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Comparative Performance Analysis between nRF24L01+ and XBEE ZB Module Based Wireless Ad-hoc Networks

Comparative Performance Analysis between nRF24L01+ and XBEE ZB Module Based Wireless Ad-hoc Networks


A paper was written comparing Zigbee vs nRF24L01+ based networks. For those of you who are interested, here is the paper:



Abstract—Among the common wireless communication modules like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, XBee modules are embedded solutions providing wireless communication standard with self-healing mesh networks, which has longer range than Bluetooth and lower power consumption than Wi-Fi. 

An alternative to the XBee radio modules is nRF24L01+ radio modules which are cheap and powerful, highly integrated, ultra-low power (ULP) 2Mbps RF transceiver ICs for the 2.4GHz ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical) band. In this paper, performances of nRF24L01+ modules have been analyzed and compared with that of XBee ZB modules in wireless ad-hoc networks. The performance metrics for the analytical study are - 

1) Throughput measurement, 
2) Mesh routing recovery time and 
3) Power consumption. 

This work has revolved around an open source library released by the developer, tmrh20 which builds a complete TCP/IP suite on top of the nRF24L01+ modules.

ConclusionIn this study, we have analyzed all the parameters mentioned in the introduction, focusing on the stark differences in the performance of nRF24L01+ against XBee. nRF24L01+ could provide a better throughput compared to XBee in almost all scenarios especially in point-to-point communication where it outshines XBee by a country mile. For multihop networks as well, the rate of transmission remains considerably higher...

...The radio, as well as well its supporting libraries have been under focus for quite some time now, however, in terms of development, it is still in its nascent phase. Nevertheless, its impact in the field has been nothing short of revolutionary because of the raw range and bandwidth it provides on paper at affordable prices. However, it remains to be seen whether with improvements in the sleep cycle implementation in the RF24 library or with a better alternative to the RF24 family, the nRF may be indeed considered a cheap viable replacement for XBee in wireless ad-hoc networks

TMRh20 Opinion: 

The study seems fair, but it is clear that the radios were not fully operational due to the hardware configuration, with power supply issues. ( Although an official Arduino Uno should be capable of driving the radios at 3.3v with no major issues ) It doesn't really make a lot of sense to conduct a range of testing using a known faulty hardware configuration, as this limited the range to 1m between nodes, throughput suffered as well as performance of the mesh.

As far as power consumption and implementation, the devices typically use approx. 15mA in active RX and slightly less during transmission. As active RF24Mesh nodes are always listening, they can choose to use interrupts to sleep the MCU during periods of inactivity (wake on RX), or remove themselves from the network and sleep completely. There are really not many options for managing the power usage/sleep cycles of these devices.


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