- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 01 Jul 2016
ZigBee (IEEE 802.15.4) is a suite of high level communication protocols using small, low-power digital radio signals to allow any enabled device to communicate wirelessly. Depending on the manufacturer, ZigBee nodes communicate at relatively low-power which limits their range to approximately 10 m to 30 m indoors but several hundred metres outdoors depending on line-ofsight and environmental conditions.
ZigBee devices can be programmed to operate in three different modes; coordinator, router and end device. This enables ZigBee devices to form a complex network of mesh and routing nodes similar to how the Internet operates. ZigBee devices are equipped with radio transceivers through which they discover each other and then a master unit applies an appropriate addressing scheme. This allows ZigBee networks to daisy chain devices through mesh network routing (Multi-Hop Ad Hoc Network) ,  and hence span larger distances than a single module’s radio range.
maintenance), a high density of nodes per network, simple protocol and global implementation. It can go from sleep to active mode very quickly which means that average power consumption can be very low and battery life is normally over 2 years.
As a way to help reduce the cost even further the devices come in two types; Full Function Device (FFD) and Reduced Function Device (RFD). The limitation of the RFD is that it can only connect to an FFD and therefore is only suitable for star topologies. FFD’s can be both coordinators and network coordinators (peer-to-peer intermediates and central network master controllers) making them suitable for any topologies .
ZigBee is a more complicated protocol than Z-Wave but it can come with different profiles that pre-configure the device for specific applications such as smart energy, healthcare, building automation etc. ZigBee is currently being implemented in the rollout of smart meters across the UK.
This article was created by --BRE. It was taken from The future of electricity in domestic buildings, a review, by Andrew Williams, published in November 2014.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Glossary of electrical terms.
- ICT and Automation (ICTA) Scoping Study Report.
- In-building wireless.
- Information and communications technology.
- Internet of things.
- Local area network.
- Smart buildings.
- Smart cities.
- Smart technology.
- The future of electricity in domestic buildings.
 External references
-  Baronti P et al. Wireless sensor networks: A survey on the state of the art and the 802.15.4 and ZigBee standard. Computer Communications, vol. 30, no. 7, pp. 1655-1695, 2007.
-  Bruno R et al. Mesh networks: commodity multihop ad hoc networks. Communications Magazine, IEEE, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 123-131, March 2005.
-  Kinney P. ZigBee Technology: Wireless Control that Simply Works. Communications Design Conference, San Jose, 2003.
Featured articles and news
Access control in buildings.
MASTRO project – lifecycle costing and assessment.
Five things to consider before installing solar panels.
New conservation building for the Louvre completed.
A balance between character and climate.
Bamboo pavilion built at London South Bank Uni.
Bringing in an expert.
Why the lowest price isn't sustainable.
The Most Economically Advantageous Tender.
Pipe dream or possibility?