GE study: ZigBee is better than WiFi for smart grid home communications

A recent GE study on energy efficiency and wireless communication options for smart grid devices found that ZigBee is at least two times more cost-effective and efficient than Wi-Fi. "To realize the benefits of the smart grid, it is critical that the underlying communications technology consume as little power as possible," said David Najewicz, manager, external technology programs, GE Appliances, and one of the paper's authors. "Because of the widespread use of these communication technologies at the residential level in home area networks and in smart devices, the choice of technologies is critical." GE found the two technologies that best meet the overall performance and cost requirements for home-area network communications are Wi-Fi (802.11/n) and ZigBee (802.15.4). These were evaluated under typical HAN, smart-device conditions and in a configuration representative of future mass-production implementation. On average, the ZigBee system consumed 0.39 watts over a 24-hour period, while the Wi-Fi solution consumed more than twice (2.2 times) as much, a total of 0.87 watts over the same period.

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