ZigBee is a home automation protocol which was originally invented for the use in Personal Area Networks (PAN).
Like Z-Wave it uses low power radio frequency communication which results in long battery lives for ZigBee using devices. The protocal is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and is widely considered as an alternative to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. At least for applications where the amount of transferred data is relatively low since its data rates vary from 20 kbit/s (868 MHz band) to 250 kbit/s (2.4 GHz band). ZigBee devices can communicate over a range of about 250 feet (76m) and therefore exceed even Bluetooth specifications in terms of range but at the cost of Bandwidth. Bluetooth can transmit packages at the speed of up to 1 MBit/s. Another similiarity to Z-Wave is the support of a mesh network which enables the expansion of the network across multiple wireless nodes that strengthen the signal and increase the reachable area while making the communication even more stable and reliable. ZigBee supports up to 65000 nodes per network. The discovery of the devices happens via Unicast or Broadcast.
The name of this technology derives from a process found in nature. When honey bees fly back to their beehive they perform the so called waggle dance which the name ZigBee refers to.
The ZigBee alliance is a consortium of over 300 tech companies that drive and regulate the development of this home automation standard.
There are 3 types of different devices in a typical ZigBee infrastructure.
- End Device
Benefits of the ZigBee Protocol
- 128-bit AES encryption
- Very reliable
- Meanwhile a lot of products on the market
- Easy to setup
- Low Power Consumption
- High Range
Disadvantages of the ZigBee Protocol
- Limited Bandwidth