WiFi is a protocol that sometimes we take it for granted…possibly, most of you reading this article are actually using WiFi to access the internet. How does WiFi work for our IoT Devices? What are the advantages of using this kind of Protocol? What about Disadvantages? Is WiFi the best Protocol for our IoT Devices to make use of?
There are 2 different types of WiFi however they both do the exact same thing. WiFi is built using a 2.4GHz or 5GHz Radio Frequency originating from Devices we call Access Points. An Access Point can normally connect 30 devices concurrently. This depends also from the Brand to Brand and also the cost one pays for such Access Points. There are APs that can host more than hundred concurrent device without any issue. It’s like having a car to go from Point A to B….if you have a faster, more confortable car you’ll arrive at the destination more confortably and quicker too, but there is a price tag to it too.
Once any device connects to the AP, an IP Address is issued to the device so thast is can start communicating with other devices on the same Network. Each IP Address needs to be unique otherwise there would be conflicts between the Devices using the same Address. An IP Address can be compared to a home address. One cannot have the same home address.
Protocol Convenience is one of the main benefits as most probably everyone has WiFi at home. Therefore, an IoT Device that connects through WiFi is the easiest to use and possibly understand.
No extra equipment is required. If you have WiFi, you can start using it.
Speed is one of the biggest benefits of using WiFi as it supports very fast transfer speeds (especially when compared with Zigbee and Z-Wave)
Power consumption is one of biggest drawbacks for IoT. This is because the device itself needs to be connected all the time, thus using more power. Just to put things into a better perspective, if we had to compare a WiFi Door Sensor and a ZigBee Door Sensor (both running on batteries, both being utilized exactly the same amount of times), the WiFi model could do 1 year to 1.5 years (tops), while the ZigBee model, can do more than double (sometimes even triple that).
Although APs can connect a lot of Devices together, ones you have more than a hundred devices connected, you may see some degradation in performance/stabiility. We also need to keep in mind that we potentially have our phones, consoles, TVs, WiFi Speakers, Laptops….connected to the WiFi at the same time.
To conclude, although WiFi is an extremely convenient option and has a lot of advantages, it’s not the answer to all of our problems.
Is there a perfect solution? well, yes….the answer to that is, ‘it depends’. It depends on the use case, on the scenario and other factors.
In the next article, (also due to popular request) we’ll start reviewing some of our top selling products.