Mesh networking is a powerful way to route data over an RF network. Range is extended by allowing data to hop node to node and reliability and resiliency is increased by "self-healing," or the ability to create alternate paths when one node fails or a connection is lost.
One popular mesh networking protocol is Zigbee®, which is specifically designed for low-data rate, low-power applications. Digi offers several products based on the Zigbee protocol. Additionally, Digi offers a similar mesh protocol named DigiMesh® for those seeking a mesh protocol with fewer complexities.
Both Zigbee and DigiMesh offer unique advantages important to different applications. The following chart highlights these differences:
|Node types and their benefits
||Multiple: Coordinators, Routers, End Devices. End devices can sometimes be less expensive because of reduced functionality.
||Single: One homogeneous node type, with more flexibility to expand the network. DigiMesh simplifies network setup and reliability in environments where routers may come and go due to interference or damage.
|Battery Deployed Networks
||Coordinators and routers must be mains powered
||All nodes are capable of battery operation and can sleep. No single point of failure associated with relying on a gateway or coordinator to maintain time synchronization.
|Over-the-air firmware updates
||Most Zigbee devices have range of less than 2 miles (3.2 km) for each hop.
||Available on XBee SX with range of up to 40+ miles for each hop.
|Frame payload and throughput
||Up to 80 bytes.
||Up to 256 bytes, depending on product. Improves throughput for applications that send larger blocks of data.
|Supported frequencies and RF data rates
||Predominantly 2.4 GHz (250 kbps)
||900 MHz (up to 250 Kbps), 868 MHz, 2.4 GHz (up to 250 Kbps)
||128-bit AES encryption. Can lock down the network and prevent other nodes from joining.
||Both 128 and 256-bit AES encryption. Can lock down the network and prevent other nodes from joining.
||Potential for interoperability between vendors.
||Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS).
||900 MHz: Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS). 2.4 GHz: Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS).
||Two layers. MAC address (64 bit) and Network address (16 bit).
||MAC address (64 bit) only.
||More sniffers and diagnostic tools available on market.
||Simpler addressing can help in diagnosing problems and setting up a network.
Learn more about the Digi XBee Ecosystem