We totally get it - staying on top of the ever-changing world of technology can be quite a challenge. With new high-tech terms and concepts popping up all the time, it's easy to feel left behind when it comes to keeping your property and business up-to-date with the latest and greatest tech innovations.
But fear not! We're here to lend a helping hand and guide you through the basics of wireless IoT networks. These networks are the talk of the town these days, as they enable smart devices to seamlessly communicate through various data networks.
Our mission is to empower you with the knowledge you need to improve your processes and dive headfirst into the world of innovative technology.
Navigate this article:
- What is a wireless IoT network?
- How does a wireless IoT network operate?
- Advantages of wireless IoT networks
- Types of wireless IoT networks
What is a Wireless IoT Network?
A wireless IoT network—or the Internet of Things—is a connectivity network that makes data communication possible between smart devices.
You can think of them as the magical threads that connect your smart devices and make them work together harmoniously. They're responsible for ensuring smooth data communication between devices without needing constant human intervention.
Let’s look at an example:
- An analog watch can tell you the time.
- A digital watch can tell you the date, as well as the time.
- A smartwatch can measure your heart rate, count your steps, and sometimes receive text messages in addition to telling date and time.
The IoT network is what transforms a regular watch into a smartwatch by using innovative data communication methods.
How Does a Wireless IoT Network Operate?
Because the network is wireless, it requires an ecosystem of smart devices with IP addresses with processor and sensor communication hardware to collect, send, and code data they acquire from their environments.
IoT devices share data that was collected from their sensors to an IoT gateway. Data is in turn sent to the cloud for storage or analyzed by processing software.
The main requirement to have a wireless IoT network is a reliable internet connection between your sensors and your IoT platform.
Advantages of Wireless IoT Networks
- Automation of procedures and activities
- Monitors systems more effectively and efficiently
- Saves manual time and labor
Types of Wireless IoT Networks
When deciding which wireless IoT network to integrate into your property, it is important to know the uses, strengths, and weaknesses of each type of network. This short list explains the common types of wireless IoT networks.
I bet you're familiar with cellular networks - they're the same ones your personal mobile devices use to chat with each other. Surprisingly, these networks weren't originally designed for IoT, but they've come a long way and now offer a reliable option for IoT networks.
What's cool about cellular networks is that they cover vast areas and support broadband communications. From phone calls to streaming services to running applications, these networks have got you covered. Plus, they're pretty cost-effective and energy-efficient, which is always a win.
Thanks to the blazing-fast speeds of 5G, cellular networks have become a game-changer for time-sensitive tasks like industrial automation, real-time medical data delivery, and public safety surveillance videos.
Now, here's the catch. While cellular networks have their perks, they may not provide the best connectivity in certain areas where your sensors need it the most, like utility closets or basements. Also, keep in mind that devices connecting to cellular networks tend to require a bit more power and energy compared to other network options.
Local and Personal Area Networks (LAN/PAN)
Next, there are two main types of local and personal area networks, both of which you are likely familiar with Bluetooth & WiFi.
Bluetooth falls under the category of personal area networks (PAN) as it uses short-range communication channels. It's optimized for power consumption, making it perfect for small-scale IoT applications.
You'll often find Bluetooth-connected devices like smartwatches and smart home gadgets, where data is directly communicated to smartphones.
On the other hand, WiFi is a local area network (LAN) that covers a smaller, localized area. It's an excellent choice for personal smart home appliances, like keeping an eye on your cooking progress with a smart oven or monitoring temperature levels with a smart thermostat using WiFi connectivity.
However, it's worth noting that WiFi may not be the best fit for large networks with battery-operated sensors, such as industrial buildings or smart apartment communities. WiFi has some limitations, including scalability and coverage issues, and it tends to consume more power than other options. So, while it's great for personal use, it may not be the optimal choice for every wireless IoT network scenario.
Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN)
Low power wide area networks were developed in response to the early challenges of cellular networks.
As a result, LPWAN has a longer range than WiFi and Bluetooth but uses less power than cellular networks. It does this by sending small bursts of data less often over these longer distances. The batteries required for power are also smaller and less expensive.
LPWAN networks are ideal for supporting large-scale IoT networks and applications. It’s also an effective network for asset tracking, and in situations when it’s not time-sensitive–like water meters or smart lights.
Long Range Wireless Area Networks (LoRaWAN)
Long-range wireless area networks communicate with a cellular gateway to send data to the cloud. They do this with point-to-point wireless connections, without connection to the internet.
This allows LoRaWAN to cover a long range, which could be a few miles in dense urban areas and up to 10-20 miles in rural areas.
This network is well suited for street lighting, waste management, irrigation management, leak detection, logistics, and transportation management.
When compared to other wireless IoT networks, Z-Wave stands out as a lower-power alternative to WiFi, meaning it's more energy-efficient. It also boasts a much broader range than Bluetooth, allowing for greater coverage throughout your home.
What's interesting about Z-Wave is that it doesn't rely on a hub or router for connectivity. Instead, it creates a mesh network by directly connecting to each smart device individually. This means devices can communicate with one another, forming a network that seamlessly integrates all your smart devices without the need for a central hub.
With Z-Wave, you can enjoy the convenience of a connected home with reduced power consumption and an extensive range, making it a fantastic choice for enhancing your smart home experience.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) is a communication technology that makes data sharing between devices possible.
- IoT utilizes processors and sensors to collect, send, receive, and process data.
- Using IoT on your property can automate processes by removing a human-to-machine relationship.
- There are many different types of wireless IoT networks out there—including cellular, LAN, PAN, LPWAN, LoRaWAN, and Z Wave.