Project Description

With the rise in number of connected objects and the desire for wireless solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT) protocols are becoming increasingly popular. There are many protocols for the IoT classified based on the different use cases and/or their wireless range. Many protocols currently exist, such as DASH7, Zigbee, WI-SUN, Thread, Sigfox, NB-IoT or LTE-M. Each technology has its advantages, drawbacks and a preferred domain. Some focus on the development of connected homes and others focus on larger infrastructures (factories or even cities).

Despite the differences these technologies have, they share a common goal: the establishment of large networks with low energy consumption. »

LPWAN networks

Low power wide area network (LPWAN) is a very popular subcategory of IoT technologies. These networks, as their names suggest, are defined as low power wide area networks. They focus on connecting larger infrastructures, such as connectivity between smart meters and electric mobility. Among the various LPWAN protocols, one protocol in particular is worth the attention, the LoRaWAN (long range wide area network).

This protocol has a significant advantage compared to other LPWANs, it allows the establishment of private networks. This is achievable thanks to its open standard and its use of license-free frequency bands (although its LoRa modulation for physical transmission is proprietary). In addition, LoRaWAN has several features that allow the transmission parameters to be adjusted according to the user’s needs.

The three classes of the protocol

This protocol is divided into three classes: class A, class B and class C.

Class A is the most energy efficient, but with the most limited shipping performance. An object of this class sends a message, checks if it does not receive anything in return and then goes into standby mode until the next sending.

Class C is the least energy efficient, but offers the best shipping performance. It listens continuously for a message intended for it, except when the device is being sent.

Class B, on the other hand, falls between the two classes mentioned above in terms of consumption and performance. The device is synchronized with the network manager and listens for a message periodically.

Additionally, within each class, it is possible to change parameters of the LoRa modulation to change other aspects of the RF connection. Depending on the chosen parameters, the communication will have a longer or shorter range at the expense of the data rate and the waiting interval before the next message can be sent.

LoRaWAN in electric mobility

Within the field of electric mobility, a link between smart meters and charging stations was considered. This use case requires a high level of reliability as well as latencies of a few seconds maximum to avoid the meter being switched off. This link would allow the charging stations to have a better picture of the power available for consumption without breaking down when the vehicle is being charged. A class C type object could potentially meet the use case envisaged for electric mobility. Testing this connectivity with a LoRaWAN network was the objective of the TriLab with the smart monitoring solution of its facilities.

To learn more about our project on smart monitoring check out our article.