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Zigbee: A Well-Established Low-Power Protocol

Telink Staff

February 17, 2022


Zigbee hub

Zigbee is a mature low-power protocol standard for supporting wireless smart device connectivity. 

Devices on wireless sensor networks need to support long battery life and a sufficient range. Zigbee dates from 2004, making it one of the oldest smart home connectivity standards for creating low-power mesh networks. It’s known for its mature network performance and interoperability. 

Although Zigbee does not lead the pack in terms of market share, it’s likely to continue to grow in use moving forward, especially for commercial and residential lighting, and in-home automation for last-hop connectivity. 

The Evolution of Zigbee

The Zigbee protocol stack

Developed as an open global standard to address the unique needs of low-cost, low-power wireless IoT networks, Zigbee operates on the IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio specification and in unlicensed bands, including 2.4 GHz, 900 MHz, and 868 MHz. Characterized by secure, reliable wireless network architectures, the Zigbee protocol stack includes:

  • Support for multiple network topologies, such as point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and mesh networks
  • Low latency with a long battery life
  • Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS)
  • Up to 65,000 nodes per network
  • 128-bit AES encryption for secure data connections

The ratification of Zigbee 3.0 builds on the existing Zigbee standard with added security and market-specific profiles for interoperability among products from different manufacturers. As such, all devices — regardless of market designation and function — can be wirelessly connected in the same network. 

As mentioned earlier, a key component of the Zigbee protocol is the ability to support mesh networking. The self-healing nature of Zigbee mesh networks allows nodes to drop out of the network without any disruption to internal routing.

Additionally, because of Zigbee’s low bandwidth requirements, a Zigbee node can sleep most of the time, thus saving battery power. To conserve power, it can wake up, send data quickly, and then go back to sleep, all within 15 msec or less. With such a quick transition time, even a sleeping node can achieve low latency. 

According to the Connectivity Standard Alliance, in 2021, Zigbee continued to evolve by introducing new features including Zigbee Direct, a new Zigbee Sub-GHz solution, and collaboration with the DALI Alliance

Best Uses Cases for Zigbee

Best use cases for Zigbee

Zigbee is a secure network technology that operates on IEEE 802.15.4 radio standard, enabling broad-based deployment of wireless networks with low-cost, low-power solutions. Last year, the Connectivity Standards Alliance reported that over a half-billion Zigbee chipsets have been sold and expected that nearly four billion would ship by 2023. 

With the ability to run for years on inexpensive batteries, it is ideal for a host of medium-range wireless monitoring and control applications with an even distribution of nodes in close proximity. This includes smart energy/smart grid, AMR (Automatic Meter Reading), lighting controls, home automation systems, tank monitoring, HVAC control, and medical devices.

Telink Can Help You Deploy Zigbee as a Standard

Zigbee’s full-stack platform is mature, reliable, and highly flexible and was built for the IoT from the ground up. Its open standard protocol lets manufacturers build interoperable ecosystems without having to worry about battery life. Telink is a member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, and Telink products have passed Zigbee 3.0 Ready Platform + GreenPower Certification, Zigbee Pro Compliant Platform, RF4CE, ZRC 2.0, and ZHA/ZLL Certification.

Telink is prepared to help you achieve long battery life and deploy any low-power standards — including Zigbee — depending on your application’s needs. 

Please visit our wiki to learn more about all our development tools, or ask us a question through our Technical Forum or by contacting us directly today.