Understanding RF Coverage

When installing SEVEN in the home, there are several factors that need to be considered to ensure the Radio Frequency (RF) Range between a personal help button and the base unit is not affected. Check out our latest blog to understand RF coverage what to consider during your next installation.

We all enjoy the freedom of portable devices!

The freedom that portability offers makes our lives easier – think of entertainment, air conditioning and personal security. Sometimes it is hard to remember other ways we had to control things.

Along with portability comes coverage, which is when we find that portable devices work in some places but not others. Perhaps the devices do not work when we think they should, or they work when we do not think they possibly could. So, what’s going on here?

The thing that portable devices have in common to enable their portability, is that they all use some form of RF energy to send their control signals with. “RF” energy stands for “radio frequency” energy and is a form of electro-magnetic energy generated at a frequency within the radio spectrum. Over the years, RF energy has become so widely used and pervasive in our lives, it has simply been referred to as “radio”.

Some key things that affect the range of radio signals are the power of transmission, the frequency the transmission is operating on and the presence (or not) of physical obstacles in the path between the sender and the receiver.

For personal help buttons and the base unit (receiver), the transmission power is regulated to an ultra-low level to reduce the chance of interference with other devices on the radio spectrum, and to prevent exposure to RF emissions.

The frequency that is used for Chiptech personal response systems is either 869MHz or 916MHz, depending on the spectrum specified in the market to be used for personal alarms. Radio Spectrums are allocated to different industries and uses to prevent interference between different device types. An important characteristic of the 869-916MHz frequencies is that the pathway for it is regarded as being ‘line of sight’ with some ability to penetrate obstacles.

Simply put, “line of sight “defines a path that is about equivalent to what you can see. If you can “see” a clear path between the personal help button and the SEVEN base unit and if it is not beyond range, it should likely work. If the path has obstacles, then these could affect operation even if the personal help button and base are not that far apart. The impact of these obstacles depends on what density they have. For example, large volumes of metal or thick concrete walls will absorb more radio energy than a weatherboard wall, these dense or reflective objects may prevent an RF device activating a base unit.

Fortunately, it is easy to test the range between Chiptech personal help buttons and base units, to be confident these will work together in locations around the user’s home and garden.

What to remember during installation

During installation, there are several factors to keep in mind to ensure optimal range between the RF Device and the base unit.

Interference, line of site and location are the three main factors to keep in mind when choosing an installation position.

RF interference can come from electronic devices such as computers, televisions, touch lamps or old cordless phones. Avoid positioning SEVEN within 100cm of these devices to ensure the range and audio quality is not affected. Interference can also be caused by large transmitting equipment such as cellular towers that are within close proximity. Also avoid placing SEVEN next to large metal objects, e.g. a water cylinder, microwave, or fridge. The construction of the house can affect the range between RF devices and SEVEN. For example, buildings with concrete or metal-based walls will tend to reduce range. Foil insulation and metal garage doors can also affect the range.

To improve RF range, move the base unit away from these obstacles, away from the corner of rooms and ensure thorough range testing is conducted.

Line of sight
Remember to use the ‘line of sight’ rule when installing. Positioning SEVEN near a window at waist height can increase the range to personal help buttons if they are being used outside. To increase line of sight and installation options, SEVEN can be wall mounted by utilising the screw slots on the base unit.

Central location
Installing SEVEN in a central location will normally improve range. For example, if a house has a large front garden, then placing SEVEN at the front of the house will achieve the best range throughout the house and garden.

Chiptech RF

With many years of radio experience in our team we have designed our RF transceivers and receivers from conception to functional products, to work optimally together. By designing our own RF antennas, and in using our own “Pearl RF protocol’ for signal transmission and confirmation we can optimise the matching of our system, enhancing resilience and the range (in metres) of our systems.

Chiptech RF devices that communicate with the SEVEN base unit. These communicate over 869MHz (New Zealand and United Kingdom) and 916MHz (Australia) frequency, these frequencies are assigned for use by telecare products.

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