When implementing RFID access control applications, it can be difficult to know where to start. Since multiple RFID frequencies are used for different applications, knowing which frequency range is right for your system is important. Whether you’re a first-time RFID user or looking to update an RFID access control system, the sections below will help determine which frequency is right for your system.
The first thing to consider when choosing a frequency is the overall goal of your system. To get a better idea of how each RFID frequency is used, see the list below:
* LF is typically used to access buildings, rooms, and cabinets.
* HF is often used to access buildings, rooms, and suites.
* UHF is commonly used to access secure parking lots and roadways.
When considering the functionality of your access control system, it is also important to address aspects that can or cannot be compromised. Here are some pros and cons of working with each RFID frequency:
* LF tags do not have secure standards and have slower read rates. However, LF tags work well with applications involving metal and water.
* HF typically does not perform well with applications involving metal and water. However, HF tags have a higher data transfer rate and security standards than LF and are typically available in a small form factor.
* UHF also does not perform well with applications involving metal and water, but it it has the fastest data transfer rate and longest read range of the three options. Some environmental effects can be mitigated by incorporating RF shielding and using specialty tags made for mounting on metal or liquid-filled items.
Understanding the best-read range for your system and application is essential in choosing the right frequency. Below is information regarding each passive frequency’s read range:
* LF RFID systems utilize frequencies between 125-134 kHz and can usually only be read from near contact to a few centimeters away from the reader.
* HF RFID systems utilize frequencies ranging from 3-30 MHz and can typically be read from several inches away from the reader.
* The passive UHF frequency range uses the 860-960 MHz range, with a read range of up to 30 feet (but the typical average is between 5-15 feet).
Another thing to consider when implementing an access control system is whether to use an off-the-shelf or custom system. Below are descriptions of both types of systems:
* Off-the-Shelf: Off-the-shelf systems are pre-assembled access control systems with a specific use and goal. They have limited customization options and may be more expensive overall than a custom system. In addition to the initial cost of an off-the-shelf system, monthly or yearly payments for software licenses and maintenance are typically required.
* Custom: While off-the-shelf systems are pre-made for a specific use, custom systems allow the user to work with a software developer and create a one-of-a-kind system catered to specific needs. Custom systems can be more cost-effective because of the recurring costs associated with off-the-shelf systems. Additionally, custom systems are more flexible and allow the user to add to or remove functionality and access points depending on the application’s needs.
Cost is an important factor when implementing an RFID access control system. Costs can widely vary depending on each system’s specific requirements and amount of equipment. An access control application with 5 or 6 entry points and will be more expensive than a system with only 1 or 2 entry points. Because tags are a recurring cost, here is the average tag pricing for each frequency that varies depending on the quantity purchased:
* LF tags can range from $1 - $10 per tag.
* HF tags can range from $0.5 - $5 per tag.
* Passive UHF tags can range from $0.1 - $3 per tag.
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