RFID Tags and Frequency Ranges

RFID, which means Radio Frequency Identification, is a common technology used for tracking, counting, and many other tasks which require an operator or a system to know where things are.

RFID tags are mainly made up of an RFID integrated circuit (IC), a coil antenna, and a substrate. RFID tags can be divided into three basic categories: Passive, Active, and Semi-Passive (also called Battery-Assisted Passive , BAP).

  • Passive RFID tags have no internal power source. The electromagnetic energy from the RFID reader is the only power source.
  • Active tags are different from Passive tags. Active tags have internal batteries.
  • Semi-Passive is similar to the Passive tags but they have internal batteries.
Types    Advantages Disadvantages
Passive tags 1. Without any battery (some tags may have long life time, more than 20 years)
2. Cheaper and smaller size
1. Shorter read ranges (up to a few feet)
2. Requires external power from the reader
Active tags 1. Longer read ranges (100 feet or more)
2. Reduced power from the interrogators
3. Can have more memory to store data
1. Shorter battery time
2. Quite expensive and bulky
3. Increase the maintenance cost of battery replacement
4. Require the presence of interrogator to work
Semi-Passive tags 1. Long read ranges (around 100 feet)
2. Reduced power from the interrogators
3. Can have more memory to store data
1. Short battery life
2. Bulky and weight
3. Require the presence of interrogator to work

There are 3 main frequency ranges of RFID tags: Ultra-High Frequency (UHF), High Frequency (HF), and Low Frequency (LF). Microwave RFID is also available in the market.

Typical Frequency Ranges 125kHz 13.56MHz 433MHz & 860-960MHz
Read Range Short (<10cm) Medium (< 1m) Long (up tp 10m)
Data Rate Low Low to moderate High
Standard ISO 11784 & ISO 11785 ISO 14443 & ISO 15693 & NFC ISO 18000
Usage Access Control, Animal Tagging, Inventory Control, Car Immobilizer Smart Cards, Item or Case level Tagging, Proximity Cards, Vicinity Cards Asset Tracking, Locationing, Container Tracking, Pallet or Case Level Tagging, DOD & Walmart Mandates