LoRaWAN is an open global standard for wireless communication that businesses use to receive real-time data from IoT devices. Using LoRaWAN-connected sensors any company can take the insights they need to automate processes and improve efficiency increasing the bottom line and creating new revenue streams.
Exploring LoRaWAN for Smart Building IoT Devices
LoRaWAN architecture and components
LoRaWAN, which stands for Long Range Wide Area Network, is a wireless communication protocol using a single-hop link designed for long-range Internet of Things (IoT) applications. It provides a wide coverage area, low power consumption, and secure communication, making it ideal for various IoT deployments, including smart buildings.
LoRaWAN's architecture is based on a star-of-stars topology, incorporating three primary components: end devices, gateways, and network servers. End devices, such as sensors or actuators, collect data or perform actions within the smart building. Gateways act as intermediaries, receiving and forwarding data between end devices and network servers and network servers manage the communication between gateways and end devices, ensuring secure and efficient data exchange.
The gateways establish standard IP connections to link with the network server, acting as transparent bridges. Leveraging the Long Range capabilities of the LoRa® physical layer, the wireless communication facilitates direct communication between the end device and one or multiple gateways. Bi-directional communication is supported across all modes, and multicast addressing groups are available to optimize spectrum utilization, particularly during tasks like Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) upgrades.
Alongside frequency hopping, every communication packet exchanged between end devices and gateways incorporates a variable 'Data rate' (DR) setting. In order to optimize the battery life of end devices and maximize the capacity of the network, the LoRaWAN® network server utilizes an Adaptive Data Rate (ADR) scheme. This scheme allows the network server to manage the data rate (DR) setting and radio frequency (RF) output power for each individual end device. By dynamically adjusting these parameters, the ADR scheme ensures efficient utilization of energy use while prolonging battery life and enhancing the overall network performance.
Features and key advantages
LoRaWAN has communication capabilities, with a range of up to 15 km in suburban areas and up to 5 km in dense urban environment, where it penetrates barriers to reaches devices underground, through concrete walls, or in extreme weather conditions.
Long life, low maintenance
LoRaWAN's low power consumption enables IoT devices to operate for an extended period of time for up to 10 years. LoRaWAN delivers firmware update over the air (FUOTA) so there is no need of on spot technicians to update the devices.
easy to use
LoRaWAN can cover thousands of devices from a single gateway enabling users to quickly adapt and scale their deployments, leveraging their existing LoRaWAN network and utilizing off-the-shelf sensors to gather data from a wide range of sources.
LoRaWAN provides secure communication between devices and the network and it promotes collaboration between public and private networks. It ensures mutual authentication of endpoints and data origin, protects data integrity, and provides protection against replay attacks, relying on AES-128 cryptography. Users can enjoy end-to-end security, eliminating the need to place trust in the network infrastructure. By leveraging LoRaWAN technology, smart buildings can achieve energy efficiency and occupant comfort using actionable insights from real-time data without compromising with security.
LoRaWAN vs Other Networks
Numerous possibilities exist for data transmission between IoT sensors and a web or mobile application via an IoT platform, each with its own set of pros and cons. To evaluate these networks, it’s essential to determine our specific requirements and assess their performance in areas such as range, power efficiency, and scalability.
LoRaWAN offers extensive coverage, up to 15 km in suburbs and 5 km in cities, even in tough weather. In contrast, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have limited ranges, typically tens to hundreds of meters, and can be affected by interference and signal degradation. NB-IoT/LTE-M struggle with deep indoor coverage where LoRaWAN is consistent even through obstacles like concrete and metal.
LoRaWAN stands out as a low-power, long-range network with impressive battery life and flexible deployment options, ideal choice for smart building applications. LoRaWAN is designed with a low power standard, ensuring impressive battery life of 10+ years, making it ideal for battery-constrained use cases. In contrast, NB-IoT/LTE-M has a complex 3GPP protocol that is tuned down for LPWAN but does not meet the target performance required for battery-constrained use cases.
LoRaWAN offers flexible deployment models, including Capex and Opex options, allowing for cost-effective and easy network densification to achieve scale and ROI. It also supports roaming between public and private networks, as well as terrestrial and satellite networks. In comparison NB-IoT/LTE-M requires higher Capex for hardware installation, relies on existing network infrastructure for deployment, and lacks support for roaming between different networks.
Applications of LoRaWAN in Smart Building
Multiple use cases show that by integrating LoRaWAN sensors into both new and existing old buildings there is a vast improvement in the energy efficiency, CO2 footprint, and occupants’ comfort. These deployments generate valuable data, enabling real-time alerts and cost savings in terms of mitigation, labor, and operational expenses.
MClimate has deployed LoRaWAN devices in various building types such as schools, office buildings, residential buildings, and more.