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Increasing the Battery Life of Zigbee Nodes | Print |
Written by Akiba   
Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The team at SICS released a paper documenting their research on increasing the battery life of Zigbee nodes . Currently, according to the Zigbee spec, Zigbee routers and coordinators need to be on and listening all the time which can be disastrous if you're not plugged into a wall outlet or powered by a car battery. 

The paper describes an interesting approach where you introduce a power savings protocol (X-MAC) in between the 802.15.4 MAC layer and PHY layers. That way, the Zigbee network and application layers don't need to change and you get the power savings benefit. One of the researchers, Pablo Suarez, ported the Open-ZB stack from TinyOS to Contiki and implemented some mesh routing functionality to it to evaluate the X-MAC's power savings protocol. Their paper claims a 90% reduction in power consumption (or conversely a 1000% increase in battery life). The downside is that all devices on the network would need to support the X-MAC. But for a 10x battery life in a remote system, it might be worth it! This would be great for remote projects if they could reduce the power consumption and use some form of energy harvesting.

Here's the paper's abstract: 

The ZigBee standard builds on the assumption that infrastructure nodes have a constant power supply. ZigBee therefore does not provide any power-saving mechanisms for routing nodes, which limits the lifetime of battery-powered ZigBee networks to a few days. This short lifetime drastically restricts the possible application scenarios for ZigBee. To expand the usefulness of ZigBee, we present a ZigBee implementation where we replace the default ZigBee MAC protocol with the power-saving MAC protocol X-MAC. Our results show that X-MAC reduces the power consumption for ZigBee routing nodes with up to 90%, leading to a ten-fold increase in network lifetime at the price of a slight increase in network latency. Furthermore, we are the first to experimentally quantify the energy-efficiency of X-MAC in a multihop scenario. Our results indicate that X-MAC reduces the power consumption of idle nodes that are within communication range of two communicating nodes, suggesting that X-MAC may be able to mitigate the hot-spot problem in sensor networks.

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good information
written by john12, January 30, 2009
nice information, A ZigBee implementation where they replace the default ZigBee MAC protocol with the power-saving MAC protocol X-MAC.
thanks for shearing....
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written by Akiba, January 30, 2009
Thanks. X-MAC is potentially a good way for the routers to sleep which is one of the biggest drawbacks of Zigbee. Without sleeping, the power consumption is too high for battery operation.
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