Choosing Between Zigbee and Wifi Protocols

What is the difference between Zigbee and Wifi?

There are positives and negatives to both Wifi and Zigbee. Whilst Wifi has far better bandwidth, it does suffer in power and operability. Zigbee however, excels in power but does not have the same range.

The most common confusion that occurs when purchasing smart home devices, is understanding the key differences between Zigbee and wifi protocols.

The main difference between the two is the different networks the devices run on. Wifi uses a star network, which relies on each device communicating with a central hub.

Whilst Zigbee uses a mesh network which allows individual devices to work as a signal relay, meaning that they do not need to communicate directly to your hub, but can communicate with eachother.

Can they work together?

Due to the different networks, Wifi and Zigbee devices can not be synced together.

Zigbee devices do call for an internet connection, but they require a separate receiver on your wifi network and therefore do not work with your smart wifi devices.

Both WiFi and Zigbee smart devices operate wirelessly which gives them greater convenience and simplifies installation.

Wifi network

Star Network

In a star network, each device communicates directly with (and only with) the central hub. If a device is out of range of the central hub, that device will not be part of the network

zigbee network

Mesh Network

A mesh network allows each device in the network to operate as a repeater and pass the signal on to another device. This allows mesh networks to be more versatile. They can cover greater distances and even work around obstacles.

Considering A Wifi Protocol

The Benefits of Wifi

Devices that run on WiFi are able to transmit more data faster than Zigbee.

Devices that run on WiFi have a considerably farther range than Zigbee, being able to communicate and operate from 30 meters and up to 100 meters.

Wifi also delivers a more secure connection.

The Cons:

WiFi systems tend to consume significantly more power than Zigbee counterparts.

WiFi that connects directly to your router places significant data strain on your WiFi and internet connection which may likely lead to lower internet speeds or poorer WiFi connection

Considering A Zigbee Protocol

The Benefits of Zigbee

With the mesh network, a smart home system with Zigbee devices is able to sync more coherently and enjoy a wider range of connectivity as a whole.

Zigbee does not rely on the internet and devices operate normally as long as the hub is connected. Therefore there is no strain on your existing WiFi network and your smart home components

ZigBee-based networks generally consume only about 25% of the power of WiFi networks.

The Cons:

Zigbee protocol has much slower speeds than WiFi, however, this results in the devices using far less power.

Zigbee devices have a lower range than Wifi counterparts. However, these devices can relay signals allowing you to get more range overall.