WiFi and ZigBee - Complementary Wireless Networks in the Home

Communication standards and applications: ZigBee based solutions deliver low energy WiFi

What WiFi provides for computers, TV’s, etc. in distributing content through the home, ZigBee provides for all the small devices and gadgets in the home: light switches, thermostats, remote controls, security sensors, door locks, weighing scales, etc.  
These sense/control devices have much in common. They have only little data to share: just a few bits once in a while (literally). So, contrary to WiFi, where high data rates are important, ZigBee is about sense/control data bits: about reliability, availability, low maintenance and responsiveness: pressing a wireless light switch should turn on the light immediately, just as with a wired switch.

  • ZigBee based solutions deliver low energy WiFi

  • WiFi and Bluetooth are complementary to ZigBee

  • ZigBee is the low power version for WiFi, as Bluetooth 4.0 is for Bluetooth

  • WiFi and Bluetooth are integrated today: ZigBee and BT 4.0 may be in the future

  • WiFi and ZigBee will be integrated in the future for Smart Home solutions


Overview of the landscape of wireless network technologies and their standards.
ZigBee is the choice of excellence for Smart Home applications that require low power consumption for long battery life and full home coverage for low data rate communication applications.





ZigBee and WiFi Energy Consumption

ZigBee is very similar to WiFi (802.11x) regarding how it works, range, security protocols, frequency bands, etc.
The big difference is data rates and power demand. Because WiFi is designed to transmit high data rates – many megabits per second – it is ideal for transmitting content like movies, music, games, and even voice throughout a home. However, WiFi is notorious for using a lot of (battery) power. In contrast, ZigBee only needs to send a few bits every few seconds. Because of limited bandwidth, its power demands can be a tiny fraction of that needed for WiFi.

ZigBee Energy Consumption

ZigBee requires much less power to transmit data than its cousin WiFi