Multiple Types of RFID Systems and How Best to Use Them

Types of RFID Systems

Radio Frequency Identification or RFID technology, is easily recognizable from similar technologies in the market. This is because of its overall performance in ensuring you get the right features while sometimes spending less. One thing about using RFID is that you will always get the right RFID system, depending on your needs.

If you are new to RFID systems, there is nothing to worry about. We will take you through the various types available, their applications, and how best you can choose the right one for your needs. Let us see what each option offers you below.


RFID System Classification

RFID System Classification

Based on Frequency Bands

The frequency band is just one way of categorizing RFID systems. It comes down to making sure that you choose the right system for your needs. Below are the main options under the frequency bands.

Low Frequency(LF)

The frequency range for this band is 30 KHz to 300KHz. As you can see, such a range makes the system good for short-read-range applications only. You can also see that it is less susceptible to interference from metals since you will be working with them in close proximity.

As for applications, the LF system will be good for access control systems or any other application where proximity is necessary.

High Frequency(HF)

When you look at the HF systems, the frequency range is higher, with a band of 3MHz to 30MHz. Such systems will give you the right balance between data transfer speed and read range. That is why you may have to use this system where moderate read distance is necessary, but also, the data transfer speed is crucial.

Because of such features, the HF systems are commonly used for electronic ticketing, smart cards, and contactless payment cards. You may also find them useful for tracking medical equipment and patient identification.

Ultra-High Frequency(UHF)

You can always go for a higher frequency band of 300mHz to 3GHz with the UHF systems. With such a band, it is easy to see how it will offer you more reading range and even faster data transfer rates. This is when compared to HF and LF RFID systems.

With more frequency band performance, you can use the system for applications that demand a higher throughput for data and a more extended read range.

As for applications, we can recommend it for supply chain management, logistics, and inventory tracking.

Microwave Frequency

Anything above a frequency of 3GHz is considered a microwave frequency RFID system. When you want even more read ranges, this is what you get. However, these systems are not common as they are reserved for specialized applications because of the high cost of implementation.

It is possible to use such RFID systems for applications such as vehicle toll systems, where rapid data transfer is necessary so that you do not keep more vehicles in the line.


Active and Passive RFID Systems

Active and Passive RFID Systems

You will also come across active and passive RFID systems when seeking such equipment. However, what is the difference between the two? How do they work?

Active RFID System

The active RFID system means that the tags have a power source. It is usually a small battery. The work of the power source is to keep the RFID tags active and broadcast their signals more independently. This generally enhances their functionality and range.

Expect the active RFID system to have more range so that you can use it for tracking high-value assets over large areas. You would also like such a system to help you get real-time tracking. This can make it invaluable for various environments, such as transportation and logistics.

The potential downside is that the initial cost is higher than when using passive tags. Also, the active tags come with additional maintenance, such as periodic battery changes.

Passive RFID System

The passive RFID system can also be an ideal choice, depending on how you use it. In this case, the RFID tags rely on the RFID reader signals to activate them. The good thing about such a design is that you get a cost-effective option. You will not spend as much as you would do with the active RFID systems.

Also, no battery maintenance is needed since they have no internal power source. This makes the ongoing operational costs even lower. The size and form factor make the tags even smaller and lightweight. This is because, unlike the active systems, there is no need for additional components such as batteries.

As much as it is a good alternative to the active system, expect a limited range. Also, it is not the best solution for real-time tracking.


Based on Range and Read Distance

Based on Range and Read Distance

There is also another way of categorizing RFID systems, and it is based on their range and read distance. In this case, you end up with short and long-range RFID systems.

Short-Range RFID Systems

The short-range RFID systems are designed to operate within short distances. They are usually good for only a few feet or meters. These systems are known for being good for applications with close proximity communication. As such, you end up mostly using them for precise and localized tracking.

Because of how they operate, we can recommend them for access control. You need to have the person accessing a room or space as close as possible to the reader. You can still use the same for inventory management.

Long-Range RFID Systems

You will come across long-range RFID systems as an alternative. This is important for those who want systems to cover more read distance and go beyond the usual short-range limitations. When you opt for such a system, you will get a wide area coverage, making it more efficient for tracking various items that are not nearby.

For such performance, the systems are mostly used in logistics and supply chains to make sure the goods are always tracked correctly. You can still use the same for vehicle identification and collection of tolls on various roads.


How to Choose The Right RFID System

How to Choose The Right RFID System

For you to choose the right RFID system, there are a couple of things you may have to consider. We talk about them below so that you can choose better.

1. What are your requirements?

Focus more on what you would like to achieve with the RFID system. A good example is understanding your desired read range. There are some RFID systems that would deliver a longer read range, while others have a short read range.

You should also check which systems work great for access control or inventory management. You may have to decide after going through our guide above on the various types of RFID systems.

2. Frequency Band

Remember that RFID systems can also be categorized based on frequency bands. These frequency bands will often come with specific characteristics that make it possible to use them in certain applications over others.

Like low-frequency systems, we find them suitable for short-range applications. The high frequency, on the other hand, comes with a balance between the read range and data transfer speed.

You will still get the UHF type of RFID system, which now offers more read range that can be good for logistics and supply chain management.

3. Active or passive RFID

You may also have to consider choosing between passive or active RFID systems. The active RFID system comes with a battery-powered tag, which means you get a wider reading range. However, you would have to pay more for it and needs more maintenance.

Passive RFID is the most common and quite cost-effective. You would not also have to worry about additional maintenance since there is no battery to think of. However, you would have to live with a shorter read range, which should be fine for some applications.

4. The environment and reading range

Look at the environment you will be operating in and decide how it will affect your read range. An example is metal interference. If that is the case, the read range would be severely affected.

Look for systems designed to work in such an environment to combat reduced read range, and you should always end up with the best performance.

5. Integrate with existing systems

The chances are you would be integrating the RFID system with another existing system, including hardware and software. Look at this compatibility so that you would not have to work on changing other systems when it is not necessary.

6. Scalability

Chances are you may have to scale the RFID system depending on how the company needs to grow. So, does the system you have chosen have the scalability option? Make sure that you future-proof your RFID system so that it works great and gives you the performance you are looking for even later.


Looking at the guide above, you should have key information on what makes the right RFID system for you. Of course, make sure you always choose based on your needs so that the RFID system works great and gives you the right performance that you need. Do more research if you have to ensure the system you pick can always live up to your needs.

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