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BlogsAsk The Experts ForumWhat Is an RFID Reader's Maximum Range?

What Is an RFID Reader's Maximum Range?

Posted By RFID Journal, 02.19.2014

From how far away would an interrogator be able to read a tag?

—Name withheld

———

It depends on the type of RFID system being used. A high-frequency (HF) reader based on the ISO 14443 air-interface protocol standard, designed for short-range transmission, has a maximum read range of about 18 inches. An active RFID system can read tags from 1,500 feet away or more, as the tags broadcast a signal and the systems are designed for longer-range applications.

Even within one type of RFID, however, there can be a wide array of read ranges. A passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) handheld reader has a range of about 10 feet, while a model using a beam-steerable phased-array antenna can interrogate passive tags at a distance of 600 feet or more.

Keep in mind that the reader is only half of the story. A very small passive tag with a small antenna harvests less energy from and reflects less energy back to a reader. It, therefore, has a shorter read range than a tag with a much larger antenna. I have seen small passive UHF tags that can be read by an ordinary fixed reader at a distance of only 2 or 3 feet, and I have seen passive tags that can be interrogated at a range of 80 feet.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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