RFID Range

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RFID Tag Maximum Read Distance

What is the maximum read distance of RFID?

RFID is a group of technology, usually identified by the frequency or "wave" they use. The maximum distance is determined by;

  • The frequency of the RFID system
  • The individual RFID reader
  • The antenna being used
  • Characteristics of the RFID tag
  • The thickness and material the tag is attached to
  • How the tag is attached
  • The environment the system is being used in

...to name the major factors. This complexity is why specifications usually show the "free air" read distance. The performance when the environment is free of any other electrionics and there is nothing between the tag and the reader. This is why a specification that says 5 meters, but didn't account for the factors listed above, may only give you 1 meter in practise.

Generally speaking, RFID tag maximum read distances are as follows:

125 kHz and 134.2 kHz
Maximum 30 cm (1 foot) or less
Usually 10 cm (4 inches)
It is possible to get longer read distances, but these cases need individual assessment.

13.56 MHz
Maximum 1.5 meters (5 feet)
Usually under 1 meter (3 feet)
To obtain more than 1 meter you need a reader with output over 1 watt.

433 MHz
Maximum 500 meters (1,500 feet)
Usually 60 meters (200 feet)
We've obtained reads over 1 kilometer using highly sensitive antennas.

860 ~ 960 MHz
Maximum 16 meters (53 feet)
Usually 1-2 meters (6 feet)
Specific use tags may be tuned to work at either 860MHz or 902 MHz.

Maximum 100 meters (325 feet)
Usually 50 meters (160 feet)
An emerging standard.
NOTE: 2.45GHz RFID is not the same as WiFi enabled Internet-of-Things devices which also work on the 2.4GHz band.

True physical tag maximum read distance is determined by the individual RFID reader and antenna power, the actual Integrated Circuit used in the RFID tag, the material and thickness of material the tag is coated or covered with, the type of antenna the tag uses, the material the tag is attached to and more! 

While a specification may show a theoretical RFID tag read range of 5 meters (ideal conditions) it may be as little as 1 meter if the tag is attached to an object that is sitting on a metal surface surrounded by water and electromagnetic waves (not ideal conditions)!  

Generally speaking RFID tag maximum read distances are as follows: 

  • 125 kHz. and 134.3 kHz. Low Frequency (LF) Passive RFID Tags -read distance of 30 cm (1 foot) or less - usually 10 cm (4 inches) unless you are using a very large tag which can have a read distance of up to 2 meters when attached to metal. SkyRFID can provide several different LF 134.2 tags which produce read distances of 1 - 2 meters in industrial environments. We also have special readers that allow for a 1 - 2 meter read distance using standard size tags.  There are no limits with SkyRFID!
  • 13.56 MHz. High Frequency (HF) Passive RFID Tags - maximum read distance of  1.5 meters (4 foot 11 inches) - usually under 1 meter (3 feet) and you can use a single or multi port reader plus custom antennas to extend the read range to longer tag read distances or a wider RFID read zone. To obtain more than 1 meter you need a reader with more than 1 watt RFID output power. SkyRFID can supply 13.56 readers with RF power outputs up to 10 watts for multiple antenna connections and over 1 meter tag read distances.
  • 860 ~ 960 MHz. Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Passive RFID Tags - minimum read distance of over 1 meter or 3 feet.  Gen2 tags can have a read range of up to 12 meters or 37 feet, however new generation of IC's plus antenna designs are now pushing this distance to over 15 meters! Gen 2 tags can be either 860 MHz. or 902 MHz. frequencies.  Gen2 EPCglobal are multifrequency 860 ~ 960 MHzGen 2 Semi-active  battery assisted tags are semi-passive (semi-active) tags have a read range of up to 50  meters or about 162 feetGen 2 Semi-active tags are just emerging on the market. We have both readers and tags available for those companies that need to be on the leading edge or simply need the range of the Gen 2 Semi-active technology. SkyRFID Windshield tags out latest version read at over 12 meters (40 feet) when attached to the inside of a windhsield and using our OEM hand held reader.  You can get far longer read distances using our Sky fixed readers using Gen 2 US frequency 902~ 928 MHz.
  • 860 ~ 960 MHz. 3rd and 4th Generation IC/Silicon  - The new generation 3 and 4 (Monza4,  Higgs3 and NXP G2XM) silicon (Integrated Circuit) is now available in numerous inlay designs.  This new silicon (IC)  provides up to 40% more sensitivity while reducing RF interference.  This means that a tag using this new generation of silicon can have a read range of over 16 meters or 50 feet under FCC regulations of 4 watts EIRP.  For your local power regulations see RFID Frequencies and Transmission Power. SkyRFID is now offering many H3,  Monza4 and NXP G2XM tags and has tested these tags at read distances of over 16 meters or 53 feet using 30 dBi power and a single antenna! 
  • RTLS - Real Time Location Systems - Usually LF and SHF - now you can have a UHF RTLS that is extremely accurate and can easily control 250,000 sq feet on a single switch. Use the Contact Us for more information. 

  • 433 MHz Ultra High Frequency Active RFID Tags - up to 500 meter read range (1,500 feet) SkyRFID carries a complete line of 433 MHz readers and tags that can be used for many industrial,healthcare, mining, and other tracking and locating applications.
  • 2.45 GHz. Super High Frequency Active RFID Tags - up to 100 meter read range (325 feet) There are several different modulations for 2.45 GHz. and you can also have real time location information from these active tags.

To read about RFID Tag Inlays, RFID Tag Design or RFID Tag Integrated Circuits just click on the link to go to the page or simply select your choice from the menu on the left of the screen.

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