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The Myths of LF vs. HF

Depending upon application requirements, low-frequency passive RFID tags and readers often outperform their high-frequency counterparts—so why do people believe otherwise?
By James E. Heurich
Dec 21, 2009Being on the sales front of RFID hardware for many years, and as a hands-on owner of an RFID hardware development and manufacturing firm to which I have dedicated my life and soul for nearly 20 years, I have voraciously read just about any available matter on the subject, while scoffing at some writings and deeply appreciating others. In so doing, I have begun to notice a trend—a myth, really: that being the assumption that low-frequency (LF) RFID is a technology of old, a variant that may have been at the dawn of the RFID field but is now largely written off as a solution of yesteryear. Part of that myth is the belief that high-frequency (HF) passive RFID tags and readers outperform LF passive RFID tags and interrogators in every respect.

It's not true, folks, and I intend to show you why.


I had initially noticed this trend during the sales process—in inquiries from trade shows, in requests for solutions directly from the Internet, and on visits to potential clients, whereby I first had to sell LF over HF before I could move on to marketing my products, in terms of performance and price. Then I began to notice it in articles and application stories, and when I noticed those articles were written by providers of HF products, I again smirked and thought, "But, of course."

In the past year, however, I have also begun to take note of articles published by RFID-focused magazines, journals and trade organizations, so I began to inquire as to why. A recent reply from an editor floored me: "This is all that I have read and been told in press releases, interviews, trade shows, other forms of RFID medium—be they blogs, articles, white papers or application stories." This seems to be the general answer.

My company sells both HF and LF RFID products, which I hope will earn me some impartiality points.

I intend to address two main issues in this writing: first, a fair and documented comparison of LF and HF, and second, a history of the RFID market's development, outlining why HF is more predominantly available than LF today. Let's touch on the second issue to begin with, then move back to the first in comparing LF and HF performance, and then wrap up by finishing with the second issue.

USER COMMENTS

Peter EGLI 2009-12-22 02:15:30 AM
LF vs. HF and beyond Excellent article. I would add the LF car immobilizers and their performance reliability, expressed in ppm. If LF technology had anywhere near the problems of current UHF systems, the car drivers would tear the auto dealers into bits and pieces......
Reader 2010-01-07 01:36:56 PM
LF vs. HF and beyond Absolutely - please also see my white paper here http://focus.ti.com/lit/an/scba026/scba026.pdf which is based on the same facts and truths Mr. Heurich's article is written upon.

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