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At present, there are more than 12.2 billion active global IoT connections. These interconnected devices communicate with each other and produce meaningful data. However, only communication is not enough. They need to speak the same language. It’s the point where IoT protocols come to use! 

What are IoT protocols? 

A protocol is a set of rules that allows for the effective communication (i.e., data exchange) of distinct machines/devices in a network setting. The protocols also apply to the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Why do IoT Protocols matter? 

IoT protocols give smart systems the ability to communicate with each other seamlessly. Moving data from endpoint devices through the IoT pipeline to central servers becomes a matter of a few minutes with IoT protocols. 

It is only IoT protocols that make sure data sent from endpoint devices, such as sensors, is received and understood by the subsequent steps in the connected environment. They are as critical to the existence of IoT as the things themselves. 

Though protocols work collectively to make IoT work, not all of them are created equal. Some IoT protocols work well in buildings, while some are well suited for IoT deployments spread among buildings.

Some popular IoT Protocols 

Several IoT protocols enable either device-to-device, device-to-gateway, or device-to-cloud/data center communication — or combinations of these communications. Here are some of the most common and popular IoT protocols: 


  • BACnet

BACnet is a communication IoT protocol for building automation and control (BAC) networks. It’s designed to enable communication of building automation and control systems for applications including heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning control (HVAC automation systems), lighting control, access control, fire detection systems, and other building equipment. 

BACnet provides mechanisms for computerized building automation devices to exchange information, regardless of the particular building service they perform. It’s mainly used in building automation systems (BAS) to control the data exchange between different devices and components. 

The top features of BACnet include: 

  • Open source standard
  • No license fee for implementation
  • Adopted by a large number of manufacturers, making them less dependent on a specific vendor for their implementation 

BACnet fulfills all the merits of a standardized protocol. 

  • Modbus 

Modbus protocol is used for transmitting information over serial lines between electronic devices. This open protocol is widely used by many manufacturers throughout many industries. It transmits signals from instrumentation and control devices back to the main controller or data-gathering system. 

Since it’s openly published and royalty-free, this IoT protocol is popular in industrial environments. It is relatively easy to deploy and maintain as compared to other standards. In the field of process automation and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), Modbus is the most popular and oldest automation protocol.

  • OpenThread 

Released by Google, OpenThread is an open-source implementation of Thread. It comes with specifications that define an IPv6-based reliable, secure, and low-power wireless device-to-device communication protocol for home and commercial building applications. 

Top features: 

  • IPv6 configuration and raw data interface
  • Extending Thread mesh over Ethernet/Wi-Fi links
  • Bidirectional IPv6 reachability and DNS-based service discovery between Thread and Ethernet/Wi-Fi
  • UDP sockets
  • CoAP client and server
  • DHCPv6 client and server
  • DNSv6 client 
  • Child Supervision
  • Inform Previous Parent on Reattach
  • Jam Detection
  • Periodic Parent Search 

This IoT protocol is highly portable that supports both System-on-Chip (SoC) and Co-Processor (RCP, NCP) designs. 

  • LoRaWan 

LoRaWAN is a Low Power Wide Area Networking (LPWAN) communication protocol that functions on LoRa. Anyone can set up and operate the LoRa network. 

It’s designed to wirelessly connect battery-operated ‘things’ to the internet in regional, national or global networks, and targets key Internet of Things (IoT) requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility, and localization services. 

Top features: 

  • Long-range communication up to 10 miles in line of sight
  • Low cost for devices and maintenance
  • License-free radio spectrum but region-specific regulations apply
  • Low power but has a limited payload size of 51 bytes to 241 bytes as per the data rate, which can be 0,3 Kbit/s – 27 Kbit/s data rate with a 222 maximal payload size.

The rise of IoT is giving rise to radical changes in how devices communicate with each other. IoT protocols will help increase in adoption and importance as the number of connected devices rises. 

Being the leading IoT powered building automation provider  in India, Zenatix offers an IoT-powered energy monitoring & asset management solution (ZenConnect) delivering energy efficiency, improved comfort compliances, & reduced asset breakdown for commercial buildings

Keep up with the latest IoT-based building automation, and follow us on LinkedIn!

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