireless access point called AP. In the WLAN network where there has an access point used to receive and transmit data among users. Wi-Fi provides network connectivity using radio frequencies to make internet access Wi-Fi compatible smart devices. Additionally, for Wi-Fi, a router is an indispensable mediator to make you utilize Wi-Fi build a local network for your smart home devices.

The Pros:
More security in data transmission. No need for a hub, directly communicate with a router. Lower cost on building a smart home system. Support a large amount of users

The Cons:
Consumes high power. It needs a constant power supply. Router quality. To ensure smooth communication among devices, a high-quality router is important. Crowded frequency. A large number of devices are connected with the router that may slow the connection. (Each device has a different rate requirement so the connection will depend on the transmission rate that the connected device.)

What’s ZigBee?
ZigBee technology is developed by ZigBee Alliance. ZigBee is a low-power communication protocol used to establish small-range mesh networks. This means the signal easily hop from one ZigBee device to the other one, without the need that every single device needing to connect to the Wi-Fi internet. Its line of sight range is specified which overcomes the case of using a lot of hubs and product transmission range issues. Yet it requires you to use a central hub to keep communication among devices. It has a highly perfect option in the number of hops between each device – no limit to the amount. If you use ZigBee protocol between devices in a large space, it is quite free and flexible to make good communication among your devices. ZigBee adopts the IEEEI802.15.4 standard that provides an excellent logical network capability and better safety. Plus, with the standard the device will be specified by a low-cost and low-speed communication between devices. ZigBee network ensures pretty large area wireless network coverage due to its capability of coping with star, mesh and cluster tree network topology. The radio signal range of zigBee is ten to a hundred meters.

In terms of ZigBee 3.0, it provides a quick transmission rate. AES-128 encryption ensures ZigBee devices communicate safely, without worrying about the device data readable by prying eyes (e.g. ZBMINI).  

The Pros:
Low power consumption. Rapid communication Low interference Has strong scalability due to it can handle a lot of nodes. Mesh network. Can handle up to 65,000 cell nodes in ZigBee

The Cons:
Require to connect a hub to ensure normal communication between ZigBee devices. Low data transmission rate between each ZigBee device.

Final word:
The never-ending battle of Wi-Fi VS ZigBee, what’s right for your home? This depends on what’s protocol is more important to you. If you don’t want to add the central hub to access smart home system, then you should put the Wi-Fi device decidedly on top. If you want to run your smart home via low power consumption technology, then the ZigBee device wins. And all that, there is always an element considered firstly in your mind, so we hope this guide can be a valuable reference in the way you build your smart home.

Click here to view All Sonoff WiFi and Zigbee Devices to build your smart home!