Comparison between Zigbee and Wi-Fi

A difference table comparing zigbee and Wi-Fi. Detailed comparison between wifi and zigbee features wise.

IEEE Standard
802.15.4 IEEE standard
IEEE 802.11.x where x gets replaced by a, b, g, n etc
Operating Frequency
Zigbee, works at 900-928 MHz and 2.4GHz. Besides that Zigbee protocol has a specific frequency of 868 MHz for European countries.
Wi-Fi is known to work at 2.4GHz, 5GHz, though there have been recent developments where Wi-Fi is working at 60GHz frequency.
Channel Bandwidth
Zigbee protocol based communications have a channel bandwidth of 1MHz
while Wi-Fi channels have a bandwidth of 0.3, 0.6 or 2MHz.
Network Range
Zigbee is restricted to Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN), reaching 10-30meter in usual applications. Recently, there have been some applications which tend to reach 100m in terms of range
Wi-Fi serves up for PAN and WLAN area networks with an average range between 30 to 100 meters.
Data transfer speed
Maximum speed in zigbee networks is only 250kbps, fairly low than the lowest Wi-Fi offers.
Wi-Fi networks, though faster than zigbee in terms of data transfer, show variation in terms of speed. Wi-Fi networks defined under 802.11b standard have maximum data transfer speed of 11mbps while a and c versions have 54mbps of maximum data transfer speed.
Bit Time
It can be defined as time taken to transmit one bit at a given data rate of transfer.  Bit time in zigbee is 4micro seconds
while in Wi-Fi it is only 0.00185 micro seconds.
Power Consumption
Zigbee protocol has been designed for “assemble and forget” manner. These are extremely minimal in terms of power consumption and hence can go on for weeks and months. In general, Zigbee based networks consume 1/4th of the power consumed by Wi-Fi networks
Wi-Fi, though now having a low power version over the horizon, has not been known as a power efficient network. Wi-Fi based devices need a good battery back-up if one wants to use them for more than 10hours or so.
Network Size
A single Wi-Fi based network can have a network size of up to 2007 nodes
whereas Zigbee based networks can have over 65,000 nodes in one such network.
Network Security
Zigbee protocols use Advanced Encryption Security (AES) methods for encryption and CCB-CCM methods for network security.
On the other hand, Wi-Fi based networks use WEP, WPA and WPA2 protocols for network encryption and security, respectively.
Zigbee protocol has been precisely designed to exchange data and it is more prevalent in the wireless sensor based networks such as those in home automation systems or industrial machinery coordination systems.
Wi-Fi is a preferable choice for internet connection based network and now is also encouraged to interface various media/entertainment devices wirelessly. One can find Wi-Fi in data exchange between a computer and modem, streaming music and videos on a television through a Wi-Fi enabled computer or media device.
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