Power characterisation of a Zigbee wireless network in a real time monitoring application
Zigbee is a relatively new wireless mesh networking standard with emphasis on low cost and energy conservation. It is intended to be used in wireless monitoring and control applications such as sensors and remotely operated switches where the end devices are battery powered. Because it is a recent technology there is not sufficient understanding on how network architecture and configuration affect power consumption of the battery powered devices.
This research investigates the power consumption and delivery ratio of Zigbee wireless mesh and star networks for a single sink real time monitoring system at varying traffic rates and the beacon and non beacon mode operation of its underlying standard IEEE 802.15.4 in the star network architecture.
To evaluate the performance of Zigbee, the network operation was simulated using the simulation tool NS-2. NS-2 is capable of simulating the entire network operation including traffic generation and energy consumption of each node in the network. After first running the simulation it was obvious that there were problems in the configuration of the simulator as well as some unexpected behaviour. After performing several modifications to the simulator the results improved significantly.
To validate the operation of the simulator and to give insight on the operation of Zigbee, a real Zigbee wireless network was constructed and the same experiments that were conducted on the simulator were repeated on the Zigbee network. The research showed that the modified simulator produced good results that were close to the experimental results. It was found that the non beacon mode of operation had the lowest power consumption and best delivery ratio at all tested traffic rates.
The operation of Zigbee mesh and star networks were compared to the results for IEEE 802.15.4 star networks in non beacon mode which revealed that the extra routing traffic sent by the Zigbee networking layers does contribute significantly to the power consumption, however even with the extra routing traffic, power consumption is still so low that it the battery life of the device would be limited by the shelf life of the battery, not by the energy consumption of the device. This research has successfully achieved its objectives and identified areas for future development. The simulator model for NS-2 could be improved to further increase the accuracy of the results as well as include the Zigbee routing layers and the experimental results could be improved by a more accurate power consumption data acquisition method.