What is ZigBee?

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Smart home systems are becoming more and more popular. They allow automatic control of all electrical and electronic devices. However, smart home should be not only functional but also safe. The ZigBee protocol can help to achieve this.

ZigBee is increasingly being used in smart home systems. What is it anyway? How does it work? ZigBee protocol is responsible for data transmission in wireless networks such as cluster tree or mesh. The protocol can be compared to Wi-Fi, but compared to the famous wireless local area network, ZigBee is distinguished by much lower power consumption and low data rate (up to 250 kbps). Moreover, it has a range of up to 100 m.

We also have to mention that ZigBee communication is bidirectional, which means that each device has the ability to receive or send a signal, and some can even forward it.

ZigBee technology has been developed since 2002 by the ZigBee Alliance, which brings together several hundred world-renowned brands, including Amazon, Samsung, Bosch, Philips, Xiaomi, Siemens and Motorola. Version 1.0 of the ZigBee specification was introduced in 2004, while in 2016 the ZigBee 3.0 specification was created.

ZigBee – advantages and applications

Among the most important advantages of ZigBee system, it is necessary to mention low energy consumption, reliable operation and immediate access, which is important especially when operating all kinds of sensors. It is also worth noting that the described communication protocol is supported by manufacturers. In addition, it is distinguished by a multitude of compatible products and ease of creating a smart home system, which is particularly important when we want to expand our network of smart devices.

Importantly, ZigBee data transmission is authenticated. We can be sure that the users’ safety is ensured, because no accidental person can connect to the network.

Where is ZigBee protocol used? It is most often used in home automation and monitoring. It was created mainly for smart home technology, so it allows seamless use of smart devices, such as sockets, fire and motion detectors or doorbells. It makes it easier for us to control our home.

ZigBee is used in various monitoring systems, not only in private homes, but also in workplaces, offices, hotels, etc.

Three types of ZigBee devices

ZigBee devices are divided into three types, each with different functions. We distinguish between:

  • coordinator (coordinator) – a central unit serving as a starting node to which other devices are connected (although their number is limited). Each network may have a maximum one such device. Its task is usually to collect data. The most well-known central units include: Amazon Echo, Bosch Home Connect, Apple HomeKit, Nest Audio, Google Home Hub and Samsung SmartThings;
  • router – resembles classic network routers in operation. Its task is to forward the signal further and increase the range by creating jumps. Such a repeater is a device plugged into electricity, such as a switch, smart socket or light bulb;
  • end device – a battery-powered device (must have a minimum battery life of 2 years), such as a smoke detector. Its task is to directly connect to the gateway and provide it with information about its status. To reduce power consumption, the end device can be temporarily put into sleep mode.

main photo: pixabay.com/geralt

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