RFID Frequency Selection: Low Frequency, High Frequency, and Ultra-High Frequency

RFID Frequency Selection

When it comes to choosing RFID tags, one factor that is often overlooked is the importance of selecting which frequency is most suitable for their purpose. Making decisions with insufficient information results in a vulnerable RFID system that causes interference susceptibility and poor read range.

Selecting the best frequency for your RFID tag will impact the overall performance of its application. This article will provide you with a better understanding of the critical role that RFID tag frequency plays.

Continue reading and discover which type of RFID frequency is best for your needs.

Three Types of RFID Tag Frequency

There are three types of RFID tag frequency namely, Low-Frequency (LF), High-Frequency (HF), and Ultra-High Frequency (UHF). Because radio waves behave differently with each of these frequencies, it’s best to select the right one according to your application.

Here’s a breakdown of the three frequencies.

Low-Frequency

Low-Frequency

Frequency Range

Low-frequency RFID tags are characterized by their frequency spanning between 30 kHz to 300 kHz. Most RFID systems that use low frequency are right around 125 kHz. This type of frequency is effective in transmitting data in close proximity for up to 10 cm.

Features

Low-frequency RFID technology has a relatively short range of only 10 centimeters. These characteristics make it suitable for applications within close proximity. Additionally, this type of frequency is not very sensitive to radio waves and is less susceptible to interference from liquids and metals.

 

LF RFID tags are more resilient which makes them work in any conditions. They can even be submerged underwater. These make them well-suited for applications that involve environmental changes.

Pros

  • Low sensitivity to radio wave interferences and noise, making them ideal for most conditions
  • Reliable when used in near-field communication
  • Transmits through thin metal layers which is a valuable feature for tracking purposes

Cons

  • Slower read speed compared to higher frequencies
  • Short read range
  • Slower data transfer speed
  • Expensive compared to other frequency systems

Application

These tags have versatile applications and are best known for being used for animal-tracking systems. It is also used as access control for various facilities such as buildings, rooms, and cabinets.

 

In the healthcare sector, Low-frequency RFID technology is reliable in tracking hospital assets and equipment, ensuring and streamlining resources and allocation of resources.

 

 

High-Frequency

High-Frequency

Frequency Range

High-frequency RFID tags have a frequency range between 3MHz to 30 MHz. Most of the HF systems operate at 13.56 MHz. They have a read range that’s between 10cm and 1 meter. Unlike low-frequency RFID, they are moderately sensitive to interference.

Features

High-frequency RFID technology has a read range between 10 centimeters to 1 meter. This range makes HR RFID tags well-adjusted to a variety of applications that require long-range data capture.

 

However, this system is moderately sensitive to radio wave interference. These tags work fairly well in moist or humid conditions and ensure consistency in their performance.

Pros

  • HF tags don’t need batteries or a power source to operate
  • A single reader can read many tags synchronously
  • Relatively more affordable
  • Does not have limitations globally

Cons

  • Several HF standards are in place
  • It can’t pass through metal materials
  • Medium tolerance to water and metal
  • No guarantee that it can work on metal surfaces

Application

High-frequency RFID tags play a prominent role in ticketing and payment systems. Moreover, its application also extends to healthcare, identifying authenticity by scanning NFC tags. Similar to LF tags, they can also be used as access controls, enhancing security.

Ultra-High Frequency

Ultra-High Frequency

Frequency Range

Ultra-high frequency RFID tags have a frequency range between 300 MHz and 3GHz. It has a read range of up to 12 meters.  HF RFID systems are compliant with a standard using only specific frequency designations around the world. They have a read range of up to 12m.

Features

Ultra-high frequency RFID technology has the most remarkable read range of up to 12 meters. This extensive coverage makes UFH FRID tags highly sought after in numerous industries globally.

 

UHF RFID operates in designated frequencies around the world including Europe (865–868MHz), the United States (902-928MHz), India (865-867MHz), Australia (920-926MHz), and Japan (952-954Mhz).

 

UHF systems are distinguishable by their long antennas that facilitate their long reading range. Moreover, their systems adhere to a global standard: ISO 18000-63. This ensures compatibility across international markets.

Pros

  • Ultra-high frequencies have a good reading distance
  • The data transfer rate is high
  • It can read several RFID tags in a short period of time
  • Cheapest tag to manufacture

Cons

  • UHF cannot cut across several materials. They suspend in particles like fog, dust, metals, and water
  • Increased RF transmission complications

Application

The application of UHF tags is one of the fastest-growing RFID technologies. Because of their high transfer rate, they are prominently used by markets including, life science, retail, healthcare, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and anti-counterfeiting.

Summary Table

 

Below is a table that summarises three types of frequencies.

 

Low-Frequency High-Frequency Ultra-High Frequency
Frequency Range 30 kHz to 300 kHz  3MHz to 30 MHz  300 MHz and 3GHz
Read Range up to 10 cm between 10 cm and 1 metre  up to 12 metres
Working Conditions Works well with metals and liquids Works fairly well with metals and liquids Cannot cut across several materials
Best used for Tracking animals Ticketing and payment Inventory tracking

 

This table provides you with a quick reference for understanding the primary characteristics of each of the RFID Frequencies to aid in selecting which frequency is the right fit for your individual or organisational application.

Highlights

It’s not uncommon for individuals and organisations to become overwhelmed by the volume of choices available when selecting RFID frequencies. However, insufficient information often leads to costly mistakes and missed opportunities.

Remember that the three main types of RFID Tag Frequency: Low-Frequency (LF), High-Frequency (HF), and Ultra-High Frequency have significant differences, uses, and limitations.

So, as you explore the world of RFID, make informed choices that align with your goals and needs.

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