Wireless Range

Introduction

One of the most common questions we receive from customers is "What is the range of your wireless Products?"  This sounds like a very simple question but there are several factors that play a part in the actual range of all wireless devices.  In this article we will discuss first the factors that play part in the actual wireless range of our products.  Then we will discuss each product individually.  Finally we will show you the actual range you can expect from our devices in different circumstances.  Videos on this subject will also give the user a real world depiction of the wireless devices we provide. 

Test of the range of our Wireless Communication Options

Range Factors

Obstacles

Several things can play a part in determining the actual range of our devices in a given environment.  These Range Obstacles as we will call them can be anything from a masonry wall to a tree.  Different materials affect range in different amounts, for instance, a wood and sheet rock wall will affect the wireless range of a device far less than a brick wall.  This means the actual structures in your environment will play a key role in the actual range distance you will achieve with our products.  If the user believes structures or objects could hinder the range of the devices being used in a given application then the wireless product should be over rated for the actual desired wireless range, meaning if the user is trying to achieve an actual wireless distance of 300 ft but there is a wood and plaster wall between the two devices then the user should use devices rated for 1 mile range rather than devices rated for only 300 ft range.  This is called compensation for wireless range obstacles.

Frequencies, Wireless Module Power, and Antenna Options

Another range factor that plays a large part in actual range is the Power, Frequency, and antenna Options of the actual wireless devices being used.  National Control Devices offers a multitude of wireless options including but not limited to Bluetooth, IEEE 802.15.4, ZB ZigBee Mesh, and XSC.  These different devices operate at different Frequencies, Power Output, and Antenna Options. 

802.15.4 and ZB ZigBee Mesh

Test of the range of our
IEE 802.15.4 Wireless Communication Options

802.15.4 and ZB ZigBee Mesh devices offer the identical options between the two.  Both operate at a Frequency of 2.4GHz and have the option between 1mW or 100mW power modules.  They also offer the option between a small integrated antenna about 1 inch long or an external antenna about 4 inches long.  According to manufacture suggested ratings the 1mW modules are rated for a range of 300ft while the 100mW modules are rated for a range of 1 mile.  These manufacture suggested ratings are based on the best possible conditions meaning there are no obstacles between the devices(clear line of sight).  Using the external(larger) antennas rather than the integrated(small) antenna will not only increase the range of the devices but will also give the user the ability to place the antenna in the most ideal position for maximum distance.  Please visit the manufactures website below for Data sheets and detailed information on this product.

http://www.digi.com/

XSC

Test of the range of our
XSC Wireless Communication Options

XSC devices offer the longest possible wireless range of all National Control Devices products.  XSC devices operate at 900 MHz and have a power output of 100mW.  These devices are rated for an alarming 15 mile range based on Manufacture Specifications.  The only option National Control Devices offers for XSC devices is antenna size which consist of two options; 1. The Small 6 inch antenna or 2. The Large Outdoor antenna.  The Large outdoor antenna is required in achieving the 15 mile wireless ability of this product.  This has not been formally tested by National Control Devices at the time this article was written.  However the Small 6 inch antenna option has been tested as shown in the video to achieve a range of 3 miles.  The antenna options as well as the Operating frequency of 900MHz play a key role in the range ability of these devices.  Please visit the manufactures website below for Data sheets and detailed information on this product.

http://www.digi.com/

Bluetooth

The Bluetooth modules used in National Control Devices products are provided by Sena Technologies.  Bluetooth devices are not commonly chosen for their range abilities as this is limited to 100 - 1000 meters depending on the antenna option but more for their ease of integration into applications.  Many devices today support Bluetooth communication which makes them a very popular wireless option.  National Control Devices do not offer any antenna options other than the small version which should achieve a range of approximately 100 meters under ideal conditions (Clear line of Site) with most devices.  Another factor in the actual range a user can achieve using National Control Devices Bluetooth devices is the sender or master device.  This could be a laptop, pda, or cell phone.  All these devices will have different range abilities which will play a factor in the actual range in a given application.  Please visit the manufactures website below for Data sheets and detailed information on this product.

http://www.sena.com/products/industrial_bluetooth/esd110.php

Conclusion

Many factors play a role in the actual range these devices will achieve in a given environment or application.  The best way to determine range in a given circumstance is to field test the devices in the environment they will be implemented in.  Most wireless engineers will say that there is no better test for wireless devices than a field test so please view the videos and take all factors in this article into consideration when choosing the right product for your application.

 

Test of the range of our Wireless Communication Options

 

Test of the range of our IEE 802.15.4 Wireless Communication Options

 

Test of the range of our Bluetooth Wireless Communication Options

 

Test of the range of our Wireless Key Fob Communication Options

 

Test of the range of our XSC Wireless Communication Options