How to choose the right LoRa/LoRaWAN® gateway

The market for LoRaWAN® protocol has grown rapidly in recent times, considering the variety of advantages this LoRaWAN® technology offers. With the growing implementation of LoRaWAN®, it is essential to understand how LoRaWAN® works, what are the types of networks, how a LoRa gateway works, as well as the licensing needs.  

How does a LoRaWAN® network work? 

To start with the LoRa network, LoRa stands for Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) which is used to facilitate long-range communication between things and the internet. It is a physical layer facilitating long-range communication among IoT (Internet of Things) devices with low power consumption. Extended Range Wide Area Network, or LoRaWAN®, is a communication protocol for LoRa networks. The LoRaWAN® communication protocol enables wireless devices with IoT connectivity, the same as Internet and Ethernet technologies. Using LoRaWAN® gateways will allow you to connect to any IoT device compatible with this protocol. To find the best IoT device for a specific use case using LoRaWAN® you can visit ThinPark Market and read our blogs for inspiration.

 

Long-range communication of LoRaWAN® gateways and lower power consumption makes it the right choice for large-scale applications. On top of that, there are two types of LoRaWAN® networks based on the application they serve: 

  • A Private LoRa network: is used by companies that want to build their own internal network for a specific use case. It is frequently used for smart building and smart cities projects. ThingPark Enterprise is a turnkey solution developed by Actility to build private networks.  
  • A Public LoRa network: is frequently used for large-scale projects where a wide coverage network is needed. Public coverage is provided by National Operators such as (Orange in France, or KPN in the Netherlands). Thus, the operator network can serve numerous applications from different organization's network architectures.  

  

Should I use a gateway to connect on LoRa? 

LoRa gateways play a vital role in connecting end devices or nodes with servers. Here LoRaWAN® protocol is used for communication and data transmission among gateway and a set of devices. Gateways play a crucial role in the network architecture based on their specifications. Choosing the right gateway can help build robust IoT system architecture. There are primarily two classifications of gateways based on the number of channels they address: 

  1. Single-channel gateways: 
    Single-channel gateways are inexpensive and suitable for limited network requirements as they can only receive radio signals from one spreading factor from a particular radio channel at a time. These gateways use radio frequency transceivers such as SX1272 or SX1276.  
  1. Multi-channel gateways: 
    As the name suggests, a multi-channel gateway can support six spreading factors as well as ten radio channels at a time. These are quite expensive but can be far more scalable compared to single-channel gateways. For any complex or enterprise solution, multi-channel gateways could be far more efficient. 

 

How does a LoRaWAN® gateway work? 

LoRaWAN® gateways are the system's key components as they communicate with a node and act as a relay. They enable end devices with IoT connectivity to the network server. They simply act as a bridge converting RF (Radio Frequency) packets in IP packets or the other way around. LoRa can also offer excellent penetration as such LoRa gateways can communicate with sensors beyond walls, providing connectivity to underground basements, elevators, rooftops, and indoor sensors even through outdoor gateways. 

Gateways can be used indoor or outdoor depending on the project. A few areas that can affect the working of LoRaWAN gateways. One of the major criteria is varying weather conditions. If a gateway is placed in such an area, then it is important to choose an outdoor gateway. Gateways with the right IP ratings can be weatherproof for humidity or temperature. Other than that, antenna orientation is also crucial as it determines transmission capabilities. It is important to understand the transmission pattern of the antenna and tilt the antenna for better capabilities. Setting the gateway and the antenna accurately can assure the success of the deployment. 

 

Can I install a gateway without a license? 

Licensing costs may not be viable, especially when it comes to personal implementation, proof of concepts, or a beta production run. However, it's not a challenge with LoRa-based systems. 

Operating in an open-source license-free Radio Frequency band, LoRaWAN® gateway installation does not have any licensing requirement. To be precise, it operates in many Radio Frequency regions: 433 MHz and 868 MHz in Europe, 915 MHz in Australia and North America, and 923 MHz in Asia. Installing LoRa systems is as easy as it gets with minimum infrastructure requirements. 

 

How much does a LoRaWAN® gateway cost? 

The price of the gateway depends on its capabilities. Outdoor gateways may need specific installations and reinforced casing materials to resist a wide temperature range.  

As LoRaWAN® use is growing fast, many new manufacturers are developing their offer to fit all customers' budgets and offering better performances. Gateways are now accessible for anyone; we can take as starting price the Gemtek Minihub which is sold € 64.00 per unit in ThingPark Market. Compared to the Kerlink IBTS compact for outdoor use which is € 1454.00. 

Additionally, to the hardware price, you will need to add a connectivity plan which price will vary depending on the devices that will be connected. 

 

Free trial: go through the process for free! 

On ThingPark Community you will not only access qualitative information you can also learn and play with LoRaWAN® for free. This platform offers 3 months of free trial to connect one LoRaWAN® gateway and up to 10 end-nodes such as sensors and actuators. Go & build your new firsthand-on prototype now! 

 

A few LoRa and LoRaWAN® use cases

There are many uses cases where LoRaWAN can be used with public or private networks. LoRaWAN® is the best fit for long-range and low-power system needs. Here is a list of frequent use cases where LoRa is used: 

  • Smart agriculture: 
    Farms, even the indoor ones, have a vast area to cover for any IoT system architecture. A shorter communication range for such an application results in more gateways, increasing the overall system architecture cost. Therefore, LoRaWAN® can be the ideal choice as outdoor gateways with a longer range and lower power consumption can serve the need precisely. Key benefits for agriculture solutions would include simpler network architecture, lesser operational cost, and simpler maintenance.
  • Car parking system management: 
    Traditional car parking systems are now a thing of the past. Especially in crowded and populated areas, those manual ticketing systems devices would result in poor time and economic productivity and offer lesser features. With smart parking sensors, one can reserve the parking slots, management can monitor parking individually and even detect any accident. 
  • Smart buildings: 
    Industry 4.0 is all about automation, analytics, monitoring, and connectivity. Especially, the next-generation infrastructure would comprise of these features using smart sensors and actuators. LoRaWAN® can ensure that these smart devices can have IoT connectivity while having sustainable power consumption. Such an IoT ecosystem can consist of numerous sensors, including temperature, humidity, light, gas, and other similar sensor devices. LoRaWAN® systems can be used for access control, employee management, security, fire detection, or something as simple as remotely controlling devices. 
  • Smart city applications: Smart city applications could include a variety of networks with long-range needs. LoRaWAN® could be used for smart city use cases, including streetlight control, water quality monitoring systems, energy monitoring networks, structural health monitoring, traffic congestion tracking, and noise mapping solutions. All these software solutions would require communication ranges more than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi networks. Here as well, LoRa would be an efficient and inexpensive choice. 
  • Smart tracking: Some other applications of LoRa networks include triangulation-based GPS location tracking, fault management systems, machine monitoring solutions, warehouse management, and asset tracking. 

Summary

Deciding on the right technology for your IoT project implementation would be a simpler exercise of comparing different parameters. In summary, with LoRaWAN®, one can get numerous distinct advantages like extended range, extensive security, affordable system, easy implementation, and lesser hardware requirements. Connect with us to understand more about LoRaWAN®; we will walk you right through the implementation with our free trial, which will provide you with hands-on experience thanks to the product diversity sold in our catalog.