Comparison of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for IoT solutions

- Mar 27, 2020-

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi module are the most popular wireless technologies in the IoT industry at present. But some designers may still have questions like ”Should I choose Bluetooth or Wi-Fi for my IoT project?”. Therefore I will try to help these designers make their choices easier by comparing those two wireless connection technologies.

 

Brief introduction

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances. It operates on UHF radio waves. It was thought of as a replacement for RSS cables. Bluetooth includes Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth Classic.

Wi-Fi is a radio technology for wireless local area networking of devices based on the IEEE 802.11 standards. Wi-Fi operates on 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies and typically works over longer distances than Bluetooth.

 

Speed

BLE was designed to send small chunks of data. Because of that, it's most suitable for transferring lightweight data such as numerical values from sensors. BLE may only provide bandwidth around 1 Mbps. Bluetooth Classic is 2-3 times faster. 

Even slower Wi-Fi standards as HaLow can send data up to 347 Mbps and faster standards can transmit data over 1.3 Gbps. Therefore Wi-Fi is well-suited for transferring heavy data such as videos, photos, etc.

 

Security

Bluetooth used to have serious security flaws in the past but most of them were solved with newer standards. In most cases still the best possible security standards aren’t implemented, but with proper setup, a connection could be secure.

 

Wi-Fi on the other side was concerned with safety before, so it developed security protocols respectively WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WPA3. It is preferred to use the newest possible security protocol, WPA3. Properly set Bluetooth connection security would be enough in almost all cases, but if data that you want to pass is very delicate and you want additional security then think about using Wi-Fi.

 

Range

Bluetooth range largely depends on the obstacles, so it will vary depending on where do you want to use it. Also, there are many Bluetooth modules and they will have a different maximum range. Usually, it will be between 40 - 400 m.

 

Generally, Wi-Fi routers operating on the traditional 2.4 GHz reach up to 46 m indoors and 92 m outdoors. 5 GHz Wi-Fi is more susceptible to obstructions than 2.4 GHz. But Wi-Fi HaLow which was designed to reach long distances operates in sub 1 GHz Frequency and can reach as long as 1 km.

 

Power consumption

In most cases, Bluetooth devices consume less power than Wi-Fi. BLE was specifically designed to have low energy consumption. The difference is rather significant because Wi-Fi devices can use 10 times or more electric power than BLE devices.

 

Cost 

Bluetooth devices are usually cheaper. They consume low power so daily costs are lower as well like changing battery have to take place very rarely. Also setting a proper configuration of Wi-Fi is rather more difficult, so setup will be more costly.

 

Feasycom is a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi module researcher and manufacturer in China, with more than 10 years experience in wireless communication industry, if there is any project require Bluetooth or Wi-Fi module, just kindly contact with us. Our hardware and software engineers would supply you technical service .