What in the world is LoRaWAN?

Zach Goldglas

If you keep up with IoT news, or have looked into any of our products in detail, you’ve probably seen or heard the term LoRa or LoRaWAN being thrown about quite a bit. “What is LoRaWAN?”, you might be asking? Well, LoRaWAN is a new type of wireless communication poised to take the connected world by storm and enable new technology to function in every area of our homes, cities, and lives like never before.

Buckle up and grab a pen and notebook, because we’re going to dive into the jargon-heavy world of networking.

Let’s start with the basics: LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) is a radio frequency-based wireless technology. It is a type of LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network). It was invented by French company Cycleo and acquired by Semtech in 2012.

LoRaWAN-enabled devices communicate with nearby gateways in order to send and receive data. Picture a LoRaWAN gateway as similar in function to a Wi-Fi router or a cell tower. This standard is developed and promoted by the LoRa alliance, of which Eddy Home is a  member.

LoRaWAN is a low bandwidth channel, which means that LoRaWAN devices send only small amounts of data at a time compared to other wireless communication methods. On average, LoRaWAN networks have less than 0.1% of the bandwidth of Wi-Fi or cellular networks. Thanks to this low bandwidth, devices that communicate using LoRaWAN can have extremely long battery lives. For example, Eddy Home’s H20 sensors can last for six years on a single battery charge. They can also communicate at significantly higher ranges than cellular or Wi-Fi networks (more on that later).

The low power consumption and long range nature of LoRaWAN communication is a true breakthrough for the Internet of Things. Thanks to LoRaWAN technology, connected devices can now operate reliably for years, rather than months at a time. These devices can be placed anywhere in a home (or, thinking bigger, a city) without the need for cumbersome range extenders.

Wi-Fi and cellular networks have their place, but have obvious limitations when it comes to certain IoT applications:

  • Wi-Fi is a high bandwidth LAN (Local Area Network) and can process a great deal of data, but uses a lot of energy to do so. As a result, Wi-Fi networks typically cover an area restricted to about 30 meters away from their access point.
  • Cellular networks range from hundreds of meters to a few kilometers in rural areas, with the bandwidth scaling with the network range (ie. faster networks in more dense/shorter range areas and slower networks in sparser, wider range areas). Cellular networks also drain batteries quickly, as any cellphone user can attest.

To put these ranges in perspective, LoRaWAN-enabled devices can theoretically communicate between 10 and 60 times the range of most cellular networks and over 500 times the range of Wi-Fi networks.

Eddy Home uses LoRaWAN as a part of our solutions in a number of ways:

  • We use LoRaWAN technology to connect our Eddy H20 sensors to the Eddy Hub.
  • The Eddy Hub serves as a gateway, collecting information from any number of Eddy H20 sensors as well as the Eddy Link via LoRa. This data is then sent to the My Eddy Home servers for processing.
  • The currently under development LoRaWAN-enabled Eddy IQ will be able to access LoRaWAN networks in the same fashion as the Eddy Link, allowing the Eddy IQ to be utilized in situations where a strong Wi-Fi or cellular connection is unavailable.

Ultimately, here at Eddy Home we see LoRaWAN filling a vital gap for connected devices left by Wi-Fi, cellular and bluetooth connections. The telecommunications industry agrees, with giants like Comcast creating LoRaWAN infrastructure across North America. The smart home revolution is coming, and we intend to be ready for it. Are you?

 

About Eddy

Eddy is an industry leader in leak protection and water visibility solutions. Our suite of smart products offers a comprehensive water management system for homeowners that protects, controls, and conserves. Our products have saved thousands of customers millions of litres of water by continuously monitoring water usage in their home, and if something unusual is detected, alerting them to the issue. For more details, please contact us at 1 877 388 3339 or email info@eddyhome.com.