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GE Appliances: ZigBee More Efficient than Wi-Fi for Smart Appliances
Dec 9, 2010
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A GE Appliances & Lighting white paper reports that, of the two leading technologies for home area network (HAN) communications, ZigBee is at least two times more cost-effective and efficient than Wi-Fi.

In October, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) released its "Assessment of Communication Standards for Smart Appliances" and found that Wi‐Fi, ZigBee, and HomePlug Green PHY scored the highest in its evaluation of existing technologies.

GE determined that Wi-Fi (802.11/n) and ZigBee (802.15.4) were best for meeting the overall performance and cost requirements for HAN communications. GE evaluated the technologies under typical HAN, smart-device conditions and in a configuration representative of future mass-production implementation.

The paper, "Energy Efficiency Comparisons of Wireless Communication Technology Options for Smart Grid-Enabled Devices," reports that, on average, the ZigBee system consumed 0.39 watts over a 24-hour period, while Wi-Fi consumed 0.87 watts over the same period.

GE anticipates there will be 750 million to 1 billion smart, connected devices in the U.S. by 2017. By projecting this difference in device-level power consumption to the anticipated installed base, GE estimates aggregate power savings of 370 megawatts and yearly energy cost savings for consumers of $315 million by choosing ZigBee over Wi-Fi.

"Based on this experimental data, the ZigBee wireless communication technology results in the lowest energy consumption, while meeting the communication performance requirements for smart devices within a home area network," said Jeff Drake, advanced systems engineer, GE Appliances, and co-author of the white paper.

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