What are the typical long range RFID technologies?

There are three main frequencies used by long range active systems – 433 MHz, 915 MHz and 2.45 GHz. Preference, tag selection, or environmental considerations usually dictate which frequency to use for your application. We generally recommend RFID systems that operate on the 433 MHz because it has a longer wavelength enabling it to work a little better with non-RF friendly materials like metal and water.

Long range RFID systems are generally called Active RFID systems. Active RFID systems have three essential parts; a reader, antenna, and a tag. Active RFID tags are equipped with their own power source in the form of an internal battery that enables them to have extremely long read ranges and sometimes even powering sensors (motion, temperature, humidity, etc).

Typically, active RFID tags are powered by a battery that will last around 5 years, but when the battery fails, the active tag will need to be replaced. Some tags allow for replaceable batteries that is a cost saving option.

Active Tag Types

There are two different types of active RFID tags are available – transponders and beacons.

Transponders

In a system that uses an active transponder tag, the reader will send a signal first to interogate the tag, and then the active transponder will send a signal back with the relevant information. This is the same technique as used in a passive system. Transponder tags are very efficient because they conserve battery life when the tag is out of range of the reader. Active RFID transponders are commonly used in secure access control and in toll booth payment systems.

Beacons

In a system that uses an active beacon tag, the tag will not wait to hear the reader’s signal. Instead the tag will send out a beacon information every 1-10 seconds. Typically this duty cycle is set when the tag is manufactured. Beacon tags are very common in the oil and gas industry, as well as mining and cargo tracking applications. Active tag’s beacons can be read hundreds of meters away, but, in order to conserve battery life, they may be set to a lower transmit power in order to reach around 100 meters read range.

433 MHz

433 MHz tags and readers provide an accurate and real-time ability to detect, track, control and monitor vehicles, assets and personnel. This dynamic technology can be applied to operations and processes in all types of industries.

433 systems work as tags beacon every duty cycle and are picked up by readers. Readers are equipped with antennas that pick up the tags. The antennas can range in size and shape- directional and omni-directional depending on the need of the application.

Various antenna patterns.

We recommend 433 MHz when there is a higher concentration of non-RF friendly materials like metal and water in your environment because of the longer wavelength of this band. This is also the RFID system with the longest range.

2.45 GHz

2.45 GHz tags are battery powered, have a long range of 20 to 100 meters (65 to 328ft), and can be read quickly. They can be read when in range of a RFID reader to broadcast their unique IDs or function as beacons to continuously broadcast a signal (used in real time location systems). Tags are light weight and can be used both indoors and outdoors, featuring an ultra low power consumption function that ensures a long battery life. Some tags have a battery life of four years and all of their batteries are replaceable. They are flexible and durable, being designed for certain applications. Most of them have collision avoidance algorithm which reduces the loss of data caused by simultaneous transmissions from multiple tags, guaranteeing the reading quality, and allowing the reading of up to 100 tags simultaneously. There are options for use with all kinds of assets, from metallic assets to personnel. Most of them have configurable transmission intervals. An anti-tamper system is present in some of them and has a motion sensor which gives immediate alarms on movement. The key fob tags and wristband tags also have push buttons that can be used to raise an alarm in the case of an emergency. There are also tags that were designed to monitor temperature, being able to be programmed to give an alarm in case the asset reaches a specific temperature.

We recommend 2.45 GHz systems when there is a need for high speed reading.

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