RFID systems
  • Created the 01 from June from 2017

Types of RFID systems

Now that you know how a RFID system works, it is time to get to know the different types of RFID systems in the market. Depending on the frequency band they operate at we find different systems: low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF / NFC) and utra-high frequency (UHF).

There are also two broad categories of systems: passive RFID and active RFID. In the following sections we will see the different frequencies and types of RFID systems.

RFID frequencies


Frequency refers to the size of the wave that is used to communicate the different components of the system. RFID systems that exist in the world operate in low frequency, high frequency or hyper high frequency. Radio waves are different in these frequencies and there are advantages or disadvantages when using these bandwidths.

For example, a low frequency RFID system has less data transmission capacity, but increases the ability to be read near metal or liquids. If a system operates at a higher frequency, they generally transmit data faster and at a longer detection distance, but radio waves are more sensitive to interference caused by liquids and metals in the environment.

However, the latest technological innovations in recent years allow rfid UHF (ultra-high frequency) systems to be used in environments with liquids and metals.

Low frequency (LF) RFID

The LF band covers frequencies between 30KHz to 300Khz. Typical LF RFID systems work with 125 KHz or 134 Khz. This frequency provides a short reading range, about 10 cm, and the reading speed is slow. It is very resistant to external interference.

Typical applications of LF are access control and animal control.

Standard norms for traceability systems for animals are defined in ISO 14223, and ISO / IEC 18000-2. The LF spectrum is not considered a frequency for global applications due to the different frequencies and reading powers that work around the world.

High frequency (HF) RFID

The ranges of the HF frequencies go from 3 to 30 MHz. Most RFID HF systems work with 13.56 MHz, with reading ranges between 10cm and 1m. Interferences moderately affect HF systems.

HF systems are commonly used for ticketing, payments and data transfer applications.

There are a few standards for HF RFID: ISO 15693 is the standard for object traceability; ECMA-340 and ISO / IEC 18092 are for the NFC (Near Field communication), a technology with short reading ratio used for change of data between devices. The MIFARE standards are ISO / IEC 14443 A and ISO / IEC 14443, which is used in smart cards, and JIS X 6319-4 for FeliCa which is normally used in cards with payment systems.

Ultra high frequency (UHF) RFID

UHF systems cover frequency ranges from 300Mhz to 3Ghz. RAIN RFID systems comply with the standard UHF Gen2 standard that uses frequencies 860 to 960 MHz. There are differences in variation between regions, most of them operate between 900 and 915 Mhz.

UHF RFID reading systems can reach more than 12 meters, have very fast data transmission and are very sensitive to interference. But today, most manufacturers of RFID products such as Dipole, have found a way to design tags, antennas and readers that give a high performance in complex environments. UHF tags are easier and cheaper to manufacture compared to LF and HF.

RAIN RFID UHF systems are used in a wide variety of applications. From store inventories to the identification of medications for protection. Most RFID projects currently use UHF (RAIN RFID) technology, making it the fastest growing market segment.

UHF frequency is regulated by a global standard called EPC Global Gen2 (ISO 1800-63) UHF standard. Impinj and Smartrac, main partners of Dipole RFID, are two of the great propellers of RFID worldwide developing universal solutions so that RFID can be adapted in most sectors.

Passive and active RFID systems and BAP

Active RFID systems tags transmit their own signal with the information they have stored on the chip because they have their own power. Normally this power source is batteries. Usually active rfid systems operate at UHF frequencies and offer a reading range of more than 100 meters. They are usually used on very large objects such as wagons, containers or products that have to be controlled in large spaces.