ZigBee is a wireless technology designed to address the unique needs of low-cost, low-power wireless sensor and control networks for Home Area Networks (HAN) and Personal Area Networks (PAN). ZigBee is easy to implement and needs little power to operate, the opportunity for growth is limitless.

The foundation of every ZigBee standard and specification is the powerful IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio standard operating in unlicensed bands worldwide at 2.4GHz (global), 915Mhz (Americas) and 868Mhz (Europe). It delivers raw data throughput rates of 250Kbs at 2.4GHz (16 channels), 40Kbs at 915Mhz (10 channels) and 20Kbs at 868Mhz (1 channel). Transmission distances are remarkable for a low-power solution, ranging from 10 to 1,600 meters, depending on power output and environmental conditions, such as other buildings, interior wall types and geographic topology.

ZigBee Specifications

The ZigBee specification has two implementation options or Feature Sets: ZigBee and ZigBee PRO. The ZigBee Feature Set is designed to support smaller networks with hundreds of devices in a single network. The ZigBee PRO Feature Set is the most popular choice of developers and the specification used for most Alliance developed standards. It maximizes all the capabilities of the ZigBee Feature Set, plus facilitates ease-of-use and advanced support for larger networks comprised of thousands of devices. Both Feature Sets are designed to interoperate with each other, ensuring long-term use and stability.

The ZigBee specification enhances the IEEE 802.15.4 standard by adding network and security layers and an application framework. From this foundation, Alliance developed standards, technically referred to as public application profiles, can be used to create a multi-vendor interoperable solutions. For custom application where interoperability is not required, manufacturers can create their own manufacturer specific profiles.

Some of the characteristics of ZigBee include:

  • Global operation in the 2.4GHz frequency band according to IEEE 802.15.4
  • Regional operation in the 915Mhz (Americas) and 868Mhz (Europe).
  • Frequency agile solution operating over 16 channels in the 2.4GHz frequency
  • Incorporates power saving mechanisms for all device classes
  • Discovery mechanism with full application confirmation
  • Pairing mechanism with full application confirmation
  • Multiple star topology and inter-personal area network (PAN) communication
  • Various transmission options including broadcast
  • Security key generation mechanism
  • Utilizes the industry standard AES-128 security scheme
  • Supports Alliance public application profiles or manufacturer specific profiles