Utility meter

5 Reasons to Use Sub-GHz for IoT Applications

Do you ever wonder how energy companies read the utility meter at your home without physically checking it each month?

They use a type of wireless technology called Sub-Gigahertz (or Sub-GHz) Communication, which allows the meter to transmit data to distant hubs without using a lot of power.

Energy Distribution, Agriculture, Asset Tracking, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and many other industries have adopted sub-GHz as the go to communication method for applications that only need to send data periodically and in small amounts.

Here are some of the benefits of sub-GHz communication and why it could be a great fit for your next application:

Long Range: Sub-GHz communication isn’t totally new – it utilizes the same frequency band that that your key fob uses to unlock your car. Only imagine if you could unlock your doors and read the temperature in your car from more than 30km away. The long range capability of sub-GHz communication makes it a great choice even in obstructed conditions such as large cities. Sub-GHz signals propagate better than 2.4Ghz signals through urban environments, because the signal can “bend” around large structures. To see the long range capabilities of sub-GHz in action, check out this video showing the TI CC1120 communicating over 100km!

Low Power: Utilizing a frequency band under 1 Ghz means that sensor nodes use significantly less power than 2.4Ghz equivalents. By using smart power management techniques, you can achieve over 10 years of battery life on a coin cell battery. This makes sub-GHz communication ideal for applications where sensor nodes are in locations which are difficult to service such as weather stations and smart meters.

Less Prone to Interference: Today’s airspace is flooded with signals from cell phones, computers, and IoT devices. Even microwave ovens generate interference in the 2.4Ghz range. By using a spectrum that has fewer existing products on the air, sub-GHz is less prone to interference from devices that use Bluetooth, WiFi, or 2.4Ghz ZigBee.

Network configurations

IEEE 802.15.4 Compatible: Using popular protocols such as Zigbee, the TI 15.4 Stack, or 6LoWPan, you can quickly implement a secure star or mesh network without needing to create a networking layer from scratch, significantly reducing development time.

Low Cost: The widespread adoption of sub-GHz in industrial applications means that many vendors are offering chipsets with more integrated features, which is driving the solution cost down. It’s now possible to build sub-GHz sensor nodes with a hardware Bill of Materials under $4.

There are countless examples of uses for sub-GHz ranging from home automation systems to smart agriculture to factory automation. Check out how you can use Temboo to connect your network to dozens of APIs from Amazon, Google, Microsoft and more.