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Differences between Low Power Bluetooth (BLE) and ZigBee in Internet of Things Applications

Differences between Low Power Bluetooth (BLE) and ZigBee in Internet of Things Applications


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With the expansion of low power consumption and wide area network (LPWAN) market, the low power consumption protocols for Internet of Things (IoT) applications have more choices. B compares Bluetooth and Bluetooth low energy consumption (BLE) with ZigBee so that you can better understand which wireless protocol to use on connected devices. In simple terms, Bluetooth is near field communication and ZigBee is local area network.

The Difference between Bluetooth and BLE

Bluetooth has two branches: Traditional Bluetooth and low power consumption Bluetooth. The reason why traditional Bluetooth technology can't be compared with ZigBee is power consumption. Traditional Bluetooth technology is not enough if the application needs to use batteries for a long time. Traditional Bluetooth recommends a 1-Watt power consumption. When it comes to wireless Internet of Things applications, BLE and ZigBee are between 10 and 100 milliwatts (mW), which is 10 to 100 times than traditional Bluetooth. However, BLE can indeed be compared with ZigBee, which we will discuss in this article.

Low power consumption Bluetooth BLE

Low power consumption Bluetooth is a personal area network (PAN), so its range is much shorter than ZigBee. The goal is to be able to connect to devices near users. Low power consumption Bluetooth has narrower coverage than ZigBee, but it also has higher data rate. The data rate of traditional Bluetooth is between 1-3 mbit/s and that of BLE is 1 Mbit/s. When they are not working, they are in a "dormant" state, which requires less data to be transmitted, because ZigBee does not have this function so it’s lower power consumption.

Low Power consumption Bluetooth Case

In a relatively closed small space, low power consumption Bluetooth is an ideal choice, such as car. Low-power consumption Bluetooth can make cars more "intelligent". Basically, nowadays it has popularized Bluetooth devices in cars. It receives mobile phone signals through Bluetooth module, so that they can answer the phone through the car hands-free, thus freeing their hands and reducing the occurrence of traffic accidents.

ZigBee is a mesh network protocol designed to transmit small amounts of data over medium distances. It runs on a grid topology network, which means that information from a single sensor node will be transmitted to the gateway through the grid mode.
Although ZigBee has a wider range of applications, it is not the best choice for highly instrumented devices such as industrial Internet of Things applications. Due to the grid topology of ZigBee network, it has higher latency, which can lead to congestion when multiple nodes attempt to reach the gateway through a single node.

Application of ZigBee in Intelligent Family

Think about it: You can load the ZigBee system through portable electronic devices such as mobile phones. When you enter the front door, ZigBee automatically does something: turn on your favorite music, turn on the light, turn on the air conditioner, humidifier, etc. When you leave, the ZigBee device can automatically shut down all automatic devices. The application of ZigBee in intelligent families is still very promising.

Contrast: Bluetooth (BLE) and ZigBee


Low Power consumption Bluetooth (BLE)


Network type

Personal Local Area Network (PAN) supports a small number of nodes

Local area network (LAN) supports many nodes

Scope *

77 meters

291 meters

Operating system

Android,iOS,Windows 8,OS X.

Currently incompatible


Net and star

Grid only


270 kbps

250 kbps


Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS)

Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS)

Transmit power

10 milliwatts

100 milliwatts


BLE and ZigBee are actually complementary. Some developers have found that the combination of BLE and ZigBee can make up very powerful wireless personal and local area network devices.




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